Myths About Dog Muzzles.
Although, at first, a dog wearing a muzzle conjures up the idea of an uncontrollable, vicious animal – this is not always the case. Muzzles can be a useful tool in all kinds of different circumstances where a little bit of extra security is needed. This Holidays4Dogs article will dispel some of the myths about dog muzzles. They can be a valuable training tool, providing peace of mind and less stress for many owners and their dogs. Read our Holidays4Dogs article to find out more.
Muzzles, like any tool, can be misused and they can incite all sorts of reactions from other people. Many may assume a muzzled dog is dangerous and untrained. However, this is not necessarily the case.
Bite prevention is not the only reason why a muzzle may be used;
- Vet visits, where a dog may be in pain, or fearful.
- To prevent a dog chewing a wound, or sore patch, where an Elizabethan collar would be impractical, – (during a walk or riding in the car).
- To help stop a dog from scavenging, or eating poop.
- When introducing a dog to another species, or bringing a new dog home.
- To protect wildlife, or other small animals from dogs with a high prey drive. Lurchers and greyhounds are commonly seen wearing muzzles for this reason.
- Anxious dogs.
Used properly, muzzles can help in all sorts of training situations, particularly where an owner might be working with a reactive, or fearful dog.
A muzzle ensures that while the handler is working with the dog (perhaps at a training class), there can be safe interaction. This reduces stress for the owner (and the dog), but it also means that other dogs are not put at risk.
Muzzles can be very useful for fearful and reactive dogs.
If a dog is fearful of other dogs rushing up, a muzzle provides a clear signal to other owners to keep their pet under control. Most people will give a dog wearing a muzzle a wide berth. This means the owner of the reactive dog can positively manage the situation and work effectively on the dog’s fears.
However, using a muzzle as a ‘quick fix’ for an aggression, or reactivity problem, will not work. It could even make the problem worse. They should always be used in conjunction with training, while you work with your dog to teach him to react appropriately.
If anything goes wrong, or a boundary is crossed during this process, you have the assurance that your dog will be prevented from biting. You are bound to feel more relaxed knowing you have a valuable safety tool and this will help you to make progress much better.
Types of muzzle.
Most dogs will accept a muzzle after a short period of time. Basket type dog muzzles are best. You can buy plastic, or wire ones, although the wire ones could cause injury should your dog still get into mischief wearing it!
Make sure the muzzle is the right size and fits snugly, but not too tight. Equally, if it is to loose the dog may easily wriggle out of it, or use his paw to push it off.
How to train your dog to wear a muzzle happily.
Tip: Peanut butter is a magic ingredient!
Smear some dog friendly peanut butter all around the edge of the muzzle and let your dog lick it off. Move the muzzle away as soon as your dog has finished licking the peanut butter and reapply with some more. Use an up-beat tone of voice to get him excited about the prospect of another treat.
Leave a gap of a few hours. Repeat the process with the peanut butter in the bottom of the muzzle. For the next session hold a treat, (something nice and tasty, like cooked chicken) at the end of the muzzle so your dog has to put his nose in to get the treat. Repeat this lots of times.
Next, you can try fastening the muzzle while your dog is licking the peanut butter. Try and do this swiftly but carefully. Wait a second, or two, then release the buckle, ideally before he has had time to finish his treat.
Repeat in this way, until your dog is happy to have the muzzle over his face. You can then ‘post’ pieces of chicken through the muzzle as your dog begins to move with the muzzle on. You can also successfully clicker train your dog to accept a muzzle.
Do take your time to make sure that your dog associates the muzzle with pleasant experiences. These positive associations will also help your dog to trust you which will make further training efforts in different areas all the more effective.
If you are having serious issues of aggression with your dog, it is imperative to seek help from a vet who can rule out health conditions and refer you to a qualified behaviourist where necessary.