Muzzle advice - unfortunately for our 9 month old blue staffy!

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Post by daniobentley@yahoo.co.uk on Thu May 09 2019, 17:53

New to this forum, just looking some advice that goes beyond "well what did you expect, he's a staffy?"!

My 9 month old blue staffy boy, Smokey-Joe, has had a few incidents that has led me to the muzzling decision:

1) The day before neutering at 6 months he pinned another dog down and barked aggressively in his face.
2) The week after neutering he got into a full fight with french bulldog that got irritated with his boisterous playing and Smokey got a puncture wound.
3) He randomly went to fight another dog the same age but both were on leads so nothing came of it

He then had lots of training with a behaviourist who said he's not a dog looking for a fight, but he is reactive. His recall is now excellent and his hyper play is a little less.

4) He got attacked from behind by a labrador (smokey had puncture wounds)
5) He got into a fight with a staffy-cross that went for my other dog who ended up with puncture wounds
6) He got into a fight with another french bulldog in my friend's house and Smokey had the puncture wounds

With the "fights" my Smokey refused to let go for ages! He just held and held and held. The other dogs never bled or had puncture wounds visible. Until today...

7) We were jogging past a 14 week old beagle who was on the lead, and after sniffing each other, the beagle ended up in Smokey's mouth and he wouldn't let go until I squirted water at his face. I sent the lovely owner to the vet and paid her bill for a very bruised neck and a little puncture on his ear.

So here we are. He just seems to be a loving, friendly, happy and sweet family pet whom my children ADORE, but who is randomly reactive to some dogs. The questions therefore are:

A) Is the Baskerville the best muzzle for this breed?
B) Can I never let him off-lead again if he's wearing the muzzle?

Thanks for reading my very long post!

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Post by LizP on Thu May 09 2019, 17:57

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Post by LizP on Thu May 09 2019, 18:19

Don't worry, no one here will say 'what did you expect!'. And never apologise for a long post, we never mind that.

First of all, muzzles. I would say the Baskerville Ultra is best for staffies. They are broader and shorter than the conventional Baskerville muzzle, which are rather long and narrow. If you are going to use one, please do take the time to teach Smokey-Joe to accept it so that he will have it put on without resisting and will keep it on without trying to rub it off all the time. If you're not sure how to do it, this is a great video: Blue Cross muzzle training

Muzzling is certainly one option but it's not necessarily the first I'd go for and then I would try to use it as a bridge while you work on training and other management options.

The first question is where you are walking. It sounds like you're meeting a lot of dogs, and some in off lead play situations. While socialising is great if done properly, in places like bark parks and other uncontrolled play situations, it can go wrong very quickly. One thing that is true of staffies is that they play big, and this can be difficult if other dogs/owners aren't used to it. It's very, very hard to teach them to play any other way, it's just where they go to first. So, step one is to restrict his play to dogs he knows and who you know will understand his play. Otherwise, no play with other dogs. If necessary, walk quieter places.

That doesn't mean no socialisation. He can still walk with others calmly (to be encouraged), but if excitement levels start to rise call him away, either leaving or to a distance where he can regain his calm. If you think there is a risk during this sort of socialisation, then do use a muzzle.

The other piece of equipment that can really help is a long training line. I like the 5m length, padded tape rather than rope, but some people prefer longer. The longer the line, the more there is for you to work with. I'm not talking about extending lines but this sort of thing:

Training line

That way you can give him some freedom but still have him with you, a sort of safety net if you like.

You've possibly guessed by now that my answer is no, I wouldn't have him off lead playing with other dogs, even with a muzzle on. It may stop him actually biting but it won't teach him to be calm and it may still worry another owner. That may appear unfair to him (and you!) but in cases like this the first priority is safety, and avoiding any legal problems if someone complains about you having a dangerous dog.

I don't know how that ties in with your trainer's advice. Hopefully he/she has worked with you on calm socialisation and you can continue to build on that with their support.


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Post by Wally Walter on Fri May 10 2019, 18:20

Please don't take this the wrong way, it is to help not attack, you are doing the right thing to teach him to wear a muzzle, I used to put either cream cheese or peanut butter inside, let my dog lick it but don't put the strap over until he is happy with it over his face.  Don't fasten it until he is happy with the strap over his head then when you do fasten it, undo it immediately and built up the time it is fastened.  The muzzle should become nice for your dog to wear.

I have been helping with dogs that are seized for quite a few years now, there are dogs of all breeds being seized because of their behaviour and not their looks, looks is BSL, all the others is DDA.  Unfortunately your dog's behaviour comes under the DDA and if anyone reports him he can be seized.  If the police come knocking on your door, don't let them in until you see their warrant, don't let them see your dog either inside your home or in your garden, keep him well away.   They can't go into your house without a warrant.

