For many people, the idea of a muzzled dog evokes feelings of fear. This is from a long-standing association of muzzles being used with dangerous dogs. Muzzles are used for so much more than aggression issues. Muzzles, when used correctly, are a wonderful tool that gives your dog more freedom safely. It's time to eliminate those negative associations and appreciate muzzles for all the good things they can do.
A muzzle can be a life saver by preventing dogs from eating rocks, sticks, and other objects that can cause gastrointestinal obstructions. They are a great training tool for gentle handling, especially near the face. A muzzle can be used as part of behavior modification by providing it as a piece of safety equipment while working on creating good behaviors and building confidence. It can keep dogs out of trouble if they react to other dogs or people on walks. And with proper training, it can be low stress and fun to wear.
The goal with pre-conditioning your dog to a basket muzzle is that if your dog should ever have to wear a muzzle, it will not cause additional stress to an already stressful situation. For example, imagine transporting a painful dog after an automobile accident, dog fight or other trauma; they can bite out of fear or pain. When going to a veterinary hospital, there are new people who need to examine, perform treatments or give vaccines. Some dogs are very fearful and may react to being touched. These can be extremely stressful situations for both you and your dog, and adding an unfamiliar piece of safety equipment only adds fear and stress. Pre-training your dog to wear a basket muzzle can help dogs be more relaxed with having unfamiliar people or objects near them. Basket muzzles can also help decrease the time spent in a stressful situation, and can even take the place of having to use sedation in some situations.
There are many different types of muzzles, so choosing the correct one is very important. The muzzle must be properly fitted so the dog can pant, eat treats and drink water. We encourage using basket muzzles for these reasons.
If you make training fun and positive, when you need a muzzle your dog will be happy to use it. The goal is for your dog to learn that Muzzle = Good things. Teaching a dog to accept a muzzle should be done during low stress times and approached as a game. Teaching a dog to wear a muzzle during higher stress times is harder to do and the dog can associate the muzzle with pain or fear.
By making basket muzzle training a game, you associate the muzzle with treats or a wonderful reward. Muzzle training is like any other training in that it does take time to train. But during the training time, you are strengthening your bond with your dog, helping build their confidence, and having fun. During the training, you give the dog a choice to explore the muzzle and receive a reward for making the right choice. Providing a choice helps decrease stress, and rewards help reinforce the habit of making good choices. Once your dog learns and loves the game, it will not be long before your dog will run excitedly to their muzzle.