Contrary to popular belief, muzzles aren’t only used for aggressive dogs. Although they are more commonly used to rehabilitate dogs with a problem behavior, muzzles can also be used to benefit well-balanced dogs too.
Whatever your reason for using a muzzle, they must always be used for a short time only, so they don’t cause your dog any discomfort. Read on to find out more about the use of muzzles and how long they can be worn for.
Why should some dogs wear a muzzle?
The most obvious reason for a dog to be wearing a muzzle is that they have a tendency to be aggressive. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is aggressive, they are more likely to be nervous and unpredictable. Rehabilitation of aggressive behaviors doesn’t happen overnight, so a muzzle can be a useful tool as dogs and their owners go through the process.
As well as helping the dog, muzzles can also help owners to feel more relaxed knowing their dog can’t snap or bite. If you are able to maintain a calm, assertive energy around your dog, this will cause your dog to be less nervous and more confident that you won’t lead them into any ‘bad’ situations. Your pup will then be happier, less nervous, and less likely to show aggressive behavior.
As mentioned above, muzzles aren’t always used on aggressive dogs. One example of using a muzzle on a balanced dog is as a cone replacement. Muzzles are another effective way of stopping dogs from licking or nibbling at an irritated area without the problems of moving around and blocking their field of vision that cones cause.
Similarly, if a dog is prone to chew things, particularly as a reaction to separation anxiety, muzzles are a great way to prevent a dog from swallowing things they shouldn’t and destroying the owner’s home while they are out. There are muzzles available that still allow dogs to eat and drink while prohibiting biting behaviors. Keep in mind that muzzles should only be worn for a short period of time, so they shouldn’t be used as a permanent solution to this problem.
Concerns about putting a muzzle on a dog
The first concern when putting a muzzle on a dog lies in the quality and material of the muzzle. When training an aggressive dog, a cloth muzzle like you might find at the vets or groomers aren’t effective as dogs can still bite through the fabric. They also reduce a dog’s ability to pant, so they can only be used for short periods of time and under your supervision.
It is important to find a muzzle that still allows your dog to breathe properly but is made of strong materials to prohibit aggressive behavior. If you have a dog with a short snout, such as a pug or a Frenchie, normal muzzles don’t fit properly on them, so you will have to find a muzzle made specifically for them. An example of a good short-snout muzzle is this one here.
It is also important to make sure the muzzle is used as a calming tool and isn’t contributing to your dog’s nervous energy. A common problem nervous or aggressive dogs face during rehabilitation is the nervous energy that people often exhibit around them. It’s also common for specific breeds to receive this reaction, even if they don’t show aggressive behavior.
The negative energy that other people give off around a nervous dog can trigger aggressive behavior If you find that this is the case for your dog, using a less ‘serious’-looking muzzle can help to alleviate some of the problems. Cesar Millan’s Funny Muzzle is a great example of this as it helps people to relax around your dog, reducing the nervous energy and therefore the chance of your dog showing aggressive behavior.
How long can a dog wear a muzzle?
Overall, how long a dog can wear a muzzle for depends on each unique situation. The type of muzzle being used largely dictates how long it can be worn for. Plastic basket muzzles enable a dog to pant, breathe and drink easily, so they can be worn for extended periods. A mesh muzzle doesn’t allow these behaviors and should only be worn for short amounts of time, such as while at the vets or groomers.
It is important to be aware of your dog at all times and notice when they begin getting agitated or start overheating due to the muzzle. If they show any discomfort, you should remove the muzzle immediately. If you have trained your dog from a young age to wear a muzzle they are more likely to be content wearing it for longer periods of time.
On the other hand, if wearing a muzzle is a new experience for your dog, they will probably only put up with wearing it for a very short amount of time, and you might need to give them some encouragement to train them to wear it for a longer duration.
A great muzzle for general use is a plastic basket muzzle, like this one. It allows your dog to feel comfortable and be able to pant and drink while giving you the peace of mind that they cannot harm other dogs or people if they pick up on nervous energy. Always consider which muzzle is best for your dog’s needs and monitor their behavior whilst wearing it.
Muzzles should be used as a positive aid to promote balanced behavior, so remember it is your responsibility to show your dog that wearing a muzzle isn’t a punishment for them by always remaining calm and assertive. If you can accomplish this, your dog will be comfortable with wearing a muzzle whenever you think it’s necessary.
For more on caring for your dog, see these articles:
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