Saturday, January 1, 2011

To Muzzle Or Not To Muzzle, That Is The Question

The first day of the new year started out with a visit to Ellie's house and it is always a delight to see her lovable face looking up expectantly at me while I search for her leash. However, this morning's visit was not one of my favorites because Ellie worked herself into a frenzy while trying to take off her mesh muzzle. The result of taking off the muzzle was horrifying; drops of Ellie's blood were spattered throughout the kitchen floor, some of Ellie's paws were blood stained, and sections of the radiator were bloodied and scattered all around her.

In my opinion, Ellie has a severe case of separation anxiety and although I suggested Ellie be given alternative chewing "toys" such as bones, squeaky toys, Kongs filled with peanut butter, etc, my advice didn't seem to fall on listening ears. I even suggested crating her but apparently Ellie does not approve of crates but personally I would rather have her in a confined crate where I feel she would be less susceptible to injuries.

From what I've read about muzzling dogs, I learned that muzzles are only to be worn while supervised and they should not to be worn for long periods of time. 

In Ellie's case, she wore her mesh muzzle (as seen above) throughout New Year's Eve and into the morning and I shudder to think of the frustration that she went through for so long!

 I am not a renowned pet sitter or dog trainer but I feel it is cruel to punish a dog for their destructive behavior with the use of a muzzle. In my opinion, muzzling only works as a band aid and does not help calm a dog who has anxiety issues. 

Because I have been dealing with the results of Ellie's behavior training and because her situation has stayed the same and apparently won't change I gave my notice this morning. Hopefully, my absence will produce positive results for Ellie's sake.

I appreciate that you took the time to read this post because this situation has weighed heavily on my mind for months. I am anxious to know what your thoughts are about muzzling. Do you think there's a time and a place for it? If you have positive or negative or indifferent thoughts I'd love to read your comments. ANY advice is welcome!


  1. O hai! I am vurry sorry to hear about poor Ellie's problem. I is sendin her good thoughts.

  2. I agree dogs should never wear muzzles for any length of time -- if nothing else, they MUST have access to water. If she doesn't "like" the crate she can be trained to the crate.
    What a sad story!
    And I feel bad for you, too, because you have to deal with that. Why do people get dogs if they don't want to take the responsibility to be good owners?

  3. I really haven't a clue about muzzles for doggies but even I think that a dog shedding blood and in clear distress should not be muzzled in such a way and for such a time. Muzzles are not suppose to harm the dog phyically or emotionally are they? :-(

    I'm very sorry for poor Ellie. I hope she's ok.

    Big hugs to you! Take care

  4. p.s I meant of course "physically"! Sorry!
    Take care

  5. We read your blog but don't normally comment. This is a very sad post, I hope that for Ellie's sake that her owners find the time to help her rather than just band-aiding the problem. Muzzles shouldn't be left on for so long since they may press into the soft snout tissue. Also the dog could have trouble breathing, drinking, etc. It sounds like Ellie's parents could use some professional help in dealing with her issues.

  6. That is appalling. IMO muzzles are only for dog walks if you have a dog that might bite. Otherwise training is in order. Sounds like these people not only don't listen but are lazy pet owners as well.

  7. Thank you for your honest remarks about muzzling! I am so blessed to have so many well-meaning, caring pet owners tell me exactly how you feel about the muzzling issue. This issue has been going on for too long and I couldn't help but get emotionally involved. I love Ellie like crazy and I felt she needed more attention than I could give her in daily visits. I pray that she will get the attention and training she deserves but I'm not going to get my hopes up.

  8. I'm glad you posted this, because it's a very interesting topic.

    For starters - what kind of muzzle was the pup wearing? Basket muzzles are really the only kind that should be worn for extended periods of time, as they allow the dog to open their mouth freely and even drink water. The nylon/cotton/whatever fabric muzzles don't allow the dog to open their mouth and are really only for short periods of time. I don't think either muzzle should be used while the dog is unsupervised, but a basket muzzle would be greatly preferable.

    The biggest problem I see with using a muzzle in this situation is that it does NOTHING to mitigate this dog's behavioral problem, just like you said. It would be far kinder to try to work on the issue with a behavioral protocol in mind rather than let the poor dog get into a frenzy every single time she's left alone. There are medications and supplements available to help with separation anxiety.

