Moving house with your dog!

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They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things ever - up there with death and divorce.

Having just moved house, I can tell you this is true! Unfortunately there was an incompetent solicitor in the chain who slowed things down by a whole month, day by day, week by week. So everyone involved was very fraught. This didn’t help my dogs.

As we know, dogs are so sensitive. They pick up our moods and worries. Along with all the upheaval of clearing out, getting rid of stuff, and moving everything around the house, this gave them an unsettled few weeks too.

I’m fortunate that my campervan is fully kitted out for the dogs, so it was easy enough to park them in there and move the van out of the drive when the packers and movers were at work. A friend who is moving this week is taking her anxious dog to an excellent kennels for a few days. He’s been happy there before, so by the time he arrives in the new home it’ll all be safely fenced and ready. It’s important that at this time of upheaval you keep everything as stable and familiar as possible.

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As mine was a long-distance move, we “camped out” in the new house till all our belongings arrived two days later. I’ve never been happier to see my bed! (Likewise Cricket the Whippet, who was in it before you could say “woppit”.)

Having spent a couple of months in Limbo with all the delays - never knowing where anything was - I was determined to unpack the boxes as fast as possible. So by Monday it was virtually all done, and the boxes recycled to a couple of other home-movers.

The house began to look like a home!

Sniffing about

We all know how important the dog’s sense of smell is. A third of their brain is dedicated to this sense, which is infinitely superior to ours. So my dogs spent plenty of time in the new house sniffing boxes, furniture, objects - and importantly their beds - and feeling at home.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the one who was easiest to manage was my cat Squeak. Squeak has always been a half-outdoor cat, and never used a litter box. She is an intrepid explorer and joins me and the dogs on walks now and then.

All the books and sites say you have to keep your cat in for weeks when you move. No chance! I had thought I’d have to capture her before the moving men arrived and keep her crated till we arrived here (that would be around 10 hours captivity), but as she got on so well - watching curiously as the strange men packed everything in the house a couple of days before - I decided to wait till the vans had left. This paid off, and she only had to spend the journey-time in the crate (about 5 hours).

The minute we arrived in the empty house, the dogs and cat were free to explore the garden. We all froze at night - having to leave a window open with a chair and bin outside to help Squeak get in and out - till a catflap was put in the door.

Squeak had no trouble with this arrangement, and has settled into her new home straight away, seamlessly.

Clingy dogs

 Four dogs and one cat get as close to me as possible when I finally hit the armchair on moving day!

Four dogs and one cat get as close to me as possible when I finally hit the armchair on moving day!

The dogs, on the other hand, stayed unsettled for a good few days. Wherever I went, four sets of paws pattered after me - just in case I should escape!

Lying on top of me or round my feet was considered a good strategy for anchoring me.

After a week they’re much more relaxed, and used to the new practices here.

New house rules

As there’s a public footpath running alongside the garden, and as I have two reactive dogs (!), we are learning to ignore the sounds of the occasional walker + dog going by. This needs careful work from the outset in a new home. The last thing you want is a habit of fence-barking or fence-running to establish itself - that’s much harder to eradicate than to prevent.

So I am always armed with treats when in the garden (when am I ever not armed with treats?) and the dogs are never out there alone. I’m ready for the moment one alerts to the sound of a passer-by and we move straight into our lesson: those people may be ignored, they’re not coming in here, they’re allowed on the path. You just enjoy these treats instead.

What I’m doing is technically known as counter-conditioning. I’m changing the dogs’ emotional response to the thing they’re afraid of, so that they no longer feel the need to fear it. Repetition and consistency are key.

They didn’t bark at the (much closer) neighbours in our last house, because they were used to them, they were predictable. So it’s only a matter of time before they pass no remarks when the gravel crunches beside our new garden.

And almost the first thing I did was to spend 15 minutes putting window film on part of the front windows, so that the dogs needn’t feel threatened by every passer-by. If you have a reactive dog - you need window film!

How to move house and pets easily

Are you and your dog moving home soon? Make life easy for both of you with some forward planning | FREE EMAIL TIPS | #dogbehavior, #dogsandcats, #travellingwithpets, #movinghouseanddogs, #dogtraining, | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So you can see that to have a successful house-move you have to consider the animals well in advance. Mine are used to going to strange new places in the campervan, and know the van is their base when we’re on the move. They are comfortable in their beds there, and know that dinner will still arrive! They’ve also had short stays in holiday cottages.

