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5 Myths About Muzzles

Muzzles and the dog's who wear them often get a bad rap. Look beyond the hype and learn how muzzle can actually help keep pups healthy and give them more opportunities for freedom and enrichment.

Dog learning to wear a muzzle

Myth 1: Muzzles Only for Bad Dogs

Any person can get frustrated and say rude words if under enough stress. Dogs aren’t perfect either! In an ideal world, all dogs should be trained to wear a muzzle as just another skill in their repertoire. A dog in pain will behave differently than they may under other circumstances.  

Muzzles are used in some veterinary settings for the safety of the staff. No veterinary team wants a dog to bite - a bite is unpleasant for the person and indicates the dog was under high stress. Plus it will incur a considerable amount of paperwork for everyone. A team who feel safe will likely be able to give better care and be more efficient than with a distressed and unmuzzled dog.

Myth 2: Muzzles Only Used for Dogs Who Bite

This question is like asking, “Are seat belts only used by bad drivers?” Muzzles are typically used as a proactive safety measure for a dog with a history of being uncomfortable. The muzzle tells us we are unlikely to have a safety or liability issue if we misjudge a situation.

For example, in some European countries, dogs are allowed on some public transport if wearing a muzzle. This reduces safety and liability concerns and gives a more fair experience to everyone. 

Some dogs wear muzzles so they can safely explore without eating anything unsafe. Dogs that act like vacuum cleaners outside can end up at risk for toxin ingestions or intestinal obstructions. Some dogs with allergies or sensitive stomachs could get sick from exposure to potential allergens on the street. Rather than living a restricted life, a muzzle can allow a dog more freedom to explore. 

Myth 3: Dogs Hate Wearing Muzzles

If we just put a muzzle on a dog, many will paw it off and be unhappy. However, we can do training games to teach a dog to be comfortable wearing the muzzle. Will the dog prefer to be without it? Probably. But if wearing a muzzle results in better care and lifestyle, then it’s worth the effort!

Training often starts by teaching the dog to stick his nose into the muzzle to earn treats. Then, we can progress to teaching him to keep his nose in there longer and longer. The next stage is all about teaching a dog to walk or rest while wearing the muzzle. From there, training is personalized depending on the application. 

Myth 4: People Will Avoid My Dog Wearing a Muzzle

Some people may give you more space. And that’s okay - many dogs wearing muzzles would sometimes prefer a little more room. You can take the opportunity to talk with others and say something like, “He loves meeting new people! This is a precaution for the excessive litter on our street - we’ll take it off once we’re the next street over.”  or “My dog is very social with people, this is just in case a loose dog runs up to us. I want to be sure we’re not the ones who get in trouble if that happens.” 

Some families will purchase muzzles in fun colors. You can buy muzzles with artificial gemstones for an extra impressive appearance. Some brands are clear or a similar color to an individual dog and may only be noticed once you are up close.

Myth 5: My Dog is Too Old or Too Young to Learn to Wear a Muzzle

Dogs of any age can learn new skills. A challenge with puppies is that they grow quickly and may outgrow equipment rapidly. Wearing a muzzle for normal puppy biting is not typically recommended as that’s a developmentally normal behavior. However, puppies can begin to learn about wearing muzzles as a general life skill. 

Older dogs can learn new skills at any point - whether your dog is 5, 10, or even a healthy 15. As dogs age, they often need more veterinary care and medical interventions for pain management. Dogs may be more irritable about this than when they were younger. A muzzle can help veterinary staff be more confident during exams and is an excellent back up just in case something results in pain for your dog. 

For personalize help on your dog's puzzle journey, reach out to our team of expert dog trainers virtually!