High quality dog muzzle?
June 28, 2005 9:32 AM   Subscribe

My well-trained dog is going to have to start wearing a muzzle. He's a 7 year old American Staffordshire Terrier--medium size (70+ lbs)--see pic. Who makes the most humane muzzle on the market and how should I introduce him to it? Also, anyone in Ontario have a link to the "rules" of the legislation?

I'm very annoyed that, having done nothing wrong, he's going to now be punished by wearing such a device.

What is the best way to introduce an adult dog to a muzzle? He normally likes to carry a ball around or, in the summer, his own water in a bottle, which I think is going to make this extra difficult.

I was originally going to ignore the legislation and just pay the fine if caught but my vet informed me they've now change the rules and the dog can be euthanized.
posted by dobbs to Pets & Animals (28 answers total)
I don't know much about the law, but the dog can be euthanized for not wearing a muzzle??? That's just absurd!
posted by jmd82 at 9:56 AM on June 28, 2005

For context, the American Staffordshire Terrier is one of several breeds recognized as pit bulls.

See also this CBC Marketplace list of dangerous dog bylaws in Canada; Ontario's the first provincial jurisdiction to ban pit bulls, but cities have banned them (e.g. Winnipeg and Kitchener-Waterloo).

Here's a backgrounder from when the bill was introduced.
posted by mcwetboy at 9:59 AM on June 28, 2005

Crap. You have my intense sympathy. Leerburg has a good round-up of some quality muzzles. The thing is, I'm not sure what works best for long-term wear versus training. Our dogs wear the Softie muzzle when terrier racing and they are quite nice for that.

For training - again I don't have a lot of experience, but I note that the dogs who are most driven to race take to the muzzle easily because they are motivated. So my suggestion would be to introduce the muzzle as a signal of Big Fun. The trick will be to find something sufficiently attractive to do that the muzzle does not become the focus of attention. Despite the feeling of sadness that I would undoubtedly have, I would resist the urge to comfort him at all. I'd try my best to treat the muzzle as the best thing going since it's his ticket to fun.
posted by cairnish at 10:03 AM on June 28, 2005

I think this is the law.
posted by JanetLand at 10:07 AM on June 28, 2005

The text of the legislation (Bill 132 or S.O. 2005, c. 2), can be found here and here. There may also be associated regulations that I haven't found.
posted by mcwetboy at 10:07 AM on June 28, 2005

Having been attacked by one of these dogs, this legislation sounds right on target. I also hope that you have a LOT of insurance as well because you could lose everything you own if your dog is involved in an attack and you are sued.
posted by alball at 10:11 AM on June 28, 2005

alball, just because the dog who attacked you was mean doesn't mean all dogs are. If dobbs' dog has a long record of being friendly to people, why should he be punished for being a certain breed?

More importantly, why do you think the dog would be involved in an attack, if he has no record of ever having been in one? Of course I don't know that he hasn't, but it sure doesn't sound like it.

If you yourself have been docile all your life, why would you suddenly go around "attacking" people?

I think sometimes people stereotype dogs, especially certain breeds, like in this example, too much, and this to the detriment of dogs who have never done anything to anyone.

If this dog has done nothing wrong in the past, he should not be punished because of a stereotype!
posted by cahlers at 10:43 AM on June 28, 2005

I don't know much about the law, but the dog can be euthanized for not wearing a muzzle??? That's just absurd!

While it's horridly unfair to the animal that is just being itself, it seems a reasonable measure to me given what the refusal to comply indicates about the concern the owner has for other people and hir own pet. Just as leash laws are created because of jerkoffs who let their pets run around and scare people or dash into traffic, this law isn't to 'punish' your well-behaved pet but to protect the rest of us (and your dog as well) from the irresponsible clowns, not their dogs.

Aside from that concern, "punishment" is a strong word to describe wearing a muzzle when out in public. A proper one shouldnt constrain the dog's panting or drinking in any significant way.
posted by phearlez at 10:48 AM on June 28, 2005

dobbs, I feel bad for you, but comments like this:

I was originally going to ignore the legislation and just pay the fine if caught but my vet informed me they've now change the rules and the dog can be euthanized.

are why the law was changed to euthanasia.

The law was instituted since, sadly, these dogs were bred to be killers. Certainly a good owner can quell that personality, but an average or worse owner can't. If the average person can't stop their posessions from randomly mauling, then we have a problem that must be addressed. Short of killing all pit bulls, this seems like the most responsible manner of enforcement.

(Yes, I do live in the city that started the ban. IIRC, it all started after a baby was mauled, and shortly after a young child was killed by pit bulls. The attacks were graphic and gory to the extreme.)

