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hoku's mum

muzzle for agression

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Greetings all. Lately I've just been in lurking mode, but need some input on the upcoming holiday stuff. We take Hoku to the family gathering every year, and he is a perfect gentleman, he loves all people, everyone loves him. Other dogs, another story. This past year he has gotten into scuffs, and has hurt 2 dogs now, one he knew very well. I have figured out that it's a space issue for him, when another dog gets in 'his' space (what ever he perceives that to be at the moment, it fluctuates, but I really think he will view grandma's house as his) he gets very grumpy. Bottom line is that I can't trust him with other dogs now for fear of him hurting them. My partners sister has gotten two little dogs and is bringing them this year. They are sweet rescue pups, about 9 months old, and full of it. I am at a loss as to what to do with Hoku. He does not kennel well at all, our pet sitter(s) are booked, and I am scared that he will hurt these little dogs. I may just stay home this year.... not what I want, but really don't want the trauma drama of any blood. Someone suggested putting a soft muzzle on him so he could not hurt them. Has anyone ever tried this? Would love any input from this wise group.

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Even if you desensitize him to the muzzle, he is going to be miserable if he has to share the same room with the two young dogs with no way to 'defend himself'. I would not do it to him, and it could make his aggression or reactivity worse. Is he crate trained? Can you keep the dogs safely separated in different rooms? Then maybe you can use the occassion to make him more comfy around other dogs by working with him from distance, away from the puppies. Good luck.

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Is this family gathering a one day event or are you staying for a couple of days? The answer to that is going to make a big difference in the responses I think.

 

You have time to work on his crate training or just leave him at home, unless he has severe separation anxiety and you are going for a few days. That would be my first suggestion. You can leave him in the car if you are only going to be a portion of the day and go out for walks every few hours. That would be my worst case scenerio though. Are the other dogs crate trained? That could be very useful!

 

The problem I have with a soft muzzle, like you suggest, is that if he really want's to get the dogs away from him, he can still do some serious damage with his snout. These are young puppies and they could get hurt very easily. Have you ever been rammed by a dogs nose? It kinda hurts if they want it to! If you do muzzle him, he will likely be miserable and I would suggest that he is leashed to you at all times as well.

 

Can you put them in different rooms? Can you divide a portion of the house with a baby gate? So that no one feels "left out". Can your partners sister be reliable to help you manage the situation and keep her dogs contained in maybe an x-pen or something?

 

Just some ideas...

julie

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I wouldn't suggest leaving a soft muzzle on a dog for any period of time, they're far too confining. You may want to look at a basket muzzle or a greyhound type muzzle that allows a dog to fully open his mouth, if that's the only viable solution.

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They are sweet rescue pups, about 9 months old, and full of it. I am at a loss as to what to do with Hoku. He does not kennel well at all, our pet sitter(s) are booked, and I am scared that he will hurt these little dogs. I may just stay home this year.... not what I want, but really don't want the trauma drama of any blood. Someone suggested putting a soft muzzle on him so he could not hurt them. Has anyone ever tried this? Would love any input from this wise group.

 

Have you talked to the owner of the pups directly about this? Maybe she would agree to rotate her dogs in and out of a room/crates so her dogs could be out part of the time and Hoku could be out at other times?

 

Personally I wouldn't go with the muzzle, for reasons the others have stated. Also, if he has space issues, the muzzle may intensify those in the future. I'm not against muzzles - they have their place - but I wouldn't use one for a situation like this.

 

Annoying as it would be, another solution might be all dogs on leash in the house.

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Well, you all have confirmed my gut feelings about the muzzle idea. I'm afraid it will just intensify his reactivity. I was not crazy about the idea, and now it's OUT. The other dog owner is bringing a crate (she is trying with the pups, but they are pretty out of control), and Hoku is crate trained, so I think we will try the rotation thing as Julie and Kristine suggested. We (the dog owners) could go with the baby gate idea, which would be great, but there is one very grumpy old man involved that will just make it all very miserable... :rolleyes:

 

We will stay overnight at least one night, so I think the rotation and strict management will be the call of the day. I don't think this will be the most relaxing x-mas....

