Training question, regarding soft muzzles for introductions
I have Moki and he is an awesome Kai Ken. He was thought to be between 5 and 6 when I picked him up at the rescue last year. Personality wise he is easy going and mostly quiet does not bark much and when nervous avoids situations. He loves his squeeky toys (maybe to obsession, lol) and is very oral with his habits. He will nibble and tend to "mouth me" alot. To explain this he has his mouth open and will grab a hand or nibble not breaking skin or being aggressive just an odd habit I think. Seems affectionate when he does it. Doesn't do it with aggression. The rescue group was really comfortable with his personality and temperment sending him to the pet store with my son when he went to get a second cage because we adopted 3 that day. He tends to talk in grunts and throaty vocals and snuffs of happiness. All is good at home.
He gets very excited about new settings when we go for car rides. Not the city settings but the country settings. Our first trip to the local park that is a farm/y campus and has fields had him so excited he had bowel movements non stop until he was just running liquid. It was nasty. It took all summer maybe 10 visits to get it so he only has a couple bm for the walk. This park has a 1.65 mile walk path around the fields it is nice.
I have horses also but at a stable away from home. I like to go to horse shows and venture out taking my dogs with me in the past. Thought I would see how he handled his first visit to the barn and it was ok. He was very excited, quivering and snapping his teeth in excitement. Bouncy but wanted to be too aggressive with the horses. I want to continue to introduce him, however, can't risk a bite to any horse. Was thinking they might be triggering his prey and hunting instinct. Has anyone used the soft muzzles? Will a soft muzzle prevent a quik snap that gets a good pinch or teeth contact? I want him to be able to adjust and don't force the interaction but he is so excited he looks to get to the horses. We have had dogs jump up and bite their noses in the past and I want to prevent that from being possible. I keep him on the leash with the body control harness. However, I feel like when they are this excited I could use additional control at the neck with a collar and leash also. I found the be nice head collar is easy for them to escape or fight in moments of excitement it seems to slip and fail. I might not have it perfectly adjusted but found it loosens up and the plastic unreliable.
So I am not fond of muzzles but am trying to decide if the full muzzle is necessary or if the soft muzzle would be appropriate enough. The safety of all of these babies is the priority. I will plan on taking a cage with me so he can rest in his cage while in the barn, being able to view the horses and our interactions with them might give him time to watch and adjust to what is going on around him I hope. Any experienced suggestions welcome
I mix horses and dogs fairly regularly.
My Akita mix had a rough time with my Arabian at first. We tried a tie out to get him used to being around horses, he screamed his bloody head off. Tried locking him in a stall, broke the stall open. Tried sitting him in the car while I went to get the horse, did several hundred dollars worth of damage to the car. He's come within a few inches of biting (after he broke the barn and got loose) so I think its fair to say its better to leave him at home if you want to go for a ride and not do dog training for a few weeks. Not worth the risk if you just want to enjoy.
When you do bring the dog out it should just be "doggy time" until he is okay with the horses.
I'd say scrap the muzzle idea entierly until you know
Moki doesn't like horses. A muzzle could make it worse. If he's afraid and you try to restrain him it might make him more fearful. If he's chasing out of prey drive a muzzle might not stop harassment as the horses will still run.
My boy was afraid the horse was hurting me. It took about three weeks to get him comfortable by leading him up to the horse to having me touch/sit on the horse. But they were never fully 100%. I fell once while free lunging and yelled. Tin-Tin came flying from the bowels of the forest and chased the horse a good 500 feet before he was convinced it wasn't trying to eat me so you still have to be mindful.
Wasn't all bad though we had some fun trail rides, the horse, dog, and I. (With one particularly funny story but I'll save that one)
If Moki really wants to meet a horse that badly he may just be curious/ want to see what the big funny animal is. If theres a really chill horse at your stable maybe let them meet with a fence in between. I'd say let him discover horses safely in his own time. Don't try to restain and force it.
Can he roam free at this barn or is it leashes only?
I will keep it leash only and he might hang out in his kennel to help him acclimate to the environment but it is a professional Arabian training center so I can't just take chances. Owners of 6 and 7 digit animals frown on any chances of things going wrong. I won't be allowing him to run free and chase or any thing. He has his yard and we go for walks this is so that I can move toward taking him with me to horse shows and activities. My female was a puppy when I got her and she never had any issues just took the horses for granted. But moki seems very street smart and gets excited over the country atmosphere. Some day I hope to get a farm and then hopefully we can fully integrate him.
I let him and my mare check each other out but he started snapping and we pulled them back. His heart was really racing.
Visit the Muzzle Up Project-
I don't think the soft muzzle is the right choice- they can't open their mouth up much, breathe, drink or relax as they can with, say, a baskerville muzzle or a greyhound muzzle. The soft muzzles are intended just for a few minutes, like at the vet for an injection, or a nail trim at the groomers.
That said it does sound like this is WAY overwhelming for him at this time, and if it's difficult to break it down into ridiculously baby steps and a long time, then i would agree with Vulpes and focus the energy your would put into "getting him too like horses" into finding something more his level of enjoyment and safety. I have one particular dog for whom many things are just too damn much, and as much as I dreamed of enjoying taking him places and doing stuff- he really feels safer and happier doing quieter things close to home, ball in the yard, short hikes to the creek, and movies on the couch are where he really shines. I have other dogs for whom going places is much more enjoyable for me and them.
be cautious with mistaking overwhelmedness for enthusiasm. (or vice versa: shutdown for calm) A book you might find interesting is called Stress in Dogs-
I highly recommend it
Kai to the Core!
I agree with
on all the things. Soft muzzles are very restrictive, and moreover they don't actually prevent a bite. The dog can still nip, and believe me it can hurt. The dog just can't get open wide enough to get a good hold on something. Basket muzzles completely prevent bites while also allowing the dog to breath, pant, and drink normally. Due to their rigid and open shape, however, getting a correctly fitting basket muzzle is critical or the dog will be able to remove it; its harder to remove a soft muzzle.
Nothing else to add about the training and baby steps, good advice given so far.
「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
Thank you Claire, that helps me sort this out. I was worried they could still get contact in the soft muzzle. I do intend to take this slow, just hoping we can work our way through it.
Sounds like bringing his kennel and a toy for him to mouth might be wise that way he can hang out and watch . Some toys to squeek and he will be able to observe in comfort. Baby steps absolutely. I'm also concerned he has never been around a cat with me yet and that's another introduction I need to control. He may prove he can't do this but a careful plan of attack might work. He does move to me for comfort and reassurance so I can usually gauge his levels. He loves to get out and really run for long stretches and I think that was the big excitement at the park, he can't wait to put his harness on and go places. Loves the store, picks his toys and treats. Loves exploring, I believe he will adjust given time and caution. No rush here.
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