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Why should I muzzle my dog?

If you know your dog has aggressive tendencies, then it is irresponsible to risk the health of others by not taking suitable precautions. A muzzled dog will often be avoided by people and so muzzling may also help prevent your dog from being provoked to attack.

Aren't muzzles cruel?

Muzzles themselves are not cruel, but they may cause welfare problems if they are not used appropriately. If the guidelines below are followed, your pet will actually enjoy being muzzled. The most common errors are to only use a muzzle when something nasty is going to happen to your pet, e.g. when he is about to be injected, and secondly to expect him to instantly accept the muzzle.

What types of muzzle are there?

There are two common types of muzzle. The basket muzzle and the nylon muzzle. Both have their uses. The basket muzzle allows your dog more freedom to pant and drink if properly fitted, whilst the nylon muzzle lets you feed your dog small tidbits through the muzzle. However, the dog may still provide a small nip with this type of muzzle.

How do I train my dog to enjoy being muzzled?

1.It is important to find an effective and comfortable muzzle for your dog. This may take a bit of time but it is worth shopping around.

2.Your dog should not be muzzled initially in a conflict situation. 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.

3.Gradually expect more from your pet when you introduce the muzzle. Slip the muzzle on without fastening it and reward your dog when you take it off. Slowly increase the time you leave it on from a fraction of a second to a few seconds and no longer reward your pet every time. Only reward him the times when he remains particularly still.

4.Now that your dog accepts the muzzle as a good thing, especially if he is still, you can try fastening it. Again the length of time that it is left on needs to be increased gradually. The longer the time that the muzzle is left on the greater the reward should be when it comes off, particularly if your dog has made no effort to remove it. You should aim to work towards keeping your dog muzzled for about thirty minutes. When he accepts this, you can reward him with a walk or game.

5.Start muzzling your dog now before you go for short walks, but continue to avoid situations which might excite your dog. If you feel you must take the muzzle off for some of the time, do it when you start to head home and get your dog to keep to a close heal on the lead as long as the muzzle is removed. Always give him lots of praise when you take the muzzle off.

Once this routine has been established, your dog should be muzzled before you encounter known conflict or problem situations. Your pet should still be muzzled at other times so that it does not start to resent or predict these few necessary occasions.

You should never remove the muzzle when your pet is trying to remove it. He can be encouraged to leave it alone by a slight tug on a lead. When he relaxes, the muzzle can be removed and take note that you may have been expecting too much too soon. The important rule is to work at a rate that your pet can accept and cope with. This may mean that the whole program may take a few weeks rather than a few days.

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