Rehabilitating a Former Bait or Fighting Dog
I have had this sweet girl for 3 years. She was wounded & bleeding all over and had been used in fights. She is the most loving dog as long as there are no other animals around. She's ok on walks, but definitely cannot be around other dogs.
Would I be doing more harm by putting a good muzzle on her when someone comes to the house with their dog? Is it completely hopeless to take her to the dog park or any friends place that has dogs? I would love to see her play with another dog but I do not have the money for a trainer. PLEASE HELP!
While you may need a muzzle for vet visits and other situations where dogs cannot be avoided, I would not use it as a tool to try to facilitate meeting other dogs. If her aggression is fear-based, it may just make her feel more vulnerable being exposed to other dogs and unable to defend herself.
Even if she improves in her tolerance of other dogs, I would never take her to a dog park. You have no control over other people's dogs. And sadly, as often as not, the other owners have only marginal control over their own dogs. It's not a good place for a dog that has been traumatized by other dogs in the past.
You may be able to re-condition her responses to other dogs through a counter-conditioning program. Emma Parson's Click to Calm - Healing the Aggressive Dog is the best manual I've found on this subject. While you don't necessarily need a trainer to do the job for you, if you are going to do this, you would be wise to set aside some money so that you can obtain professional consultation from a behaviorist as you need it.
You say that your dog is loving to humans and does fine on walks and you've gotten along like this for 3 years. So, at the end of the day, maybe nothing really needs to be done.
Your dog doesn't need doggie friends to be happy and well-adjusted. She just needs you to understand her and manage her environment to avoid trigger situations as much as possible. It sounds like you've been doing that already. If she's a happy dog and the situation is manageable, I wouldn't try to fix what isn't really broken.
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