A dog muzzle is often associated with aggressiveness, but is that truly the case? In the eyes of the public and pet owners, using dog muzzles can be very controversial. Pet owners usually get labeled as cruel if they allow the use of muzzles.
It is about time we set the record straight: dog muzzles can be disturbing when misused, but it can be very helpful if utilized the right way. A dog wearing a properly fitted muzzle is reassuring. It means that the pet owners are looking after the safety of their dogs and the public.
There are various reasons why a dog may be wearing a muzzle. For one, the dog may be recovering from a painful injury, and wearing a muzzle can lessen its tendencies of biting or licking wounds. Secondly, not all dogs are social beings, and wearing a muzzle can help them have calmer interactions. In some cities and states, the use of dog muzzles is required by the law regardless of the dog’s records or behavior.
If you’re still having doubts about using a dog muzzle, we listed for you the reasons why you should have a change of heart. Sometimes we fear what we don’t understand. Let’s explore the benefits of dog muzzles and why you should consider using it with your dog! Spoiler alert: it’s not because you’re cruel.
Table of Contents
1. When to Use a Dog Muzzle
- Emergencies. A dog who is hurt or frightened has tendencies to bite more. Getting your dog to treatment can be much easier for you and to anyone assisting your dog if you use muzzles. It can also protect everyone from dog bites and other accidents that may occur while handling a dog with erratic behaviors.
- High risk of biting. Muzzles can be a temporary tool to modify your dog’s behavior. If your dog has a history of being hostile to other dogs or biting a person, muzzles can lower the risk of it happening again. If you’re uncertain, a dog muzzle can give you peace of mind.
- Threatening situations. Your dog can be sensitive to particular conditions such as visiting the vet or going to the park. Dogs may bark and become more hostile if they feel threatened. A temporary solution for this is to use muzzles. However, note that this is not a long-term solution. You have to use behavior modification training to improve their stability.
- Grooming sessions. Not all dogs are a nail trimming or bathing sesh. Dogs may be averse to these activities if they’re not familiar with their groomer. Hence, using dog muzzles can simplify the process of checking your dog’s health and hygiene.
- Abiding the law. Some states have breed-specific legislation (BSL) that demands the use of muzzles to so-called “dangerous breeds” for public safety.
“Frightened or injured dogs are more likely to bite under stress, so muzzles are a handy thing to have in the event of an emergency. Some dogs, especially those with a history of biting, may be trained to wear a muzzle in certain situations, such as when visiting the vet or encountering new dogs,” Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT explains.
2. When Not to Use a Dog Muzzle
- When your dog is alone. Dog muzzles are for temporary use only. Use it if your dog is supervised; otherwise, it can be harmful to your dog’s state of mind.
- As a long-term behavior fix. There are many reasons why your dog is barking all the time or doing behaviors that may be stressful for you. Your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety, boredom, and territorial barking or is seeking attention. Behavioral problems like these require consistent training and behavior modification instead of using dog muzzles. Seek the help of a professional if necessary.
- Coercion. Don’t use dog muzzles to force your dogs to go to an environment that upsets them. You have to observe the reasons why they are behaving poorly and work to change it. Moreover, dogs may associate the muzzle with stress if you do this.
- Punishment. The same goes for punishment. Don’t use muzzles to punish your dogs. They may associate the muzzle with the harsh experiences, which elicits fear and anxiety. You can only use dog muzzles as a safety precaution and for training purposes, never to hurt your dog.
3. Benefits of a Dog Muzzle to Pet Owners
Dog muzzles can be very useful to pet owners. Cancel out all the stigma surrounding the use of dog muzzles, for its benefits outweigh its criticisms.
One of the most apparent benefits is the decline in dog biting incidents. With that, there are fewer troubles to face, such as lawsuits.
Public safety is critical, as well. You are responsible for your dogs and the consequences of their actions.
Dog muzzles also serve as a temporary tool for behavior modification. You can use it as a training tool to get your dogs familiar with situations and environments that may otherwise be uncomfortable for them. Trips to the vet, pet grooming, and public events may also be enjoyable for you and your dog.
Remember: you’re not a bad pet owner for wanting safety for your dog and the public. You are just a responsible pet owner and a dutiful citizen.
