Headcovers for Dogs

Headcover on Wolf

The dog family, Canidae, which includes dogs, wolves, and coyotes love to hide.  They feel very safe hidden away in their dens.   Whenever you are working with dogs, cover their heads with a towel, or cover their trap or crate when you move them.  And some people will really like using this headcover.

Over the years I have worked with hundreds of wild and captive wolves.   When I first get them in hand with a Y pole I cover their head with a towel.  Even when I catch wolves (or dogs) with a net, I cover them with a towel to help calm them down and to make is safer for me to handle them.

Headcover on Wolf During While Teaching a Lab

Some programs will really like using the headcover.  The one I am writing about here is called the Wolf Quick Muzzle from Four Flags Over Aspen in Minnesota.  We typically put this on the dog or wolf after we have drugged them.  When it is anesthetized it protects their eyes from sunlight.  And as they wake up, they are still in the dark which is safer for the people and makes things quieter for the dog or wolf.

I brought several headcovers with me when working with the Ladakhi Animal Care Society in India with Vets Beyond Borders.  This is a trap/neuter/release program.  The surgeons really liked the headcovers.   It was much safer for them and the dogs woke up more slowly.

Dr. Sunil and Mr. Rajendra from Help in Suffering

Sometimes over the years when we have to move a dog or a wolf from one pen to another we can calmly approach and humanely control the animal with the Y pole, put a towel over its head, put hobbles on, then put a headcover on.  The headcover truly has a calming effect and we can pick up the animal, carry it to another location, then release.

I designed this headcover myself, but I do not get any money for promoting it.  I just believe in this valuable tool.  In 1995-1996 I was Project Veterinarian for the Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction.   We captured wolves in Canada and re-introduced them into Yellowstone Park where I worked.  I wanted something to make it safer for both the wolves and the people. Information on Wolf Quick Muzzle

Do any of you have experiences with covering the dogs to calm them down?   I would love to hear your story.

Best wishes,

Feral Dog Capture and Handling Workshop In India

First Day in the Field

After resting a day to acclimate myself to the 10,000 feet elevation, I went out with Kunzang, Sonam, and Tsering to capture dogs.  Although the Tru Catch (48F) folding dog traps had arrived long before I arrived no one wanted to take them out until they were shown how to use it.  I was soon going to learn that they were going to teach me how to use a boxtrap!  That first day I went out to merely watch and learn.

Although I have handled over 1,000 dogs they have always been on my terms in my way.  It was time I learned how other people caught animals.  It is not only different types of equipment, I wish to learn how other cultures influence their actions,  how does the public react to them, what are their greatest challenges and needs.  It is also important for me to watch to see if they have an inherent desire and dedication for compassionate and respectful handling and if so how do they convey that when handling the dog.

Animal Handlers from Sikkim

Animal Handlers from Sikkim

Kunzang and his team definately had an inherent care and compassion for the animal.  Their primary approach was to use long handled nets and catch dogs who were sleeping.  There were several escapes but they were very quick.  I could see they can concern about working in front of the public.  Chasing dogs with nets and then hearing them yelping as the other pack members are barking and upset makes the public upset and the animal handlers were often scolded even though they were helping their community.   It usually does not have to be that way.

I taught Kunzang, Sunam, and Tsering how to scruff a dog and how to muzzle it with a leash.  This combination safely and humanely controls the front half of the dog and if it is moved another person can hold the hips for a two person carry.  I also taught them how to be calm and use the breath to relax when the animal is tense.  The crazier the animal is, the calmer we should be. I explained that animal handlers usualy add far to much excitement and tension and the animals are very sensitive to this and react to it.    Throughout my trip as we were handling dogs, I would stop in the middle of a crazy moment of excitement remind them how to watch ourselves and our behaivor and relax so that it will reduce the struggling of the dog and help us better control and guide the situation.  As in all things in life what we are being is usually more important than what we are doing. Continue reading