Muzzles can keep people and animals safe, both your dog and other animals. Muzzles should NEVER inhibit breathing or opening the mouth enough to pant and drink. Basket muzzles – the soft ones that feel like rubber – are great because you can treat your dog through them. Mesh ones are easily misused because of fit, but have their place can be properly fitted and used. They are for short training periods and not designed for long time wear.
First, you must realize that there will be people who will judge you and your dog simply because of the muzzle. WHO CARES! Worrying about what other people think is a complete waste of time.
The truth of the matter is, you would rather have your dog wearing a muzzle than to have your dog bite someone or another dog and be deemed vicious and taken from you and possibly even euthanized. A little embarrassment over what other people think is infinitely better than that!
Also, if you have a fearful or reactive dog, you probably already know that sometimes people will approach your dog to try to pet him or bring their dog in to meet him, even though you have already advised them that your dog is uncomfortable with strange people (and/or dogs) approaching. Some people believe that they just “have a way with dogs” or that their dog just loves other dogs so much that your dog will automatically love your dog back and they will just be BFFs! You cannot always control what other people do but you can always control what you and your dog do. If you put a muzzle on your dog, you will see a quite different response from people and they will be much less likely to run up and try to pet him or bring their dog in to meet him! This misconception about the use of a muzzle is helpful in that way so welcome it!
Also, think about this … keeping your dog closed up all the time and never taking him anywhere because of his fear aggression or skittishness with people or other dogs will actually perpetuate his lack of socialization skills. Trying to control him in a public setting is stressful and remember your stress is contagious to your dog. I am always telling clients “whatever you are feeling travels from your brain, down your arm, down the leash and straight to your dog.”
That being said, if you are going to walk your dog, or allow someone else to walk your dog, on muzzle, BE SURE that you are equipped with animal use formulated repellant spray or some other type of non-lethal protection to protect yourself and your dog. Recently, someone I know posted a story about a dog in her care who was required to be muzzled all the time after being deemed vicious and was attacked while out on a walk, in muzzle, by two dogs who were running loose. The human and the dog were injured because the human did not have protection with him.
Begin my desensitizing your dog to the muzzle. One way to do this is to cover the end so that you can actually feed your dog in the muzzle BEFORE you ever put it on your dog. If your dog is too leery of the muzzle for this, then you will need to back up, slow down and use much slower desensitization method!
If you need help teaching your dog to accept and even like his muzzle; picking the right muzzle for your dog; or, you and your dog need training, please contact us at See Spot Sit! We are here to help!