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As a last resort, is it acceptable to muzzle your pup to prevent leash biting / tugging on walks, and to ensure that the pup doesn't wreak havoc in the house when you can't tend to him?

Before anyone blows a gasket and scorches me for this question: I totally understand that muzzling is a suboptimal solution, and that regular training and patience are generally a better way to go. But, we have some exceptional circumstances, with which I hope you can empathize:

My wife and I have an 11-mo-old golden retriever and a 4-mo baby (human...) girl. The pup went through an extensive 4-week puppy training program, and I continue to work with him on his training each and every day. But, he still has a long way to go before anyone could mistake him for a well-behaved dog. For instance, he still periodically bites / tugs on his leash when he's being walked. (It's playful biting and tugging, and he clearly does it when he gets excited or bored on his walks.) And, although we make an effort to put the baby's stuff (blankets, bibs, etc.) in places that the pup can't reach, the pup thinks it's a fun game to try to get the baby's stuff, and run around with it and chew on it.

When I'm at home, I'm able to manage the dog ok through the various techniques that we were taught in training. The leash biting / tugging is obviously annoying, but it's managable for me.

That said, I just finished my family leave two days ago, and my wife must now manage both the baby and the pup alone while I'm at work. My wife has exceedingly limited time to walk the dog before she needs to manage the baby's needs (feeding, changing, screaming, etc.), and when she walks the dog, she needs to walk the baby in the stroller. So, when the dog bites and tugs on the leash, my wife needs to move the stroller to a safe place, stop the walk, and manage the dog using the techniques that we've been taught -- which in turn takes time and increases the likelihood that the baby will start going crazy before my wife gets home from the walk. After a couple of attempts, it's just too much for my wife to manage, so she just leaves the dog in his kennel in the garage and walks the baby through the neighborhood.

THEN, because the dog hasn't had sufficient exercise, he's a bundle of energy inside the house. And, my wife can't manage the dog if she's breast feeding the baby or changing the baby. So, again, her alternative has been to put the dog in his kennel in the garage.

Given these exceptional circumstances, I'm just wondering whether a muzzle would be a better alternative for the dog than leaving him in his kennel for most of the day. He'd get to bond with my wife, and chill inside the house.

Any thoughts? Thanks so much for your time and advice.
 

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Now Caue's Dad Too!
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Leash biting and tugging is not the end of the world. I don't think it is worth muzzling over. Have you tried some bitter apple on the leash? 4 weeks is a pretty quick puppy class. I would suggest you look for a more advanced class. Hope you share some pictures of your pup.
 

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As a last resort, is it acceptable to muzzle your pup to prevent leash biting / tugging on walks, and to ensure that the pup doesn't wreak havoc in the house when you can't tend to him?

Before anyone blows a gasket and scorches me for this question: I totally understand that muzzling is a suboptimal solution, and that regular training and patience are generally a better way to go. But, we have some exceptional circumstances, with which I hope you can empathize:

My wife and I have an 11-mo-old golden retriever and a 4-mo baby (human...) girl. The pup went through an extensive 4-week puppy training program, and I continue to work with him on his training each and every day. But, he still has a long way to go before anyone could mistake him for a well-behaved dog. For instance, he still periodically bites / tugs on his leash when he's being walked. (It's playful biting and tugging, and he clearly does it when he gets excited or bored on his walks.) And, although we make an effort to put the baby's stuff (blankets, bibs, etc.) in places that the pup can't reach, the pup thinks it's a fun game to try to get the baby's stuff, and run around with it and chew on it.

When I'm at home, I'm able to manage the dog ok through the various techniques that we were taught in training. The leash biting / tugging is obviously annoying, but it's managable for me.

That said, I just finished my family leave two days ago, and my wife must now manage both the baby and the pup alone while I'm at work. My wife has exceedingly limited time to walk the dog before she needs to manage the baby's needs (feeding, changing, screaming, etc.), and when she walks the dog, she needs to walk the baby in the stroller. So, when the dog bites and tugs on the leash, my wife needs to move the stroller to a safe place, stop the walk, and manage the dog using the techniques that we've been taught -- which in turn takes time and increases the likelihood that the baby will start going crazy before my wife gets home from the walk. After a couple of attempts, it's just too much for my wife to manage, so she just leaves the dog in his kennel in the garage and walks the baby through the neighborhood.