My friend’s dog was well used to the kennels she used. It’s no use just whamming your dog in kennels if he’s never been there before! With all the upheavals and anxiety at home associated with the forthcoming move he’s likely to feel very lost and upset.

As mine was a long-distance move, kennels were not an option for me. And in any case, I felt sure that all five of my companions would be happier being with me, however strange it may all be.

So include your pets in your moving plans from the start. It will all be worth it when you are settled in your new home!

Brilliant Family Dog and Good for Dogs!

In case you’re wondering, this move does not in any way affect Brilliant Family Dog. All the courses, both free and paid, are running as usual. I am in the private course groups daily with guidance and support - as usual.

The Wiggles Wags and Whiskers Freedom Harnesses and Leads are still available at www.goodfordogs.co.uk/products as usual.

The only change is to Good for Dogs!, my erstwhile dog training school on the ground in Worcestershire. This has, of course, closed there, but will be reopening here in Norfolk! Group classes will begin next year, while 1-1 sessions with anxious, fearful, aggressive, reactive, “growly”, dogs will start almost immediately.

As one Gloucestershire student put it,

Hi Beverley, The other side of the country will gain a fab dog trainer but sadly our loss.

I fully intend to live up to that charming remark, and bring force-free, dog-friendly, dog training to the good people (and their slightly less good!) dogs here in Norfolk.

I’d like to thank so many of you for your thoughts and well wishes for my move!

Please keep in touch. I will still be able to help all my past students, even though further away.

My dog won’t take no for an answer

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“My dog has many good points but does not take no for an answer and is very disobedient when he appears to be totally deaf.”

So wrote a reader of her “challenging” dog.

Well, I’m glad the poor dog’s owner recognises he has good points! But the rest of her statement means that she doesn’t understand her dog or his motivation one bit.

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Disobedient. The dictionary tells us this means “refusing to obey rules or someone in authority”. Now if you’re to obey rules, you have to know what those rules are. And I’m willing to bet this dog has NO idea what the rules are that he’s meant to “obey”!

A common misconception

There seems to be an extraordinary misunderstanding rife amongst dog-owners. They think their dog arrives pre-programmed with English (or Spanish, or Turkish, or whatever they speak themselves). They think that the dog will have a perfect understanding of the meaning of words enunciated loudly and with clarity. So “SIT!” should immediately have the dog sitting.

Furthermore, they think that all their physical expressions and vocal tones will be instantly understood. So “NOOOOOO!” said in a menacing way with finger wagging will clearly mean “Take your paws off the table and go to your basket.”

How is your non-verbal, non-human, dog meant to know this?

Teach first

In the first place, your dog needs to be taught what it is that’s wanted - not left to guess, take pot-luck and hope he gets it right.

You have to give the dog information about what it is you want, not just what you don’t want.

Think of a toddler in your home. You’d be showing her what you wanted, kindly and patiently, naming objects and actions in that motherly chatty way that comes naturally to loving parents. Requests would come as suggestions, (Do you think your teddy bear would like to have tea now?) You wouldn’t bark orders at her! You wouldn’t expect her to understand language before she is verbal herself!

You may treat your dog the exact same way. And it’ll help if you think of how you get your wishes known and followed with your human family.

Cues not commands

It’s easier to say YES to your dog than NOOOOOO! And your dog will| respond fast, once you are both on the same page | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbodylanguage, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Do you order, or “command” your partner or family?

Or do you perhaps ask them?

Perhaps you drop hints, without even saying anything at all! For instance, you may come home exhausted and throw yourself into an armchair. A sensitive family member may say “I’ll put the shopping away for you - would you like a cup of tea?” Or even, “You make us a cup of tea and I’ll deal with all these groceries.”

We give and take. We assess a person’s mood and act accordingly. We adapt our requirements to the situation. We are kind and patient (if we want to keep the peace!).

In enlightened dog training, we call these communications - not “commands” but “cues”. They can be vocal cues (“Would you like to sit?”), or they could be environmental cues (I’m holding your lead - if you want me to put it on you for a walk you need to sit). And no, they don’t understand every word - neither does your toddler. But they can get the drift.

