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Categories: Dog Bites

Q. I walk a dog at a local shelter who wears a muzzle on walks and when playing because he has bitten people 5 times. I am contemplating removing his muzzle to try and correct/stop his biting. Is this a reasonable thing to do? And if so, should I use a verbal/physical correction or should I ignore the biting to show him it doesn't work?
Hi Ed & Cindy,

I'm currently dog-walking a 65 pound, 5.5 month old neutered Mastiff/Labrador from a local shelter. He's been in residence a month. He's currently wearing a wire muzzle when walking or playing in the yard. He has bitten people 5 times - 3 times on the same person when she's been removing his muzzle. He had no prior (known) behavioral concerns after living his first rescue months with a woman and her young child along with some other animals.

The other dogs at the shelter really stir him up and I've started walking him daily for about 1.5 hours alongside a local river and his behavior has improved hugely just from getting some exercise. He is very responsive to treats. I am contemplating removing his muzzle to try and correct/stop his biting. Is this a reasonable thing to do? And if so, should I use a verbal/physical correction or should I ignore the biting to show him it doesn't work? I'd like to nip this in the bud if it's possible.

Thanks so much!

A. I would like to know the details of each of these dog bites.

Sometimes people are dumber than door knobs on how to approach and handle a dog. In other words they do things that are so stupid, I don’t blame the dog. Bottom line is this dog is a puppy. He is a baby. I seriously doubt that the dog bit anyone with any seriousness. I am sure it all comes down to bad handling.

I can tell you that if we train our dogs to wear muzzles we do it with marker training. There is a free video on our web site called Conditioning Your Dog to a Muzzle.

If the dog has good food drive, we would work it on engagement exercises. This work is covered in the DVD I produced, The Power of Training Dogs with Food.

Give the dog a chance. Learn how to engage dogs with markers. Here is an article I wrote on HOW TO SOCIALIZE YOUR PUPPY. Do what it says.

Ed Frawley
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