THEN, because the dog hasn't had sufficient exercise, he's a bundle of energy inside the house. And, my wife can't manage the dog if she's breast feeding the baby or changing the baby. So, again, her alternative has been to put the dog in his kennel in the garage.

Given these exceptional circumstances, I'm just wondering whether a muzzle would be a better alternative for the dog than leaving him in his kennel for most of the day. He'd get to bond with my wife, and chill inside the house.

Any thoughts? Thanks so much for your time and advice.
A couple thoughts:

1. My dog is almost 4 and to this day he still grabs enjoys grabbing inappropriate items and running around like an idiot. It is a fun game for him, why should he stop? And honestly, I enjoy his exuberance over a sock. I know lots of goldens that do this and never stop.

2. Why don't you walk him before you go to work? That way he is properly exercised.

3. Stock up on Kongs. Put a bunch of stuff inside like yogurt, bananas, peanut butter, kibble soaked in water, etc. Freeze them. When the puppy is being a bundle of energy, give him a kong. Perfect time killer. Also invest in some interactive food toys.

4. I wouldn't muzzle him. I personally know that my dog would hate having it on his face...plus, as you said, it is just putting a band-aid on the problem.

5. Continue obedience classes. 4 weeks of training is nothing. Consistency and time is key.

Babies and dogs are a lot of work.
 

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In my humble opinion it is totally unacceptable to muzzle a puppy for what is absolutely normal puppy behavior.
There are other threads that provide advice on how help with an issue like this.

One suggestion is to bring along treats or a toy to keep your focused on the walk and not on the leash. If he likes to carry a ball or toy in general, have him carry it on the walk. I know folks who do this and the dog is completely focused on just walking.

A young dog needs adequate exercise and can't stay in a house all day doing nothing or being kenneled. Can your wife play in the yard with the dog?

Have you thought about sending the puppy to Doggy Daycare so he can get exercise and playtime with other dogs? or hiring someone to walk the Dog during the day?

If none of these alternatives are possible you might need to ask yourself if the dog needs to be rehomed so that he is provided the attention and exercise he needs because it doesn't seem like you and your wife have the time and kenneling a dog most the day as you state in your post is really not an ideal situation. There is nothing wrong with admitting this because it is not easy raising a puppy with an infant or with young children.
It's almost like having two children.
 

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All: Thanks for your thoughtful responses. I tried to respond to each of your questions and to clarify some apparent misperceptions about our situation and the dog's training background (which is actually rather extensive). But, my session apparently timed out, I was prompted to re-log in -- and I lost all of my $%# content! I won't be able to re-draft everything tonight. But, please realize that I appreciate your time and feedback. To the extent that we haven't already tried some of your suggestions, we'll definitely try them. Thank you.

One quick comment and follow-up question, though: I know nothing about the side effects and impact of muzzling, and I've never even seen a dog in person that was wearing a muzzle. All I know is that a muzzle serves to keep a dog's mouth closed -- and given that our most immediate issue with our dog is with his biting-related behavior, intuitively, I thought that a muzzle *might* be a short-term fix to our problem. I was totally open to the possibility that it's a terrible idea, which is precisely why I visited this forum and requested your feedback.

That said, would someone mind spelling out for me what the specific problems and dangers are with muzzling? One of you generally stated that muzzling is dangerous. And, it's evident that many more of you think that muzzling is oppressive or inhumane. You might all be absolutely right -- but, none of you explained why. And, maybe it's the early-fatherhood sleep deprivation, but it isn't self-evident for me how muzzling would be dangerous during a 30-minute walk in the neighborhood. (Mind you, again, I'm not disagreeing with any of those points. Just trying to understand.)

Thanks again for your time.
 

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& Sawyer's & Quinn's too!
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Are we (my husband and I) the only ones that think it's ADORABLE when Sawyer "walks himself" by holding onto the leash with his mouth? And the excitement, ohhhh, the excitement of the twice a day walk, like he never expected that he'd ever be so lucky that he must jump up to grab the leash and prance around with it! Are we odd for oooo'ing and awww'ing at this behavior???

I think it's awful (sorry) to contemplate putting a muzzle on your puppy. Goldens are VERY mouthy - something I'm sure you found in your research when deciding to get a Golden puppy when your wife was pregnant. They love holding their "prizes" in their mouths and prancing about. A puppy and a baby is surely a juggling act, but I guess it is what you signed on for. I think it's cruel to consider muzzling your puppy for completely normal and what should have been expected behavior. As someone else suggested, provide appropriate things for the puppy to chew on and hold in his mouth. Be ready to offer "trades" for things that aren't appropriate.

