Written by myself and NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist
Behaviour Training Methods Using Muzzles
Every dog owner has their own opinions on muzzles in most cases the main reason people develop a negative opinion is because they associate a muzzled dog with aggressive behaviour and a dangerous dog.
This however isn’t always the case...
Muzzles have many uses and yes they can be used in case of aggressive behaviours. However they are also the safeguard for you and your Dog.
Whether the Dog is aggressive or nervous, the muzzle protects your Dog from being able to bite another Dog or person when put over threshold. This is the difference between headbutting or scratching another Dog or person to a bite or much worse. Not saying that headbutting or scratching is OK but this is the best outcome of a bad situation.
Yes a Dog who is capable of biting shouldn't be able to do this however this has to be applied in a context. There will always be off lead dogs and there will always be that guy who's not afraid because his dad's uncle down the pub had German Shepherds and isn't afraid of your Dog saying "no"
I actually salute people who use a muzzle. This means they are taking steps to safeguard their Dog other Dogs and people. They are helping their Dog in not building a bite history and definitely not reinforcing biting behaviours. These people will also be the people investing their time, money and emotions into Dog Training or Behaviour Modifications.
Muzzles may also need to be used because the Dog is a forager. As Professionals being inclusive of an Holistic approach we are guilty of encouraging sniffing for mental enrichment and allowing natural behaviours. But what about the Dogs who snaffle everything up, what about the owner who isn't fast enough to wrestle the Dog and have them spit the item out, or when the Dog refused to drop the item. How about the Dog who's off the lead and simply an opportunist and the Owner didn't see the Dog consume something harmful or poisonous. I'm not saying this is OK but Dogs and humans alike are not perfect and a Dog is an opportunist and even the best behaved Dogs can make an err in judgment and be a Dog.
Muzzles aren't bad. Muzzles are not cruel when used correctly and Muzzles aren't designed to have the Dog labelled as a menace to society.
The use of a dog muzzle should always start with positive training.
There are steps that should be implemented for the use of a muzzle it’s not a simple as just putting it on, this can cause distress and anxiety and often make behaviour worse instead of better.
• Muzzles can also be used to help with desensitisation processes such as the vets, groomers as some dogs snap when having nails clipped, being brushed, or being vaccinated. Not all Vets work within a No Fear approach and not all Vets are comfortable around Dogs not want to risk being bitten. Dogs can also bite when in pain which is why Canine First Aiders have a make shift muzzle within their First Aid Kit.
• Muzzling an aggressive dog can be a good management solution in a particular situation, but a muzzle should not be used as a substitute for behaviour modification you should always seek help to change the behaviour.
It is NOT appropriate to use a muzzle to prevent a dog from barking, or to reduce destructive behaviour (e.g. chewing). These along with other stress-related behaviours need the underlying motivations to be addressed.
It is NOT appropriate in Training or Modification to Muzzle a Dog around other known or unknown Dogs off lead be it the Dog within the Muzzle or the other Dogs. This is not Training or Behaviour modification. This can be terrifying for the Dog muzzled and also leave them very vulnerable and cause detrimental damage. Training a Dog muzzled should always be where the Dog has space, distance and their handler with them. Never to be allowed to be cornered or attacked by unmuzzled Dogs.
There are many positives to muzzle training and something that should be trained from a young age where possible as you never know when you might need to use one. In some cases, it can just be for peace of mind when working on certain problems.
In some Countries it is mandatory that all Dogs are muzzled regardless of how well behaved they are.
Muzzles aren't the enemy and the stigma should be ended with them. Muzzles have so many benefits when used properly and kindly.
There are some brilliant Muzzle friendly groups on Facebook such as Muzzle Up Pup and Muzzles also don't need to be a generic I'll fitting muzzle causing an uncomfortable feeling to your Dog.
Tasha has partnered with Bumas to help you not only have a custom made Muzzle which is unique to the measurements of your Dog but you can also choose your own colours too. This is to ensure that you have access to a well fitting perfect Muzzle fit for the full comfort of your Dog.
Let's end the stigma around Muzzles. Remember if someone is walking a Dog with a Muzzle you don't know the Dogs story and maybe smile at the handler too. Show some support for their great investment in their beloved friend!