4. Getting Your Dog Comfortable with a Dog Muzzle
In teaching your dog to become more comfortable with a dog muzzle, you may use classical conditioning. It involves creating scenarios that can ingrain positive associations with the muzzle.
- Purchase a high-quality muzzle. The best dog muzzle allows your dogs to pant, breathe, eat, and drink. Giving them a comfortable experience is a must. Otherwise, you will have a hard time making them wear it. It also prevents stress-induced behaviors and overheating.
- Make sure the dog muzzle is perfectly suitable for your dog. There are various sizing charts available on the Internet. They can help you get the proper measurements and order the appropriate size. Some shops can custom-fit the muzzle to your dog.
- Familiarize your dogs with the muzzle. Use yummy treats if necessary to get their attention. Perform different tricks to get them excited with the sight of the muzzle.
- Put treats in the muzzle. Use high-value treats to get your dogs near the muzzle. However, don’t force your dogs. Allow them to come voluntarily.
- When your dogs put their nose in the muzzle voluntarily, increase the duration of getting their attention through feeding, pausing, and then feeding them again several times.
- Use the power of the straps. Try to get your dogs familiarized with wearing the muzzle by playing with the straps behind their back as if you’re preparing to buckle it.
- Condition your dogs to the sound of the snap. Accustom them to be comfortable to the snap if the muzzle does not use a buckle. This way, your dogs would not panic when you start to wear it around them.
- Try leaving the muzzle on your dogs for longer periods. Make sure to give your dog constant treats for positive conditioning. They can associate the muzzles to getting rewards through feeding them treats while wearing it.
- Reinforce the positive association. Play with your dog while teaching them to be more comfortable with the muzzle. That way, you shift their negative association with it to positive. You need patience in training your dog as they’re dealing with this new experience. Good luck!
According to Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB and co-author, “The first time you muzzle your dog should not be in a conflict or fearful situation. Instead, it should be introduced to your dog in a slow, progressive manner while the dog is calm. Show your dog the muzzle, let him sniff to investigate it and give him a treat before putting the muzzle away. Repeat this procedure several times. This starts to build a positive association with the muzzle.”
Different Types of Dog Muzzle
To ensure that your dogs will have an incredible experience with their muzzles, you have to get the right style and fit.
There are two main types of muzzles: basket and soft. You can also make your homemade muzzle if an emergency arises.
Basket muzzle is the best type to minimize anxiety and fear. As its name implies, it looks like a basket strapped to your dog’s nose and mouth. It can be made of leather, wire, plastic, or even rubber. It may seem very uncomfortable, but fear not: basket muzzles don’t keep your dog’s mouth close, which is comfortable for them. You can also slip treats through the slits along the slide for training purposes.
The soft muzzle should only be used for a short period because it’s less comfortable than the basket type. It doesn’t allow dogs to pant comfortably, which is the way dogs disperse heat. It also gives dogs a hard time barking, drinking, or eating.
DIY Dog Muzzle
If there is an emergency where you have to get your dog in a muzzle, you can make muzzle from the items you possess. You can use a roll of gauze, a pair of pantyhose, or even your dog’s leash. However, this is the least recommended type of muzzle. Please take note that it should only be used for a short time.
Top 5 Best Dog Muzzles
Looking for a quality dog muzzle? We got you covered!
Baskerville Ultra Muzzle
Known for security and comfort, the Baskerville Ultra Muzzle is one of the best dog muzzles. You can heat the rubber material and mold it better to suit the contour of your dog’s face. Although they look abrasive than other dog muzzles, they’re comfortable as long as they’re the correct fit for your dogs.
Pros: It makes eating, drinking, or panting much easier for your dogs; comes in six different sizes; and serves well for most breeds. Also, it is attachable to the collar to stop sliding and rubbing.
Cons: Larger dogs may be able to break it, particularly dogs with very long noses.
GoodBoy Gentle Muzzle Guard for Dogs
GoodBoy Gentle Muzzle Guard for Dogs secures you against biting but not at the expense of your dog’s comfort. The neoprene padding eliminates chafing and guarantees long-lasting comfort for your dog. You will be safe from unwanted biting and chewing as well.
Pros: Your dog will be able to eat, drink, and pant normally. The snout portion and the collar are highly flexible and stylish. Also, the collar connection strap is secure so that muzzle won’t come off.
