Dog owners are divided about the use of dog muzzle. Some reject it completely and see it as an cruel restriction for their dogs. The others find it a great relief. The fact is wearing a muzzle is inevitable and beneficial to all sorts of dogs and humans. Your dog is aggressive and may have already bitten humans or other new dogs and that will happen again. Perhaps he is also very afraid of the vet or defensive and cannot be treated without a muzzle for protection. Sometimes, you want to prevent your dog from eating food found along the way. In some states, law requires that some dog breeds have to be muzzled when in public, even if they have shown no signs of needing one. However, dog muzzles should never be used to curb misbehavior or to punish your puppy.
The reasons why a dog has to wear a muzzle are different. Whatever the reasons you want to use it, you should get your dog used to a muzzle. In this article you will find out on how best to train your dog to wear a muzzle, what are the common mistakes and how to avoid them.
How to Get Your Dog Used to A Muzzle
Many dog owners find it difficult to muzzle their dog. Even if their dog has already bitten human, some people still shy away from it. For them, a muzzle is something negative that they do not want their dog to face.
As the owner, you are responsible for your animal, but also for your environment. A muzzle is not only a protection, but also it helps you relax. You no longer have to worry that your dog might bite or eat something poisonous. The more relaxed you are, the better it is for your dog.
Getting your dog used to the muzzle takes time and patience. Depending on what you need the muzzle for, models in different shapes and sizes come into question. Before you actually start dog muzzle training, you should take your time to decide on a suitable one. It should fit comfortably on your dog, not to rub or squeeze and not to restrict its view.
Train Your Dog to Accept A Muzzle Step By Step
This thought is helpful for anything you practice with your dog: put yourself in his shoes. Imagine someone wants to put such a strange object over your face. How would you feel about it and what would make it easier for you to accept the object?
You would probably like to take a look at the item first. And you would be happy if there was a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. It’s the same with your dog. The more pleasant the mood, the better he can learn and get involved in new things. The goal is that your dog perceives the muzzle as something positive and is happy to have it on. After all, your dog should probably wear it in situations that are stressful for him, for example visiting the vet. If he were to perceive the muzzle as negative at that moment, it would increase his stress.
Step 1: Exploring the Muzzle
For the first time, the muzzle should be introduced to your dog in a low and progressive manner. Show or place the muzzle in front of your dog. Your dog can sniff at it and familiarize itself with this strange item. Praise your dog for every approach. You can also give him a treat every time he approaches the muzzle. Repeat the process several times. This will create a positive association with the muzzle.
Step 2: Practice Putting on the Muzzle
Now it’s about putting the muzzle on your dog slowly. Your dog should voluntarily stick its nose in. It’s important that you don’t force him. Put a few chunks of food inside the muzzle or smear something tasty like a liver sausage in the front.
If your dog does not trust the muzzle, you can also put the food near the muzzle. If he takes it from there, you always put it a little further inside the muzzle. Gradually place the treats further inside and encourage your dog to stick its head all the way into the muzzle. In this step, you leave the latch open without fastening it and reward your dog when you remove the muzzle. Your dog can pull out his nose at any time.
Gradually increase the length of time from seconds to minutes when you leave it on and reward your dog if he stays clam. Don’t wait unit your dog get fussing or pawing to take off the muzzle. If you have a very anxious dog, you may need more time than a very curious one.
Step 3: Extend the Duration
Now the goal is for your dog to stay with his nose inside the muzzle a little longer. To do this, you no longer put the food in the muzzle but give it to him from the outside through the grid as soon as his nose is inside. This allows you to reward the desired behavior. To extend the duration, you always wait a little longer before the reward. Do it in small steps to achieve a sense of achievement. The lock of the muzzle is still open during this practice.
Step 4: Fasten the Muzzle
Your dog voluntarily sticks its nose in and stays in for a short time? Then you can try to fasten it. With this step you put the muzzle on your dog slowly, close the lock, praise your dog and take the muzzle off again.
It should not in a conflict or fearful situation for your dog when practicing this procedure. You should familiarize yourself with the muzzle beforehand. A click fastener is easier to close than a buckle. On the other hand, a click-lock makes a noise when closing, which could be uncomfortable for the dog. Therefore, make sure that you do not close it right next to its ear and that you close it as quietly as possible. A buckle is a bit more difficult to close but quieter. If your dog is very sensitive to noise, this kind of muzzle may be the better choice.
Adjust the neck strap loosely at the beginning and tighten it later when your dog accepts the loose strap without any problems.
Step 5: Putting on and Starting
If the previous steps work without any problems, you can extend the duration with the muzzle fastened. Remember that the muzzle is unfamiliar to your dog. It affects his communication, his field of vision, his possibilities for sniffing or playing.
So now your dog needs time to get adapted to it when he’s walking. Maybe he’ll even try again to take off the muzzle. To prevent that from happening, you should reward him when you remove the muzzle. The longer the muzzle is on, the greater the reward. You can distract his attention by playing a game of chase. The aim is for your dog to be muzzled for about 30 minutes.
If all five steps work, you can take your dog for short muzzle walks.
Step 6: Putting On the Muzzle In Different Places
In the future, you may have to muzzle your dog at the vet or when you are out and about. These are completely different environments for your animal than their relaxed home. Therefore, it is good if you practice putting on the muzzle with him in different situations so that it becomes normal for him.
Common Mistakes in Muzzle Training
There are also a few mistakes that you should be aware of when it comes to muzzle training. The most common mistakes include a lack of patience, but also nervousness. Don’t put pressure on yourself or your dog. Better start the whole training program like a trick: with fun and ease! You can also be generous with praise and rewards.
It is helpful to familiarize yourself with the muzzle before training and to practice opening and closing the buckle. It is very uncomfortable for your dog if you impatiently fumble behind his ears because you cannot handle the latch.
Another error is the incorrect posture. Be careful not to lean over your dog head-on, as it looks threatening from his point of view. It is better to crouch on the side next to him and hold the muzzle so that your dog can simply stick his nose in. To do this, you should not hold the muzzle too high or too low in front of his face.
It is important to end each practice with a reward. If your dog struggles or paws at the muzzle, it means you have expected too much too soon. In this case, you should take more time to do the previous step until your dog accepts it.
It can take a few weeks for your dog to fully acclimatize to the muzzle. During this time it is necessary that you repeat the steps described above several times a week. Avoid exposing your dog to situations that might lead to fear, anxiety, or conflict. Don’t leave the muzzle on for too long, because your dog is unable to pant effectively or may overheat in hot summer days.
Conclusion – it depends on getting used to
A muzzle is just as much aid as a chest harness, a collar, or a transport box. With all these things, it is important to familiarize the dog with it step by step and to get it used to it in a positive way. If you have succeeded in setting things up, a muzzle can be a great relief for your everyday life. Your patience, which you need to practice, will then pay off.