Monday, 16 March 2020

Muzzles, handwashing and coronavirus

The large off lead dog rushes over to you through the woods, approaching your small on-lead dog.

So far, so normal (potentially frustrating but pretty normal), right?

Then you realise that the big black dog is in fact also wearing a close fitting black Baskerville muzzle. And you’re not sure where the owner is.


Then the owner appeared and shouted “It’s okay, they’re friendly really. They just don’t like joggers”.

Well, credit to the owner for choosing to muzzle their dog and reducing the risk of a jogger being nipped or bitten.

But just using a muzzle, without any other strategies, isn’t really a sensible way to reduce risk and keep everyone safe.

I try to avoid horror stories, but I’ve been on the receiving end of what’s called a “muzzle punch” from a dog (who was muzzled) and trust me, it left bruises!

When we know there is a problem, it’s up to us (with professional support if needed) to create a comprehensive strategy.

Dog “doesn’t like” joggers? 


Let’s assume that means our dog may unpredictably rush at, bark or consider nipping joggers.

  • Avoidance: plan to walk away from organised running events like Park Run, avoid busy regular running routes 
  • Management: teach our dog to really enjoy wearing a muzzle, be able to take treats from us through the muzzle, AND keep our dog on a long line in public 
  • Treatment: check what’s driving our dog’s behaviour (Fear? Anxiety? Frustration?) and develop a training plan to change both the problem and the underlying emotion 
MANY of the dogs pictured wearing muzzles in this blog are current or past WCC clients. These dogs have ALL learned to love wearing their muzzles for a whole variety of reasons. Their amazing humans know that muzzles are just part of the plan! 

By now you might be wondering what on earth this has to do with Covid19!

As a company, and as responsible individuals, we’ve had lots of discussion over the last few weeks.

While we can’t influence government policy, we can choose our own response strategy based on the available evidence and recommendations.

Hand-washing is a lot like using a muzzle on a dog – it only really helps if we’re doing the other important stuff too….

Like social distancing, reducing personal contact, regular hand-washing AND cleaning of relevant surfaces.

Respecting anyone who is self-isolating even just as a precaution, and being mindful that while you might not be badly affected, your elderly relative could become seriously ill.

What you need to know

Entirely coincidentally our only indoor classes finish this Wednesday
after which we’re on a scheduled break until the summer. This week we’re asking everyone to be sensible, avoiding any shared equipment and continuing to observe our usual high standard of hygiene.

Almost all of our other sessions are held outdoors, with the opportunity for plenty of space between people and dogs! We may adapt the structure but sessions are scheduled to continue.

If you’re a behaviour client, then home visits will continue for the moment BUT we’re asking clients to keep us informed if they experience any symptoms, or have returned from travel in affected countries according to the UK Government guidance.

For clients who are self-isolating due to suspected or confirmed infection, or in line with the government guidance on foreign travel, please do not attend for your session and contact us as soon as possible to reschedule without charge.  Please note that session charges continue to apply if we are not notified in advance of the need to cancel.

We reserve the right to ask any client or helper to leave a session if they appear to be unwell and there is a concern about infection. 

We’re looking forwards to continuing to work with you, and implementing a whole package of strategies as needed.

Morag and the beasties

What’s on in WCC Land? 

Parkour Workshops Sunday 22nd March

Gun Dog Games on Saturday 21st March

Remote Support

As always, we're available via video link and phone for ongoing training support, new behaviour consultations and more - just email the office on

The Multi-Dog Harmony workshop is currently on hold, and I’ll let you know once we have a new date.

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