Put A Muzzle On It

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black and white dog wearing a muzzleIn the contest of who dislikes the thought of putting a muzzle on my dog, I’d come in a close second to the dog who has to wear it. That is unless I think about the alternatives to not wearing one. A muzzle is not an excuse to put a dog into situations in which they’re inclined to bite a person or another dog, but should it occur, the muzzle will help minimize damage.

I have been getting both Sunny and I used to having him wear a muzzle. We will be spending time visiting family this summer and though in the past we have rarely run into people during our daily walks, the more often we do it, the more likely it is that we will. I decided that I’d feel less stress if he was wearing a muzzle. A big step for me was to replace the image of ‘Hannibal Lecter’ with ‘hockey player’ when I looked at him.

The Baskerville Ultra Muzzle has large spaces in the grid of the muzzle which make it easy to feed your dog treats. One problem that I ran into with it is that the holes in the strap are not easy to locate and require a bit of extra fussing when fastening it on. I attempted to remedy this with a pair of vice grips and a hot nail, poking a number of easier to find holes in the strap. It’s not a perfect solution but I think the more I use the ‘right’ hole the easier it will be to find it. I tried the additional head strap which snaps onto the top of the muzzle and reaches over his head to clip on his collar. Maybe I didn’t snug it up tight enough but as the collar slid around his neck it took the strap with it.

So far any of his attempts to remove the muzzle have failed. This is important. If a dog successfully gets the muzzle off they are more likely to continue to try in the future. I am also coming up with sequences of putting the muzzle on and taking it off that I hope will effect how Sunny ‘feels’ about it. Immediately after the muzzle goes on either the door opens and he can run in the unfenced area outside the house, or his leash comes off. The muzzle predicts good things. I take the muzzle off and bring him inside or put him back on leash. Neither of those outcomes is horrible, but being outside and off leash is better.

This is by far my favorite and the most inspiring training video I’ve seen on teaching dogs to wear a muzzle.

This recent post on the Notes From A Dog Walker blog shows how you can turn your muzzle into a treat dispenser.

2 thoughts on “Put A Muzzle On It”

  1. Just do NOT muzzle your dog around other dogs that are not muzzled. They cannot protect themselves if they are attacked. If you need to muzzle your dog to keep him/her from biting other dogs, then do not go to a dog park or anywhere that you know other non muzzled dogs will be interacting.

  2. That is rather a ridiculous thing to say. The idea of a dog ‘protecting itself’ simply means they are able to cause damage to the other dog. This will result in a battle starting or escalating. Having rescued an aggressive dog 6 years ago, I have gradually trained him to be okay in the company of other dogs (and to fully ignore any dogs we might meet on a walk) and he now regularly walks with three pals. He still has a tendency to show aggression on rare occasions but because he can’t bite he never instigates a fight. Were he not muzzled the other dogs would certainly react to being bitten, as it is, they just think he’s a bit odd and ignore him.

    There have been a couple of occasions (over the course of 6 years of walking off lead every day) where he has got into a fight with other aggressive dogs that don’t listen to their owner’s recall. These fights ended with only superficial wounds because they didn’t get locked in a battle. No, he couldn’t protect himself but that meant that the situation remained a low-level scrap, not a full on dog fight. Conversely, I previously owned a non-aggressive dog that was attacked and by the time I got over to them both the dogs were bleeding and it was very difficult to split them up. He had never shown any aggression before, nor did again afterwards and I’m sure, had the other dog have been muzzled, he wouldn’t have been bitten or felt the need to defend himself.

    If you have a dog that shows tendencies towards aggression, obviously training is always the best way to deal with it. If their recall is good enough you should be able to avoid ‘danger’ situations. However, if you can’t be certain that they won’t bite if a dog comes over then a muzzle is a good aid to avoiding any potential scraps, particularly if you have a breed that can do a lot of damage!


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