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Categories: Dog Aggression

Q. I'm considering removing my dog's teeth so he doesn't have to always wear a muzzle. What would you advise?
I am in serious need of your advice, I emailed you a few days ago about the blisters on my dog's face due to his muzzle, the muzzle itself isn't causing the blisters, it's the fact that he rubs his face on everything from the couch to my legs. Any who, I am considering removing all his teeth as a last option, but before you judge this decision let me give you a little background on my dog. Like I said in previous email about the?muzzle my step mom contacted you at the first of the year regarding a dog fight we had to break up, which in the process I got bit. I know you receive hundreds of emails so I don't expect you to remember this particular case but thanks to your advice we now know how to break up a dog fight without getting hurt.

My dog is a 3 year old male pit bull and better trained than any other dog I have met. I have had him since he was 9 weeks old, and he has just been awesome, however I failed him in the fact that I didn't get him?fixed until he was almost 2 years old, which I feel may be a reason for his aggression today. He is trained on hand commands and voice commands and loves other dogs and is especially loving towards humans. HOWEVER he?has gotten in a couple serious fights and for that he is now muzzled when he is around other dogs. I have read all your articles and listened to your pod casts about aggressive and dominant dogs but he doesn't fit this criteria. He will not touch any food, dog or people, unless it comes from a human's hand and he is told it is ok, nor will he touch his food bowl unless he is told its ok. He sleeps in the bed with me sometimes, but he usually sleeps in his own bed. He doesn't beg. If you drop food on the floor, he doesn't charge. He is awesome! For the most part, he gets along with other dogs,?but if they show any type of aggression towards him then he acts out towards them. Not always, but enough to have me put him in a muzzle forever anytime he is around other dogs. The last dog he got in a fight with was a female that has always been dominant over him?for the past 2 years they have lived together, and he has always been fine with it, except for this last time. They got in a fight over a toy and they were both seriously injured, along with myself. Now I keep him muzzled so there aren't anymore fights, but she has learned how to remove his muzzle.

I have fit him like you said too but it doesn't help. Anytime they are left together over 20 minutes in the back yard, they both end up at the door with their muzzles off, but no fights. However, I can't risk him hurting another dog. He has to be muzzled forever when he is around other dogs, not because he is that aggressive, or maybe he is, but because he never backs down when another dog shows aggression.

Somebody suggested that I get all of his teeth removed, so he doesn't have to wear a muzzle for the rest of his life. It is to the point that I almost have a panic attack when I take him?for a walk on the beach, because despite the leash law, which my dog is always on one and under control, you have irresponsible owners who let their dogs run without one and think its cute when their cocker spaniel or yorky comes running up on my dog barking at him and being aggressive. It is not cute! I told a lady one day that if she wanted to take her chihuahua home in one piece she needed to keep it on a leash.

PLEASE tell me what to do!!!

I will never trust him again around other dogs without the muzzle, he has been raised with other dogs his whole life, but if he gets in another fight and seriously injures another dog I'm afraid they will take him.

A. Have you considered training the dog to follow your direction and leadership? A muzzle isn’t a preventative to aggression, it only prevents the dog from opening his mouth. Pulling a dog’s teeth is ABUSE. If you can’t train this dog then I would suggest find him a new home. I had to wait a few days before answering this because I got really angry to think anyone would suggest to you that removing a dog’s teeth is a viable option for lack of training.

I’d recommend controlling your dog with a leash AT ALL TIMES. Instead of stopping your education with learning how to break up a fight, learn how to interrupt your dog’s behavior before it gets to the point of a fight. Teach him that you aren’t going to put him in a position where he needs to fight. The fact that you didn’t neuter him right away has NOTHING to do with the problems you are having now. Testicles don’t make dogs out of control, lack of leadership and training do.

Don’t take this dog into environments where you can’t control things. You are setting him up to fail. All the dogs in your household need this training, not just him. Dogs that get into serious fights should not be allowed to interact with other dogs, period. 

Here are my suggestions. Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs

Removing a dog’s teeth because you aren’t offering this dog what he needs and you don’t want to muzzle him IS NOT AN OPTION. Sorry for the harshness, but I’m an advocate for dogs and this really made me angry.

We live in a society that thinks you can fix everything quickly. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. Most of the emails I get from people say the vet recommends neutering and medication. In many cases the dog has never been shown the proper leadership to begin with but hey…. let’s neuter the dog, put him on Prozac and pull his teeth. It makes me crazy!

You’ve let this escalate for years, it’s not going to be a quick fix. When you take a dog into your home, you owe it to them to give them what they need.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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