How To Get Your Dog To Love The Muzzle

Muzzles are an incredibly useful tool, often undervalued due to the stigma associated with them.

You can purchase the Baskerville Muzzle from Amazon shown in the video here: or try this one by Coastal Pet Products also on Amazon:

Read my full article on Muzzle Conditioning & Training For Your Dog

Muzzles are an incredibly useful tool, often undervalued due to the stigma associated with them. In this video, I walk you through why muzzles are useful, what type of muzzle to look for, how to fit a muzzle, and most importantly, how to build a positive association with the muzzle and your dog.

You may want to consider a muzzle if your dog is:

  • Dog-selective or dog-reactive
  • Fearful of strangers or children
  • Aggressive
  • Yearning for a fun new game

Routinely, muzzles are used as a safety barrier to prevent biting, most often out of fear. Dogs also possess the fight, flight, and freeze response to frightening stimuli and if your dog’s response is to bite, a muzzle can help prevent injury to another person or animal.

Conditioning your dog to a muzzle in a positive way can reduce their stress level in an environment where they typically feel stressed. For example, if your dog is fearful during veterinary visits, not only does the muzzle make handling safer for the staff, but it also can be calming for your dog to wear being that you have reinforced the muzzle as something that elicits happiness for your dog with proper training. As the staff works with your muzzled dog, wearing the right kind of muzzle also means that they can safely provide positive food reward through the muzzle to help further lessen what may normally be a stressful event for your dog.

The type of muzzle you purchase is an important part of the process in ensuring a positive experience for your dog. The muzzle should be non-restrictive, (not hold the mouth shut) to allow for panting and drinking. You should be able to easily feed treats to your dog through the muzzle, and you will want to make sure that the muzzle is not too large or too small so as to be as comfortable on the face as possible.

There are three primary steps to my positive muzzle training method:

  1. The Introduction: Letting the dog explore the new fun item in a comfortable and exciting way
  2. The Association: The association an animal has with any object is learned, it is not innate. You are an influence on your dog so remember to be a positive influence when introducing new objects such as the muzzle.
  3. The Reinforcement: Now that your dog has a positive association with the muzzle, you want to continue to reinforce that positive association.

Increase the duration of wearing the muzzle slowly while offering random reward during wear. Start with 30 seconds, build up to 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then ten, and so on each time you practice, increasing duration a little bit more. Allow your dog to drink water through the muzzle and play with the muzzle on.

Change locations. Encourage movement with the muzzle on and take your dog for walks as a positive activity with the muzzle in place.

Practice wearing the muzzle in the exam room at the veterinary hospital even if your dog does not need the muzzle on in the exam room, (this is all about building positive associations).

All in all, muzzle training is just a new game to play with your dog. New games should be fun and exciting for your canine friends and lead to positive behaviors that contribute to overall happiness for both you, and your dog.

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