Muzzles - If in Doubt, Use One, but first...
"Muzzled dogs aren't bad dogs. Muzzles are a fantastic tool to help keep dogs and people safe." Wise words from The Muzzle Up! Project, an organization that aims to educate the public about dog behavior, safety, and why we don’t need to fear muzzles.
We strongly encourage you to train your dog to wear a muzzle if you are concerned in the slightest that your dog may injure another dog or person.
Perhaps your dog has a compulsive need to snatch up dangerous items from the ground and ingest them, such as rocks. This can be a real issue for some dogs. To keep these dogs safe, you would want to look for a muzzle that is comfortable, which they can breathe through easily, yet will be more of a closed design at the point of the mouth.
Let's say you have been working diligently with your dog to change their formerly negative association to other dogs or people. Great! We're proud of you!
Now, before you attempt any introductions to your dog's former Triggers (scary nemesis), it is your responsibility to keep safety as the top priority.
This is key should you wish to introduce your dog to a person or dog who has offered to work with you when you feel your dog is ready. There are many benefits to using a muzzle:
- Safety when walking your dog outside in proximity to Triggers.
- Safety in the home when visitors are present.
- It can help the handler relax more, which can help your training.
IMPORTANT - It is extremely important to never place a muzzle on a dog without acclimating them to it first. This means following the exercises provided to allow your dog time to get used to wearing a muzzle. You must make wearing the muzzle, for your dog, the most wonderful thing ever. This prevents the wearing of the muzzle adding any stress to other training experiences and day-to day exposures to Triggers in their life.
Trainer, Pat Miller, cautions "It’s not okay to muzzle your dog and then take him to places where he must tolerate unwanted attention because he can’t bite. Many owners mistakenly think that if they can safely force a fearful (muzzled) dog to accept petting from strangers or children the dog will learn that strangers and children mean no harm, and get over his fears. They’re wrong. This is likely to sensitize him to his stressors, and
make his aggression worse, rather than better. The dog is more likely to bite the next stranger who approaches, not less."
Having a muzzle on any dog, many people feel more comfortable, which is great, but then they may forget that their dog still needs all the same pieces in place to feel comfortable:
- Using Management to prevent your dog being over-exposed to their Triggers.
- Using the same Threshold Distance as before the muzzle was put on.
- allowing your dog the distance they need to be fully relaxed.
- Using the same efforts to create a positive association to their Trigger while the Trigger is in site.
- Always Be Advocating for Your Dog.
Carry Spray Shield
Remember, your dog may be approached by aggressively behaving off leash dogs and will not be able to defend themselves. You may want to consider carrying Spray Shield on you to ward off any aggressive loose dogs who approach your dog when outside on leash.
Scroll to the bottom of our Pro Resources, Training Gear page to purchase:
Ultra Baskerville Muzzle Brand
This is the gold standard in muzzles. The fit is incredibly comfortable for a dog compared to other brands and types and allows for much easier breathing, drinking and eating of treats while training, and is still very effective for safety.
This is now available at some pet supply stores as well as online.
Quick link to our Pro Resources, Pro Tools page to purchase:
The Proper Fit
Begin by measuring your dog for the proper size and fit. Each manufacturer will have slightly varying measurement guidelines, so be sure to follow the instructions for the specific manufacturer of the muzzle you are considering purchasing. For the Baskerville Muzzle, these are their guidelines
Use the below Size Chart and Measurement Guide.
Design & Sizing
Where to Measure
Muzzle Training Tutorials
For safety, immediately and slowly begin doing the training exercises, in the extra resources below, to acclimate your dog to the muzzle. Be sure to not rush this process.
Move through the exercises long before using a muzzle in the field. If your dog feels any frustration or annoyance with wearing a muzzle, this will contribute to negative behavior, your dog will further associate the stress with their Trigger and it will likely cause regressions in progress.
Muzzle Training Tutorial & Videos from our favorite pros:
Teach your dog to wear a muzzle - by Kikopup
Learn About Fitting a Muzzle from Expert Michael Shikashio
Muzzle Acclimation - by Michael Shikashio
Muzzle Training Tutorial - The Muzzle Up Project
Muzzle Training Your Dog | Blue Cross - by Blue Cross
Muzzle Brands for Custom Fits
These brands offer well designed muzzle for extraordinarily large breeds, for dogs with a brachycephalic (super short) nose, like Boston Terriers, Pugs, etc. or for dogs who need to be prevented from eating dangerous items on the ground when outside.
Bumas muzzle brand
Trust Your Dog muzzle brand
The Muzzle Up Project
The Muzzle Up Project - Homepage
Muzzle Up Project - Resources
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