Muzzles – they’re only for bad dogs, right?
Actually, even if your dog wouldn’t hurt a fly, it’s beneficial to train them to happily wear a muzzle. Even the most gentle dogs may have to wear a muzzle at some point, and preparing them for that moment will greatly decrease the amount of stress they may have to endure.
Why Every Dog Should Be Muzzle Trained
There are many benefits of training your dog to wear a muzzle. The most obvious is to prevent a bite. Any time your dog is scared or in pain, they experience an adrenaline rush and go into “fight or flight” mode. If your dog cannot escape, they will have no choice but to try to bite. If your dog causes a severe enough bite, there is a chance that you may be forced to put them to sleep. Muzzle training can actually save your dog’s life.
Vet visits become less stressful when your dog is muzzle-trained. Blood draws, vaccinations and other potentially painful procedures are easier when your dog voluntary wears their familiar muzzle from home, rather than being forced into one at the vet’s office.
Your dog may also need to be muzzled during grooming, particularly nail trims, whether you do them at home, or at the vet’s office or groomer’s. While it’s best to teach your dog to accept nail trims with positive reinforcement, they may still need to be muzzled as a precaution.
A muzzle can also keep your dog from eating trash outside. Certain dogs, particularly retrievers, will eat almost anything, even rocks, and end up needing expensive surgeries to remove foreign bodies from their digestive tract. Blockages can cause internal bleeding, and are sometimes fatal.
When your dog wears a muzzle, the uninformed public may think that they are dangerous. This can be a perk on walks if your dog is ever rudely approached by people and their children. Wearing a muzzle means your dog will likely be left alone.
Your dog can also wear a muzzle during play-dates if they tend to break skin with their overzealous play bites. It is common for thin-skinned breeds like Greyhounds to wear muzzles when they play to prevent injuries. Of course, muzzles do not protect your dog from getting bitten.
There are many, many other reasons why an ordinary dog may have to wear a muzzle. If your lost dog is ever picked up by animal control, or if they are rescued during an emergency, they may be muzzled. Your dog may also be required to wear a muzzle on public transportation.
What Kind Of Muzzle Should You Get?
Every dog should have their own basket style muzzle. It should be fitted so that your dog can open their mouth, pant, drink water and accept treats while wearing it. Baskerville is a popular brand. The muzzle can be made of plastic, metal or leather.
Cloth and mesh muzzles are often used for short periods of time, especially in emergencies. They do not allow your dog to open their mouth and pant. This can be dangerous for your dog if worn for long periods of time. However, you may want to keep one of these simple muzzles in a first aid kit or in your car in case of an emergency, and teach your dog to wear it, too.
How To Muzzle Train Your Dog
When you first buy the muzzle, leave it on the floor and allow your dog to approach it at their own speed. Reward them for going near it.
Then, take out the muzzle and give your dog a treat so that the very sight of it is a positive experience. The muzzle is a mask of fun times.
Hold up the muzzle near your dog’s face, and reward them heavily for getting close to it. Do not put it over your dog’s face. Instead, deliver a rapid-fire of tiny treats through it, or smear something yummy like cheese or peanut butter on the inside. Your dog should enjoy a few seconds of nonstop yumminess for a few seconds while they have the muzzle close to their face – then the treats should stop when you pull the muzzle away. Soon, your dog will want you to bring the muzzle to their face.
You may have to condition your dog to get used to the sound of the fastener, the feeling of the muzzle being adjusted, and then actually wearing it. All of these things should be introduced gradually. Always work at your dog’s pace and use lots of rewards. Soon, you can put on your dog’s muzzle immediately before going for a short walk – so they’ll not only associate it with treats, but the excitement of going on an adventure.
If you need help finding a muzzle, fitting it properly, and teaching your dog to love wearing it, Healthy Houndz can help! Get in touch today for positive reinforcement based training in Toronto and North York that prepares your dog for real-life situations.