Let me ask you, when you picture a dog muzzle, what comes to mind? Do you see an angry, vicious dog with all teeth bared, looking like they are just seconds away from attacking you?
If you do, you’re not alone there. But the truth behind these dog accessories has been exaggerated in poor taste.
This is because these muzzles are not just meant for vicious and out-of-control dogs. They have actually proven to be handy tools in not only keeping your dog safely in check but also in training them.
In fact, most of the misconceptions surrounding these muzzles are primarily a result of the media shaping them out in a rather negative light, whether it be through movies, tv shows, etc.
But, for the sake of transparency, we’re going to go into detail as to what these muzzles are, what they are used for, and how best you can train your pet using them.
What is a Dog Muzzle?
Dog muzzles are basically mask-like accessories placed over your pooch’s snout to keep them from biting or causing injury.
This is especially important if you have yet to finish your dog’s training program but need to take them outside for whatever reason. But that does not mean that they should be restrictive.
On the contrary, they are meant to fit any dog size – be it small or large breed – comfortably. Thus allowing them to still breathe, eat and drink, even while the muzzle is still strapped to their snouts.
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What are Dog Muzzles for?
The “why” is pretty obvious. These are used to keep your dog from biting others around them. But they have more than one purpose.
They are commonly used by dog trainers or veterinarians when tending to dogs who may yet be unaccustomed to dealing with strangers. After all, whenever your pet meets new people, no matter how friendly they may be, it’s natural for them to feel scared or anxious. So the risk of them biting someone is higher!
Also, if your pet has had a history of biting people before, conditioning them to get used to wearing a muzzle is even more critical. But it’s also important to note that dog muzzle should never be used as a form of punishment.
You should just train your pooch to feel comfortable wearing them to ensure that they don’t end up agitated or stressed should they need to wear one.
How to Train Your Dog With a Dog Muzzle?
While it may sound like teaching your pooch to wear a muzzle will be a challenge, it actually isn’t as difficult as it may seem. But, you will definitely need to be patient and consistent with the conditioning process.
For this reason, we will quickly guide you through the process that should get your pet to feel more comfortable wearing them.
1. Get a high-quality dog muzzle.
We recommend that you opt to go for a basket muzzle. This type of dog muzzle will allow your canine to breathe better, as well as eat or drink food and water whenever your dog wants to. It also helps reduce stress or possible overheating that may occur while wearing the muzzle.
You should also measure your pet’s snout to ensure that you have the perfect fit. There will usually be a sizing chart to compare the measurements and pick out the best fit. But, some brands provide customizable dog muzzles for extra comfort too!
2. Present the muzzle to your dog
You don’t have to place it on them once you bring it home, but instead, simply hold it up and try to create a positive attitude about it. This means holding up the muzzle with a treat so that every time they see the muzzle, they think a treat will be coming next. So they will start to affirm it as a good thing!
You can also place the muzzle on them a few times for brief periods while feeding them some delicious treats. The important part is to condition them to want to squeeze into the muzzle voluntarily, without you having to force it on. If they start backing away, don’t pursue them. Simply wait for them to come back and try again.
3. Increase the duration.
Once your dog starts to feel more comfortable while wearing the muzzle, you can now begin to leave the muzzle for more extended periods. Continue to slowly give them treats every couple of minutes while they are wearing the muzzle.
If the muzzle comes with a snap and not a buckle, you may need to get them used to the snapping sound so that they don’t end up feeling agitated by it.
In such cases, you should try to condition them to the sound, even when they aren’t wearing the muzzle. This means holding it up from time to time, showing it to them, and repeatedly snapping it until they are used to the sound.
Each time you do this, you can also give them treats, like peanut butter, just for it to be extra effective.
4. Keep reminding them that it is a positive thing
These “treat=muzzle” moments should be repeated from time to time, even when you aren’t intending on using them so that they don’t just wear them in bad or scary times.
This would help your dog feel more comfortable and even learn to enjoy wearing their muzzle.
If you only let them wear the muzzle when going to the vet or groomers, your dogs will start to have a negative perception of the muzzle.
This can cancel out all the good you did before. If your pup suddenly has an uncomfortable experience with the muzzle, make sure you give him a couple of good “treat” experiences afterward to negate it.