Every Dog Should Be Muzzle-Trained
So… I was at a dog show in California, competing in an agility trial with my black Doberman, Dancer. Someone I knew, another exhibitor, had a beautiful, red Doberman she’d rescued from a bad home where she was kept on a chain in the yard. My friend was looking for someone to adopt her.
I didn’t want another dog, but I offered to take her until she found a permanent home.
Uh-huh. You know how that goes! She was in my home just a few days… and I couldn’t let her go.
I named her Mocha. I forget now what her original name was… but I changed it right away. She showed signs of possible abuse and I imagined they yelled her name at her… I didn’t want to remind her. Mocha suited her. She was SO GRATEFUL just to be inside my house.
And in my bed…
Click here to read more on muzzling dogs...
She and Dancer loved each other but Mocha played rough! She’d nip at Dancer. It wasn’t long before Dancer refused to play with her, so I got Mocha an open-basket style muzzle.
Morrco Pet Supply has a good selection.
These muzzles are comfortable and open and dogs can do everything in them except bite, including pant, drink, eat and bark. When Mocha was muzzled, Dancer played. No muzzle, no play.
Every dog should be muzzle-trained.
Yes, even fluffy little Fifi!
You never know when you will need to rush your dog to your veterinarian and he or she will want to muzzle your dog. When dogs are scared or stressed or injured or sick, they are more likely to bite and your vet has a right to safety and may want to muzzle him. I had a student on the coast whose vet wanted to muzzle her Great Dane and the dog had never worn a muzzle before. The dog stressed and squirmed when getting muzzled and bit his tongue pretty badly. These are not the circumstances under which to be introducing your dog to a muzzle.
In my opinion, muzzles are waaaay under-used.
Have you ever had visitors to your home – including a child perhaps – with whom your dog didn’t feel real comfortable? It makes no sense to take chances, especially with children. Putting the dog away in another room can build frustration, making him even more uncomfortable and/or aggressive.
Also don’t put on a muzzle and put the dog in a stressful situation. He can still knock over a child and also, if his fear/aggression is triggered, you are further ingraining that behavior. Good training includes PREVENTION and to change the dog’s mind, BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION. (It's not the same as training.)
Never trigger behaviors you want to stop. And always be PROACTIVE, not reactive.
BTW, you must never slap a muzzle on a dog and expect him to accept it. “Muzzle-training” means just that: Training the dog to wear the muzzle. There is a process to it. (Don’t “Just do it.”) Learn how to do it correctly or you could inadvertently make your dog HATE it and then want to remove it, which in most cases, he can.
A muzzle-trained dog doesn't even THINK about pawing or rubbing it off.
Many dogs are fearful when strangers come into their homes, or when they go out in public. Fearful dogs are the most likely of all dogs to bite. Why take chances, especially when it could result in your dog being punished with euthanasia?
Practice calming behaviors with him and use good preventative management but muzzle him as a backup. Again, train him to accept, and even enjoy, wearing the muzzle and it’s no big deal!
Hire me for help if you don't know how to muzzle-train a dog. I can teach this to you over the phone in 10-20 minutes!
If people would use muzzles more, we’d have a lot fewer dog bites and a lot fewer euthanized dogs.
When it comes to dogs, NEVER say never. Again… I am talking about an open, comfortable muzzle on a dog that accepts, and even enjoys, wearing it.
Caution: NEVER muzzle a dog and put him in a dangerous situation. Do not muzzle a dog and take him to the dog park. Do not muzzle a dog and leave him unsupervised with another dog with whom he may pick a fight. If your dog is muzzled and another dog attacks him, he is defenseless.
I think many people have a psychological issue against muzzling their dogs. There is something about it that they, themselves, think is cruel or unreasonably confining. But then there are people who think putting a dog in a crate is cruel. I, like other trainers, consider a crate - at times - a necessary piece of dog equipment. Dogs are our kids, but we still need to treat them like dogs.
People who don’t treat their dogs like dogs tend to be people whose dogs have problems.
A comfortable muzzle is a must-have piece of dog equipment, even if only to prepare your dog for the possibility of being muzzled without notice at the vet’s office. Having been trained and desensitized to it – and even taught to LOVE it - will make the experience a whole lot easier and less stressful for everyone, most importantly, the dog.
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