 

Any ideas on how to use this situation to work with him on this, as Petra suggested? As many other dogs, he is more reactive on leash. He is click trained, so maybe C/T for looking at the pups calmly, being in the same room calmly (on leash) for short periods?

 

The thing that is so hard is that with his pals, he is soooo sweet and loves to play, I know that sweet roll-over-on-his-back side, yet I have seen him snap, and hurt a dog. The Jekyll/Hyde part is so challenging. I'm getting much better at reading him, but I just don't trust myself to be able to intervene quickly enough... things can fall apart in a nanosecond for him.

 

Thanks again for your input

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Good luck with Hoku, Kristin. Re the Jekyll/Hyde thing: have you had Hoku's thyroid checked? Sophie used to be a bit Jekyll/Hyde-ish herself until she was diagnosed and medicated accordingly. She is still reactive once in a while, but it is much more predictable now and she has a much longer fuse.

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Any ideas on how to use this situation to work with him on this, as Petra suggested? As many other dogs, he is more reactive on leash. He is click trained, so maybe C/T for looking at the pups calmly, being in the same room calmly (on leash) for short periods?

 

Hi Kristin, yep, that's what I meant. You probably have a good guess at how far he can be from the other dogs without reacting, so start there and see if you can slowly get little closer (without him reacting) while clicking and treating. I would keep these training sessions super short too. Let us know how it goes!!!

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Good luck with Hoku, Kristin. Re the Jekyll/Hyde thing: have you had Hoku's thyroid checked? Sophie used to be a bit Jekyll/Hyde-ish herself until she was diagnosed and medicated accordingly. She is still reactive once in a while, but it is much more predictable now and she has a much longer fuse.

 

Laura, no, never thought we had a reason to check his thyroid.... maybe we should pursue that. What were Sophie's symptoms? Our old boy, Spencer (RIP) had thyroid issues late in life, but he was just acting super tired, slept all the time. The meds changed his life, gave him 5 more peppy years.

 

If he got along with other dogs, he would be the absolute perfect dog, he is so well mannered (except with other dogs), gentle (EWOD), sweet (EWOD), respects boundaries (EWOD), plays well with others (EWOD)... ahhh well, nobody can be perfect, I guess :rolleyes:

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I would definately get his thyroid checked then, a full panel. I am sure Laurae will fill you in more on this topic, as I've never had this issue, she will be more knowledgeable. Physical ailments are usually at the top of the list if a dog is suddenly reacitve. It would be worth checking out at least!

 

I think you've made a wise decision with crate/rotate and management. Yes, it will be busy, but once you get the hang of it, it won't be that hard. I regularly take Daisy with me to my aunts house and she CAN NOT STAND her dog Sam. He has bad manners and can't sit still. Yes, he does need a lot of training, but that's not my place, so instead he is leashed or kennled when we come over and Daisy just hangs out under whatever chair I'm sitting in. The first couple of visits were tough, but we got it figured out.

 

As for general day to day reactivity, if the thyroid thing comes back ok, then I would find a trainer in your area that knows how to deal with reacitve dogs and start reading some books. There are some really good reads out there that can help you with this problem! Trust me, I've read them all, I think!

 

Good Luck!

julie

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Laura, no, never thought we had a reason to check his thyroid.... maybe we should pursue that. What were Sophie's symptoms? Our old boy, Spencer (RIP) had thyroid issues late in life, but he was just acting super tired, slept all the time. The meds changed his life, gave him 5 more peppy years.

