Training to avoid bites is important, but sometimes muzzles are necessary, particularly while a dog is still in the rehabilitation process. They not only protect others from a dog bite but also can help the dog learn to not bark as much, which can lead to aggressive behavior. Here are the questions to ask before you decide to muzzle your dog.
1. When should my dog wear a muzzle?
If you have a dog that is likely to bite and you’re going to be in a situation that’s stressful for the dog, a muzzle might be a good idea. Stressful situations can include a trip to the vet, or places where you’ll be around a lot of strange dogs and people. Although you will probably always have your dog on a leash, a muzzle is still a good idea for open places, especially with a more aggressive dog, because they can still lunge quickly and bit other dogs, or worse, people.
If you have a dog that you think might need to be muzzled in a situation you can avoid, it’s better to avoid the situation for the time being.
Remember that a muzzle is not a replacement for training and socialization. Never take a dog-aggressive dog to the dog park before she has been rehabilitated. Muzzling a dog in that situation can just make it more stressful, which will make your dog more aggressive. This will prolong the rehabilitation process. However, when utilized correctly, a muzzle will help tame a dog’s aggressive side and help the rehabilitation process immensely.
2. What kind of muzzle should my dog wear?
This depends on the situation. At the vet, or when you’re working on socialization, a mesh style muzzle will work, although keep in mind that, like all muzzles, they should only be worn for brief periods of time, up to twenty minutes at the most, depending upon temperature and the dog’s activity level. Constantly monitor your dog’s comfort and remove the muzzle if they are showing any difficulty breathing or signs of overheating.
To help keep the humans around a muzzled dog relaxed, Cesar suggests a design like the Funny Muzzle, which is intended to reduce the stigma of a muzzled dog by amusing the humans around them.
If your dog is going to be running, playing, or otherwise physically active, then an Italian basket style muzzle is ideal. This allows the dog to pant for cooling as well as to drink water but still keeps her from being able to bite.
When choosing this style of muzzle, look for models made of durable plastic rather than metal and leather, as these are more dog and human-friendly.
3. What should I watch out for with a muzzle?
For all muzzles, make sure you have the right size and the proper fit to help your dog avoid discomfort. If the muzzle is made of metal or has leather straps, check to make sure that it’s not chafing your dog anywhere.
Overheating can be a problem, especially with mesh muzzles that constrain the dog’s ability to open his mouth. Monitor your dog’s breathing and get him out of the heat and take the muzzle off at the first sign of distress.
Most importantly, when you have to muzzle your dog, keep an eye on your own emotions and energy. Don’t look at the experience as something you have to do to keep your dog under control. Rather, look at it as a step on the path to rehabilitating your dog. Keep your energy positive to prevent your dog from developing negative associations with being muzzled.
In an ideal world, our dogs would all be balanced and we’d never have the need to muzzle them. However, this isn’t an ideal world, and sometimes such measures are necessary. The important thing to remember is that a muzzle is just another tool and, like any tool, it’s only effective if we use it with the right attitude and energy.
Top 5 Muzzles On The Market
- Cesar Millan Funny Muzzle: Although this was mentioned earlier, I will further expand on the muzzle. The muzzle is not only effective, but it also has a playful look, which makes it more approachable for people, and will not cause a red-flag when people walk by.
Watch Cesar tell why he created the Funny Muzzle.
- Barkless Soft Basket Silicone Muzzle: This silicone muzzle is perfect for all dog breeds and provides the protection from bites, and comfort for the dog that people expect out of a muzzle. The soft and malleable rubber is skin-friendly and non-toxic. It also is breathable and lightweight enough where the dog can still pant, drink, and even eat while the muzzle is on. This is great if you are walking outside and the temperature is hot or going on a long run where a water break is needed.
- Canine Friendly Short Snout Muzzle: This muzzle is great for smaller, short-snouted dogs. It is made from breathable mesh and durable nylon to fit comfortably on the dogs face, not pressing up against the nose or eyes. Due to the facial structure of short-snouted dogs, like pugs and French bulldogs, normal muzzles do not work. However, this muzzle does the trick and still looks non-threatening.
- Lepark Nylon Dog Muzzle: High strength nylon muzzle with soft cotton lining, and adjustable traps featuring a buckle design. Great for on-the-move dogs since it is very easy to take on and off.
- Fomate Quick Fit Dog Muzzle: Great muzzle with easily adjustable straps, reflective material, and high visibility for the dog. Constructed with advanced materials that are flexible, yet also durable.