So if you take the word “command” right out of your vocabulary you may find that straight away you get on better with your dog. Really!

You have asked your dog to Sit and she doesn’t. Instead of shouting SIT ever louder and more urgently, you may ask yourself why she doesn’t sit:

• Is it because she’s in pain?

• Is it because the floor is slippery so she’s unable to prop herself up?

• Is it because it’s wet and muddy and she’s a comfort-lover? (My whippet wouldn’t dream of sitting on wet grass - and I’d never ask her to!)

• Is it because she’s distracted by the dog over the road/the postman/children screaming/the shopping bags on the floor/[insert your dog’s fear or fancy here]?

• … or is it perhaps because you never taught her?

“Disobedient” and other such words

The dictionary gives us related words for disobedient:

unruly, wayward, errant, disorderly, delinquent, disruptive, troublesome, rebellious, defiant, mutinous, recalcitrant, uncooperative, non-compliant, wilful, unbiddable, intractable, obstreperous, awkward, difficult, perverse, contrary, naughty, mischievous …

I’ve heard almost all of those words applied to a dog’s behaviour by a frustrated and thwarted owner! Often it’s new dog-owners talking about their first puppy. They clearly are labouring under the misapprehension I outlined above, and are expecting miraculous perception from this baby of another species.

Usually I suggest they substitute the word they’ve used (often stubborn, difficult, disobedient) with a word which better fits the situation: try fearful, shy, overexcited, hungry, overtired … perhaps the sort of words you may use to describe that little toddler who is not doing what you’d like.

We all have reasons for doing things

Of one thing you may be sure - dogs don’t do things for no reason.

You may not be able to see or understand the reason - but there is a reason! And as we’re meant to be the ones with the bigger brains, and we chose to have this dog live with us, it’s up to us to work out what that reason is.

You’ll find some study of Dog Body Language will repay you well (see Resources below). Your dog will heave a huge sigh of relief when at last you seem to understand his clear messages! And no, they’re not obvious to most of us dumb humans till they’re explained to us.

Once you know whether your dog is just distracted or - perhaps - afraid, you’ll be able to deal accordingly with the situation. Keep in mind that you cannot train an emotion-based behaviour out of a dog. They’re not operating on a rational basis at that moment, any more than your shrieking toddler who wants something she can’t get.

So, as I replied to the reader I quoted at the top of this piece, assess the situation carefully before you apportion blame. Your dog needs your help and understanding, not condemnation.

Lots of ideas for changing things - without any ordering or commanding!

In this free 8-lesson email course.

Resources

Dog Body Language videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bstvG_SUzMo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00_9JPltXHI

https://susangarrettdogagility.com/2018/06/body-language-fear-and-aggression/

ZZZs are worth £££s and $$$s

How much does my puppy need to sleep? Most people are shocked to hear this answer! Check it out and instantly get a calmer, nip-free home | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppynipping, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

“You have to help us - he’s shredding our hands,” wailed the girl on the phone. 

“He just goes mad - he’s vicious!

She was talking about her new puppy - a Cocker Spaniel crossed with a Poodle (a difficult mix at the best of times). I asked the puppy’s age. 

“He’s eleven weeks. OW! Scamp, NO! Get off! Oh no, my jumper …”

 “How long has Scamp been awake?” I asked.

“Only three hours,” she replied.

“Then there’s your problem. Put him straight to bed. Now.”

With a puppy as young as Scamp, one hour of being awake is usually quite enough. Time to put him away in his crate for a ziz. 

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With my latest puppy Coco, I would shut him in his crate at nap time, put a blanket over the top and three sides to make a cosy den, leave the room and shut the door. There’d be a bone or chew toy if he felt the need to do something. If there was a lot of noise outside I would play soothing music to mask it.

Any noise from the puppy before falling asleep would be totally ignored, so he quickly didn’t bother to make any. If your puppy is bored, sleep will soon waft over him!

When I returned a couple of hours later, my blissfully relaxed puppy would be stretching and smiling and ready to start the adventure again. Check out this piece for exactly how to achieve this blessed state!

As he grew he was able to manage longer times of being up and doing. 

Getting frayed and fractious, bitey and snappy, is a sure sign of an overtired puppy who is unable to control himself. Time to pop him in his crate or playpen, leave him in peace and wait for him to awaken refreshed. 

