Muzzle Training your Dog

Benefits to muzzle training:

  • Can be used to prevent a dog from eating something they shouldn’t.
  • Can limit damage when out in public if you have a reactive or aggressive dog.
  • Can help distract your dog during procedures they may find uncomfortable.

Types of muzzles:

  • Soft muzzles: Soft muzzles are great for short events such as the vet or groomer. They should not be used long term, or for highly stressed dogs as they do not allow the dog to pant.

Pros:

  • Quick fit –> reduces stress when placing the muzzle
  • Comfortable fabric design
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Keeps dog’s muzzle closed –>
    • Does not allow for panting or adequate temperature regulation
    • Risk of aspiration if dog vomits

  • Basket muzzles: Basket muzzles are great for longer events, such as walks or extended vet visits.

Pros:

  • They allow the dog to open their mouth and pant to allow for adequate body regulation
  • Can be molded to ensure a good fit
  • May have a better fit for larger breeds/ muzzles
  • May be a good fit for brachycephalic dogs (dogs with short muzzles)
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Treats can be given through the muzzle –> ideal for training

Cons:

  • The dog could get their nail stuck in the muzzle if they try to paw at it
  • The dog can bite if a finger is placed inside basket
  • The dog can eat objects if they are small enough to fit through openings in basket

Muzzle Training your Dog:

  • Start slow– first introduce the muzzle to your dog by allowing him to sniff it.
    1. Leave the muzzle out where the dog can see it
    2. Feed your dog meals next to the muzzle
    3. Give treats next to the muzzle
  • Once your dog starts to associate the muzzle with good things, continue with the fitting stage:
    1. With the muzzle in your hand, touch it to its nose and reward it. Repeat several times.
    2. Next, place the muzzle on your dog’s nose. Remove it while your dog is still calm. Repeat.
      1. With a soft muzzle, you may place a treat in the muzzle and let your dog sniff and lick it out.
      2. With a basket muzzle, you may smear peanut butter or squeeze cheese inside it and let your dog sniff and lick it out.
    3. Once your dog is comfortable with wearing the muzzle, fasten it and adjust the straps. Give treats to your dog while its wearing the muzzle. You can use peanut butter or squeeze cheese on a tongue depressor for the fabric muzzle. Your dog should still be able to lick the reward. After rewarding your dog remove the muzzle calmly.
    4. Slowly build up time spent in the muzzle: 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, etc.
      1. Continue to feed treats while your dog is wearing the muzzle.
      2. If you are using the basket muzzle as part of a training program in public, only venture out once you are confident your dog has accepted it.
        1. It’s best to start in familiar areas for shorter amounts of time.
        2. You may need to take a step back in your training in new environments. Continue to reward your dog for cooperation with the muzzle.
        3. For vet visits, it may be best to muzzle your dog before entering the clinic. If using a basket muzzle, it may be applied at home before leaving the house. If using a soft muzzle, wait until you arrive and are in the parking lot before placing the muzzle.
  • Using a basket muzzle in public for reactive and/or aggressive dogs still requires a training program! Without additional training, you may stress your dog out more by placing a muzzle on them and bringing them to an environment they react to.

 

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