When And How To Use A Dog Muzzle.


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 on 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 safety while the handler is working with the dog – perhaps at a training class – and means there can be safe interaction. This reduces stress for the owner (and the dog), but it also means that other dogs, (or people), are not put at risk.

A note about xl bully dogs.

From the 31st December 2023, it will become law for xl bully dogs to be on a lead and muzzled in the UK. This does not mean to say all xl bullies are dangerous. However, for those owners that now fall under this upcoming legislation, we hope the information contained in this article may be useful.

You should continue to socialise your dog even though he, or she, is wearing a muzzle. If your dog is sociable and friendly, your dog will still be able to socialise – on lead – with other friendly dogs – and people. Your dog must be registered, insured and microchipped.

Muzzles can be very useful for fearful and reactive dogs.

If a dog is fearful of other dogs, a muzzle can provide a clear signal to other owners to keep their pet under control. Most people will see a dog wearing a muzzle and give it a wide berth. This means the owner of the reactive dog can positively manage the situation and work effectively on the dog’s fears.

Therefore, if you are working with your dog, see the muzzle as a positive thing. It will help other people to realise, they must leave your dog alone.

Using a muzzle as a ‘quick fix’ for an aggression, or reactivity problem, will not work. It could even make the problem worse. If your dog is behaving in an aggressive way towards people, or other dogs, you must seek immediate advice from your vet.

Types of muzzle.

Most dogs will accept a muzzle after a short period of time. Basket-type dog muzzles are best, as these allow free air flow.  In addition, the dog must also be able to eat and drink.

Make sure the muzzle is the right size and fits snugly, but not too tight. Equally, if it is too loose, the dog may easily wriggle out, 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!

Training your pet to wear a muzzle is a relatively simple process. Most dogs will happily accept wearing one for limited periods of time, if trained positively.

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 upbeat tone of voice and plenty of praise to get him excited about the prospect of another treat).

Once your dog is OK with the muzzle near his face, place a dollop of peanut butter in the bottom. Let your dog investigate and lick the peanut butter.

Hold the muzzle, but do not try to fasten it. Let him finish the treat and then take the muzzle away. You can also use other food like cooked chicken, or liver, placed inside the muzzle.

Next, you can try fastening the muzzle while your dog is licking the peanut butter. Try and do this swiftly but quietly and carefully.

If you can’t close the clasp, or you are likely to take too long undoing it again, just hold the two ends of the buckle closer together. Wait a brief second, or two, then release the buckle, ideally before the dog has had time to finish the treat.

Repeat in this way, until your dog is happy to place his nose inside the muzzle on his own. Once your dog is happy to wear it, build the time up slowly. Keep rewarding with treats as long as your dog is wearing the muzzle.

Once he is happy being still wearing the muzzle, get him to move short distances. You may find this is when he tries to remove the item from his nose because he notices it feels strange and he may get the feeling it is restricting his movement. Keep sessions very short. Keep rewarding frequently.

You can ‘post’ pieces of chicken (or other suitable treats) through the muzzle as your dog begins to move.

You can successfully clicker train your dog to accept a muzzle.

Should your dog show fear, or try to get away – stop training. If you are struggling find a good dog trainer to help you.


Do take your time to make sure that your pooch associates the muzzle with pleasant experiences. These positive associations will help your dog to trust you and accept a muzzle happily.

If you are having serious issues of aggression with your dog, it is imperative to seek help from a vet. The vet can rule out potential health conditions and refer you to a qualified behaviourist where necessary.

While we can accept dogs who may need to wear a muzzle for particular reasons, we are unable to accept dogs with serious aggression issues.


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