I have to say that suggesting that the law is childish is pretty insulting since most of the G7 supports this ban (Germany, UK, France, now the most populous part of Canada).
posted by shepd at 10:54 AM on June 28, 2005

alball, my dog is friendly and very well known in the neighborhood in which we've lived for his entire life. I work from home and my dog is walked upward of 10 times a day. Everyone knows him. In addition, due to untrained dogs in my 'hood (of other breeds), my dog is always on a leash.

FYI, I have permanent scars on both sides of both of my hands from a dog attack from when I was a kid (a Maltese). I don't blame the breed because the idiot owners of that particular dog allowed him to run amuck.

Thanks to everyone else for their suggestions/links. Please keep them coming.

On preview: phearlez and shepd, there are unfriendly dogs/idiot owners of all breeds (in my neighborhood alone their are mean Labs, GSDs, Standard Poodles, a Samoyed, an Akita, etc etc.). Less than a month ago my dog was attacked by an unleashed Giant Schnauzer. However, the province isn't concerned about dangerous dogs of those breeds. They're only muzzling APBTs and "bull" breeds. There were 12 APBT and "bull breed" attacks in Toronto last year. There were 30+ from GSDs. No one's concerned about those. It's ridiculous. The official who introduced the ban could not even identify a Pit Bull.

I am not against legislation against dangerous dogs (keeping all dogs on leashes at all times and severe fines (and easy reporting) for owners who break this guideline; making it illegal for owners with dogs that have attacked to own dogs in the future; mandatory licensing with stiff fines; etc. etc.). But breed specific legislation is bullshit.

Aside from that concern, "punishment" is a strong word to describe wearing a muzzle when out in public.

I'm afraid I don't agree. He's unable to carry sticks, bottles, and balls, things he loves to do (he's known in the neighborhood as the dog that recycles as he always picks up bottles and drops them in the blue bins). Were he a puppy, I might agree with you, but my concern is that as an adult, this new restriction on him is uncalled for (both in his eyes and mine).

In addition, though my dog is friendly, he will also be unable to defend himself against attacking dogs should that be required. This makes life more dangerous for me as I have to save my dog; I also lose the benefit of having the dog for my own protection (though I don't use him for that, I know several women who bought their dogs just for this reason).

Shepd, yes there are other places with BSL in place; however, for every report proving it works, there are two that prove it doesn't. One country's solution is to just keep adding new dogs to the list (Netherlands is up to 82 BREEDS if I remember correctly), while ignoring the fact that bad owners are the problem, not breeds.
posted by dobbs at 11:20 AM on June 28, 2005

Cahlers, your comment indicates that you do not know much about the nature of pitbull attacks. I do, from experience, and research I have done afterwards.

A few points:

Most of the pitbulls involved in attacks have never attacked before. That is the insidious thing about the breed. They are happy loving and affectionate until something or someone sets them off and then lookout, you got a killing machine on your hands. History has nothing to do with it. And the best owner in the world will never be able to "quell" the instinctive hostility that is bred into these dogs.

Even if you suppose that they have no more tendency to be agressive than any other breed ( which I do not agree with), you have to face the fact that these dogs have been bred over many many generations to be killing machines. The thick skin, massive strength in the shoulders and neck, and vice grip jaws are there for a reason. If a labrador or golden decides to bite a kid you will have a nasty flesh wound, but if a pitbull is involved, there is usually much more damage, and quite often death.

It is not a matter of "stereotyping a breed", it is a matter of statistics. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has determined pit bulls and related breeds were resposible for over 50% of dog fatalites in the US between the years 1979-1998.

Yes, it sucks when a teenager has to pay more for car insurance even if they have never had an accident, but they are a higher risk. It is plain and simple...Pit Bulls are high risk dogs. If you deny this you are either uniformed, negligent, or you just enjoy having a dog bred for killing as a pet. Just be prepared to deal with the consequences.
posted by alball at 11:26 AM on June 28, 2005

If you deny this you are either uniformed, negligent, or you just enjoy having a dog bred for killing as a pet.

I'm no philosopher or public moralist, but surely there must be more than three options?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has determined pit bulls and related breeds were resposible for over 50% of dog fatalites in the US between the years 1979-1998.

