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Muzzle a dog after dog fight? Help!

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by jennybo86, Mar 30, 2020.

  1. jennybo86

    jennybo86 PetForums Newbie

    Mar 30, 2020
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    Hi everyone!

    Long story short: My friendly 2 year old lab mix chased after another dogs ball which caused a dog fight.

    There was no actual bite and no injuries to either dog. My dog ran straight for the ball and the other dog ran into the right side of my dog to get the ball. The fight was very loud and my dog was alot bigger than the other dog. It lasted about 10 seconds and I immediately leashed my dog. The other dog was very upset and the dog's owner was (understandably) furious. She started screaming about muzzling and keeping my dog on a leash.

    I left the park immediately and was absolutely shocked and distraught.

    My dog is extremely social with other dogs and has never behaved like this. She is great at reading signals from other dogs and knows when to back off. Other dog owners usually recognise her and are happy to see her.

    My dog has also never chased after a strangers ball before and I think overexcitment might have caused this?

    Moments prior to the fight we had spotted my relative jogging in the park (a person she has never seen outside our house before) and my dog became extremely excited. I was also momentarily distracted by the relative that I hadn't noticed the other dog owner had entered through a side gate. I usually monitor every move my dog makes and don't allow her to approach dogs that are too small for play.

    The actual ball itself was also one she had never seen before, it was very bright with tassels on it. It was also thrown pretty close to where we were.

    I'm not making any excuses for my dog and absolutely accept full responsibility. I wasnt paying enough attention and my dog should never have run for another dogs ball.

    This might have been a one off accident but it was very scary for me. I worried with her size she could have really hurt a small dog. I want to prevent anything like this happening again. This is the first dog I have owned as an adult and I'm trying my hardest to learn everything I can.

    Her safety is the most important thing to me and I really don't mind muzzling her if I have to. I've already started started muzzle training and I'm looking to hire a behaviourist after cov-19 dies down.

    I'm not sure how to immediately approach this. I haven't taken her back to a park since. If I were to take her, should she be kept on a lead? Is a muzzle a good idea? Can she still play with other dogs?

    Any help or comments at all would be very helpful. Thankyou for reading!
  2. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

    May 8, 2014
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    To be honest it sounds like a typical altercation - two excited and hyped up dogs and one ball - your dog wasn't looking at anything but the toy and by the look of things the other dog was determined to get it too. They collided and then shouted at each other. 10 seconds and it was over. No injury.

    I'm not minimalising what happened and yes, your dog was at fault for chasing after another dogs ball (although the other owner may need to learn that if you throw a ball near a dog many instinctively will chase it). But don't over think it. I really can't see the point of a muzzle - your dog didn't bite - it was all handbags.

    It is frightening to hear dogs having an altercation I do understand.

    What to do? Well, I'd keep up the training. Get recall as good as you can. Yes, keep away from dogs playing with balls. Teach your dog to enjoy walking with you (so that they don't get too obsessed with playing with other dogs) which means engaging with, playing with and having fun with your dog.

    And keep away from that particular person and their dog for a while ;)

    Burrowzig, LinznMilly, O2.0 and 10 others like this.
  3. jennybo86

    jennybo86 PetForums Newbie

    Mar 30, 2020
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    Thankyou so much for this! Your reply has really put me at ease and helped me to dial back the situation. I think maybe I was overthinking too much :rolleyes:

    Everything you said makes perfect sense and your advice is very helpful. I'll be more careful with dogs with toys and I'll work even harder on her recall.

    Thankyou again for your reply! I'll definitely be avoiding the other dog owner ;)
  4. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums Senior

    Oct 27, 2018
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    For what it’s worth, I absolutely agree with @Jamesgoeswalkies . Dogs occasionally fall out and - though I do entirely understand how stressful this must have been for you - just learn the lessons and move on. Any fall out between dogs is inevitably very noisy but - to us - frequently seems far worse than it actually is. You should no more muzzle your dog, than the other owner should muzzle theirs - and for both of you, that’s really ‘not at all’.
    If you can get a finely tuned recall, you could try training your dog to ignore the ball once it’s thrown. My Sprocker is absolutely ball obsessed (I mean really), but his recall is about 100% (I take none of the glory, he arrived as a rescue, but his recall was always superb) and by way of ‘impulse control’, I used to roll the ball away when he was walking to heel (obviously somewhere safe) and ensuring he stuck to me (you can walk past the ball, then double back to get it, etc), then allowing him to pick up the ball when I said so. Next I started making him sit, throwing the ball and then allowing him to go after it WHEN I said so. Once we’d got that pretty much hacked, I started recalling him once he’d headed off to get ‘his’ ball (you can use a long lead to (gently) encourage her if necessary). Once he stops, I then send him on to get the ball (so he does get the reward.). Similarly, I make him ‘stay’ part way through the return. He responds well to vocal praise (or seems to), and the ball is really his reward. I keep it all fairly random and I think it’s good training for him. Sometimes I just do a normal ‘throw the ball and let him go immediately’ (which is what he prefers, of courseI do have the luxury of access to a field so I can practice this stuff with minimal interference, but I did start in the garden.
    I hope that helps a bit.
  5. McKenzie

    McKenzie PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2010
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    I agree with the others that it isn't as big a deal as it would have seemed at the time. However, I'd also just mention that, at 2 years old your dog has recently matured and he may not be as tolerant as he was when he was younger. A year ago, as a young dog he may have just let it go in this situation, but now as an adult he has decided that he doesn't want to put up with that. It's not a problem, it's just what happens when dogs mature, but it may help explain why this was such unexpected behaviour from him.
    #5 McKenzie, Mar 31, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
    jennybo86 and LinznMilly like this.
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