Is it okay to use a muzzle on a client's dog?

asked 2017-07-23 13:40:06 -0500

PREFACE: I have 2 dogs of my own and 2 dogs I am sitting. I did a meet and greet well in advance with the client and her dogs, and everything went great; the dogs were getting along great so I agreed to do the sit. My dogs have never shown outright aggression towards other dogs or had other dogs display aggression towards them.

One of the client's dogs and my own get along swimmingly, but the other client's dog is behaving aggressively towards both of my dogs and cats regardless of what I try. I have tried:

  • walks on neutral ground
  • exercising her before retrying introductions
  • conditioning

At this point, I have spent the better part of 3 days trying to integrate her, and I have even tried to let them work it out on their own. Alas, nothing has worked. I am afraid that she will hurt my cats or my smaller dog, but I am most afraid of her inciting a fight with my large German Shepherd mix which is much larger than her; he is not aggressive, but he will defend himself.

The client is hundreds of miles away and has no local contact. My question is whether it is okay to muzzle the client's dog, and if so, should I notify her?

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answered 2017-07-24 16:44:23 -0500

I am sorry you are having such a hard time with this dog. This sounds like what we call a "crate & rotate" kind of situation, dogs will not always display aggression right away, sometimes it takes a couple days, a few hours or simply being away from her humans, either way, you must act preemptively and take control of the situation before any incidents happen . To avoid any fights or injuries, you should keep the dogs that dont get along separated and keep the aggressive dog away from your cats. Muzzling a dog that does not know you all that well, that is in a strange environment and probably just reacting out of anxiety would most likely just make her more aggressive.

I would still notify the client of the situation, ask her if this has ever happened before and how she dealt with the it. First so you have a bit more info and perhaps some insight has to how to remedy this, second you cover yourself in case something does happen and third, you allow her owner to be aware of a behavior she might not know about.

Good luck with everything.

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answered 2017-07-24 20:44:47 -0500

I agree with Fannie, an aggressive dog should be separated. Do you have baby gates? I don't like to use crates in my house, but I do use play pens and baby gates if needed. That way a dog has room to hang out and everyone is safe. She might even feel more comfortable and at ease in a separated area just for her.

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answered 2017-07-29 09:12:15 -0500

Personally, I have a hands off policy (no swatting etc). I use something my mother-in-law taught me. I have several "shake-cans" around my apartment. Any behavior that I want to curb or stop I shake the can loudly or shake and throw it in front of them (not at them). Simple and cheap, when ever you have an empty cola can, rinse and let it dry, drop about 10 pennies (or any metal objects small enough to get through the opening) and tape the top over with duck tape (I use the one with the dog paws on it LOL). It startles them, makes them stop whatever they're doing and redirect. My personal dog knows it so that all I have to do is swirl it where it barely makes noise and he knows to stop whatever he's doing. It may not 'stop' the aggressive dog but at least you'd have time enough to separate whichever ones need to be, etc. At first you might keep it at hand and watch for any brewing situations and 'nip it in the bud.' Hope this helps :)

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answered 2017-07-24 21:00:48 -0500

Fannie and Olga,

I appreciate your thoughtful responses. I was wary of using the muzzle and am very much against it in most cases - I have only used it on one foster dog which was extremely aggressive. Keeping the dog in question separated with strategically placed baby gates and unfolded exercise pens with her sister has worked out well so far. I'm keeping them out of sight from each other as she would get her hackles up and begin curling her lip if she even saw my dogs or cats in another room.

I did notify the owner of the behavior, and from her response, I gather that this is normal behavior for her. It seems that she has unaddressed aggression issues and may not have been socialized well. Some of it could be attributed to stress/anxiety, but both dogs appear very relaxed and are not displaying any visible signs of stress.

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I love how pet owners will place a dog reactive dog in your home knowing other dogs will be present but without telling you about it or downright lie to your face when you ask during the booking process... Darn the humans *&^%$#@$%&^!!!

Fannie L.'s profile image Fannie L.  ( 2017-07-24 22:50:36 -0500 ) edit
answered 2017-07-25 13:26:00 -0500

When in doubt - always ask the owners. It sounds like they're aware of the dog's behavior and may have suggestions on how to correct it

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