When we mention muzzles everyone gives us that same look. “Not my dog!” And it’s because as a society we all have the same perception of muzzles.
The are ghastly contraptions reserved for only the most horrible dogs around! Aggressive, nasty dogs should be muzzled to keep us and our dogs safer.
Whereas actually there is no such thing as nasty or even “aggressive” dogs.
Some dogs might exhibit “aggressive” type behaviours when scared or threatened. That doesn’t make them nasty. Think about the time you were at your worst, would you want the world to judge you based on your behaviour at that point? When you were stressed, or scared or frustrated beyond belief?
No and we shouldn’t do that to dogs either. There are actually a range of reasons why dogs might wear muzzles.
Why wear a muzzle;
Ok so this is the main reason most people think of. If a dog is pushed to it’s limits it can bite and cause potentially very serious, even fatal injuries.
If wearing a correct muzzle then a dog cannot use it’s mouth to hurt any one or any creature which can be life saving. They can still learn to head butt with their muzzle which can be pretty painful, especially from a big dog!
But these dogs are still not horrible. They have been scared in the past and are not reacting to protect themselves. Or are struggling with frustration. Or are acting on a strong prey drive.
Not ideal as a long term solution but a muzzle can prevent a dog from picking up potentially dangerous items.
Unfortunately we’ve all seen stories of dangerous, poisonous items left out in dog walking areas. And some dogs struggle with guarding some items they pick up. Or swallow items to keep hold of them, such as stones, which can cause a life threatening blockage.
Using a muzzle can stop this behaviour. But ideally you then go the next step further and treat the initial issue. We can teach a solid “leave” and “drop” behaviour and help dogs to learn that people aren’t trying to steal from them.
But in the meantime a muzzle can keep your dog safe.
Did you know we recommend muzzle training each and every single dog? Even from a puppy. Way before you have any concerns that a dog might need to have to wear a muzzle.
Learning to wear a muzzle takes a lot of work and confidence and is a great learning experience for any dog. Your timing has to be good so it improves you as a trainer and builds your bond with your dog!
When a dog is taught to enjoy wearing a muzzle it can be one of their favourite activities! So some dogs you see might just be practicing and in training and have no “need” for a muzzle at all!
If you are going to get a muzzle for your dog it should always be a cage type muzzle. Never a fabric one. This allows your dog to pant and move freely, drink and take treats. Plenty of room should be given to allow your dog to fully open their mouth as wide as they would when panting fully or holding a ball. It’s also important to ensure it isn’t going to fall off, or rub in their eyes so getting the right fit can be difficult but is worth the effort.
A correctly fitting muzzle is one of the most important things to muzzle training. See the Facebook group “muzzle up, pup!” for loads of great info!
When training you also need to listen to your dog at all times, and ensure they feel comfortable. Your dog should never feel trapped in the muzzle. See our online Life Skills class for how to train a dog to enjoy wearing a muzzle!
What to do if you see a muzzled dog:
So next time you see a dog wearing a muzzle you know it could be for a whole range of reasons. And that their guardian is doing their best for their dog.
Don’t act like you’ve seen some horrible monster! But do give the dog some space as they may need it.
And consider muzzle training your dog to take things to the next level!