I'd let him hold his leash or a stuffy or a ball during walks - What's the harm?
 
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I realize you are going back to work and your wife is busy with the baby. I don't want to come across as insensitive, however, did you and your wife really think things through with getting a puppy at this point in your life? I have seen time and time again dogs posted on Craigslist that, "we don't have the time for him/her, we have a new baby and can't manage, etc." Not passing judgement here, just wondering. I too had a point where Maggie brought on thoughts of muzzling, however we managed to get through that period. I would suggest a dog walker, perhaps a retired, abled bodied person in your neighborhood and/or a responsible teenager for after school. You will need a solution that is aggreeable to both you and your wife. Are you willing to get up earlier to walk the dog before work? How long is your commute? Lots to think about. Can you come home from work at lunch time and take care of the dog with some outdoor fetch and a Chuck-it, to help wind down your pup? Maybe your wife has a stay at home mom friend who can share in a trade off of sorts? The friend watches your baby, so your wife can attend to the puppy in exchange for reciprocation of sorts? I wish you the best.
 

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All: Thanks for your thoughtful responses. I tried to respond to each of your questions and to clarify some apparent misperceptions about our situation and the dog's training background (which is actually rather extensive). But, my session apparently timed out, I was prompted to re-log in -- and I lost all of my $%# content! I won't be able to re-draft everything tonight. But, please realize that I appreciate your time and feedback. To the extent that we haven't already tried some of your suggestions, we'll definitely try them. Thank you.

One quick comment and follow-up question, though: I know nothing about the side effects and impact of muzzling, and I've never even seen a dog in person that was wearing a muzzle. All I know is that a muzzle serves to keep a dog's mouth closed -- and given that our most immediate issue with our dog is with his biting-related behavior, intuitively, I thought that a muzzle *might* be a short-term fix to our problem. I was totally open to the possibility that it's a terrible idea, which is precisely why I visited this forum and requested your feedback.

That said, would someone mind spelling out for me what the specific problems and dangers are with muzzling? One of you generally stated that muzzling is dangerous. And, it's evident that many more of you think that muzzling is oppressive or inhumane. You might all be absolutely right -- but, none of you explained why. And, maybe it's the early-fatherhood sleep deprivation, but it isn't self-evident for me how muzzling would be dangerous during a 30-minute walk in the neighborhood. (Mind you, again, I'm not disagreeing with any of those points. Just trying to understand.)

Thanks again for your time.

I have seen dogs "dig" at a muzzle - paws caught in them. I've seen them injure their eyes attempting to get them off. I've seen dogs who have gotten the muzzle caught on something and in a frantic attempt to free themselves they have been injured. Muzzles are not meant to be on for anything either than short term use (ie for a vet exam, or, if a dog is a biter, when being walked WITH THE OWNER. And "biter" does NOT mean puppy mouthing/nipping.
 

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Are we (my husband and I) the only ones that think it's ADORABLE when Sawyer "walks himself" by holding onto the leash with his mouth? And the excitement, ohhhh, the excitement of the twice a day walk, like he never expected that he'd ever be so lucky that he must jump up to grab the leash and prance around with it! Are we odd for oooo'ing and awww'ing at this behavior???

I think it's awful (sorry) to contemplate putting a muzzle on your puppy. Goldens are VERY mouthy - something I'm sure you found in your research when deciding to get a Golden puppy when your wife was pregnant. They love holding their "prizes" in their mouths and prancing about. A puppy and a baby is surely a juggling act, but I guess it is what you signed on for. I think it's cruel to consider muzzling your puppy for completely normal and what should have been expected behavior. As someone else suggested, provide appropriate things for the puppy to chew on and hold in his mouth. Be ready to offer "trades" for things that aren't appropriate.

I'd let him hold his leash or a stuffy or a ball during walks - What's the harm?
I do not allow dogs to "carry" their leads, as "cute" as it is. It can create problems later - we do show, and so it's not acceptable. Carrying a toy or other article is a better alternative, but really, they do need to learn to walk nicely without. All that said, a muzzle is just not appropriate, and it's an attempt at an "instant fix" when patience and training are what is really needed.
 

