Own or seen adorable Bull Terriers or similar big dog breeds around? If so, you’ve likely seen muzzles in action.
These basket-like objects that go over the snout of your dog prevents them from biting, but also from opening their mouths in general. Muzzles seem uncomfortable at best, but at worst, downright painful and even cruel as they can impact a dog’s breathing, eating, drinking and panting. What is a dog muzzle? Are muzzles good for dogs? In the first place, what is the purpose of muzzles?
What does a muzzle do for a dog?
For the following breeds of dogs, NParks mandate a muzzle in public areas:
- Bull Terrier
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepherd Dog (and related breeds)
Mastiffs including the Bull Mastiff, Cane Corso and Dogue De Bordeaux
- Crosses of any of the above
Are these breeds of dogs particularly dangerous? Not necessarily.
Muzzlesare important for the safety of your dog and the people around them, but not because your dog is vicious. In reality, your dog could be cute and cuddly at home, but in a foreign environment, things can change rapidly. In other words, a muzzled dog is not necessarily an aggressive one!
Nevertheless, it’s important to be a responsible owner and muzzle your dog when necessary. This is vital whether you’re at the vet, bringing your dog to get groomed or just going for a walk.
Wrong reasons to use a muzzle
With that said, there is a time and place for muzzles.
#1 Correcting Behavioural Problems
Muzzles must never be used to correct behavioral problems like barking or chewing on furniture as they are a preventive measure rather than a curative one. In fact, muzzles are only meant for use over short periods of time not more than half an hour, especially for dogs new to the muzzle experience. As an alternative, try giving your dog a KONGchew toy as excessive chewing could be a sign of boredom.
#2 Punishing Your Pup
Most importantly, muzzles are meant to be calming tools rather than a contributor to your dog’s nervous energy. By using a muzzle as punishment for bad behaviour, dogs can associate muzzles with stress, possibly making the situation worse.
Instead, work on any aggressive behavior your dog may have, such as growling, lunging or biting by finding out what makes your dog become aggressive. Then, make sure to keep him out of stressful situations. If that’s not possible, always make sure your dog is leashed and keep a close eye on him. In serious situations, talk to a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for more guidance.
Nevertheless, don’t wait till it’s too late to muzzle train your dog. When our dogs get injured, they often become more sensitive to touch, especially that of a foreign source like a vet. Getting your dog to understand that wearing a muzzle isn’t stressful is essential to helping them get prompt medical attention.
Picking the right muzzle
Dog muzzles come in a wide range of styles, but the most humane and comfortable for your dog is a basket muzzle. Typically made of wire, rubber or plastic, basket muzzles look like painful cages that fit over your dog’s nose and mouth. However, they can actually be much more comfortable for your furry companion than a soft muzzle as those have to be worn very tight in order to be effective.
More importantly, make sure to get your dog comfortable with wearing a muzzle. This is done by facing the muzzle’s opening toward your dog. As long as they turn to look at the muzzle, reward them with a click and a The Honest Kitchenreward. Get him used to the sound of the muzzle’s fastener in a similar fashion.
As they get more relaxed around a muzzle, gradually try to fit the muzzle over their face and fasten it. The key point is to always make sure your dog is not feeling overly stressed. Once your dog is wearing his muzzle, make sure to check if he can breathe, eat, drink and pant relatively easily without being able to exhibit aggressive behaviour.
Muzzles can be an essential tool for any big dog owner, especially if your dog is a little antsier than most. While it can become uncomfortable for them, using a well-adjusted muzzle of the right type and fit will reduce your dog’s discomfort. It’s also important to acclimatize your dog to their muzzle and take note of when they start showing signs of distress or discomfort. Most importantly, give your dog a treat after a tiring walk or trip to the vet muzzled up!
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.