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Why and How to Use a Muzzle for Your Dog

We LOVE muzzles. They’re a huge part of safety and management plans for some dogs, and can be a great “safety net” while working through behavior modification plans.


*NOTE: If you’re training your dog to wear a muzzle as part of a behavior modification process, especially for safety reasons, please seek the support of a certified behavior consultant! If you’d like to work with Every Dog, we’re happy to help!


This is part of a series all about muzzles. If you’re looking for something else about muzzles, here’s a list of the other blogs in this series: 



Want to watch the whole webinar about muzzles? Check it out!


Why Train Your Dog To Wear a Muzzle

There are a variety of reasons you might train your dog to wear a muzzle!

  • To prevent your dog from biting 

  • This could be for aggression toward people, dogs, or other animals, and might be for something as specific as behavior at the vet clinic

  • To prevent your dog from eating things they shouldn’t 

  • Especially for dogs that have pica or those that eat objects that might lead to an obstruction

  • As a visual deterrent to people rushing up and petting your dog

  • Sometimes when a dog needs extra space, a muzzle can indicate “stop” to strangers who would otherwise move too quickly

  • Juuuuuust in case you ever need it in the future

  • For example, for an emergency vet visit where your dog might be in pain and more likely to snap at the vet


When Should My Dog Wear a Muzzle?


Muzzles are a great option for a lot of situations, but not for all.


We recommend using muzzles for:

  • An added layer of safety as part of a management plan

  • An added layer of safety while working through behavior modification

  • A known/predictable issue, such as snapping at the vet or trying to eat rocks on walks

We do NOT recommend using muzzles for:

  • Preventing bites on their own (without other management or training support)

  • An excuse to put the dog into unsafe situations because they cannot bite. (A dog can still be undergoing extreme stress in these situations, and can still cause harm while wearing a muzzle in the form of bruising, just not breaking skin)

  • Trying to stop barking by holding the jaw closed

  • Situations where the dog could become trapped or entangled (for example, in certain types of crates where muzzle straps could get caught)

  • Situations where the dog cannot pant, eat, drink, and rest, particularly over longer periods of time


Facing the Stigma of Muzzles


While we love muzzles, we also know that some folks may have big feelings about them. So let’s talk about it!

  • Is it cruel to have my dog wear a muzzle?

  • Muzzles can be fitted and acclimated so that dogs LOVE their muzzles! Just like a collar or harness, many dogs can be taught to feel totally comfortable wearing muzzles. In addition, a properly fitted muzzle allows dogs to pant and drink normally and should not cause discomfort.

  • Does a muzzle mean a bad dog or bad owner?

  • Tons of dogs wear muzzles for a variety of reasons. Including one dog who ate cicadas until he barfed, if given the option!! And dogs who wear muzzles indicate a human who cares greatly and wants to keep everyone safe.

  • Will people judge me or my dog if my dog is wearing a muzzle?

  • Look, there definitely are people out there like this. However, ultimately you’re making the decisions needed to keep yourself, your dog, and others in the community safe!

  • You can reduce the stigma around muzzles by calling one your dog’s “party hat,” looking for brightly colored muzzles or decorating (even bedazzling!) your muzzle, and talking openly about your dog’s muzzle. 


Wondering how to fit your dog for a muzzle? Check out our Muzzle Guide Part 2!

 

Want to work with us on muzzle training? we’re happy to help!

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