A muzzle is used primarily to stop a dog from biting or causing harm. Some dogs are aggressive and others are prone to biting when they feel stressed out. It’s an instinctive response kind of like when kids throw tantrums.
There are many possible triggers for this behavior to include being cornered into doing something they don’t want to (like go to the vet) or being overtired (a long walk on a leash).
WHY USE A MUZZLE?
If you notice your dog becomes anxious in the presence of strangers or other dogs, and if your dog tends to bite, you may want to consider using a muzzle. It’s also good to have on hand for the not-so-fun vet trips that include things like vaccinations.
Another good reason to use a muzzle is for training. If you’re trying to modify your dog’s behavior, and you’re having handling issues, it can be quite helpful.
Jus remember that it should be employed for precise situations, not extended periods of time. And it’s not meant to be a device for punishment. It’s a management tool, not a substitute for proper training.
HOW TO GET YOUR DOG COMFORTABLE WITH A MUZZLE
Here’s a 4-step guide on how to get your dog to willingly use a muzzle:
- Hide the muzzle behind you and slowly reveal it to your pup. As soon as they see the muzzle, give them some kibble or a treat. Repeat this process until your dog starts to show excitement every time the muzzle is revealed.
- Once your dog has associated the sight of the muzzle with treats, the next step is to encourage them to put their snout into it. You can do this by putting treats or kibble inside the muzzle. Cheese or peanut butter usually does the trick. Take the muzzle away before your pup can completely finish licking off or eating the treat. Do this again and again until your pup learns that putting their snout into the muzzle is fun and rewarding.
- For you to be able to fasten the straps of the muzzle on your dog’s face, they must learn to associate the sound and feel of the fastener with treats. Encourage this by following the rules of the first step.
- By now your dog has learned to trust the muzzle. They have learned to put their snout into the muzzle of their own will. Reveal the muzzle and wait for them to approach it with their snout. Once their snout is securely inside the opening, carefully fasten the straps. Make sure that the muzzle is neither too tight nor too loose. Keep in mind that an ill-fitting muzzle will give your pup discomfort and this alone is enough to discourage them from going near one.
Just to reiterate, muzzle usage ought to be temporary. Keeping a muzzle on your dog for longer than the time required for the discrete activity you’re doing (training, socializing, etc.) will only cause your dog’s anxiety to skyrocket.
This will very quickly undo all of your hard work—the relationship of trust and the association of muzzle-to-treats that you’ve built. So less is definitely more in this case. Also make sure not to leave your dog unattended when they have a muzzle on.