Older Dogs

And the same goes for older dogs. They need their beauty sleep! And they need much more than they’re usually allowed. Research has shown that an adult dog needs 17 hours of sleep a day to be mentally and physically healthy. 17 hours! How many dogs get that much sleep?

If your dog seems to be on the go the whole time, running himself ragged, chasing birds, chewing up anything he finds, alert at the smallest sound - you need to organise proper nap times, just as you would for a young child. Make them part of your routine so that your dog’s internal clock gets in sync with them.

At the moment I am working, so my dogs are all snoozing. They no longer need to be confined to a crate as they were as young puppies. There are many beds here and they are free to sleep where they will. 

How well do you feel after a good night’s sleep? Your dog needs much more than you do to feel as good! Check out this post to find out more. | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So Cricket the Whippet is sunbathing on the grass outside. Rollo the Border Collie is dozing in the shade. Coco is on a hammock bed near me, and Lacy is on the floor just behind my chair. 

Not only are they going to awake rested, but I can work undisturbed. I can pay lots of attention to them when I’m ready, and I know nothing in the house or garden will have been damaged.

Early crate training ensured that the only chewing they ever did was of the approved items (bones, toys) which lived in their crates. Establishing early habits like this is hugely helpful later on. The chewing habit doesn’t have to be broken because it never got out of hand!

Start on Day 1

So start as you mean to continue, with lots of naps throughout the day for your young pup or new rescue dog. This will build a lasting routine for your puppy, and help to build feelings of security and confidence for your new rescue dog (who doesn’t need to brave the big bad world yet. Not until she knows this is home and you can be trusted to keep her safe.)

Always start from where you are! We can’t alter the past. We can just assess the present situation, see where it needs to improve, and change the future.
Dogs need to sleep much longer than most people think. Find out how to get some much-needed peace and calm from your over-excited dog | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So your present dog, who races round all day and never sleeps, will need to start with short naps - gradually getting longer - with you still around. Feeding all meals in the crate will help her to love the place, and a foodtoy to lick and slurp while dozing off will be ideal. 

Teaching her how to relax on her mat will help her learn how to switch off. This book will show you how, in easy steps.

Yes, you can have a calm house and a relaxed dog. The first step is to sort out sleeping times.

Sleep is the great healer!


Check out our Free Courses and Courses pages to see how else you can help your mad dog become your Brilliant Family Dog!

Hooray! Shock collars banned in UK!

More and more civilised countries round the world are banning shock collars - e-collars, electronic training collars, electronic spray collars| These gadgets are not only cruel but also harmful and can give you the exact opposite from what you wanted. | FREE ECOURSE | #shockcollar, #electronicdogcollar, #dogtraining, #electronicspraycollars, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior, #dogsandcats | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

I wish I could say that these inhumane torture devices were banned universally, but sadly that is unlikely ever to happen.

What I can say is that England has just now joined Wales and Scotland in banning the beastly things for cats and dogs. The details of the legislation haven’t been released yet. Sadly the British government stopped short of banning underground electric shock fences and their collars. Why one shock is allowed and another not, I don’t know.

Known as e-collars, shock collars, training collars, they can deliver up to 6,000 volts to the dog’s neck, directly into the holes made by the spikes in the collar, which can last up to 11 seconds. Factor in that some electronic gadgets are faulty, and there are collars that don’t turn off at all, and you truly have an instrument of torture.

Also banned are collars that make a painful noise in the dog’s sensitive ears, or squirt a nasty liquid into his face. Once squirted, this scent remains in the dog’s nose, making this a long and painful punishment.

The use of shock collars is now also banned in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, and in some territories of Australia - New South Wales and Southern Australia. 

So civilisation is slowly creeping over the world!

Why are they bad?

Science has proven without any doubt whatsoever, that associating good things with something has the effect of making that thing acceptable to an animal.

The opposite is true: associating bad things with something will make the dog more reactive or fearful of the thing.

Example: A dog is pulling on the lead. Just as the misguided owner administers an electric shock, the dog catches sight of a child. Now children are associated with pain and fear. How long before the dog takes matters into his own paws and bites a child to keep this dangerous thing away from him before he gets another shock? 

