Introducing a muzzle

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Postby Ino » October 3rd, 2009, 1:29 pm

Ok, here is a little of the story. My brother is going to eventually be coming up to visit and has a young daughter. She is going to be 2 soon. Ino met her a year ago but he was very young (a few months old) and has not interacted with kids that young since. He has been around older kids but has not been aound any small children, other than my brothers daughter and my sisters young children when he was a pup. My brother has been up front that he does not trust Pit Bulls at all and took a while to like Ino when he was about 60-70lbs lighter than he is now. Knowing that my brother holds this fear and that it will most likely come into play when Ino does interact with his daughter (I am pretty sure the dog, the baby and I will sense his hesitation and fear ), I decided to purchase a muzzle for him. I started putting it on him for short periods (a few seconds at a time to start) and praising/rewarding him for wearing it- and removing it for now when he starts trying to pry it off. I will slowly increase the time he has it on and will try to distract him when he starts pawing at it. I figured this is a good thing to start implimenting occasionally now so that he gets used to it somewhat and does not associate the muzzle with the baby, and so he doesnt see it as a punishment. My dog has never tried to bite anyone but does bark and growl at new people when they come on the property initially, then as they approach- he looks at me and runs behind me temporarily then starts slowly going towards them and sniffs them. Usually he warms up to them within the 1st 5-20 min and becomes their pal. I just fear that my brother will perceive that as a biting type aggression and will be on edge so I figured a muzzle will keep him calmer until we see how they interact. I figure the muzzle is the safest way to introduce the dog to the baby (safest for both of them). Any ideas on the best way to go about this other than what I wrote here? Any help/suggestions are welcome and would be appreciated. Thanks!
Kim
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Postby mnp13 » October 3rd, 2009, 1:43 pm

Hi Kim, I am going to break one of those "unwritten rules" and answer your question with a question - is your dog crate trained? The reason I ask is perhaps the better way to deal with your brother's visit is to protect your dog - and him away from your niece.

You are 100% correct. Ino is going to pick up on your brother's tension, and your niece will as well. Tense adults, kids and pets make for uncomfortable situations... and those situations often lead up to exactly what you were afraid of in the first place.

My dog Riggs is not comfortable with children, and I have 3 nieces and 2 nephews. The children are closely supervised around the dogs, but the majority of the time Riggs is either crated or on leash when they are around. It's just better for everyone that way. Your niece may be the sweetest little girl in the universe, but if she has never been taught how to properly interact with a dog you can not be sure that - even supervised - she will behave appropriately with Ino.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » October 3rd, 2009, 1:54 pm

I agree with Michelle. When Inara met my very young niece and nephew (back when my family was still a little apprehensive) I either kept her in her crate or on her leash attached to me. A dog can still inadvertently injure a child with a muzzle on just by an exuberant greeting. Make sure Ino is VERY well exercised before they get there - as in, you ran him around on a tennis court and then worked him on a flirtpole so he can barely drag himself home. THAT tired.

And quite frankly, I may be stubborn but I would NEVER put a muzzle on my dog just to appease other people. My family quickly learned that if they wanted to see me they had to deal with Inara.
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Postby mnp13 » October 3rd, 2009, 2:08 pm

BUT... let me back myself up here...

If you are most comfortable with muzzling him when your brother and niece are at your home, then I'm sure there are people here who can help you come up with a good strategy to do so. :)
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Postby furever_pit » October 3rd, 2009, 2:18 pm