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The soft muzzles are not designed to allow the dog to pant and can cause overheating... I second a gentle leader for walking. I have to say, however, that when my Tiki tried to kill her liver by eating iris rhizomes many years ago, I bought her a basket muzzle like greyhounds wear, to prevent it. She was quick and sneaky. She did not mind it, and she could still bark and pant! Eventually she outgrew her fascination with the irises. And I do recommend basket muzzles to clients who have aggressive dogs and get stressed out when walking them. You can train a golden to not grab its' leash, but what you need is the time and energy to work with it.
 

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I think the solution to your problems is a dog walker or dog day care. I totally understand that a 4 month old child does not allow your wife time to deal with a mouthy puppy. I do think you need to commit to walking him when you come home.

I am also concerned about the kennel in the garage. Where do you live? What are the temperatures in your area, and what is the temperature in the garage? It is very dangerous to leave a dog for hours in high temperatures. My garage is always much hotter than the outside temperature. Please move his kennel inside the house.
 

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Kate
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Honestly speaking... I think this is why people with small children generally aren't allowed to buy or adopt puppies. Because they do need time and extended training (the training does not stop after the classes; it begins with the classes). And they need patience and a steady hand.

I'm not really somebody to push muzzles and gentle leaders for walking. I don't like either.

You could walk the dog in the morning before you go to work and again at night. And only ask your wife to feed the dog and let the dog outside in the backyard for potty and back inside again a few times a day.

The alternative is you walk the dog in the morning and then stay home and watch the baby in the evening while your wife can get out of the house and away from the baby for a walk with the dog.

You guys need to work together as a team on this.

As far as the dog grabbing the leash. I don't allow it. If my dog is being mouthy on a walk, I generally bring a toy for him to carry or I hand him a stick.

And further than that - keep in mind that while your dog is young, he is going to be a complete idiot while walking. There's a lot of smells and sights to get him excited and worked up. That's why I shaking my head about your wife multitasking with both a stroller and the dog's leash. Walking a dog requires two hands and time.

And I second bringing the dog inside. I know somebody who kept their dogs in the garage. The dog smelled musty and was in danger of getting poisoned from any leaks from their car.
 

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& Sawyer's & Quinn's too!
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I totally see why that would be inappropriate for dogs that are shown. Our Sawyer is just a goofy, silly pet - We shall continue to enjoy his antics. :)

He also does really well with "drop it" if we need him to let go. :)

I do not allow dogs to "carry" their leads, as "cute" as it is. It can create problems later - we do show, and so it's not acceptable. Carrying a toy or other article is a better alternative, but really, they do need to learn to walk nicely without. All that said, a muzzle is just not appropriate, and it's an attempt at an "instant fix" when patience and training are what is really needed.
 

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I'd suggest enrolling in another training class for dogs a little older. Dogs, like people, need to be challenged or else their mental thinking can go a little downhill. Plus puppy training isn't the same as basic obedience classes for older dogs and I think your boy is at the stage for the next level of training. Kudos for taking him to puppy classes and following through on training! It's obvious you want the best for your dog and for the other members of your family.

Leash biting: Bitter apple spray or a chain leash should stop the grabbing of a leash on a walk. If he doesn't know the command, "leave it" or "drop" I would spend time at home teaching him that, then use it on a walk when he tries to grab the leash. Have your wife carry some easy to reach treats so when given the cue, "leave it" or "drop it" and he does, he gets a reward. Also, how's your wife holding the leash and the stroller? I read somewhere that the best way to walk a dog and push a stroller is to have the handle of the leash in the right hand and then the other part in the left hand so the leash is lying across the top of the stroller's handle. There's better control and grip this way. You'll probably need a 6 ft leash to do it, though (if you don't have one already).

Another thing is to make the walks more interesting by challenging the dog. Walking slow with a stroller = boring. He might be grabbing the leash because he's trying to bump up his fun factor. Start making him use his brain a little more on walks. If he heels nicely 90% of the time, have your wife change her pace constantly. From real slow, toe to toe walking to super fast walking. Sudden changes of pace will keep your dog on his toes. She could also stop every 15-20 feet and get your dog to sit. Start teaching him automatic sits so when the person walking him stops, his butt hits the ground without needing the sit cue. (Again, basic obedience lessons will teach you guys how to do this).

Your 11 month old dog is going through his teenage phase and will have extra bundles of energy for the next little while. This is the age that most dogs get dropped off at shelters because they have an increase in energy that sometimes leads to destructive or rebellious behaviours. I think what your household needs is a schedule.