Also, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING, the police lie to get your dog, if you sign you are giving them permission to pts your dog, instead there are 2 very good solicitors who specialise in these dogs, Parry & Welsh and Weldons, I have been involved with Parry & Welsh and they have most dogs back home.  If he is seized you are entitled to have a solicitor with you when you go to the police station, THIS IS FREE, I don't know about Weldons but do know that Parry & Welsh will attend with you at the first meeting so you can ask for them BEFORE you go to the police station.

By teaching your dog to wear a muzzle and as he has been neutered, this will go for you if he is seized, it shows you are a responsible owner.  I hope that nobody does report your dog and I hope this helps if they do.

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Post by gillybrent on Fri May 10 2019, 18:41

From what you've said, daniobentley, I doubt very much that anyone will report you as having a dog dangerously out of control.

By all means muzzle train him - it's always useful to have a dog that will accept a muzzle happily. But with training & common sense (and the advice given by Liz) you should be okay.

First port of call with any DDA problems is DDA Watch. 
http://www.ddawatch.co.uk

They're the most knowledgeable people regarding the Dangerous Dogs Act & they are VERY helpful.

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Post by Dogface on Fri May 10 2019, 20:32

The DDA is another piece of garbage legislation which allows the public to define whether a crime has been committed, as opposed to the police, based on nothing but their own feelings. Your dog does not have to be vicious or out of control to fall foul of the DDA. What Wally Walter says about the police is bang on. In all cases assume that the police are lying and want the worst for you and your dog, you won't be far wrong. It's very unlikely that you'll have any trouble in this department as mostly, people are decent, but I would take on board Wally Walter's advice.

What I would say is if you think there is any likelihood that you can't predict your dog's behaviour and steer him away from conflict then a muzzle is a good idea, as well as continued socialisation and training. Unfortunately I can't advise on muzzles as I don't use them.

My boy is very dog reactive to larger dogs. The bigger the dog the bigger the reaction. After a managed introduction proportional to the size of the dog he will be fine in 99% of cases, and he'll remember that dog and be happy meeting it again, but the next strange big dog he's at it again. There's nothing that can be done about this, it's in his nature, he's been socialised and met dogs on a daily basis, he just decided over-night when he was about three that he was sick of being attacked and would put on a big show to make sure it didn't happen again. I very much doubt he would actually attack but I'm not taking that risk.

In my case we're lucky to live in a dog friendly, rural area, so the chances of some idiot reporting us is very slim. I manage his behaviour because I know exactly when and how he'll react and I only let him off lead when I'm 100% we won't meet up with strange dogs. That's easier up on the fells where I live, of course, I imagine it would be difficult in a park or wherever. He's brilliant with other animals - he loves cats, loves sheep (except when they headbutt him) and he runs off), never chases rabbits or deer, it's the fear of being attacked by a larger dog that makes him do what he does.

I can't really say much about your dog but from what you say I wouldn't let him play with dogs unless he's familiar with them and has been introduced gradually.
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Post by Wally Walter on Sat May 11 2019, 07:49

Thankfully the majority of dogs are not seized but when helping them you do start to think the worst.  I will give an example of the lies the police give, I was brought up to trust the police, now I don't, I have experienced bullying by them when using my mobility scooter.

A lady who had learning difficulties had 6 Staffies and an 8 month old American Bulldog pup, her social worker reported her pup to the police as a Pit Bull.  Unfortunately she let the police in and they seized her pup as 'type' even though she had his papers to say what breed he was.  She refused to sign him over and  was told that if he wasn't 'type' they would rehome him, the police don't rehome dogs.  When she still refused to sign him over she was told by these policemen that if she didn't they would send the RSPCA to seize her Staffies and give her a 10 year ban on keeping any dogs so she signed to save the lives of her Staffies.  This was early Friday evening so nothing was done over  the weekend apart from she asked for help with a group I was working with.  I spent the weekend trying to convince her that she was lied to and even though she had signed her pup over he may still be able to be saved.  On Sunday evening she contacted the solicitors on Facebook, phoned them Monday morning as soon as they were open  She didn't have the £120 for the case to be opened and we paid it for her, when the solicitors contacted the police they dropped the case and he was returned home to her on the Thursday.  

