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Could a comfortable muzzle be the answer?

Barney's Mom

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Barney has yet to prove that he can behave himself off lead in the house. He stays in the kitchen on a lead, or in his crate or in our laps. On his own, he is a little terror, grabbing things and getting stinky when we try to take them, chewing things he isn't supposed to, etc.

I happened to get a pet supply catalog in the mail and saw a muzzle for sale. It was breathable mesh and said that it keeps the dog from excessive chewing and barking, yet they can pant and drink! I am thinking to myself, hey! If I put this on Barney for part of the day, I could let him have run of the house, and get him used to being in it without destroying my property. And knowing Barney, if he knew getting the muzzle on meant he could run free, he would let me do it without a hassle!!

Are muzzles considered cruel? He can still pant and drink with it on, he just can't eat. But I don't free feed him anyway. I could take it off him when he is eating, and when he is tied up in the kitchen.

I would love to hear some opinions on this. We are just so frustrated that he cannot behave himself in the house but would love to give him some freedom and get him used to being a house dog. To be honest, this problem takes a lot of the fun out of having a dog....

All creatures great and small, the Lord God, He made them all!

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i don't think the muzzles you describe are cruel for aggressive dogs --they warn people off, prevent mishaps, but do not harm anything but the dog's dignity. from the behavior you describe, barney isn't aggressive (though you might be suggesting that he becomes aggressive when you try to take away his scavenged items), but he definitiely has a behavior problem.

my first question would be: can you confine him in a save room with nothing to steal, but with his water bowls and some appropriate toys? my advice would be to use a good quality, high baby gate for the confinement rather than a closed door (unless you like replacing your doors). the reason i ask is that it sounds more educating for him, whereas a muzzle is merely preventative. if he learns to be in a room and play with his own toys, and learns that is something that keeps him out of trouble, he may eventually be able to generalize that behavior to the whole house. if not, you can stick with the safe room strategy whenever you are out of the house.

overall it sounds like barney needs more educating about his general behavior. you shouldn't have to fight him for his stolen objects when you find them --he should drop them on command, even if it is slow and accompanied by many pitiful eye rollings and tail droppings. he shouldn't feel that becoming "stinky" is ever a way to respond to your commands, and not a way to keep the thing you want to take away. it sounds like barney has formed the idea that he can get away with things by showing a few teeth. that isn't good at all. he might need to be re-educated to distance himself from his aggressive instincts. that might solve both the destructive and the "stinky" behaviors.

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Sounds like Barney still has a lot of puppy in him. Maybe he needs a sibling.

The growth rate on dogs is 1st 3 years is 10 dog years each year and after that, each year is 5 dog years. So at 3 human years, Barney is 30.

Be prepared for some tough love.

Our 2 Cairns test us every day on a lot of things, most of it is small.

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I don't know if using a muzzle on a daily basis for most of his waking hours would serve to help you have a well-behaved dog.

It would definately prevent the chewing and other problems but like pk mentioned, it's a preventative mode he'd be in and not a teaching one.

I honestly thought about using one when I had the problems with Elliott and his dog aggression. But I couldn't find looking at a Cairns adorable face plastered with one of those contraptions at all pleasing...just my $.02.

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Mary -

I don't have any wisdom or advice, but I just wanted to pass on words of encouragement and support. I'm sorry to hear the Barney is still such a little stinker!!! While my "evil puppy" moments come more infrequently these days, I know how frustrating it is to be constantly worrying about what he's gonna do next. I hope you find a permanent solution soon!

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I have a similar but different problem with Harley. She is a climber. She will also chew on anything! I have been slowly giving her more freedom. SHe had to stay in a large dog crate while I can't watch her. When she turned 1 I gave her a larger place in a hallway. Gates on either side filled with toys and a bed. Her dam is the same way very busy. My best guess would be around 2 or 3 Harley will settle down enough to be left in the Sunroom.

I think you might try an exercise pen or doggie play pen. Just be sure to talk to her and give her loads of attention. I know you want to just let Barney go but think of them as a baby. You need to control the surroundings and a pen is an easy way to do that. With Harley we had to get a 3 foot one!


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My wife and I babysat some brittanys last winter and they were a huge handful. nothing was safe and we learned that the hard way with a chewed up phone and then a wii remote. we went through our kitchen first, that being where the crate was, and totally puppy proofed it. we sprayed bitter apple and things that looked chew able and removed everything else that might be. coming into other parts of the house was a special occasion and it only happened when we could give them our full undivided attention. Dogs will not know they are doing anything wrong if you don't catch them in the act. Do you have a can full of coins to shake? some people do not have a voice big enough to let the dog no who's boss. I might catch a lot of .... from this but electric collars might help you. I have never used one with a smaller dog but I have seen great dogs emerge from monsters with the use of electric collars. The dog is much happier in the end and so is the owner. Just like people dogs learn different ways. You can't be happy with a dog that destroys things and the dog cannot be happy being tied up all the time. I am just thinking out loud. I have read a lot of your posts in my searches and I just cringe. I hope every thing can get worked out.

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