Say you wake up earlier in the morning to let dog out and take him for an hour walk. By the time you get back, he'll already have an hour's worth of exercise under his belt - that is HUGE for a teenage dog. Odds are you'll have a calmer dog during the day and less grabbing toys just because of that big hour walk in the morning. Especially since you can probably walk at a pretty good clip (not to mention the brownie points you'll get for exercising the dog while your wife gets to sleep in a little and then look after the baby without worrying about the dog).

After the walk, let dog (did i miss your dog's name in the OP?) cool down for 20-30 minutes, then give him his breakfast in his kennel which hopefully is in the kitchen or somewhere else where he'll still feel like part of the family and can see the other members of his household. If your wife needs one-on-one time to deal with the baby, then the dog is happy in his crate: well exercised, fed, and possibly ready for some down time. If she can handle the dog being outside while she does what she does in the mornings, then he can come hang out quietly. If he starts getting rowdy or rambuctious, he can go back into his crate with a chewie (frozen kong or marrow bone or something) until he's settled again.

Your wife can either walk the baby with the dog or without him. Doggie might be better on leash now that he's gotten that brisk hour of walk but if he's not, it's not essential that he goes with her. When you get home, you can take him for another 45-60 min walk and he'll probably be settled in for the rest of the evening and ready to chill with the rest of the family.

I'd also suggest a baby gate or something so he can have room to stretch his legs, interact with people but free of baby toys. That way he can't grab stuff and run, but he's still 'involved' with the rest of the family. Honestly though, I think if he gets two hours of walks in a day - morning and evening - you'll see a drastic reduction in his grabbing inappropriate items and running off.

I guess to sum up my novel of a post: Two 1 hour walks a day, a household schedule that everyone sticks with, and basic obedience classes and you'll probably have a different dog on your hands.
 

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The word overwhelmed comes to mind. Honestly I would have never gotten a puppy if I knew I was preggers lol! Sounds to me puppy in garage most the time is eager to play, play, play. I would get baby gates and let the puppy in the house with lots and lots of chew toys. They just want to be by their humans. Daddy needs to walk puppy before or after work. Keep up the training and please please don't muzzle.......muzzles on a golden (unless they are vicious) are just a cop out IMO. I was livid to find out my groomer put a muzzle on my Cody because he didn't like his tail brushed. New groomer and never had that problem again. I feel for you and your wife. I give her kudos for even trying to walk baby and puppy at the same time. But until he learns how to walk nicely on a leash I think that might be a little dangerous.
 

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Muzzling prevents a behavior and avoids a problem, but does nothing to retrain the behavior or solve the problem. The puppy will still 'go' for the leash, he just won't be able to grab it...until the muzzle is off. So I vote no muzzle.

As Ranger said: get enrolled in the next level of obedience training. Our Penny was quite a handful; she attended obedience classes for 2 years following puppy class. We'd have a few weeks break between classes during which time we'd work on improving what we'd learned and then on to the next challenging class.

I second the idea of a walk before work and/or a dog walker. The dog walker could walk the dog WITH your wife and baby and be able to correct the unwanted behavior. Or handle the stroller while your wife correct the unwanted behavior. At any rate, I think your wife needs someone to help out here...not meaning anything critical of you. You sound like a very caring, loving husband who is looking for a solution you can all live with.
 

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All good suggestions, mostly. However, you have to decide why it is not working for you - is it because you don't have the time or because you don't know what to do? If the former - you won't have time to implement many of the suggestions either.

You need to decide whether you have the time for this dog.

Muzzle a puppy? - not for me. They are just being a puppy.
 

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I personally also suggest doggy daycare for at least some of the time you aren't home... You and your wife are not dealing with "exceptional circumstances" (and I mean that with no offense), you're just in the same situation as most modern day families with a new baby and your dog is really just...being a dog, haha!

Depending on how many hours a day you work, in your situation I would set up at least a couple hours of daycare in the AM to burn off energy and allow your wife to get up and moving for the day, followed by time at home in a puppy-proofed room with lots of toys and mental stimulation (when puppy finally wakes up from being burnt out at daycare!). I don't know what your house set up is like, but we can literally gate off half of our house with one gate... if you have a similar set up, that would leave your puppy plenty of room to romp around. Just be sure he does continue to get lots of interaction while he's in that area.

I don't know what doggy daycare rates are in your area, but for us, two hours a day x 5 days a week x 4 weeks adds up to exactly $200 a month, which seems steep but depending on your financial situation, I could see it very easily being a price your wife would be willing to pay for added peace during the day.
 
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