I totally agree with crating or leashing Ino when your niece is around.
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Postby Ino » October 3rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Yes, he is crate trained. I keep him in it when I leave the house (or in certain other situations- like when the bed delivery men came to take the old one and put the new one in- I knew it would be stressful)and I do leave the crate door open for him to go in when he feels like it- which he does often. He has his own blanket and pillow in there and if I am watching tv in the evenings, he goes in there on his own to take a nap. My only thought is that if my brother comes up- it will probably be for more than 24 hours (he lives several hours away)and I live in a very small apt. It would be hard to keep Ino in the crate away from the visitors for that long- especially since the crate is in the bedroom and the kitchen is the next room over. It is like a studio size apt. I have a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom- but that is it. I know my niece has been around dogs- there are a few she has been around where she lives but the biggest problem will be my brothers fear of Pit Bulls. I am pretty sure if the baby was slowly introduced, Ino would come around fast. He is good with people, it is just that he does like to bark initially and his stance can be intimidating to someone who has not met him before or since he has grown. He seems to mostly bark at adult males so I think his reaction will be more towards my brother. I know Ino enjoyed the babys company when he was small- however, I realize with his lack of exposure to young ones for the last year, things could be different now. He is a year and a half old so at some point I would like to see how he is with younger children because eventually I will be moving from the woods to a residential area and want to socialize him the best I can- and the safest way possible. If he does not seem good with them, then I will not push it. I can send him over to the neighbors apt for a while because Ino is great with his 3 dogs. I know my brother's wife was raised with Pit Bulls and has tried to convince my brother that they are good dogs- but I know her or I pushing my brother will only make it worse. He would have to see Ino and her with safeguards in place if he was to let his daughter near Ino- and I can understand that. I have no kids, but I do know that he loves his daughter very much and wants to ensure her safety and so do I. I also want to ensure Ino's safety.
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Postby Ino » October 3rd, 2009, 2:33 pm

I definately will physically and mentally tire him out prior to the meeting. We usually take lengthy walks in the morning and he gets time off leash deep in the woods with the neighbors 3 dogs and they romp and wrestle. Usually when he comes in- he sleeps until lunch time when he goes out back to relieve himself then comes back in and crashes until the evening walk- which is similar to the morning but usually a bit longer and he sleeps through the night. That is one good thing about the mix with English Bulldog- he has the somewhat high energy side of the Pit Bull but if he is exercised, he shows the more lazy side of the English Bulldog when we return. I do know how much the exercise helps keep him calm in the house- when he was on limited duration leash walks for his injured knee, he had very hyper moments indoors- but if he gets the energy out, he is a very easy and calm boy inside. His hyper moments are very short ( a few minutes) if they appear at all. :dance:
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Postby LMM » October 3rd, 2009, 3:59 pm

I also agree with the crate approach rather than muzzling.
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Postby katiek0417 » October 3rd, 2009, 10:53 pm

I'm a huge fan of the crating method...I only muzzle my dogs in certain situations...I can offer suggestions on how you might train him to wear one...but I would highly recommend using the crate as a tool here, rather than a muzzle.
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Postby Ino » October 4th, 2009, 12:51 pm

With the crate method, if my brother comes up- he will probably be here 24 hrs or more. Would I be keeping Ino in the crate the whole time with no exposure to the baby? He is used to being crated when I am gone, and has been crated for indoor delivery type stuff (bed delivery and set up), but for short periods. Other than that, the crate door is open when I am home for him to enter/exit it on his own. I've never had to crate him for visitors before-other than a delivery guy once and that was just because I knew that them carrying a queen mattress in and the old bed out would make him nervous because my apt is so small- he wouldnt be able to get away from the moving mattress. It was more to keep him calm and the delivery guys comfortable. He is afraid of a lot of things- even house flies :crazy2: (we have biting flies here though- so that is probably why). I figured a moving mattress would make him nervous and there was nowhere for him to hide!! The reason I am leaning towards the muzzle, is I do want to be able to see how he is towards the baby. When he was little- he kept going up to her and would lick her hands and cheeks but like I said- that was a year ago, he was much smaller and was younger and since he hasnt been around kids that young- I dont know if he would act the same. I would like for him to be able to be around kids but I know it will depend on how they make him feel. I see dogs being rehomed on sites like craigslist all the time because the people are having a baby and the dog doesnt like kids. I currently am not planning on a child arrival, but down the line- I dont know and do not want to have to make a choice between kids/dog. I am not sure if I worded that right- I wouldnt have kids and get rid of him but I would like to be able to have a child if the time comes rather than telling my partner I cant because my dog doesnt like them. He has never tried to bite or nip anyone- including new visitors but he does give warning barks when they enter the property at first (mostly to new adult men- women he is much less vocal around). Once they approach him- he barks and runs away but then runs back to them to sniff them (usually he is in a crouching posture) and back away and continues that for a few minutes making it into somewhat of a game- then within a few minutes- he takes a treat from them and continues the game until he eventually sniffs them out when they arent looking at him- then he will lay near them. Since my apt is so small, I know he would be able to hear us and we would eventually be in the room where the crate is since my apt is very small (I have a bedroom, bathroom and a kitchen- no other rooms). The crate is in the bedroom, which is where my brother and his wife and child would be sleeping and I would be on the futon. If I move the crate in the kitchen, he would still be exposed, since the kitchen is where the enterance to the apt is and since you have to go through the kitchen to get to the bathroom. I am not sure if him being crated while people are here would build a resentment towards my brother and/or the child. I am not trying to disagree with the crate method, just trying to figure out how it would work for that length of time (24+ hrs)and if the muzzle would be a possibility. I am thinking based on how he has been with new people and animals he has encountered, he would probably take to her, but because of my brothers anxiety and Ino's lack to exposure to kids, the muzzle with a leash on would be the safest way to see how he reacts to her without preventing him from interacting at all. Sorry this is so long- I am trying to describe as much as possible about the apt and his behavior with people. Thank you all for your replies. I am not disregarding any advice- just trying to figure out how the best way for this to go. I am not even sure when my brother is coming up- it probably wont be for a few months-that is why I am trying to figure it out now so safety measures are in place and all of us can be comfortable. Thanks again!! :)
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Postby tiva » October 4th, 2009, 1:24 pm

