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.

Chirag

www.domesticatedmanners.com

cpatel@domesticatedmanners.com

Comments

interesting take on muzzles - you make some valid points,  so much as a veterinary nurse I did not even consider such as the old "rubbish eaters" that often come into the clinic. Great point, I like it - i might use that as an encouragement to educate owners about muzzles.

I also like your idea of encouraging all dogs to accept a muzzle. Again coming from a clinic situation, I find it difficult at times when people expect me to put my body on the line when handling their dogs, believing it is MY FAULT if their dog aggresses, I obviously must have handled the dog incorrectly, when the reality is it is only my skill as a handler that has prevented anything serious happening in the end. We have had clients tell us they changed vets because the old vet wanted the dog muzzled. Or the dog owner that wants to hold their animal because they feel they will be better at comforting the dog, I accept that, you most likley are but it is usually that same owner that jumps in horror and lets their dog go, enabling a serious bite to happen.

The nurse is trained to handle your animal so not to hurt it or anyone else for that matter, they can read your dogs signals probably better than you can because they do this every day. They know when a dog is stressed and likley to lash out to defend itself -  Going to a vet clinic is stressful, we do nasty things that encroach on a dogs comfort zone and space, it has to be done, so if your vet asks to muzzle your dog, in the interests of everyones safety and stress levels (including the dog) - don't take offence, accept with the knowledge, the vet only has your dog best interest at heart.

Believe me, I understand the emotion of muzzling a dog. I have an anxious Rottweiler that is genuinally frightened of other dogs (having been attacked a number of times while on lead). His method of dealing with it is to act all big & tough to try scare away what is scaring him. Most people just assume because he is a rottweiler, nothing should scare him and he is just an agressive dog. sad as it is, I know putting a muzzle on him labels him as "aggressive' but it is for his sake and everyone elses I do it.

The good thing is people NOW listen to me when I ask they take their dog away, although for the wrong reasons, but if it makes my dog less stressed because the things that are scaring him stay away, then I am all for it.

great post

I always muzzle my fear aggressive collieX when out and about. It doesn't just protect the public (in fact he's never bitten off our property). It reduces the chance of a pts order if he frightens someone, and just as importantly it protects him from people. If you tell someone your dog is nervous, they want to approach it and pet it and reassure it. If your dog is muzzled, it is much easier to get people, their kids and their dogs to stay at a distance - helping me to desensitise him to the things he is afraid of.

I was glad to see that your video featured a basket muzzle. Here in the states most owners don't know about basket muzzles. They've only seen fabric muzzles at the groomer or vet, and in the stores. The result is that they choose a fabric muzzle when it's not appropriate, such as for problems on walks. I've even seen "trainers" use fabric muzzles in this manner. The problem is, of course, that the dog cannot pant in a fabric muzzle, and thus can easily become overheated. Trainers should encourage local independent pet supply stores to stock both types, and offer information to the staff on the importance of asking customers their plans so they can steer them to the correct muzzle type. Training a dog to easily accept a muzzle can make vet visits much less stressful for everyone involved.

Margarat Nee - The Art of Dog - http://theartofdog.com

Hi

Very good point. I would recommend the basket muzzles as shown in the video in most cases especially if your dog is going to be muzzled for any period of time. 

We have to remember (even more important when its warm), dogs don't sweat like we do, they use panting as a way of losing body heat. If they have one of those nylon muzzles on for a period of time when it is hot or they have been exercising, it will effect how effectively they can lose body heat which can lead to serious problems. 

Chirag Patel

www.domesticatedmanners.com

cpatel@domesticatedmanners.com

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