When we hear or see a muzzle on a dog, we tend to make a quick shortcut and put a “bad dog” label on the dog’s head.
Wrong, because the muzzle is an essential tool you must have when you have a dog, whether aggressive or not. It is still necessary that he assimilates this tool to something positive, just like the leash to go for a walk or the toy to start a session.
We will see here why it is important to get your dog used to wear a muzzle through the situations in which it can/should be used and especially how to make sure that wearing a muzzle is a good experience for your dog.
In what situations should a dog wear a muzzle?
First of all, you surely know it. Still, since the law of January 6, 1999, relating to the animals known as “dangerous” (this sentence tears my heart out because no dog is born dangerous, it becomes it if we do not take the necessary measures), the wearing of the muzzle became obligatory for all dogs of 1st and 2nd category.
Nevertheless, wearing a muzzle is not reserved only for these poor dogs that undergo the Man’s drifts and which have, in fact, a dirty reputation thatthat sticks to their skin.
The muzzle is recommended for other dogs, in other situations, and here are some of them:
During a visit to the veterinarian following painful health problems for the animal. Indeed, a small blow of fangs can always happen following handling, which does not put the dog in a comfortable situation. And you should know that even the nicest dog in the world can be led to use this defence technique to protect himself because he cannot intellectualize the fact that what is happening and what is being done to him is for his good.
In the aftermath of an intervention that requires healing without salivary intervention by the dog.
To secure a meeting between congeners, we are not 100% sure that it will go well. This allows to reassure the owners, to relax the atmosphere and, of course, to avoid any risk of injury.
In public transport (especially the train), wearing a muzzle is mandatory for dogs weighing more than 6kg.
To calmly work on desensitizing an element that triggers possible aggression in the dog (people in the street, a cat, a letter carrier, etc.).
As you can see, whether your dog is aggressive or not, a muzzle may always be necessary for a dog’s life, for various reasons: for his health, for his safety or that of people/dogs who cross your path or simply to respect the law.
The dog must be used to wearing a muzzle because there is nothing worse than a dog who is already uncomfortable and who, on top of that, has to put up with an object he is not used to wearing.
How to get your dog used to wear a muzzle?
To start getting your dog used to wearing a muzzle, I recommend a fairly open muzzle, through which you can offer treats/rewards to your dog. The Baskerville muzzle will be ideal to start the exercise.
Please note, when working on muzzle habituation with your dog:
The habituation sessions should be short but repeated regularly.
The first muzzle training sessions should be done in a place where there is little stimulation and where your dog feels comfortable and safe (your living room, for example).
Never end on a failure, even if it means facilitating the exercise before concluding it.
Allow your dog to spend some time after the session so that he can evacuate any excess energy.
Thus, the different steps that I suggest below should not be proposed in a single session; the learning process must be done very gradually to put all the chances of success on your side.
Step 1: make your dog feel the object while giving him treats so that he simply assimilates the object’s presence to something positive.
Repeat this step as many times as necessary.
Step 2: On the Baskerville muzzle, you can attach the muzzle to your dog’s collar without the muzzle necessarily being on his nose. Attach the muzzle to his collar while continuing to give him treats.
Go for a walk with the muzzle around your dog’s neck so that your dog sees the close presence of the muzzle as something very positive and enjoyable for him.
Step 3: Next, start offering the muzzle to your dog on his nose while continuing to give him treats through the muzzle. In other words, hold the muzzle with one hand, and with your other hand, take a treat and offer it to your dog inside the muzzle.
If your dog is greedy, he will come forward to grab the treat. Be careful; this step does not include leaving the muzzle on the dog’s nose. Here, we simply want to make the dog understand that when he puts his nose “in” the muzzle, something “super-cute” happens (a treat!).
Repeat this step as many times as necessary until your dog does it systematically, without question.
Step 4: Next, you will attach the muzzle while continuing to offer treats and walks to your dog so that he associates wearing the muzzle with the two things he loves most: food and walks.
Be careful; however, in the beginning, the muzzle should not be worn for too long; a few seconds are enough. Then, the time of wearing the muzzle should be increased little by little.
To conclude, the main thing that you must know and that you must integrate before proposing a work of habituation to your dog’s wearing of the muzzle is that this learning must be done gradually. The best is to start it as soon as your dog arrives at home, as soon as possible.
The goal is that, when you need it, your dog will agree with the fact of wearing a muzzle because it will be very complicated to teach a dog to bear this object if he is suddenly forced to do so.
Finally, if your dog only associates the muzzle with conflict or painful situations, you can be sure that he will not accept it. On the other hand, if the muzzle is offered on walks or in various everyday situations, he will readily welcome this tool.