Hi-
For muzzle desensitizing, first make sure you have a properly fitting basket muzzle, NOT a cloth or closed muzzle (dogs can overheat and die in those very very quickly--they are only for brief vet or grooming visits). Good plastic basket muzzles are available online for about $15 (amazon carries them, or morrco); pitbulls are often about a size 9.

Reasonably good instructions for desensitization are available at http://www.morrco.com/trdogtowemu.html

As with all desensitization, go slowly and use great treats. Hurrying up the early stages of desensitization will mean a lot of wasted time down the road.

For working with your dog around toddlers, I would first teach your dog to target a hand (targeting is a great skill for any dog, but especially for shy dogs, which your Ino seems to be). Then have your (leashed, muzzled if it makes you feel more comfortable) pup start at your side, then give the command to have him run over and target the toddler's hand and immediately run back to you for an awesome treat. Here are some good instructions for teaching and using hand targeting:
http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/1 ... Hello.aspx

No matter how wonderfully behaved a child is, any child can do stuff to young dogs that will frighten or annoy that dog (fall on the dog, step on his tail, pull his ears, poke his eyes by mistake). Having introductions take place in a very structured setting, with clear instructions for the toddler and the pup, ensure success. I always keep my body in between my young dog, Vanya (who loves kids but doesn't love being poked, prodded, pulled, fallen on, etc), and young kids, and keep interactions very brief and very structured. I frame it to both the child and the dog as a game, of course

Good luck!
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Postby tiva » October 4th, 2009, 1:29 pm

And if you don't already have it, please please please buy or borrow Nicole Wilde's Help for Your Fearful Dog. Your Ino will be much happier if you are able to work on desensitizing and counterconditioning his shyness and fears. Fearful dogs can be helped to overcome their fears, but it takes structure, consistency, and a lot of great treats.
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Postby tiva » October 4th, 2009, 1:34 pm

Another thing to consider (seriously) is whether it's really a good idea to have so many people plus Ino in a tiny apartment. Given my particular priorities, I'd kennel the brother+partner+kid (in a nice motel, possibly, but if my brother was being annoying, the garage might do), rather than kenneling my dogs. Other people may have different priorities.

Rule #1 with shy dogs is: set them up for success. It may be that having everyone crammed into a tiny apartment is not a recipe for success, no matter how many crates, leashes, targeting games, and basket muzzles you stock up on beforehand.
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Postby mnp13 » October 4th, 2009, 2:57 pm

The only problem with a basket muzzle in this case, in my opinion, is that the child could quite easily stick her fingers through it - and a curious nip is still a nip. Or, with the way it sounds like your brother is being, even a little touch with a tooth will be considered a bite.

Ino wrote:The reason I am leaning towards the muzzle, is I do want to be able to see how he is towards the baby.