DDA Watch does help people get dogs back home but there are so many cases now that they can't help everyone, there are other very good groups who also work to get the dogs home and help raise funds as well, I try and help Rocky's Army when I can but mainly involved with Olive, a stray dog that wasn't given any vet treatment when she went into the pound, she was so badly damaged that her insides were hanging out and dying, it was just ordinary people who got together to try and save Olive, they paid for her operation and have been fighting for 3 years to get her into a home, the police say she is 'type', and being a stray cannot be rehomed.  She has been assessed by an independent asser.   It has cost thousands all from donations and fundraising and a lot of the law has been defined now which will make it easier to get dogs home.  Time is running out, she needs someone to come forward to say they have had contact with her to save her life, the courts won't let her go to anyone who hasn't had contact with her.   We are fighting this and hopefully we can still save her life.

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Post by LizP on Sat May 11 2019, 08:05

I think with respect to the Dangerous Dogs Act (if you are indeed in the UK and it applies to you), I'd go somewhere between 'worry now' and 'it doesn't apply'. As owners of bull breeds, especially those of us who have crosses, it's something you can't ignore. Any dog can be termed 'dangerous' if someone sees them as such and, while I don't assume every member of the police will lie through their front teeth and is out to get you, there have been cases of misapplication of the law.

The fact is that any time you have a dog that is off lead, getting into fights with others and in the process making people feel unsafe, you have the potential to be reported (in the UK, other countries' laws may be similar or different). You also need to be aware that dogs can readily redirect, so bite something (someone) that is not their target if they can't get to it. I volunteer in a rescue where we take all sorts, including dogs that are deemed to be pits (and have to be pts). We also have troubled dogs of different breeds and despite the staff being super careful some have redirected. It happens.

So, be aware of the laws wherever you are and know what to do if the worst happens, but don't panic about it because you should never need to if you work to make sure that your dog is under control and is not presenting a danger to anyone. With bull breeds, I'd go further and say make sure your dog's behaviour is a positive example to other dog owners. And while in training, just don't go places where it can go wrong. Control your dog, control your situation.


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Post by Wally Walter on Sat May 11 2019, 11:38

You are right, we do have to be aware but also need to enjoy our dogs, I have 4 at the moment and all came with problems, 2 don't growl but go straight to bite, very dangerous to stop the growl.  I have taken on dogs that have put previous fosterers in A & E, one several and no fosterer would take him, I didn't have any problems with him.  He was a Maltese/JRT.  Another dog who came as a foster boy because the person who adopted him from Romania couldn't cope with him, he wanted to attack every dog and man he saw, wasn't much better with women but didn't bother with children, he was a Whippet/JRT, if he had been a Staffie he would have been reported, again I never had a problem with him.

About 4 years ago a man was killed by a Staffie not far from me, the police knew this dog was attacking people and other dogs, they seized him then returned him as 'not type', 3 days later a man died when this dog attacked him.

We need to be aware of the law regarding dogs, we need to know what to do if our dog is seized, most of all we need to enjoy our dogs.   Mine give me a reason to get up every morning, if I am late I am jumped on to get me up. Laughing

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Post by daniobentley@yahoo.co.uk on Sat May 11 2019, 14:21

Thank you all for your input. As he’s only 8 months old I do feel there’s still a good chance he can learn to socialise better. To do this comfortably and safely I plan to keep him muzzled and on lead, and for our most happy walks off lead will have to be where there’s no other dogs around.

He really liked putting his muzzle on because we’ve done lots of positive training with it, but he really doesn’t want to walk with it on so we must continue the training in that regards.

I’m very fortunate the other owner did not report him but I suppose she saw me as somebody trying very hard to do all the right things. He didn’t lunge to go for blood. He wasn’t snarling and foaming at the mouth. He reacted really badly to I-don’t-know-what and then when separate he appeared very regretful and sorry. He’s young and I don’t quite know what his problem is with some dogs, so with that in mind, a muzzle, lead and further training seems the most responsible thing to do.

I need to be sure that I don’t start to mistrust him around my young children though. He’s reactive to dogs and never has been to humans, but I have lost confidence in the fella...

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Post by gillybrent on Sat May 11 2019, 14:40

Firstly, a dog aggressive dog is NOT a human aggressive dog - the two are totally different. So don't worry about his temperament with your children.

Obviously, children should always be supervised when interacting with a dog, but that's purely to prevent accidental injury and to stop the children inadvertently teasing /annoying the dog.

Is he food orientated?

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Post by daniobentley@yahoo.co.uk on Sat May 11 2019, 17:08

He is very much food motivated and actually pretty well trained (sit, stay, heel, wait, leave, come, look “eye contact”) and happy for us to all claim his food, toys and bones (made sure of that one from very young!)

