I’ve trained quite a few dangerous dogs to wear muzzles, but I’ve never trained my own dogs to wear muzzles. If you read my last post, “A Horrible Thing Happened,”https://wholedogcamp.org/2021/07/01/a-horrible-thing-happened/ you know why I am training M’Ocean to wear a muzzle now.
Like most people, I thought, if I got my dog as a tiny puppy, from a responsible breeder, socialized him and trained him and socialized and trained some more, my dog would never be dangerous dogs. Wishful thinking is dangerous when it comes to our dogs.
Training helps prevent dangerous behaviors, and petting, grooming, stroking your dog can increase his level of oxytocin and make dogs less dangerous, but some dogs naturally produce less oxytocin than others https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/why-are-some-dogs-aggressive-hormones.
Fortunately, properly muzzled dogs can’t bite. It allows you to more safely socialize, train and travel with your dog, and it allows the dog to pant, drink water, bark, eat treats and even to push around balls and other toys! But a muzzled dog can’t bite, puncture, or pick up and toss a dachshund. A muzzled dog is far, far, far less dangerous than an unmuzzled dog. Here is a video showing how a very dog aggressive dog’s behavior changes when they are disarmed with a muzzle. https://youtu.be/xCEx6pn4W6s
But if the dog isn’t wearing one during the time that you need it or if the dog is able to push the muzzle off his face? It won’t work. A safe muzzle doesn’t interfere with vision or the natural movements of panting, breathing, eating, drinking. It has a forehead strap so the dog can’t push it off his face, and the part that goes around the skull is very snug, so the dog can’t possibly get out of it. Fitting the muzzle can take a week. Often I’ve bought two or three muzzles, and punched new holes in the straps, to get the fit just right.
Basket muzzles can be so comfortable and well ventilated that a dog can wear them all day long. If you have a dog who might jump up and pop you in the face with it, a plastic, rubber or silicon type is better than wire. We condition the dog to love it as with a head halter. Chirag Patel made a great muzzle training video, so I’ll just share that with you here. My only added comment is that you do need a forehead strap, especially if your dog has a history of knowing how to push a head halter off his nose. https://youtu.be/1FABgZTFvHo
The part of the muzzle that goes around the skull needs to be very snug. Often times, when I fit a muzzle, the head strap stretches and loosens over a few days and I need to keep punching new holes to tighten. You shouldn’t be able to fit any fingers under the strap that fits on the back of the skull, but the basket itself needs to be loose enough for the dog to open his mouth, bark, pant, drink water, eat treats. Here are some examples of muzzles that many dogs can wear comfortably all day long. Do you have a favorite muzzle?