Pits and Am Staffs are not bred to be killers, sorry. They are bred for strength and resistance to pain amoung other things (when they are bred at all). People abuse and hurt dogs of these breeds until they become violent and aggressive as a reaction to the confusion and pain of their abuse, if I whipped you, starved you, fed you gun powder and generally mistreated you, you would be fairly snappish too. Properly cared for and loved, Pits and Am Staffs are some of the sweetest, most loyal and gentle dogs there are, dogs that would literally die for you, without hesitiation. Vicious dogs are the products of vicious people and laws like this do nothing to deal with that. I agree that there is a chance that a dog like a pit can do more damage than a smaller, weaker breed but I say it is the owners in most of the cases that are at fault. If you walk into a shelter most of the dogs there are pits or at least half pit, they are bought by tough guys who abandon them when it gets too hard to care for them or the dog starts turning on them, these dogs are the victims of people and Dobbs' dog is clearly not a threat.

I will happily discuss (in another forum) your claim that:

Most of the pitbulls involved in attacks have never attacked before.

Most dogs never get a chance to attack more than once.

Dobbs, do you think it would be possible to find out what the minimal legal definition of a dog muzzle is and use that, something more or less token? I realize you don't want to risk the dogs life of course. Would a head halter work or does it have to be a cage muzzle?

This looks like some ok advice on how to get the dog used to the muzzle, it says never exercise the dog while it is muzzled.

I'm sorry about this, your dog looks like a sweetie.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:50 AM on June 28, 2005

[pulled two of the last off-topic comments & took out the "idiot man-child" text of dobbs' post]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:54 AM on June 28, 2005

Jess, thanks.

Divine_Wino, thanks. Thanks to a link above, the muzzle guidelines are

"The mouth of the pit bull is covered by a muzzle that is humane and that is strong enough and well-fitted enough to prevent the pit bull from biting, without interfering with the breathing, panting or vision of the pit bull or with the pit bull's ability to drink."

So I don't think a Halti type device will cut it.
posted by dobbs at 11:58 AM on June 28, 2005

dobbs: Are you talking to me? Clearly, I have not commented in this thread.

My family briefly cared for a poorly-behaved dog when I was a child. The muzzle didn't stop him from getting into fights, but it did prevent him from doing damage.
posted by Eamon at 12:04 PM on June 28, 2005

Sorry for the derail dobbs... everything appears to be on beige alert again. :-)
posted by shepd at 12:41 PM on June 28, 2005

I was attacked by a little 8 pound pug a couple of years ago that managed to bite me deep enough to produce a silver-dollar-sized scar.

If you have a type of dog that can kill people and whose breed has a history of flying off the handle unprovoked, then I have very little sympathy for you. A muzzle is not the end of the world and it both protects the rest of us from your dog and it protects you from the massive lawsuits and possible criminal penalties if your dog did something damaging to someone else.

Most muzzles, and, indeed, the muzzles required by your local law, are humane and do not interfere with the dog's wellbeing.
posted by bshort at 12:43 PM on June 28, 2005

Another page of muzzle training advice.
posted by JanetLand at 12:45 PM on June 28, 2005

Oh, and I forgot to add: the best way to introduce your dog to the muzzle is to put it on him in an environment where he feels safe. Only put it on him for a few minutes at a time when you're starting out and increase it until eventually (within a week) he's willing to tolerate it on his daily walks.
posted by bshort at 12:46 PM on June 28, 2005

Divine, pit bulls were absolutely bred to be killers. They were bred for size, weight, pugnacity, and -- least suitably for today's urban environment -- the ability to bite down and hold on at all costs (onto a bull's nose, originally).

It's not unfair for a community, via its politicians, to single out pit bulls and similar breeds -- the particular combination of large size and weight, fighting tendency and lifethreatening combat tactic passes a fairly sensible danger threshold in a town or city.

One last thought re: "I've trained him so well and he's smart and dedicated and loyal":

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- A 5-week-old boy is dead after being mauled by a dog.The attack happened at a home off Jade Drive on the Westside Tuesday afternoon. Authorities say a man and a woman rushed the young boy, identified as Jose Diaz, to a nearby fire station asking for help. Firefighters tried CPR on the little boy until Trauma One arrived to take the baby to Shands Jacksonville. The boy did not survive.

Grandfather Frank Michno says the dog who attacked his grandson had been with the family for more than 12 years. "Oh, I'm very angry with Chance. I can't understand what would have gone through his mind."
posted by felix at 1:42 PM on June 28, 2005

I have an aggressive dog -- she's sweet at home, but a terror to other people, animals, cars, trees, etc. The Halti (also called a Gentle Leader) was a godsend.

Seeing as though your pooch is less of a mess than my Myrtle, I suspect you will be even more successful than we were getting her to use it.

We made it a game -- put the Halti on, get a treat. We had her wear it around the house for a bit before taking her out in it. Because it's less restrictive than a full-face cloth muzzle, she doesn't mind it. It also doesn't cause her to overheat.

