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Opinions/experiences on muzzling to prevent scavenging

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by Michele83, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    My 4.5-month whippet puppy picks up everything and anything she sees/smells on a walk. I'd say every 10-15 secs she is eating something or chewing it, and this will be anything from poo, to plastic, to plantlife.

    I know this is normal behaviour for a pup, however there are obvious risks with letting her do this and reasons that I have to prevent her. She's already had one bout of diarrhoea which the vet said was from 'indiscriminate eating'.

    I have done a lot of research about 'leave it' training etc, so I'm not looking for advice on that. To be honest, it's quite aggravating reading about leave it training because sometimes it seems like every dog owner/trainer in the world assumes that all dogs will do anything for treats. My puppy hardly cares about treats at all. Sure, in a home environment with no distractions she'll do basic commands for a treat. But if there is a single thing going on (so basically everything on walks) then that will be ten times more tempting to her than a treat and the treat is no distraction or incentive whatsoever. She simply doesn't care about food or treats that much, it's a job just getting her to eat her normal food, so the leave it training techniques I've read about are next to useless.

    My question is does anyone have experience with muzzling (using a basket muzzle) to prevent indiscriminate eating on walks? Or does anyone know of what the potential downsides are? (Apart from other people thinking your dog is aggressive which I don't mind about.) I definitely don't want to resort to that if it means she'll have to wear it forever. But I'm wondering if this is just a phase?

    It's incredibly frustrating because I have to walk her on the lead all the time, apart from at the enclosed dog park and my garden, meaning that I sometimes use a long lead when in an open area so that she can have a proper sprint around, which she really enjoys. But this makes preventing her from picking things up impossible. It's only if she's on the short lead that I can stop it. But then you get people saying that dogs need to run around etc. Gah! So many contradictions.

    Sorry for depressed rant. Bad walk this morning... scooping poo out of her mouth with my fingers, and when I'd finished she bent down and ate the exact pile of poo I'd just taken out of her mouth.
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    @JudyN will be able to say more about muzzles but specifically for the poo eating, puppies do usually outgrow it. If you react at all it could fuel her reward of doing it for attention - even negative attention is still attention. Someone I know swears by a dessert spoonful daily of live natural yoghurt but thats more about correcting a dietary deficiency. It can't do any harm though.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
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  3. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    Hi Joanne - Thanks for the response. With the poo eating, are you saying I should just let her eat it, if she gets some in her mouth? (I am as vigilant as possible with trying to spot what is on the ground before she does, but this is really really hard, and also results in ME stepping in poo because I'm not looking where I'm going). So far I have been taking the poo out of her mouth if she eats it. This is obviously negative reinforcement which you say is bad. Should I let her eat it? I've read that dogs can get very ill from eating certain types of poo.

    Thanks
     
  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    No, sorry, I could have written that better. I mean remove it as quietly as possible with the least interaction necessary to get it done. You might want to get some disposable gloves to carry!

    Also I know you said you have tried treats for leave it training but is there any merit in really increasing the value to something fabulous like squeezy cheese in a tube?
     
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  5. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Unfortunately in my experience a basket muzzle won't stop a dog from eating poo - think about how a potato masher works:D Thankfully my dog only eats cow and horse poo which I think is generally less harmful - and is easier to spot!

    It would be more effective for bigger items, but this might just be because it makes them harder to eat so you can remove them safely (as long as your dog isn't guardy like mine). My dog is very guardy so the best option is to avoid removing food at all costs - he has on one occasion managed to eat a chicken drumstick with his muzzle on by getting the pointy end through the holes. He has even managed to catch a rabbit with it on:mad: But if he's on lead and he grabs, say, a bread roll in a plastic bag, I can drag him on and he'll generally drop it.

    So my verdict would be it would be useful for more solid objects, but not for poo.

    You can get 'stool guards' which fit into the nose of the muzzle (assuming they're available in whippet size). But they only have tiny holes in and I would be concerned about the partial blocking of airflow, particularly on a sighthound - and even more so in hot weather.

    I know you haven't asked for training advice, but I would be considering impulse control and general training ploys to make your dog focus on and respond to you more. My dog has been known to stand over a cow poo waiting for me to tell him to leave it so he can get a treat. But he's VERY food motivated so these approaches might be less successful for you.
     
  6. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    Joanne - Ah great okay, yes that's good advice I will try do it as calmly as possible.

    I am thinking of embarking on the leave it training. But you know how, when you know your dog really well and you just know that it's not going to go well? That's how I feel. I've taught her 'drop' already but again, this goes out the window as soon as she has something she wants to eat in her mouth.

    I'll try training leave it at home with high value treats but I've read that even with food-orientated dogs leave it training is very difficult, especially when you try and bring what they've learned indoors to the outside environment, so I just think that when she inevitably turns her nose up at the treat reward outside all it's going to do is create more angst between us and make me disappointed and depressed which I don't want to then affect her as it's not her fault after all. Sigh!
     
