Believe it or not, the use of a muzzle can come in handy even if your dog does not have aggression issues. For most of us the typical response to hearing about the use of a muzzle may be to feel a little uneasy, and that’s not a surprise as there is often a negative stigma attached to the thought of a muzzle on a dog. So, I’ll say it again, muzzles can come in really handy!
Yippy, The Muzzle!!!
You might be surprised to know that we can train animals to enjoy and tolerate wearing a muzzle. While we as humans may think of a muzzle as a bad or negative thing, most dogs, unless they’ve had a bad or traumatizing experience with one, don’t have an opinion one way or the other. That’s where training comes in! With the right techniques and enough time, most dogs can learn to love wearing a muzzle, just as they are comfortable wearing a collar or a harness.
Times that dogs may need to be muzzled include at the vet’s office or for grooming appointments. These are stressful events for many dogs and putting a muzzle on an untrained dog adds more stress! And while we never like to think of our dogs getting hurt, if your very gentle and friendly dog is badly injured a muzzle may be necessary so he or she can be handled by medical personnel. Even the gentlest dog may bite if they are in extreme pain.
As mentioned above, it takes time to acclimate a dog to wearing a muzzle, and most dogs can learn to think it is something great. I have attached two popular videos here on how to train a dog to wear a muzzle. Because every dog learns and processes things differently, you will need to tailor your muzzle training plan to your own dog. If you train the muzzle to be a fun thing, chances are your dog will learn to love the muzzle!
Micheal Shikashio Muzzle Training
Chirag Patel Muzzle Training
Muzzle Training Tips: For more information and a plan of action, you can also visit The Muzzle Up Project website by clicking here.
When is Muzzle Training Helpful?
In addition to the reasons stated above, we generally think of muzzles for dogs that display aggressive behavior. Dogs may display aggressive behavior for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons could be:
- Fear, Anxiety, Stress
- Predatory Behaviors
- Resource Guarding
- Territorial Behavior
- Physical Pain
- Getting Startled
- Lack of Impulse Control
Muzzles come in useful during the training and behavior modification process to keep everyone, including the dog, safe. If your dog has a history of biting, I encourage you to take the time to train your dog to wear a muzzle. Muzzles are tools that provide a layer of safety for the reasons listed above. Muzzles do not stop or cure reactive or aggressive behaviors. This is where hiring a certified behavior consultant can help provide behavior modification.
Some dogs need muzzles if they have the potential to display aggressive behaviors and/or potentially bite someone. I describe the word biting as a dog’s teeth making contact with a person or other animal. A bite does NOT need to cause a scratch, bruise or puncture to be considered a bite. Plain and simple, a bite is when a dog’s teeth make contact with the skin of a human or other animal.
What Type of Muzzle is Right For Your Dog?
There are many different types of muzzles out on the market. My advice would be to buy one that allows your dog to eat and drink while wearing it. The most popular brand is the Baskerville Ultra Muzzle, which can be found at most pet stores and online.
WARNING! There are many knockoff brands that look similar to the Baskerville Ultra Muzzle. The issue is that these muzzles are made from weaker materials. Some of these knockoff muzzles are very soft and flimsy, which can allow most dogs to bite someone through the muzzle.
My advice would be to stick with the name brand Baskerville Ultra Muzzle if that is the type of muzzle that you are looking to purchase. The difference in price is not worth the liability of having a dog who will bite in a substandard muzzle.
There are many other types of muzzles out on the market, so if you need something other than a Baskerville Ultra, take the time to watch this awesome video created by aggression expert, Michael Shikashio to learn more about each muzzle so that you can decide which muzzle is right for your dog.
Choosing A Muzzle:
Muzzle Up Project
To learn more about muzzles, the use of muzzles, additional muzzle training videos and exercises and anything else you want to learn about muzzles, I encourage you to visit The Muzzle Up Project website.
Hire a Professional to Help
Did you know that the dog training industry is not regulated? This means that hiring the closest trainer or the one recommended by your friends might not be the right choice for you and your dog. Below are links to organizations that have high standards for certifying trainers. This means you have a better chance at hiring someone who is reputable.
And of course, I also provide in-home consultations and virtual video consultations. Feel free to check out my website to learn more! Get in contact with me to find out more about how I can help you and your dog.
If you are seeking professional help for behavior issues such as aggression, fear, anxiety etc. then read my blog post on what behavior modification is. This will help you know what to expect in your consultation and what to look for when hiring a professional.
Need a Veterinary Behaviorist? Click here to learn more:
Anthony De Marinis is the owner of De Marinis Dog Training & Behavior on Long Island, NY. He provides private in-home training and behavior modification solutions using positive reinforcement-based methods. He also provides video consultations remotely as he has many clients across the United States. Anthony has 6 professional certifications which include: Certified Dog Behavior Consultant from the International Association for Animal Behavior Consultants, Certified Graduate of distinction from the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior, Certified Behavior Adjustment Trainer, Certified Victoria Stilwell Licensed Positively Dog Trainer, The Third Way Certified Trainer and is a Fear Free Certified Animal Trainer. Currently, Anthony has a young Australian Kelpie named Journey. They are learning about agility and nose work together. You can visit Anthony’s website and learn more about him and his services at: www.demarinisdogtraining.com