Muzzle Solves All? A Response to Linnea and Aspiecatholicgirl’s Comments

Remember this post?  Two separate commenters have suggested that a muzzle would be the solution whenever we take Dicky out for a walk. In case you chose not to click on the link and read the post, let me sum it up for you:

A guy who owned a golden retriever, allowed it to run off the leash at Salem Commons. Salem Commons is not a dog park, just a park where people walk their dogs and are required to have said dogs on leash by law. Dicky, like many dogs, does not like to meet people or other dogs, especially when he is on leash and we often have to restrain him as his natural instinct is to bark and lunge at the offending animal. The golden retriever tried to run up to “meet” our dog and we had to shout several times at the inconsiderate owner to call his dog back as the incident very nearly ended in our not so friendly dog shaking things up with the friendly (yet irresponsibly trained) golden retriever.

Keeping in mind that I do not wish to discourage people from commenting on my threads, I am only quoting the posters in this post because I felt that a full post would be a better way to address them. I don’t wish to encourage a “flame” war. If you disagree or agree with their comments, feel free to post your replies, but always in a respectful manner.

Linnea’s Reply:

I see many dog owners in park situations using a muzzle for their unfriendly dogs. You might try that. Your walk should be relaxing, not spent trying to make sure your dog doesn’t bite.

Aspiecatholicgirl’s Reply

I do think that people shouldn’t let their dogs run up to yours, willy nilly. I do agree. But the fact is that such a thing will happen, it will, and a muzzle could prevent something bad.

An analogy: other people shouldn’t drive drunk. They shouldn’t. But some of them will, and you should wear a seatbelt so that when you do get hit by a drunk driver, the results won’t be as bad.
You wearing a seatbelt doesn’t mean you’re excusing the other person’s drunk driving. Your dog being on a muzzle doesn’t mean the other person should let their dog just run around.

Even if it were my decision, I would not use a muzzle on Dicky. Admittedly, my experience is limited to my time as Dicky’s owner and what little I have learned from my friends who are professional dog sitters, as well as what I have witnessed from other dog owners.

Perhaps there are times when a muzzle is necessary. I don’t feel this is one of those cases and here is my reasoning.

In the first place, using a muzzle is to assume that there is no other way for a dog to cause harm to another. Dogs still have claws. Larger dogs can hurt other dogs simply by jumping on one another. And that’s not addressing the issues of dogs jumping on children or other people sharing that same park.

But let’s look at Aspiecatholicgirl’s seatbelt analogy in another way. A seatbelt is a safety restraint that is required by law to prevent or minimize injury of the driver and the passenger in the event of a collision. As dog owners, John and I already use a safety retraining device that is required by law for the safety of our dog and of others: That is the leash.

People also like to try to pet our dog, even after we have told them repeatedly that he is not friendly. Should those people be made to wear handcuffs every time they leave the house because even though violating a dog’s personal space when the owner has clearly told them not to is not okay, it’s going to happen anyway? That logic doesn’t sound so fair when you apply it to a human being, does it?

The issue in Salem Commons was not our dog. It was the owner of the Golden Retriever. Not only was he breaking the law, that was clearly stated on several signs, yet unfortunately not enforced, but he was making the decision on our dog’s behalf that his dog was going to meet ours. I am not going to punish my dog because someone else has decided that it’s perfectly acceptable to let their dog run loose and violate our animal’s space.

Salem is a dog friendly town. I see dogs barking and lunging for each other all the time. I do not see them wearing muzzles, but rather, I see their responsible owners pulling the dogs away from each other. Because that is the sort of thing dogs do and subsequently, that is what responsible dog owners do.


2 thoughts on “Muzzle Solves All? A Response to Linnea and Aspiecatholicgirl’s Comments

  1. aspiecatholicgirl

    I don’t think muzzles solve all, but I think they should be used more frequently.
    Even if the other human/owner is the one who is really at fault, if your dog bites someone he will have to be quarantined by law (I don’t know where you live, but that’s a pretty standard law) and in some places may be placed on a dangerous dogs index. Do you want to risk that because of someone else’s mistake?
    In addition, while the other owner should keep the other dog restrained, it’s not that dog’s fault that his owner doesn’t do so. Should that dog suffer a bite because of his owner?

    But none of the above reasons is the real reason I think a muzzle is a good idea. Based on your prior post, your friend’s dog is aggressive not just towards dogs but towards unknown humans. If it was just dogs I wouldn’t care, but humans are a different matter.
    One day it might not be a dog running up to your dog; it might be a one year old child. This happened to my dog; a one year old appeared out of nowhere and started manhandling his face. Luckily my (Pitbullish type) dog is gentle with kids.

    The mom shouldn’t have let that happen. But it wasn’t the little one year old’s fault; she didn’t know any better. If my dog had been aggressive towards humans, should that one year old have been bitten because of her parent’s mistake and my unwillingness to take precautions against such people’s mistakes?

    1. Nathanielle Sean Crawford Post author

      My dog’s not aggressive towards humans or other dogs, just towards ones that violate his space. The worst he does is bark and lunge, just like any dog, but so long as we’re keeping a hold of his leash it’s not a problem. In fourteen years (John has had him in that time) there has never been an incident

      No, it’s not the Golden Retriever’s fault if he runs up to strangers, but yes it is definitely the owner’s fault for being irresponsible and inconsiderate and dogs can and do suffer because of their owner’s mistakes. By your own logic, if that golden retriever runs up to a one year old child and either knocks that child over, or just scares the child because the child doesn’t know what the dog’s intentions are, the parent of that child can press charges against that dog’s owner and the best case scenario is that owner will get a massive fine.

      But as I said, here the problem was not the dogs so much as it was the lack of enforcement of the law. Even when we’ve complained to the right people about such owners, nothing is done about it.


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