Best Behaviour Ltd

Muzzle Training

Muzzles can be used to reduce the risk a dog poses to people and other animals by restricting the dog’s ability to bite. They are frequently used by veterinarians, dog wardens and animal shelter staff concerned with handling or treating frightened, injured or distressed dogs.
They may also be used by the owners of dogs that may be aggressive to people or other animals, or those bound by a control order to do so, either because the dog has previously acted dangerously, or is of a banned breed type.

Dogs which have had a bad experience that they associate with their muzzle, such as one that is too tight or restrictive, or one that has been rushed into acceptance of the muzzle as in the case of dogs seized under the Dangerous Dogs act may require even more time and patience.
Below is a guide to help you to select a muzzle and introduce it to your pet. Remember the way you introduce a muzzle to your dog can have a significant impact on how quickly he will accept wearing it calmly.

What type of muzzle should I buy for my dog?

It is important to purchase a muzzle that allows normal breathing, panting and drinking, and in the case of those dogs restricted under the DDA and who therefore would breach a court order if it were to be removed whilst in public, to allow their dogs to be sick should they need to be.
Basket style muzzles (Baskerville), fulfil these requirements allowing your dog to be comfortable during regular outdoor activity  But that said, no muzzle should be worn for a long period of time.
Best Behaviour does not regard alternative styles of muzzles as appropriate for regular use because they restrict the dog’s ability to pant, trapping heat inside the dog’s body, and prevent the dog from being able to drink water which increasing the dog’s vulnerability to overheating and heatstroke. However the lightweight fabric or leather muzzles can be useful for a short time during vet visits or nail clipping sessions.

How do I know if the muzzle fits my dog properly?

Basket style muzzles are available in different sizes designed to fit a wide range of dog breeds.
You can use size guides from the manufacturer as a general guideline, but you will need to place the muzzle on your dog to determine whether a particular size properly fits your dog’s head.

This may not always be possible particularly if your dog has been seized in which case telephone the prosecuting authority either directly or via your legal representative to ask them to give you the size required. You need your muzzle with you when your dog is released as the police station is a public place as is your vehicle and you will not be allowed to remove your dog without it.

A properly fitted basket muzzle should have a strap that sits snugly against your dog’s neck.The strap needs to be tight enough to hold the muzzle in place and prevent your dog from pawing it off, but there should be space for about two fingers to slip between the strap and your dog’s neck.
The length and width of the muzzle’s “basket” also needs to be appropriate for the length and width of your dog’s nose.
There should be about 1.25 cm (0.5 in.) of space between the end of your dog’s nose and the front of the muzzle’s interior.
Once you’ve found a muzzle that fits your dog snugly ,it’s important to routinely check for any signs that your dog is experiencing discomfort. Although it is natural for your dog to be somewhat uncomfortable wearing the muzzle initially, there should be no outward signs of this such as chafing, skin irritation or similar injury.
You should also check the fit of the muzzle regularly as the muzzle strap may stretch and require adjustment.

How can I help my dog adjust to wearing a muzzle?

Below are some steps to help your dog learn to accept wearing a muzzle. Be patient, and work at a rate that is comfortable for your pet. Most dogs
will adjust to the muzzle within a few days to a few weeks. The first steps should be taken in the home or garden to allow your dog to become accustomed to the muzzle in an environment without external influences and distractions.
Only once your dog is completely comfortable wearing the muzzle should you begin to generalize your dog to other surroundings and situations.

1.Try to make your dog’s first experience with the muzzle positive.

Show your dog the muzzle. While he’s investigating it give him a treat. After feeding the treat put the muzzle away or out of sight. Repeat this sequence several times, or until your dog looks at you for a treat as soon as you show the muzzle. If at all possible your dog’s introduction to the muzzle should not be in a fearful or stressful situation.

2. Encourage your dog to place his head in the muzzle by luring with treats.

With the muzzle facing your dog, hold or place treats on the inside rim and encourage your dog to take them. If your dog readily takes the treats, start holding or placing the treats further inside the muzzle so that your dog must stick his head deeper into the muzzle to retrieve the treats.

3. Increase the time your dog wears the muzzle without fastening it.

Place the muzzle on your dog’s head for a couple seconds and feed a treat while the muzzle is still on. Slowly increase the time your dog is wearing it from several seconds to several minutes while rewarding your dog with treats. Remove the muzzle when your dog is calm and quiet.

4.Try fastening the muzzle and increase the time he wears it.

When your dog calmly accepts the muzzle you can try fastening it for increasing lengths of time until he will comfortably wear it for fifteen or twenty minutes. To help your dog adjust to the muzzle more quickly reward him with play, affection, treats, or walks – or other activities your dog enjoys – while he is wearing the muzzle. This will distract your dog and help him to positively associate wearing the muzzle with activities he finds fun. Try to remove the muzzle when your dog is calm. Taking off the muzzle when your dog is struggling to remove it himself will encourage him to repeat the behaviour because he may think its his actions that prompt the muzzle being removed. You can encourage him to leave it alone temporarily by providing a distraction (for example, asking for a sit and treating, clapping your hands, squeaking a squeaky toy, or with a ball ).
Take care not to expect too much too soon. If this is the case go back a step and take things more slowly.