Muzzling your dog doesn’t look very nice and you may find it sad for your dog. In some situations it is very desirable or even necessary to have the dog wear a muzzle. I came into contact with the muzzle due to our dog Koda. A young male of now a bit more than 2 years old with lots of temperament. He regularly finds it necessary to assert himself towards other males and he sometimes gets stressed unexpectedly quickly and then, out of frustration, snaps in the nearest object. For example when someone with his dog passes too closely or when a cat unexpectedly runs out of the bushes.
When a muzzle can help: the story of our Koda
Koda wears a muzzle for for quite a while now when he walks loose or has to walk along the pram. I am very happy that I made that choice. It gives me much more confidence that nothing can happen and therefore much more rest when I walk with four dogs and a small child.
When he is loose with other strange dogs, the muzzle gives both dogs much more calmness. Not that he ever bit another dog without a muzzle, but as a young male he wanted to seek the confrontation with other males. I personally hate it when my dogs are bothered by other dogs, so that’s why I chose a muzzle for him. And with success: he is much friendlier and more relaxed towards other males with his muzzle on and he is not successful in his undesired behavior. And he knows that. If another male is annoying to him (or sometimes he provokes it himself), he is just fine. Often he displays some bristling with his hair, walking stiffly and maybe a growl. But usually he just walks on.
When I walk with our dogs without a child and pram, Koda does not have to wear the muzzle. With child he does, because he walks exactly at the height of the hands. If he would ever snap and a finger was hit, I would feel very sorry. During the walks I also practice a lot with him to limit lunging as much as possible, with good result. By staying calm myself (which goes much better if you know that no dangerous situation can arise) and rewarding a lot when he focuses his attention on me, the undesired behaviour is actually already limited to something that can be controlled properly. I also signal it quite well when the tension in his head builds up, so often I can ask for his attention in time or ensure that I can avoid a certain situation. For example, when I see a dog approaching that stressed him, I can ask for his attention and cross the street to create distance. In these situations, putting on the muzzle prevents him from snapping out of frustration, but it is also necessary to keep on practicing to make Koda feel comfortable while walking.
When do you muzzle your dog?
- When he makes the situation unsafe for other dogs or people because he can bite. Prevention is better than curing afterwards. In addition, you do not want your dog to be successful with his behaviour. The situation then only gets worse.
- When a dog has received a muzzle command from the municipality, usually after one or more incidents.
- When you, as the owner, feel more comfortable and relaxed when your dog carries a muzzle. Are you outside and do you feel insecure in certain situations? Your dog feels that and can only make the situation worse. If you possess more calmness, your dog will also feel more at ease.
- When your dog eats unwanted things from the street, a muzzle can also be a great solution.
- In some countries it is mandatory to muzzle a dog in public places.
Does a muzzle solve the problem?
Partly because he can no longer bite or eat from the street. But it is also important that you train with your dog in a responsible way, so that your dog sees no reason to bite.
Which muzzle fits my dog?
A muzzle is made of metal, leather or plastic. The correct size does not sting but also is not too loose and has no sharp edges that can injure the dog. Also, the muzzle should not press against the front of the nose, which is very unpleasant. A plastic muzzle is easy to clean compared to a leather one and it does not dry out. The same applies to metal baskets. Leather baskets have the advantage that they are easier to adjust to the dog’s head. Note that some dog breeds need a special model of basket, especially when they have a very long or short snout.
We have a Baskerville basket. You attach this muzzle to the collar and there is another strap behind the ears. You can also attach an extra strap over the nose, although Koda doesn’t need it.
Can a dog still breathe well in a muzzle?
Yes he can. In a well-fitting muzzle, a dog can pant and even accept food and drink. It does not therefore negatively affect the dog’s actions. A muzzle that closes the dog’s mouth, on the other hand, is not able to do that. For that reason, this type of muzzle is not useful in most situations.
Does a dog suffer from a muzzle? And how do you learn to wear one?
In the beginning, the dog will have to get used to carrying a basket, but once used to it, it does not know any better and it will not just bother a dog. Certainly if the muzzle is linked to a pleasant experience (such as being allowed to walk freely). Please take the time to learn the muzzle properly by first letting the dog smell the muzzle himself and reward him with food and with your voice. Then slowly try if he wants to put his nose in it by luring him something tasty. If this goes well you can attach the strap, reward your dog and release the strap. Build this up until he can walk around in a relax way. Then practice with the leash attached, first inside and finally outside. Always remove the muzzle if the dog is not supervised.
Don’t other dog owners think my dog is aggressive with a muzzle?
First of all, I would not care what others think, as long as it has the desired effect for my dog. I also know that I have a super-cute and friendly dog with great characteristics, with, just like every dog, some lesser sides. In fact, most of the owners I encounter do not even respond to seeing the muzzle. When Koda meets another dog, he is never really called away. Sometimes people ask why he wears a muzzle and most people even give him a pat on the head. Not so strange, because when he is loose, he usually behaves very relaxed and free. But even if they do have an opinion … Isn’t it all about what works for you and your dog?