John the Lurcher happily wearing his muzzle. Photo by Paula Slyusarenko

The world of dog training and behaviour has come so far in recent years, yet some valuable pieces of equipment still have such a negative image, I am referring to the basket muzzle. In my opinion every dog should be trained to be comfortable wearing a muzzle because you never know when one might be needed.

Years ago, before I was qualified and I knew nothing, I had a German Shepherd called Jake. He was very clever and very cheeky, I took him training every week and he knew how to do loads of things so why would he need to be muzzle trained, oh my goodness what a mistake that was. Jake started to get ear infections which meant frequent visits to the vets, can you see where this story is going! So during one visit the vet asked for Jake to be muzzled, no problem I thought as he was so obedient – I could not have been more wrong if I tried. I didn’t take in to consideration the strange environment, strange man and pain. Jake decided that he really didn’t want to wear a muzzle and wrestling on the floor with the vet was actually quite a good game, to say it was stressful for me is an understatement I never wanted put myself or Jake through that again so the muzzle training began.

Here is a link to a video by Chirag Patel on how to muzzle train a dog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FABgZTFvHo

So lets have a look at some muzzle myths shall we.

Muzzle Myth 1.

Only dogs with a bite history wear muzzles.

Dogs wear muzzles for numerous reasons. They may have a bite history, so the dog wearing a muzzle means they have a responsible owner. The dog may be scared of other dogs or children or just wary of people and has a tendency to react. In this case if the dog is wearing a muzzle it keeps everybody safe and the person walking the dog is less stressed and this relays to the dog. The dog may have a history of chasing other animals or birds and wearing a muzzle means they can go off lead and everything is safe, this does not mean that you don’t have to work on a solid recall though. The dog may have a habit of eating things off of the floor, a muzzle will stop them doing this while teaching a dog to leave food is worked on. Lets not forget the exempted dogs who by law have to wear a muzzle and be on a lead and these dogs may not have any behavioural issues at all.

Muzzle Myth 2.

My dog is friendly so why would I need a muzzle.

Although your dog may be friendly most of the time if they are in pain things can change. I know if I am in pain I get really grumpy, just ask my husband, but I can communicate where the pain is which a dog cant, so they may protect themselves the only way they know how so a muzzled dog can get treatment and everyone is safe.

Muzzle Myth 3.

A dog cant breathe properly or drink with a muzzle on.

This is true with certain styles of muzzles, but I would never recommend these muzzles. A basket muzzle such as a Baskerville muzzle or a Baskerville Ultra are great. The dog can drink, breathe and still take treats while wearing them.

So hopefully that is a few muzzle myths busted.

So lets join together and get rid of the stigma that muzzles have, don’t be worried what other people think if your dog is muzzled these people don’t share your home (hopefully) but your dog does so lets encourage people to train their dogs to be comfortable wearing a muzzle even if they never need it.

By Sue Lefevre G.Dip ABM, MICB, CAB ICAN

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