And this is the source of my concern - if he is uncomfortable with the baby the muzzle may cause more problems, not less. A dog's primary source of protection (after the ability to escape of course) is its teeth. Now, don't get me wrong here, I am not saying that Ino would bite your niece but when you muzzle him you are now effectively removing the possibility - which could make him more defensive and therefore he may act out of character. Do you know what I mean? Imagine if you were handcuffed and then put in an awkward social situation, you would probably act differently than if your hands were free, not because you're anticipating getting in a fight, but because it's just not comfortable.

Ino wrote:I see dogs being rehomed on sites like craigslist all the time because the people are having a baby and the dog doesnt like kids

I personally feel this is a horrible cop out on the part of the owners. Even dogs who don't like kids can be managed, and though there are exceptions of course, I do not believe for one minute that the vast majority of cases could not be worked out with some effort.

Ino wrote:I am not sure if I worded that right- I wouldnt have kids and get rid of him but I would like to be able to have a child if the time comes rather than telling my partner I cant because my dog doesnt like them.

I appreciate that honesty. I think it's an important consideration, however, I don't think that this is the best of circumstances to see how your dog is with children. Your brother already dislikes your dog, simply because Ino happens to breath, not for any other reason. 24/48 or even 72 hours of interaction with a child is not a true evaluation of Ino's temperament with children, so it's not going to give you a "real" idea anyway. If you decide to have children in the future, there are many many ways that you will be able to avail to get Ino used to haveing a child in the house with him.

Ino wrote:I am not trying to disagree with the crate method, just trying to figure out how it would work for that length of time (24+ hrs)

I would do this:
1 - Look around the training section for some threads on how to get your dog used to extended crate time. Start now so that he's used to being in the crate when you're home. There is lots of useful advice on that topic (none if it by me! ;) )
2 - exercise the heck out of him for the two or three days ahead of your brother getting to your house
3 - get a gi-normous raw meaty bone for him to have in his crate in your bedroom to keep him busy
4 - schedule at least 30 minutes twice a day for heavy exercise while your brother is there
5 - work on his basic obedience every day until your brother gets here. sits and downs should be rock solid, they will be your absolute best friend in calm, controlled introductions


And here's the thing, though it doesn't sound "nice" even if he has to be crated for every minute of your brother's visit, he won't be any worse for the wear. I promise. :)
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Postby Ino » October 4th, 2009, 4:05 pm

Thanks. I will definately take a look around the training for the crate info and for other training methods that could be of assistance. He is good about going in there when he hears me open the biscuit box- then I go take his collar off and he eats the biscuit and goes to sleep. He gets a lot of exercise so he sleeps most of the day anyway- so it shouldnt be much work since he goes in there a lot on his own. Especially if I am on the computer or watching tv, he goes in there to relax. I think the crate may be the best idea and I can send him next door for a while to spend time with my neighbor and his dogs (he has been around them since he was 8 weeks old and loves them- we all walk together every morning and evening and the younger lab mix is his wrestle/play partner so both of the tire out on the walks-they love tug-o-war). Ino spends time over there sometimes when I have my longer college days. Also, I do have a tie out for him in the back yard so he can spend some time on that during the day (weather permitting)- the neighbors dogs have tie outs near his so they can play and that should help keep some of his routine consistant- he usually goes out on that for an hour or so at lunch time so he can relieve himself and play a little. It is part of a routine that comes in handy on longer school days. Thanks for the input- a lot of the advice that was brought up, I had not considered. It is really helpful!! :)
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Postby Ino » October 4th, 2009, 4:17 pm

tiva wrote:And if you don't already have it, please please please buy or borrow Nicole Wilde's Help for Your Fearful Dog. Your Ino will be much happier if you are able to work on desensitizing and counterconditioning his shyness and fears. Fearful dogs can be helped to overcome their fears, but it takes structure, consistency, and a lot of great treats.

Thanks! I will definately pick that up. I have never heard of that book before and am precautious about purchasing random books that are not recommended by people with experience with the breed because there is a lot of counter productive info in print, both in books and online. I have wanted to work on his shyness/fear- but have been careful because I did not know the best ways to do so and did not want to push and make things worse. I live in a pretty secluded area and socialized him the best I could but he definately is unsure and uncomfortable with new/unfamiliar things (places, objects) and people.
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