Cons: Dogs can get out of it quickly, and they can still bite with their front teeth.
Downtown Pet Supply Quick Fit Muzzle
Downtown Pet Supply Quick Fit Muzzle is a soft dog muzzle made of nylon or mesh. They fit securely around the dog’s mouth and nose. It comes in a broad range of sizes to accommodate dogs of all breeds and sizes. It enables dogs to eat, drink, or breathe appropriately while preventing biting and chewing.
Pros: It is available in nine sizes, inexpensive to purchase, waterproof, and easy to put on. Its soft material prevents the dog from hurting, and stretchable straps are available for a suitable fitting.
Cons: Adjusting straps and buckles can be difficult. The sizing runs a little large and is not sketched for protection.
Ewinever Breathable Safety Muzzle
For small dogs and puppies, the Ewinever Breathable Safety Muzzle is a great choice. It prevents them from biting, chewing, or barking. This muzzle is nylon, which guarantees comfort and breathability.
Pros: It does not restrict your dog’s ability to eat, drink, or breathe, and it is specially designed for small dogs and puppies. The nylon straps are adjustable and inexpensive to purchase.
Cons: It is not for long-term wear, not designed for larger breeds, and not intended for protection.
Trixie Muzzle Loop
The Trixie Muzzle Loop is a comfortable nylon muzzle with a loop design for large and medium breeds. It is exceptionally comfortable while being functional and sturdy. There is extra soft padding along the muzzle, and it can endure rough damage and tear.
Pros: It has extra support padding, does not restrict dogs’ motion, is inexpensive to purchase, has three adjustable sizes, and works well for medium and large dogs.
Cons: It’s easy for the dog to remove and too wobbly around the snout, depending on the dog’s breed.
“A muzzle can be a useful tool in situations where, based on all the behavior-modification work you’ve been doing, you’re 99.9 percent sure it’s going to go okay, but you’d like a little extra insurance,” Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA points out.
The stigma surrounding the use of dog muzzles shouldn’t stop you from prioritizing the welfare of your dogs, yourself, and others. All you need to do is use it correctly and educate yourself.
For more knowledge about creating a nurturing environment for your dogs and animals, read more articles by The Furry Companion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it cruel to muzzle a dog?
It can be cruel to do so, depending on how the muzzle is used. It is considered cruel when the dog is ill-fitting and prevents the dog from panting. Otherwise, when the muzzle to eat, drink, and pant, and more importantly, the dog is adjusted to it, then it is not cruel to muzzle the dog.
Are muzzles good for dogs?
If used correctly, muzzles are beneficial for dogs. A muzzle prevents your dog from biting, especially during stressful situations. A muzzle is intended to keep your dog from biting and not from barking, eating, nor chewing.
How long can a dog wear a muzzle?
An excellent fitting muzzle is comfortable to wear for around 30 to 45 minutes. If it is a tight muzzle that keeps your dog’s mouth closed, your furry friend can only last for 15 minutes with a muzzle. Anything beyond that will cause them discomfort.
What is the best type of dog muzzle?
Dog owners consider Baskerville Rubber Ultra Muzzle as the overall best dog muzzle. This muzzle is a basket muzzle and allows room for the dog to breathe and open his mouth. It can fit your dog perfectly without compromising the function. Its material is high-quality rubber and has six available sizes.
Do muzzles make dogs more aggressive?
It is possible for muzzles to make dogs more aggressive, primarily if used wrong. However, through proper introduction and training to wear a muzzle, a dog can adapt well to wearing one. It will just take some patience and time.
Can my dog wear a muzzle all day?
The length of wear depends on the type of muzzle and the dog. But dogs are not supposed to wear muzzles for an extended period. An occlusion muzzle should not be kept on for longer than 15 minutes since it prevents the dog from opening his mouth and so it restricts him from drinking and panting.
Can dogs drink water with a muzzle on?
A plastic basket muzzle allows a dog to pant and to drink even while wearing the muzzle. A dog can also receive treats while training with this type of muzzle. This is one of the best types of muzzles for a dog to wear.
Can you keep a muzzle on a dog overnight?
Muzzles should not be worn overnight. Muzzles are only supposed for short-term use, and the dog wearing should always be under supervision. Otherwise, muzzles should not be kept on.
Are muzzles traumatic for dogs?