It’s simple science - not the rocket variety! 

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What can you do to accelerate this change? 

Many people think that the collars are harmless and just give a tickle to the neck. If you believe this, try one on your toddler. Or your neighbour’s toddler if you haven’t got one. No? Thought not … 

And many people also think that it’s right to change an animal’s behaviour by torture and punishment. Have a look at Amnesty International and see what they think of that! If it’s wrong to do this to people - and I’m sure if you’re reading this post you agree with that! - then how can it be right to do it to animals?

Be aware that people who do use them have a raft of excuses ready to pour out to you. To me that smacks of “the lady doth protest too much”. They know it’s wrong, but they try to justify it to themselves and anyone else who will listen. 

What it comes down to is that people like to dominate others, including animals. Some think force is acceptable. And making their own life easier at the expense of others’ rights and dignity is ok by them. 


I was offered money to promote these

I’ve had a few emails recently from websites who promote these nasty devices, and other collars which I would consider cruel or aversive. They offered me money to advertise them on Brilliant Family Dog. How desperate are they? 

There’s no way I’d advertise them - “not even for ready money” as Oscar Wilde put it! 

You can rest assured that you will never find cruel or aversive, punishing devices or methods promoted here! We know that the results we want can all be achieved by kind and gentle methods. Yes - it sometimes may take longer, but we’re not just looking at the result: the journey itself is enjoyable.

With your own family it’s the daily give-and-take that creates the abiding love and comfort that drives us to make family groups. We don’t just want the perfect, finished, child (or husband!). We live the process daily and enjoy what it brings to our relationships. 

And that is what I do with my pet animals too (and my farm animals when I had them). It’s the process of training, growing understanding, mutual appreciation - love - that is what we want in a relationship with our animals. Taking a shortcut to the desired result cuts all this learning out.

What people miss by doing this!

Would you use an electronic shock collar on your child? Of course not! So why use one on your defenceless dog? These gadgets are not only cruel but also harmful and can give you the exact opposite from what you wanted. | FREE ECOURSE | #shockcollar, #electronicdogcollar, #dogtraining, #electronicspraycollars, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior, #dogsandcats | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Other nasty things

Sadly man has devised other nasty things for the animals we choose to share our homes with. Reminiscent of the slave trade collars long since banned, the “prong” or “pinch” (what a euphemism!) collars are also promoted for a quick fix for any dog behaviour problems.

These collars have spikes on the inside that dig into the dog’s neck. “Oh, it doesn’t hurt him!” the deluded owner may say. Again - try it on someone you love. 

Keep in mind that dogs’ necks and throats are physiologically identical to our necks and throats. All the components are in exactly the same place as ours are. The only difference is a light bit of hair-covering, soon worn away by the use of these collars. 

If you need evidence that the people who use these collars actually know that they’re wrong and demeaning, know that there are now disguised collars available. From the outside it looks like a pretty collar. Inside are the rows of teeth. Despicable. 

What can I do instead?

So to end on a happier note - people are now realising how wrong this all is, and governments are taking action to ban their sale and use. 

What else can you use to get the results you want with your difficult or challenging dog? Check out our free courses and start learning a new way of working with your dog which is pleasurable for all parties. Watch your dog blossom!

You could start with this one which gives you simple kind and painfree "recipes" to change aspects of your dog's behaviour which you don't love.

 

 

 

Should my dog wear a muzzle?

Should my dog wear a muzzle? I’m worried that people will think my dog is aggressive and I’m a bad dog-owner! Find out here how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

This is a question I get a lot. And it usually comes from people who really, deep down, know the answer. They just can’t bring themselves to take this step.

So first off - if your dog has bitten anyone or anything, or you fear he may bite - have sense and muzzle-train him. This is not only for safety, but also for the health of your heart-rate and possibly your bank balance, if things go badly wrong.

There are many useful occasions for a muzzle - a vet or groomer visit for an anxious dog is one. Far better for your dog to be used to his muzzle and arrive already wearing it, rather than be man-handled by staff putting a strange one on him. 

Then there’s the slug-muncher and stone-eater - and harvesters of other unmentionable stuff that some dogs take a fancy to! Rather than try and catch him and nag the whole time, just prevent it.

