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Mentioning the M word

M is for MUZZLE

Nobody likes the idea of their dog wearing a muzzle do they?!

Why is this? the normal response is that they will be judged for having a dangerous dog, but is this true... possibly and why does that matter?

My view of a dog wearing a muzzle can mean a number of different things such as:

  • Maybe that dogs is scared of people so I'll give it some room

  • Maybe that dog is scared of other dogs so I'll give it some room

  • Maybe that dog eats rubbish of the floor

  • Wow! that owner is sensible and doing what is necessary for that dog be walking out and enjoying life

Dogs wearing a muzzle undeniably get a wide birth when people pass, so if your dog is worried about people or dogs and has showed behaviours that indicate they may bite under stress then a muzzle should strongly be considered. Let's face it, a dog wearing a muzzle can't bite and therefore you are keeping them and those that he or she finds scary, safe. Surely this is the better option than hoping you can keep a look out in an unpredictable environment. One second of having your eye off the game and your dog has managed to get hold of someone, then what? Well, this could lead you and your dog in deep trouble! At best the person maybe very understanding and that's the end of it, at worst you could end up in court facing a destruction order for your dog and a hefty fine.

I meet a lot of people that have dogs that don't like being approached by unfamiliar people. The one thing they find difficult is asking people to stay away but that particular person doesn't listen and will say 'but I like dogs' or 'dogs always like me'. The 'give me space' bandanna's sometimes work as do the leads with anxious dog on but sometimes these can draw attention to people that feel the need to somehow try to help by continuing to approach and then your in a tricky situation. The muzzle is the only device that seems to make people pause and not continue to come in to touch your dog.

I always advocate muzzle training, mainly for those times that we hope we wont need one. If your dog has an accident and is in severe pain they may bite when you try to move them. They are also used a lot in the vets for doing procedures that maybe uncomfortable and you dog may try to wriggle away or show anxious behaviours. Muzzles are applied quickly and if your dog has not been trained to wear one and had a positive association with one then this can add to their distress.

Muzzle can absolutely be a good thing, they keep you and your dog safe. Choosing a muzzle... look for one which allows your dog to open its mouth fully and be able to drink and take treats, often known as basket muzzles. Do not get the fabric or mesh ones as these are tight around the mouth. Muzzle training should always be trained from a puppy so they only associate good things with wearing one. If you want to know how to train your dog to wear a muzzle then check out the Blue Cross web site for a video on muzzle training.

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