 

Sophie was pretty reactive to other dogs, but it never followed a very clear pattern. Sometimes she was fine with other dogs; other times, she wasn't. Sometimes she didn't like other dogs in her space; other times, she tolerated it just fine. Sometimes she was okay with a lot of activity around her; other times, she was very frustrated with the chaos. Sometimes she was very resource guardy with other dogs; other times, she didn't seem to care. I did a lot of counter-conditioning work with her, and we made a lot of progress, but she was still kind of unpredictable and I could never really let my guard down completely. At that time, I never thought about a relation to thyroid issues.

 

Then, about three years ago, she began having terrible GI upset--a lot of vomiting and horrid black liquid diarrhea that she could not control. She would void so much that she sometimes needed sub Q hydration from the vet. Another time, we thought she had an intestional blockage because she kept vomiting and her abdomen was hard for a couple of days (she was at the e-vet during this time, which is where we spent a lot of time during that awful period before she was diagnosed). The vets were stumped. I read everything I could online, and finally requested a full thyroid panel, with the blood sent to Dr. Jean Dodds' lab and the results interpreted by Dr. Dodds. I understand GI upset is a rare symptom of hypothyroidism. Sophie was indeed diagnosed as hypothyroid and immediately began taking Soloxine. She was also no longer to have any novel proteins (basically no beef or chicken). She began doing better immediately on the Soloxine--no more GI issues at all. (And she is now able to eat beef and chicken, as long as it's real beef or chicken, rather than kibble or bully sticks.)

 

Anyway, the completely unexpected side effect was that her reactivity was reduced to a couple of incidents a year, if that (though I still don't take her to gatherings where there will be a large groups of dogs hanging around). She can still be stroppy on lead around loose dogs, but she doesn't immediately go into fight mode with little warning anymore. Recently, a friend and I were hiking with my three and two of her border collies, and we met up with another group of several border collies. We stopped and exchanged compliments on each other's dogs and got to talking about our dogs for a bit. One of their dogs was a barker and kept barking in Sophie's general area. I watched Sophie ignore the barking dog for a while, then try to avoid him, then start to look at him, then start to stare at him, and before she started to growl, I jumped up with a ball and quietly called her over to play (while my friend made sure Mr. BarksALot stayed put). She immediately redirected (something she would not have been able to do in her more reactive days) and tensions melted away. Truly, her handling of this situation is 180 degrees different than pre-Soloxine Sophie would have handled things. I think some of the better, more relaxed behavior is the result of the work I have done with her, and some of it is that she is getting older now. But the difference is dramatic enough that I think the thyroid meds have really played a very big role in Sophie not getting as agitated in situations that used to overwhelm her. And so I always think it's worth a shot for a reactive dog to get their thyroid checked (ask for a full panel, not just a T4). I wish I had done it years earlier for Sophie.

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Thanks for the story on Sophie, sounds so much like Hoku, especially the unpredictability of his reactivity. We have been working on it for most of his life (he started grumping on leash in puppy class...) and he has gotten alot better in some situations (agility class, walking on leash in town or at the park) and not much better in others (tight spaces, leashed, small yappy out of control hyper dogs... just what we will be dealing with :D) I will definitely get his thyroid checked before we go, would love to find a pill that would 'fix' his reactivity :rolleyes:

 

bc4pack, I think of the exact same thing, I don't want Hoku to scare them and start any behavior issues with them... that is why we are really trying to figure this out and do it right, for all involved.

 

Thanks again for the thoughtful replies, you all are such an amazing resource and pool of knowledge and experience... I am grateful to be a tiny part of such a great community.

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My BC has the same space issues. My parents have our older dog who my BC grew up with but now doesn't like. We always stay with them Christmas Eve and Christmas day nights. Hannah has gotten more evil as she's gotten older....and because she's the guest and she's the one who starts things, she gets to stay in her crate when we're there unless she's outside in the back yard, eating, or on a walk with me. She doesn't really like it, but she likes it more than if I were to board her somewhere. And, I don't want to lock away the dog who isn't causing issues and who's house it is. My thinking is....its only 2 days, she can deal with being crated.

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