 If you don’t want something to happen, don’t let it happen

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Some dogs can cope with people outside the house, but visitors inside the house terrify him. Give yourself and your dog a break by muzzling him before your guests arrive. Once you relax a bit because you know your friends and family aren’t going to be shredded and spat out on the carpet, your dog will have a better chance of relaxing too. Of course the dog must be happy to be there - not just forced in on the basis that he’s no longer dangerous!


But people will think my dog is nasty!

Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. (Maybe they do already.) If they’re strangers, do you really care? And if they’re friends, you can explain to them. 

One surefire thing about a muzzle is that it tends to keep people away - which is just what you want! They think your dog must be dangerous and therefore move their dogs and children aside, as well as themselves. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that your dog is actually the safest of all now! But this is a good outcome. Your anxious dog doesn’t need people/children/dogs in her face.

If you feel anxious yourself about muzzling your dog, think how you’ll feel if you relax your vigilance for a moment and your dog bites someone! Would that be worse? Definitely. Bite the bullet and just do it. 


What sort of muzzle should I get?

There’s quite a variety of muzzles available. 

• Cloth muzzle: this is the sort that vets may put on a dog for a few moments while they treat her. It should never be on for long - or be put on an unsupervised dog - as it prevents the dog from panting or drinking, and is therefore dangerous. It’s also not advised for brachycephalic dogs (squashed-nose dogs, so popular at the moment) as they already struggle to breathe and these cloth muzzles have proved fatal in some cases for these dogs. So on no account get this one!

• Basket muzzle: what you need is a basket muzzle that allows your dog to open her mouth fully, to eat, drink, pant, and not feel constrained. But these vary hugely, and you need to get the right one for your dog.

Should I muzzle my dog? I’m worried that people will think my dog is aggressive and I’m a bad dog-owner! Find out here how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

• Baskerville muzzles: perhaps the commonest. They don’t allow full opening of the mouth. The inability to pant could have serious consequences for a dog who needs to lower her body temperature. 

• Baskerville Ultra muzzle: is often the go-to muzzle as it’s widely available. But this doesn’t mean it’s the right one for your dog! They have an optional head-strap which can be useful for keeping the thing on, but they are really designed for brachycephalic dogs and are too short for longer-nosed dogs. See Lacy in hers. She hated it - you can see that in the photo. Any larger and it would have fallen off her face. 

 • Leather custom-made colourful muzzles: very expensive and they look pretty constricting to me. It looks hard to get treats in at the right moment (essential if you’re working on counterconditioning an anxious or fearful dog). But I know some people like them.

• Racing greyhound muzzle: my favourite, and the one Lacy is wearing in the other pictures. Made to measure, available in loads of colours, incredibly lightweight, it allows full opening of the mouth for even a gasping racing dog, treats are easy to administer, and most important - Lacy is very happy to wear it. She comes forward and puts her face in, as opposed to running and hiding as she did when she saw the Baskerville Ultra.

Bottom line: your dog should find the muzzle comfortable, it should be easy to slip on, secure, and allow your dog to drink, pant, eat treats, and possibly play.


Muzzles are ugly

They don’t need to be! You can decorate your dog’s muzzle any way you like. You can see I “girlified” Lacy’s black muzzle, and I’ve added a little fleece to the top of her pink racing muzzle in case it chafed. It never did, but I felt it was kinder to cushion it as sometimes she will be wearing it for a couple of hours at a time. 

You can use paint, stickers, ribbons, sparkly stuff (make sure it can’t flake into your dog’s eyes or nose) - anything that shows that your dog is loved.

 

I tried a muzzle once and my dog hated it and kept scrabbling at her face!

Wouldn’t you? If someone slapped a cage on your face without asking? 

Just as with any bit of dog gear - harness, collar, coat - you have to acclimatise your dog to this slowly. The idea is to associate the new thing with a steady flow of treats until your dog can’t wait to put her nose in! 

Start by treating her for just looking at it; then for sniffing it, then for touching it with her nose … and so on. Those three steps alone may take you three days or more! Go at your dog’s speed, don’t try to rush. 

The key is that your dog should always have the choice to move forward to interact with the muzzle. You’re not grabbing her and whamming it on!

There is an excellent how-to video in the Resources below. Do watch it then work through it step-by-step. Once you’re at the stage of putting the muzzle on before a walk, your dog will associate it with treats and a walk. 