We walk her using a dual-leash, however, as it is fairly easy for her to slip out of the Halti if she gets really riled up. One clip goes onto the Halti tag, the other on her collar. You can clip them both together on one, but we found that we didn't get as good of a "drawstring" pull on the Halti (which is the whole idea behind the device) when it was clipped to her collar and the leash together.

I hope your muzzle training goes well!
posted by macadamiaranch at 1:45 PM on June 28, 2005

Blah blah offtopic blah. I think I will have tshirts made that say "Please don't be on my side."

I looked at the law and there might be wiggle-room on the definition of muzzle but I don't know that solves your problem (him being able to pick things up) - the law _DOES_ say that the muzzle must prevent the animal from being able to bite. I can't imagine any configuration that will accomplish one but not the other.
posted by phearlez at 1:51 PM on June 28, 2005

I hate to do this but from your own link, felix:

"A quality that was never bred into them was human aggression. Human “aggressive” (aggression may not be the most appropriate term, it is more likely that these dogs simply had a lower bite threshold) dogs were undesirable as these dogs required extensive handling prior and during their fights - most of theses dogs were also family pets so no human “aggression” was ever tolerated.

Dogs that exhibited human “aggression” were typically killed, meaning that only human friendly lines were perpetuated and desired. It is highly unlikely, however, that these culled dogs were naturally more aggressive towards humans than their bred counterparts but their bite threshold may have been much lower meaning that it did not take much for them to turn around and bite their handler. Animals were bred for an increased bite threshold, as far as humans and only humans were concerned, which decreased the likelihood of humans becoming victims of dog bites."

That about article goes on to point out that Pits do NOT have locking jaws. Or increased bite pressure. Being bred to fight dogs or control bulls is not the same thing as being bred to attack people. I am suggesting here that laws should be aimed at the kind of people who do not control their dogs and trying to dispel some of the myths about pits being "deadly insane hair trigger killers" because there are tons of them in shelters and they need love and make good pets if well treated and normal precautions are taken. All kinds of dogs can go off, they are animals and it behooves the owner to be responsible.

Just sayin' yo. I do think this is on topic but if you want to delete it Jessamyn I won't sic my dog on ya.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:07 PM on June 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

It's too bad that halti device won't work, I was at a ball field last month and there were a couple of golden retreivers retrained with a similiar device and it seemd to work well. Up to the limit of the leash it's like it wasn't there but as soon as there was tension in the leash their mouths were forced shut. I'm just not sure how you'd fit it to a pit with it's short snout.
posted by Mitheral at 2:17 PM on June 28, 2005

Felix, did you even read the page you linked to:

"A quality that was never bred into them was human aggression. Human “aggressive” ... dogs were undesirable as these dogs required extensive handling prior and during their fights - most of these dogs were also family pets so no human “aggression” was never tolerated.

Dogs that exhibited human “aggression” were typically killed," [in order to weed out aggression against humans within the breed].

In addition, regarding the statistics that alball cited, the report specifically says (on page 1!), "Although fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem ... other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates ... Because of difficulties inherent in determining a dog’s breed with certainty, enforcement of breed-specific ordinances raises constitutional and practical issues.”

In addition, feel free to look at the results of American Temperament Test Society's Breed Statistics, which places Pit Bulls and American Staffordshire Terriers in the 83%+ pass range--above average and above German Shepherds, Collies, and other popular breeds.

On preview...
posted by dobbs at 2:19 PM on June 28, 2005

mitheral, my dog's an American Staffordshire Terrier. He has a good sized snout on him (see picture in FPP). He wore a halti when he was younger and being trained (before I discovered clicker training).

I've heard (but don't have proof) that in some parts of the world Haltis are banned because the strap that goes over the snout applies pressure to a vein which, over time, can lead to blindness or sight issues. I've never researched it as Satchel didn't need one once I'd heard about it.
posted by dobbs at 2:22 PM on June 28, 2005

I think most of the bad press the 'tough' dogs get is because puerile tough guy type folks get them and just don't train them properly. If I had a nickel for every rock/rap/whatever testosterone music video had pitbulls in them, I'd be able to buy a farm large enough to house all those poor pit bulls in the SPCA.

That being said, they certainly seem to have the explosive speed necessary for being attack dogs, that combined with almost always getting terrible owners (it seems, anyways) really gives these poor pups the short end of the stick.
posted by eurasian at 2:28 PM on June 28, 2005

(The Halti was a godsend for our family's Siberian Husky. Otherwise she would be walking us! The Halti keeps her from pulling us, and she walks quite nicely at our side now.)
posted by cass at 9:23 AM on July 6, 2005

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