Using A Muzzle – Not Just For ‘Dangerous’ Dogs?

Using A Muzzle there are a number of issues that may have you thinking about putting a muzzle on your dog. The main one that will no doubt spring to mind for most people is when your dog is inclined to snap at people or other dogs – what would be called a ‘dangerous’ dog. It may even be that you live somewhere where with your breed of dog it is compulsory to muzzle them while out in public. If you are in this situation, you have our sympathy – it cannot be pleasant for you or for your dog.

It may be a surprise to know that there are some situations where we are all required to muzzle a dog! We recently investigated taking our two ‘girls’ with us on a ferry trip and discovered that the ferry companies insist not only that dogs remain in the vehicle at all times while on board but also that all dogs must be muzzled for the duration of the journey!

However, there are other reasons why we might consider a muzzle, for example at the vet’s surgery they may not like what happens to them and may get ‘nasty’. Even at home you may be unable to groom your dog or clip their claws without them snapping at you – not that they necessarily mean to hurt you but it can happen (my eldest doesn’t much like being brushed and has accidentally caught and pierced the back of my hand).

Another reason that may cause you to consider a muzzle is where your dog eats whatever they find while they are off the lead, for example while sniffing around in your garden or in the park at times when you are unable to closely supervise them.

Unfortunately many dogs like to eat the most disgusting thing they can find (our collies are no exception!) – some dogs will show no ill effects while others will suffer the consequences with upset tummies… and of course if what they eat is toxic or infected, this can result in potentially, expensive visits to the vet!

If your dog has a sensitive system and an upset tummy is a common problem for them then it is not out of the question to put a muzzle on them when they are allowed off the lead. It is something your dog will not like and at first they will try to ‘wipe’ it off with their paws, the ground the bushes! Given time they will get used to it and if you want to safeguard them if they have a sensitive tummy then it is definitely an option.

The use of a muzzle of course can be misconstrued by other people, including other dog owners, as they may automatically assume your dog to be dangerous and give you a wide berth. Sometimes it can be the case that other dogs act strangely with a dog wearing a muzzle.

It is important for you to decide what is important for you and your dog and what your desired outcome is.

There are two main types of muzzle, one that is like a ‘sleeve’ for the face and one that is like a ‘cage’ (commonly known as a Baskerville muzzle). Both of these come in different sizes to fit most dogs.

The sleeve type is only really suitable for a short period of time and would suit the visit to the vet or grooming issues. This kind of muzzle prevents a dog from panting and this is not a good idea for when they are exercising or in a prolonged stressful situation.

The cage type of muzzle (like the ones racing greyhounds wear) fits loosely and is fastened around the back of the neck. These are often made of metal, leather or plastic and, while they do not allow your dog to pick things up and eat them, they do allow them to pant, bark and drink.

This is the only humane sort of muzzle to use for when a dog exercising or in a prolonged stressful situation, as it allows them to breathe and pant freely. If you consider the cage muzzle, it is good to consider ensuring that the rim is padded so as to minimise the discomfort for your dog – they can rub and cause callouses or sores.

There is no doubt that if you can do so, it is much better to be able to correct the behaviour of your dog in relation to the things for which you may consider using a muzzle. Unfortunately most of us live very busy lives and often don’t find the time for this – and it can take a lot of time for a dog that has a well entrenched habit.

If your dog is not ‘dangerous’ and the issue is solely to stop them from eating things while off the lead, then it may well be worth making the time to revisit your ‘recall’ training or at the very least retrain using an extending lead and pulling them back if they find something to eat, then rewarding them with something ‘safe’ to eat.

Given time, effort and a lot of patience you may not need to resort to a muzzle.

Go To where you can find a growing wealth of useful information about dogs and the relationships we have with them… as well as links to our Facebook and Twitter pages where we share even more hints and tips. You can also sign up for tailor made private or group consultations that will change the relationship you have with your dog!