  7. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    Thanks for your response Judy. Haha yes I read that about the potato-masher effect too :) But the poo that she eats tends to be mostly very dry stuff. She also picks up bits of plastic which would be difficult with, say, a fabric muzzle. I've tried doing the 'look at me' thing and she responds okay at home but not at all outside. Sometimes I can't even get her to sit outside which is the most basic of all. Perhaps I just need to persevere. Sometimes I wish I could just turn myself into a robot for the moments when she's misbehaving so I could calmly repeat things a million times without getting annoyed :(
     
  8. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    I don't have much experience of muzzles but I understood these to be used only for very short times and not for out on walks as they restrict the ability to breathe and pant.
     
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  9. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    I used to see a lab wearing a muzzel but off the lead and I assumed he wasnt social until I talked to the owner one day. Turns out the poor dog was an eater and he had had batteries and cassette tapes removed from his stomach by surgery, as well as the passing of small toys and socks ect, after the third op the vet warned any more could prove fatal.
    He did really well with his muzzel and once I knew he was social my boys used to play with him all the time.

    on a poo note.. I had one dog who only ever ate frozen poo we called them shizicles
     
  10. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    Yes sorry I meant a fabric basket muzzle, not the ones that prevent them opening their mouths. I've heard fabric ones exist which allow room for panting etc but could be wrong, I haven't looked into it.
     
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  11. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    That's what I'm afraid of heh! I'm not sure whether I've just been lucky so far or what, but I know that the diarrhoea was caused by something she ate and even that was a pretty big deal, getting up 4 times per night etc, so I dread to think of surgery etc!

    Shizicles haha!

    On a related note, I now have THREE reasons that I can't let her off the lead yet, 1) because she's a whippet and they are more likely than other dogs to run off very fast, 2) because she jumps at passing cyclists, runners, pedestrians, and dogs (I know she'll grow out of this but for the time being it's dangerous), and now 3) because she'll be able to eat all manner of things. I'm not sure how one is ever supposed to be able to let a dog off the lead.... :( And all the while people are saying things like 'you should let them off as early as possible'. I don't understand this perfect world others are living in sometimes :(
     
  12. Caro Perry

    Caro Perry Well-Known Member Registered

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    If she doesn't respond to food treats does she respond to a toy kept just for playing with on walks? Harri is now reasonably good at leave it but I find a squeak from the ball in my pocket will often catch his attention long enough for me to intervene if necessary.
     
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  13. gypsysmum2

    gypsysmum2 Well-Known Member Registered

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    The natural yoghurt is for all kinds of poo eating. The thinking behind it is that dogs are eating poo for a reason. They don't seem to particularly enjoy it they just seem "driven" to do it. This leads to the thinking that their guts are low in bacteria and they are trying to correct it. Natural Yoghurt, or a pro biotic like Forti Flora, given for at least a couple of months should cure the craving for poo. If, however, it has become a "game" in the meantime then that will need sorting by the training mentioned above.
    Not all dogs learn to eat poo through a muzzle so it is worth a try in the meantime :)
    PS my Whippet was exactly the same and it worked for her as will as many others.
     
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  14. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    If you repeat something a million times - or even three times - and she doesn't respond, then all you are training her to do is ignore your voice. If it works in the house, great. Take it out to the garden, to really boring fields when she's on lead, to a boring enclosed field when she's off lead (if you can find one), and increase distractions really slowly. If the chances of her obeying a command are low, don't even bother asking for it.

    Some sighthounds aren't too comfortable in a sit position. You might have more joy with something like 'touch' (touch your hand with her nose).

    But she really is very young so I'm not surprised 'leave' training isn't too successful just yet. Keep at it and you might just get there!

    If she's mainly eating hard poos then absolutely, try a muzzle. Introduce it to her gradually, with lots of reinforcement (start by smearing something like peanut butter inside and just hold it for her to lick - you want her to be happily sticking her nose into it whenever she sees it before you try doing it up). But please don't use a fabric one - they are positively dangerous on walks as well as less comfortable for the dog. Even with a basket one, check that she can open her mouth fairly wide inside - one like these: WHIPPET 103 MUZZLE SOFT PLASTIC VARIOUS COLOURS | eBay and not like this: https://www.amazon.com/Basket-Cage-Dog-Muzzle-Size/dp/B002KWZXUS
     
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  15. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    Her favourite toy is unfortunately a flirt-pole which is a bit huge to carry on walks, especially when I'm juggling her lead and a bum bag to keep poo bags etc in. I could try with one of the smaller toys but I think what will happen is she will simply desensitize to it pretty quickly once she gets used to hearing a squeak on a walk.

    RE the natural yoghurt, she has recently starting having a bit of this every day so I'll persist with that and see if it helps.

    Sorry I meant repeating the whole training task, the command,-action-treat cycle, not the command-word itself. Doing something over and over again, without getting annoyed when they're not doing it is just difficult sometimes especially when they've already wound you up by doing other things and if you're already stressed etc.

    I've read about the not-repeating a command thing, and wondered - what do you do if you're not supposed to repeat a command? Because after I read that I try to make sure I ask once e.g. I ask her to sit and she completely ignores me even though she can do this very easily. So I just wait. And wait. And wait. Until minutes pass. She is never going to sit. So what do you do then if you can't repeat yourself but you're trying to get her to obey you?

