What to Know About Dog Muzzles

german shepherd wearing a dog muzzle

Sometimes a dog with a muzzle can bring certain reactions. Some might be angry that a dog is muzzled while others can be fearful of the dog; thinking they are aggressive and unsafe. However, muzzles that are used safely can be good tools in handling aggressive behaviors or controlling dogs that have a history of biting, or even for dogs in training or dogs that are prone to nerves or anxiety. Here’s what to know about dog muzzles:

What is a Dog Muzzle?

A dog muzzle is a mask-like contraption that fits over a dog’s nose and mouth. It is commonly used to prevent biting. There are two types – a basket muzzle and a mesh muzzle.

When a muzzle is fitted properly, your dog should be able to pant, drink, and eat comfortably. Muzzles also may be used during professional training in order to keep trainers and owners safe as they work on instilling good behaviors.

When Should You Use a Dog Muzzle?

While most people think muzzles are only used on aggressive dogs or dogs that bite, there are many causes of aggression in dogs and many other reasons to use muzzles. Here’s when you should use a dog muzzle:

1. During Grooming or Veterinarian Visits

When some dogs are nervous or scared, they can act out by snapping or biting. Knowing your dog’s body language is important and can help you discern if you need a muzzle for the current situation.

Having a muzzle on nervous dogs can keep groomers, vet technicians, and trainers safe. If your dog exhibits this type of behavior in situations like this, a muzzle might be something to consider.

Groomers, veterinarians, and trainers are able to do their job a lot easier if they don’t need to be worried about receiving a dog bite. This makes your visits much smoother and more comfortable for everyone.

2. When Your Dog is in Pain

If your dog is acting out aggressively and snapping at you, this could be a sign your dog is in pain. Using a muzzle in a situation like this will help you stay safe as you safely move your dog to get care. The muzzle will keep anyone involved safe as they help to get your dog help.

3. Traveling on Public Transportation

Some countries have laws in place that require dogs to wear muzzles if they are using public transportation. As these situations can be overwhelming for some dogs, a muzzle lowers the risk of your dog acting out and potentially harming you or others.

4. Controlling Aggression

If your dog has a history of aggression, using a muzzle can be helpful in keeping your dog and others safe while you work on socialization and correcting the behavior. While some may always need to use a muzzle, sometimes dogs can be trained to change their behaviors so muzzles are only needed in high-risk situations. This training is often done with a qualified canine trainer so you ensure proper techniques.

When Shouldn’t You Use a Dog Muzzle?

You should never use a muzzle as a form of punishment. This can destroy the bonds between you and your pup if you do this. Don’t use a muzzle to put a stop to barking, either. While it may work temporarily because your dog is confused about the use of the muzzle, dogs can still bark with it on. There are much better ways to train your dog to stop barking.

How to Use Dog Muzzles Safely and Correctly

Muzzles can be tools to help calm a reactive dog in some cases. Regardless of why you are using a muzzle with your dog, it’s important to train your dog to tolerate their muzzle and help them get used to it. They may never like it, but they will tolerate it. Here’s how to use dog muzzles safely and correctly:

1. Use the Right Type of Dog Muzzle

There are two types of dog muzzles – basket and soft or mesh.

Basket Dog Muzzle

The basket type is exactly like the name implies as it looks like a basket on your dog’s snout. While it can look uncomfortable, it’s actually a very humane dog muzzle. The basket design allows for more comfort because it doesn’t hold their mouths closed. Plus, it lets your dog eat, drink, and pant easily.

Mesh or Soft Dog Muzzles

Mesh or soft dog muzzles are made with leather, mesh, or nylon and wrap around your dog’s mouth, holding it shut. These types of muzzles do not let your dog eat, drink, bark, or pant easily. While the soft fabric may feel more humane, it actually can be harder on your dog.

2. Properly Fit it to Your Dog

Having the muzzle well-fitted will make the experience much better for your dog. If it’s too tight it will be uncomfortable and maybe even painful. If it’s too loose, your dog might be able to slip out of it. Straps should be fitted so one finger can fit between the straps and your dog’s head. You may need to try various sizes to get the right fit or you can take your dog to be fitted for one.

3. Use Treats and Praise

Treats work wonders. Start by letting your dog smell their muzzle and give them a treat. Dogs like to smell things and this allows them to get used to it. Offer treats before putting the muzzle on and have treats ready when it comes off. Shower your dog with praise so they associate praise and affection with the muzzle.

These are just a few of the important things to know about dog muzzles. Just a gentle reminder that dog muzzles are not a solution to bad behavior. Consistent and positive training is one of the valuable dog training tips to remember when working with your dog. And, you don’t have to handle it alone; don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a professional dog trainer to help you correct undesirable behavior and make your dog more comfortable and confident.