Muzzles have a terrible reputation, but the reality is that a dog muzzle is a safe and effective way for owners to protect themselves and their dogs.
Muzzles are designed to stop a dog from biting, but the image we have is of muzzles being used to stop snarling, aggressive, fighting dogs from causing harm. Things are a little more nuanced than this because there are, in fact, many other scenarios when an owner might need to muzzle even a quiet and timid pet pooch!
Dog muzzles can be an important tool in unusual situations, when your dog is undergoing medical assessments at the vets or when they are being groomed. There are many more reasons why you might need to use a muzzle, so it's important to know how to use them safely before you need to.
Keep reading, as we explain when you might need to muzzle your dog and the best way to do it. Here's everything you need to know about the dog muzzle.
Why does the dog muzzle have such a bad image?
Not all owners agree with the use of dog muzzles. The truth is that the dog muzzle is simply seen by many as a tool to stop hyper-aggressive and dangerous dog breeds from biting. The picture of a snarling, thrashing, biting dog is all too common, and, in part, is responsible for the negative image of a dog.
After all, if your dog is well trained and part of a loving family, why on earth would they ever need to be muzzled to stop them from biting? Owners care deeply for their pet pups too, and even the best dog muzzles don't look too friendly. Wearing a muzzle just doesn't look comfortable or inviting for the dog - and as owners, all we want is the best for our pooches.
The primary goal of a muzzle is to stop a dog from biting, of course, but the image that only dangerous dogs need to wear muzzles is far from the real truth of things. Even the cuddliest pups might have to wear a muzzle at some point in their lives.
When might I need to muzzle my dog?
Okay, so if your dog is cute and friendly, you're probably still wondering when you would ever need to place a muzzle over your dog's mouth. There are several common scenarios or situations when the need can arise, so it's always good to anticipate them.
Here are the most common reasons to use a dog muzzle:
To prevent biting
Wearing a dog muzzle for biting is the ultimate goal of muzzling a dog. As we've already said, this can be needed for aggressive dogs (particularly guard dogs), or it can be necessary to prevent biting in unfamiliar or potentially dangerous scenarios.
Some dogs have a history of biting, especially if they are rescue dogs and have been ill-trained and badly conditioned by earlier owners. Muzzling is a safety solution, and it can prevent harm to you and your dog.
To prevent eating
Muzzles are also a useful tool in preventing your dog from eating unwanted items off the floor when they are out for a walk or from trying to get into the trash bin at the local park.
Eating rotten food or other unhealthy or even indigestible items off the floor is never going to end well for your pet pup!
When there's a medical emergency
An injured or distressed dog is much more likely to bite during an emergency - even if they've never bitten before.
The muzzle is a practical tool to prevent your dog from biting while you get them to the vet and when undergoing emergency medical treatment.
When your dog is recovering from illness or injury
If your pet pup has suffered a painful dog broken leg injury, then they aren't going to be themselves for some months after the incident.
For many illnesses and injuries, a muzzle can prevent biting during the recovery period, and it can also prevent your dog from licking or scratching its wounds.
When your dog is being handled
We often forget that while our dogs are super comfortable running around the home after you or using a bed ramp for dogs to get up on the couch for a cuddle, it can be a different story when other humans try to handle them.
If your dog meets new people or strangers, a muzzle can help prevent them from biting if they get scared while also giving the people peace of mind that they won't be bitten.
This is super important at the vets and if your dog is being groomed.
When your dog is traveling
If you want to travel with your dog, or need to travel with your dog, then it's going to be necessary to introduce them to a muzzle.
This is important if your dog needs to travel on long, uncomfortable car journeys, and particularly if they need to fly in the plane's cargo hold.
When it's legally required
Several breeds of dogs are legally required to wear a muzzle at certain times - especially when they are in public.
These are generally breeds with a history of aggression, such as Rottweilers or Pitbulls.
What are the main types of dog muzzle?
There are three main varieties of dog muzzle that you can choose from for your pooch. The best dog muzzle needs to give your pet room to breathe and move their jaw around, or else they'll become too uncomfortable, too quickly.
The three major varieties are the following:
- Basket muzzle: literally looks like a basket. It gives a dog room to breathe and move, despite looking a little like a cage. Dogs can even drink and eat through the basket — best for long-term wearing.
- Soft sleeve muzzle: a soft muzzle that's placed tightly around the face — only recommended for short visits, such as a trip to the vets or groomers.
- Short-snout muzzle: specifically designed for short snouted dogs with squashes facial features (pugs, for example).
In an emergency, it's also possible to make a DIY dog muzzle. This is only recommended when in a pinch, such as a medical emergency. You may need to use whatever there is to hand, such as clothing or scarves. Never make a dog duct tape muzzle; it's just cruel.
It's also good to know how long can a dog wear a muzzle. Generally speaking, this depends on your dog's temperament but also on the muzzle. A looser, more relaxed muzzle will be comfortable for up to an hour. Tighter muzzles, for much less time.
How to train your dog to wear a muzzle
It's important to introduce your dog to the muzzle early on in their life, even if you only intend to ever use a muzzle in an emergency or when they are at the vet. A basket muzzle is obviously an unnatural object to place over your dog's face, and they need time to get used to it.
Start by gently introducing your dog to the muzzle so they are comfortable with it. Place treats inside the muzzle, so they start getting curious. After a while, they won't mind trying it on!
Dog muzzle: the last bark
The dog muzzle is in many ways a necessary evil for owners and their dogs, so it's important that muzzling is done safely and effectively to avoid any further discomfort. The primary goal of muzzling is to prevent biting; however, muzzles aren't just there for hyper-aggressive dogs.
There are many scenarios where an owner will need to have their dog muzzled, from a day at the groomers to the much-needed annual check-up at the vets. Introduce your pet pup to a small dog muzzle early on in their life, and they'll be comfortable as they grow older, and when you might need to use one for their safety and yours.
If you're raising a pup, then why not bookmark our guide to dog muzzles for future reference and training?