    There are no enclosed spaces nearby me unfortunately, there are some 25 mins drive away but she is also unable to travel in the car yet, which is another thing I'm tackling by re-conditioning her to it. You're right, I'm just going to have to keep on trying, and then introduce it slowly in new environments. I don't hold out much hope though. Probably because I'm just very depressed right now!

    This is encouraging - I hope so!

    And thanks for the muzzle recommendation. I'll have another go at the leave it training and perhaps resort to that if we don't get anywhere.

    Thanks all
     
  16. Whippylove

    Whippylove Well-Known Member Registered

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    All my boys have tried eating anything on walks poo, weeds anything! Rolo is 22 weeks now and he was eating everything couldn't even get one foot in front of the other and he found something else now hes totally different he never bothers so they do get better remember 4 months is very young and they are still learning and if anything looks good to them then in it goes! Marley and Oliver wear muzzles in the garden as they eat anything especially poo Oliver is the worst Marley seems to have grown out off it. I use the same as @JudyN has recommended and they do great. I also feed yeo valley yoghurt on all off them it seems to go down well.
     
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  17. Michele83

    Michele83 Active Member Registered

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    Thanks! A few questions. Mine is 19 weeks old (4.5 months) and you said your pup is 22 weeks and has grown out of it. Can mine really change that much in 3 weeks?

    It's nice to know that your adult dogs wear muzzles.

    How much yoghurt do you give them each per day?

    Thanks
     
  18. Whippylove

    Whippylove Well-Known Member Registered

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    All pups are different, but Rolo was eating everything i think i spent most off my walk with my fingers in his mouth lol hes improved a lot, I'm trying to learn rolo drop it as none of my boys will respond to leave dont know why, hes doing very well with it when he drops he gets liver cake which he loves. They change quickly you will get there its just a phase they go through and their so young.
    I feed a teaspoon once a day usually evening meal they all enjoy it.
    I always think the first year is the hardest with whippet pups then its a lot easier . They are goofy little pups! But they settle down quickly :)
     
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  19. lynyona

    lynyona Member Registered

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    I can relate to your Puppy eating everything on walks mine does she s 6 months now while she's not eaten poo she ll get anything sweet wrappers tissue any paper leaves grass there's lots of apples off the trees at the minute round the corner from me I trawl through everyday. Only the other day someone had dropped what looked like a mars bar and was melted to the floor that was fun trying to stop her eating it . She loves plastic bottles like most dogs do makes her walks on recycling day interesting as she s jumping up at people recycling boxes trying to retrieve their bottles.at home at the minute she s taken to running off with CDs now I wouldn't normally have CDS where she can access them but I'm decorating and as she s never bothered before thought they d be safe Nooooo I've chased her around the garden this afternoon to retrieve a compilation set.. she s getting to know now that if she s got something she shouldn't have I'm going to try and swop it for one of her toys so that doesn't work now
     
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  20. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    .

    I will add that, along with the excellent suggestions for muzzle types & basket size, when it comes to fitting, purchase one that has at least 2-inches of empty space between her NOSE leather & the inner “face” of the basket. That extra depth makes shoving items close enuf to grab with teeth or tongue much-more difficult. ;)

    The Baskerville ULTRA is a particularly good model, & comes in a wide range of sizes & shapes.
    Food treats & sport-cap bottles can be slipped into it between the bars, to get water to the dog while out of the house, & reward desired behaviors. :)

    Don’t forget to pre-condition the muzzle! - it’s very important that the dog sees it as a treat-dispensing basket B4 they experience wearing it for the 1st time, & it must be an ordinary part of the dog’s “wardrobe”, not a punitive object that’s put on AFTER s/he has already seized a discarded chicken bone, an old hunk of poop, or a moldy hamburger.
    It needs to be normal & even happy, so that when U pull it out, the dog thinks, “Walkies!”, & comes bounding joyfully over to shove their own face into the basket, & stand wagging happily while U buckle it.
    Also, be sure the basket-muzzle has a LOOP to run the dog’s tag collar thru - this prevents the dog pulling it off over their head, & being free to scavenge, bite, fight, etc., with the useless muzzle now dangling around their neck. :rolleyes:


    There’s a wonderful vid-clip on UTube, a trainer introduces a basket muzzle to a wary ACD for the 1st time, & using a clicker, marks & rewards the dog for every glance at, then step toward, then sniff, then touch, etc, OF THE MUZZLE - each time raising the bar after a few interactions (look, approach, sniff, contact...) as the figures out the rules of the new game.
    The Heeler is still giving the trainer the hairy eyeball, while she gladly & boldly approaches the muzzle, LOL.
    I can’t post links, it’s called “Desensitization to a basket muzzle “ & was posted in 2011, by Karendala1138.
    Do check it out - the trainer’s timing is excellent, & U can see how quickly even a stranger-suspicious dog can grasp the idea of “click predicts tidbIt”, & is willing to work for it.

    HTH,
    - terry

    .
     
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