Each Muzzle Monday post provides an opportunity to celebrate owners and their pets who use muzzles, share their "why we muzzle" stories as well as work to breakdown the stigma that "a muzzled dog is a bad dog".
This week, we are honored to share Miss. Addie Mae's Muzzle Monday Story!
Addie Mae is an absolutely incredible American Fox hound cross who lives in Massachusetts with her family!
Addie Mae's story shows the importance of working with an entire behavioral team (trainers, vets and specialists) to ensure that your pup has the very best care possible when trying to navigate the complex world of canine behavior.
When did Addie Mae join your family?
She joined our household at around 10-12 weeks old. I volunteer at an animal shelter and she arrived after having been bitten in the head by a larger dog in the household she was in (I now suspect she was resource guarding something that belonged to the larger dog). She never spent a night in the shelter as she came home with me as a foster (and of course was a foster fail).
What kinds of behaviors caused you to consider muzzle training Addie Mae?
I’ve had large breed dogs my entire life and never had any issues with biting or resource guarding but Addie Mae ended that streak. We noticed immediately that she guards anything on the floor or ground (toys, weeds in the yard, my sons car, literally everything). Several weeks after we got her she started running up to us when we would get home and be all excited, (wagging her tail etc) and we would reach down to pet her and she would snap at us then turn and run away. She bit all of us in the household in a three month period.
Who was part of your training journey with Addie Mae?
This was new territory for us but I felt in my heart it wasn’t aggression bc each time she would run away. Long story short we ended up seeing a Veterinary Behaviorist who began several med trials with us to find the right combo as her biggest issue is severe anxiety. The behavior vet also feels she could be on the canine autism spectrum and by us reaching to pet her it was overstimulating her and causing her to lash out.
They also recommended behavior modification training. So we began working with a specialty trainer and two years ago started working on the muzzle using click training and positive reinforcement. Thankfully she is food motivated so any and all treats work for her.
Why did you choose to Muzzle Train Addie Mae?
We wanted to muzzle train for her safety and others since her behavior can be unpredictable and she sends mixed signals on her level of comfort with touch. We also wanted to work on socializing her with people and other dogs but didn’t want to risk her biting because of her fear and unfortunately others don’t listen when we ask them not to pet her or if we are walking in the woods many have their dogs off lead even though they are under voice control and we are on trails where leashes are required. We now take her to my sons baseball games, to pet friendly stores and to the groomer and vet wearing her own muzzle so it is less stressful for her and safe for everyone.
What would you say to others who are considering muzzle training but are worried about the stigma?
I would tell people not to worry about what other people think or say. We often hear comments and people won’t come near us because of how she looks in her muzzle but I try to use these opportunities to educate that not every dog is in a muzzle because of aggression. It may be anxiety or they may be a dog who will eat anything and everything and a muzzle is a lot cheaper than surgery. Most people get it and are impressed with how comfortable she is wearing her muzzle.
I would say to anyone considering muzzle training that it takes time, work slowly on letting your pup just get used to seeing and nosing around the muzzle, then give treats through the muzzle without ever forcing it and eventually it will become easier without fear for your pup. It is so worth it! Not to mentioned it has helped my anxiety about being out in the world with her which means she isn’t affected by my stress
What was your overall goal for Addie Mae?
Our goal with Ms. Addie Mae has been quality of life. Being in the shelter world I knew her fate if I didn’t attempt to do everything possible to try to help her. The muzzle has literally been a life saver for her and it has given her the freedom to experience new things without undesirable consequences. Thankfully we have a wonderful team with her primary vet, vet behaviorist, behavior mod trainer and her dog walker (she got kicked out of daycare for resource guarding piles of snow from the other dogs
Because of the dedication to Addie Mae's safety and training, her owner has allowed Addie Mae a way to safely express her feelings and have the space that she needs to thrive.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us as well as the Muzzle Supporting community!
Without you sharing your story, we wouldn't be able to do any of this!