He is just boisterous so when the kids are laughing rolling around on the floor he gets right in their face and his head, as you all will know, is very hard and he head butted my 8 year old the other day and his teeth left a mark. She cried saying “he bit me” but my husband saw it was just overexcited play. I wouldn’t have given it a second thought had he not been dog-aggressive, even though it’s not the same. Just lost some confidence in him I think.

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Post by Dogface on Sat May 11 2019, 17:27

Yes, dog -> human aggression isn't remotely connected to dog -> dog aggression. The latter is simply dog language, the former is highly unnatural and extremely rare in bull breeds. If a Staffy exhibits human aggression it's always the result of long term neglect or abuse or, in a tiny number of cases, serious illness. Of course you supervise any dog when they're with kids but personally I'd bet my house and my life savings that my boy would never harm a human, despite his behaviour towards some other dogs, and I think all good owners feel the same way.
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Post by gillybrent on Sat May 11 2019, 18:08

daniobentley@yahoo.co.uk wrote:I wouldn’t have given it a second thought had he not been dog-aggressive, even though it’s not the same. Just lost some confidence in him I think.

He may not even be dog aggressive. He may be dog reactive. 

Rather than "I hate you, I'm going to bite you" he may be saying "I'm scared/unsure of you & I'm going to warn you off!" 

If he's food mad, try distracting him with a tasty treat whenever you see a strange dog (or a dog he by as previously disliked). Tell him "Watch me" and hold the treat up to your face. The second he makes eye contact, praise & treat. You might need a lot of treats, but eventually he'll relate a strange dog to having a treat. 

It does work!

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Post by daniobentley@yahoo.co.uk on Sat May 11 2019, 18:52

That’s lovely advice thank you!
Shall I do this on lead with muzzle or no muzzle?
I don’t see him as an aggressive dog at all, I just wish he air snapped or growled if moody/scared/unsure rather than make that horrific dog fight sound and grab the dog in his mouth without letting go!!

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Post by LizP on Sat May 11 2019, 19:45

I'd work without a muzzle but at a safe distance. And I would add something to Gilly's advice. A lot of people recommend asking the dog to sit or stand still while doing the 'watch me'. I prefer to keep him moving, always towards me and at least to start off with away from the other dog. If there is enough distance and the dog is relaxed, you can move towards them but always move away again.

Animals react to pressure. The more the pressure, the greater/faster the reaction. Taking the pressure off not only makes him feel better it also lets him know that the pressure can be taken off, so they can sometimes learn to look for that release themselves.

The second and more obvious benefit is that asking the dog to stay still doesn't give him anything to do with his body. When adrenelin kicks in, one of the results is the need to move. If you don't give him a direction, something to do with his feet, he is more likely to look for it. Keep him moving and he doesn't have to think about it himself.

A dog sitting doing 'watch me' is often rigid. What you want is a relaxed dog. Keep him moving, but contol that movement towards you (I walk backwards when doing this) and you should find it much easier.


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Post by daniobentley@yahoo.co.uk on Sun May 12 2019, 01:56

Thank you that’s useful. Weirdly I was actually jogging during this last incident and Smokey always keeps up because he’s afraid to lose me, so we had no lead tension as he was off lead, no still stiffness, loads of space he didn’t need to approach the puppy at all, no time to interact for long. I have no idea at all what happened to make him switch!

Sorry, I know nobody can speak for him as they weren’t there, I just can’t understand it. Perhaps the puppy tried jumping on him, or had a nervous energy or something.

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Post by LizP on Sun May 12 2019, 07:34

The key to all of this sort of thing is in the tiny detail. As you say, you'll never know what happened this last time but keep close attention to all the tiny little signs of his body language and he should give you clues. Things do happen quickly but it is extremely rare that there's no build up of any kind, no warning body language or anything. It's also extremely rare (almost never) that something happens for no reason.

You've hit on the problem for us helping you, though, we're not there! But if you need more ideas or support, we can try our best albeit at a distance.


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Muzzle advice - unfortunately for our 9 month old blue staffy! B110
LizP
LizP
Staffy-Bull-Terrier Admin
Staffy-Bull-Terrier Admin

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Location : Essex
Relationship Status : Married
Dogs Name(s) : Chaos, Nola and Millie
Dog(s) Ages : 6, 12, and 4
Dog Gender(s) : one boy, two girls
Join date : 2014-11-02
Support total : 1243
Posts : 6251

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Muzzle advice - unfortunately for our 9 month old blue staffy! Empty Re: Muzzle advice - unfortunately for our 9 month old blue staffy!

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