The big softy you can see above is our 2 year old Rottweiler, Rudy. He’s a lovely, playful, kind spirited kinda fella who just happens to weight in at 50kg. He can however be a bit intense, and due to a recent ‘incident’ (don’t worry he didn’t bite anyone) I’ve decided it would be a good idea for him to wear a muzzle and to become more socialised with other dogs.
I’ve been watching a number of videos on YouTube and have decided that he needs to do a lot more training than being able to wear a muzzle. We need to be focusing on training him to become calm around food, and to become a much more calmer dog in general. I’d put this down to his personality until now but some videos I’ve watch now lead me to believe that this behaviour can be altered. This post shows what I’ve learned so far and marks the beginning of this journey with him, of which muzzle training is just a part.
A few days ago I was out running with him and our Lurcher, Leo, in the early morning when there is usually not a soul about. This morning however, there was a woman out walking a little terrier type dog. I had both of our dogs with me, and took a good wide path around them onto the (quiet) road. As I ran past this little terrier growled quite aggressively at Rudy, who growled back. As we continued on our run I turned back to see this little terrier spinning on his lead, almost doing somersaults in order to get to my dogs.
On our running back home about 20 minutes later, we met this dog and owner again, and again I took a wide circle on the road around them and kept Rudy on a short lead. However, this time he remembered this other dog and decided to become very aggressive in a way which I have only ever seen him be once before, and not for a long time. The woman’s dog, again spinning on it’s lead was growling back. However I found it quite difficult to control Rudy at this time and was only just able to stop him attacking this other dog.
Despite the other dog clearly being more than partly to blame for this altercation the woman muttered words to effect of ‘you should learn to control that dog’.
I get really annoyed when I see owner of little dogs who thing it’s fine to have them spinning around going crazy on a their lead just because it’s easier not to control them, it winds other dogs up and is just irresponsible but is incredibly widespread.
A few realisations
- Rudy needs more socialising – I now realise that I’m taking him for walks at the extremes of the days in order to avoid potential situations like the one that I experienced earlier this week.
- A muzzle might help – Simply because he is a Rottweiler people are reactive with their dogs around him, shortening their leads and often crossing the road to get away from him. A muzzle might help people be more confident around him, knowing that he can’t hurt anyone while he’s wearing one. It may help me stop giving him anxiety through the lead as well.
- This might backfire – The presence of a muzzle on our 50kg Rotty may make people even more scared of him.
Muzzle Training Time
I decided to get him a heavy duty Baskerville Muzzle from Amazon for around £12, based on a few reviews that I had read. We had also had a muzzle from them several years ago for our Lurcher so I was familiar with the brand. I watched a few videos showing progressive desensitisation to the muzzle and rewarding with treats. Then I watched this video and realised I probably need to take a slightly different approach to muzzle training.
Time to go back a step
Rudy is way too excited around food. He’s crazy about his food at the best of times, and becomes ridiculously excited when we’re doing the muzzle training. We’re making progress with the desensitisation training but he’s very over excited during it and I’m concerned he won’t get very far like this. I need to generally train some calmness into him and stop him being quite so excited about food.
Here are the two video’s that I have watched about this from the same dog trainer.
So over the next couple of weeks I’ll be focusing on his overexcitement around food, and then trying to work some more calmness into his life then gently moving on with the muzzle training.
Oh…definitely need a clicker.
I’ll write another post when I’ve made some progress, but for now take a look at our two dogs when Rudy was little….