Muzzles aren’t scary! Muzzles show that you are a responsible owner that is protecting their dog, and others, from harm. Many dogs have some issues, are reactive and are uncomfortable with other dogs OR people getting in their space. While we are working on training and behavior modification we want to make sure our dogs are safe. Taking the time to muzzle train your dog is very important so the muzzle is not something to fear, but something that means good things happen.
It’s very important to get the right muzzle…and you take the time to desensitize it properly! I prefer the basket muzzles, because you have space to feed treats, your dog can drink and slightly open his mouth to pant. First you start by putting really yummy high value food rewards in the muzzle, hold it open in your hand, and let your dog eat the food out of it. Do this multiple times a day. Next add a cue word when your dog willingly puts his face in the muzzle. Just saying “muzzle” is fine.
Now, offer the muzzle, and say the word, “muzzle”. Your dog should stick his face in; now feed him treats through the muzzle while telling him he is awesome! The muzzle means food happens! Again, practice this new step.
Once your dog is comfortable in the muzzle for a longer period of time, repeat the above and then attach the snap behind his head and give him a treat, then immediately take the muzzle off.
Start increasing the time that he is in the muzzle, feeding him every couple seconds he has the muzzle on.
Now that your dog can wear the muzzle comfortably for a few minutes, ask him to walk in it, or do a basic command while treating through the muzzle. Take these steps slow and only ask for one command at first, then build on.
If at any point he starts to paw at the muzzle or back away, go back to the previous step that he was comfortable at. We want the muzzle to always be positive, so that the dog associates wearing it with relaxation.
For brachycephalic breeds (short muzzled) you need to get a muzzle specifically made for that breed. These can be found on line or custom made.
Only good things should happen when the dog wears his muzzle!