Muzzles Blog to go along with the Vlog
Please watch my Vlog that goes along with this blog.
Muzzles can be an emotional piece of dog training/behaviour management equipment for many owners, trainers and animal behaviour professionals. However, I feel that the muzzle is a piece of equipment which is overlooked by many owners.
There are some dogs who will pick up and eat a lot of rubbish if allowed when outside on a walk. This then causes some of those dogs to become very ill, consequently some need to seek veterinary treatment and even maybe undergo an operation. For these dogs it would be a welfare concern if we knowingly carry on allowing them to eat so much rubbish, it is also unpractical for us to only walked them in “clean” areas. It would also be a welfare concern if we just did not walk the dogs to prevent them from having to seek veterinary care. In this situation a muzzle such as the one shown in this video can be of great use and actually provide the dog with a better quality of life.
For other dogs it could be that they do not get on with other dogs and people. This does not make them bad or evil dogs. For some of these dogs a safe training and behaviour modification program can be put into place to modify the dog's behaviour. However, while undertaken such program muzzles can again be very useful to ensure safety and provide the dog with greater freedom.
In my vlog, I demonstrate how a dog can be taught to like wearing a muzzle. You may ask, “can a dog, ever like wearing a muzzle?!” My answer to this would be yes, if taught in a certain way with some thought. We know that dogs can learn to make associations with things that shouldn't mean anything to them. For example, some dogs get excited when they hear the doorbell or others get excited when you pick up your keys. The reason this occurs is because the dogs have learnt to make an association/pairing two things together. They pair some think that may mean nothing to them such as keys which some think they really enjoy, like going for a walk or going in the car or the doorbell predicts people, maybe people that the dog knows and gets lots of rewards and fast from. Using the same principle, we can teach our dogs that a muzzle, (which if they have had no experience with) should be neutral and start to predicts their favourite things and activities. It's a bit like the "Friday feeling".
Another point that I think is worth making, is that teaching a dog or puppy to enjoy wearing a muzzle, should not be saved for dogs that have 'problems'. Any dog could become ill or have an injury that requires veterinary treatment, should the vet feel uncomfortable or unsafe examining your pet in this situation, they may ask that your dog is muzzled. If this is the first time your dog experience as a muzzle, they will most probably not enjoy the experience at all: as the muzzle will learn that the muzzle predicts a painful or uncomfortable veterinary exam. Also your pet may be stressed in this situation and then having to put on a muzzle that it has not had on before is likely to make your dog more stressed. If however, you had taught your dog or puppy that a muzzle is just like any other piece of equipment, such as a collar your dog would already be comfortable wearing it, if the situation ever arose where you needed it.
Please feel free, to post your comments below or ask questions/start a discussion.