This is the perfect ending - as long as your dog likes walks! If not, then have a look at some of the other Growly Dog posts here.


There is no stigma in being a responsible dog-owner!

Your muzzled dog will be able to enjoy group walks again! Find out here how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Don’t think you are appearing a bad owner if your dog is wearing a muzzle! You are being a responsible owner! You are acknowledging that your dog has difficulties in certain areas of her life and you are aiming for the best possible outcome. Never be ashamed of this. 

Muzzling your dog may allow him valuable off-lead time. This does depend on the level of his anxiety and the amount of behaviour modification training you’ve put in place. You must always think safety first. 

As you can see in the photo, a group walk can be made possible for a muzzle-trained dog. Ensure your dog is happy with the space between her and the other dogs so she doesn't feel trapped.

And it doesn’t mean the end of fun for your dog! I know dogs who wear the same muzzle as Lacy who can still play with their beloved toys as they can press down on the ground and get a grip on its “handle”. So a ball on a rope is the ideal solution for the toy-mad dog who needs to wear a muzzle.

Store your dog’s muzzle in a prominent place near your leads and harnesses. Put it on your dog proudly! Be glad of how much relief it brings you. And know you’re doing the right thing.

 

 

Resources

Muzzleupproject
Teach your dog to wear a muzzle with Chirag Patel
Racing muzzles
Doglaw - excellent dog-specific legal advice for the UK

Free 8-part email course for your Growly but Brilliant Family Dog!

 

 

 

 

Do you make this mistake with your dog?

Want to take your shy dog to a cafe? You can! Follow the suggestions here and you can make it work, and really enjoy your family dog | FREE VIDEO COURSE | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppysocialisation | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

I was sitting in a cafe with Coco Poodle lying beside me on his mat, calmly watching the other visitors, with a chew to engage him too. 

I’d chosen a quiet place out of the way of foot traffic. He couldn’t get trodden on, and I know that he also enjoys being able to see out of the big windows.

Got an anxious, fearful dog? Check out the free 5 Day Workshop here! 

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At a table right in the middle of this cafe, a woman was reprimanding her small dog. He clearly felt uneasy with all the activity around him - people walking this way and that, almost treading on him - and was seeking security by trying to get onto her lap. 

“Get off!” “Down!” “No!” “Get down!!” she kept saying.

This did nothing to allay her dog’s anxiety, and her attention was simply fuelling his desire to climb up. 

Eventually he gave up. He was defeated and alone. He looked around him - worried - and sat.

And what did his owner say to this?

Absolutely nothing.

 

Want to take your shy dog to a cafe? You can! Follow the suggestions here and you can make it work, and really enjoy your family dog | FREE VIDEO COURSE | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppysocialisation | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Consider your dog's comfort too

I thought it very sad that she had no thought of why her dog was trying to jump on her. She was only concerned about what people may think. Her barrage of commands was a knee-jerk reaction to the dog’s paws on her lap. 

She then compounded her error by nagging the dog repeatedly - and when he eventually complied (more by luck than by judgment!) she ignored him.

I’ve no doubt that this lady’s a kind and friendly person who thought she was doing the right thing to get her dog to behave in public. But unfortunately many people have no idea how to achieve this except by using bossy methods.

Sadly she’d got it quite the wrong way round!

What you focus on is what you get.

Drawing attention to what she didn't want was making it more likely that that was what she was going to keep getting!

So what would have worked better?

*If she had responded to his fears and need for reassurance he would have settled sooner.

• If she had ignored his clambering attempts then responded to him warmly when he stopped she’d have had far greater success at keeping his feet on the floor. 

• And if she had realised that the middle of the cafe was not the best place for her nervous little dog and chosen a better place to sit,

• given him a mat or blanket or her coat to lie on,

• dished out treats freely for him being quiet and calm, 

• responded by reassuring him that the floor was a safe place to be,

• and had come prepared with a foodtoy or chew for him to focus on, 

it would have been better again.

 

It’s a very small change - just a switch from being reactive to being proactive

 

But it will change your dog’s state of mind in an instant.

 

Lots more ways to become proactive and stop nagging your dog in our free 8-part email course!

Get your free email course to sort out lots of puppy problems

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