When we think of a dog in a muzzle, we think of some demon hell hound with foam dripping from sharp teeth that can’t wait to tear any innocent human or sweet house pet.
Muzzles may seem scary and intimidating but they can be a fantastic and safe training tool. We can use them for a variety of reasons beyond aggression. Maybe your dog is injured and hurt, or your dog may like to eat random things on walks that are better left alone, perhaps your dog feels insecure and their muzzle works as a source of comfort, like a blanket for a child. One of my favorite reasons for muzzle training is just peace of mind.
If you have a reactive dog or maybe just a shy or scared dog, a muzzle can eliminate any stress from the potential future behaviors. When you and your dog know that it’s not possible for a bite to occur, you can focus on the training and task at hand without any additional stressors. Dogs can smell our stress, our tension, and our discomfort, if you do not feel these things, this will help your dog relax too, making training easier.
There are a couple different styles of muzzles but ideally you want a basket muzzle (shown on this happy Lab). These types of muzzles give your dog plenty of room to pant and drink water, even take treats! If introduced correctly your dog should move and play like there’s nothing there! Mesh muzzles (seen on the collie below) are only to be used in short bursts, like a nail trim or vet visits. These are dangerous for long term wear because it keeps the dog from panting and can cause them to overheat, as well as creating additional stress due to the lack of available movement. A good rule of thumb for finding a good sized basket muzzle for your dog is measuring around their muzzle when they have a ball in their mouth, this closely resembles their mouth while they are panting.
Wearing a muzzle can be strange to dogs. It’s very important to create a positive association with it to ensure we keep our pups happy! There is a stigma around muzzles and the way a dog is perceived can be a deterrent for some people. It’s important to remember though, you are your dog’s advocate! It’s your responsibility to make sure your dog and others stay safe.
Training your dog to be comfortable in a muzzle can help prevent issues in the future. Your vet and groomer will thank you for preparing your dog for a muzzle and your dog will thank you for helping them have a stress free experience. If you are curious or interested in getting your dog training to be comfortable in a muzzle, book a private class and let us help.
Our goal is to make sure your dog is comfortable with every step of the muzzle training process.