    I hope that your absence will help her owners realize that something is terribly wrong with their set-up.

    Sam and MargeDog

  9. What a cutie Ellie is! We hope someone spends some time with her so she doesn't have to wear a muzzle ever again.

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  10. Oh man! That sounds awful. I don't think that dogs should have on muzzles when they are not under supervision and certainly a muzzle does nothing to teach manners and in her case it sounds like it just increases her anxiety. I hate to say it, but if the owners have to leave such a sensitive and scared dog alone for long periods of time, then maybe it is not the right dog for them.

    You are in a bit of a pickle. On the one hand, you have a business to run. On the other hand, it seems bad to have to deal with the effects of the way she is being handled at home.

    I forget how long they have had her. Sometimes adoptions don't work out. It is heartbreaking, but better to find a good furever home for a pup then to continue to stress them out.

    Hope there is better news in the future.

    My only advise for the destructive behavior is a crate, but she might be the kind of dog who would injure herself trying to get out.

    Mango Momma

  11. Oh, that is so heartbreaking. I'm certainly no expert, but I've always been told that muzzles should NOT be used for extended periods of time. We hope her humans will seek some professional dog training/behavior help real soon...

  12. In my opinion, muzzles should be warn for protection not for discipline. I'm glad i don't have that problem cause my dogs dont have much to muzzle. hehe

  13. ps...I forgot to tell you that with short nosed dogs breathing is already an issue. I bet she hurt herself cause she had a hard time breathing. Poor girl. One reverse sneeze and she could suffocate

  14. My own dog gets separation anxiety and ends up chewing the furniture instead of the leather bone I leave for her. When the weather is ok, we leave her on the balcony, where she can't get in trouble or destroy anything.

    I don't think a muzzle would solve anything in Ellie's (and other dogs') situation. Muzzles are useful when the dog might attack other dogs or people. A crate or empty room with some chew toys would be better for destructive dogs. Also, a little owner training wouldn't hurt.

  15. Poor Ellie!! One of my pups gets very nervous (read: snappy) at the vet office. So she gets muzzled before we walk into the office, it comes off in the treatment room, goes back on before we leave the treatment room and then comes flying back off as soon as we get to the car. In most instances - 15 minutes of muzzling tops, and not more than 10 minutes of solid muzzling.

    I sincerely hope that Ellie parents get the training they need to make Ellie's life happier.

  16. Every Greyhound who gets adopted comes home with a plastic kennel muzzle. I view it as a tool to help transition to home life and sometimes as a very necessary part of life. I don't know about mesh muzzles, because I've never used them. What we have generally done is put muzzles on ALL our dogs when we first bring a new hound home. We start by leaving the new dog in the crate while we're gone. When we feel the dog is ready to start being left out, muzzles go on all dogs at first. I've never had a fight break out between my dogs, but I know people who have and I'd rather look at a sad face with a muzzle on when I leave than bloody carnage when I come home. After we're sure everybody's getting along, then we wean off the muzzles.

    There are other times when we do use muzzles, though. If we're taking our dogs to a place where they may be running with a bunch of other Greyhounds, muzzles come along. Also, if I have a dog with an injury, or one who's terrible about trying to eat poop outside in the turn out pen, muzzles with stool guards go on when I can't be there watching them.

    I use a muzzle as a tool to help us transition to another phase, though, not as a solution to a problem. In my opinion, a crate would be much kinder for this dog than a muzzle, which is obviously causing her some kind of distress. It's too bad that her owners can't see that this isn't a solution that's working for their dog.

  17. I enjoyed reading your posts about the muzzling situation and it is true that I am in a tough spot because on one hand I am running a business and could use the weekly paycheck but on the other hand I am uncomfortable with putting the muzzle back on Ellie after the walk because I know she is going to claw her way out of it and I cannot stand looking into her eyes as I leave. I feel as if I've betrayed her by ending my contract with the owners because I feel as if I'm the only one who has tried to make headway with the owners and who else will do the same?

  18. poor Ellie. Muzzle, only if you have no choice
    Benny & Lily


Woof! Meow! Meow! Thanks for leaving a comment!