If He Has To Wear A Muzzle, Make Sure He Can Breathe!

dog muzzle awareness

Given the massive response so far we have received from the poster, which is part of our Essential Dog Trainers Resource Guide

Poster Resource Pack

The most important message, to pass on when muzzling your dog, is that of safety. We have put together this resource which is a one-stop-shop to help you spread the right message to clients, vets, groomer’s, groups etc… Hopefully, helping you free up time for more enjoyable tasks with your clients 🙂

Which product is the best for my dog:

Firstly, it is a huge tool and should be incorporated into the early stages of your training with your young dog and is part of the habituation schedule in the Essential Guide: Essential Poster Pack For Animal Professionals

Why is it important for him to have a positive association with a muzzle (anyway)?
  • Because it wont be a shock if he ever has to wear one
  • If you want to travel with your dog, he might be legally required to wear on
  • The vet might wish to muzzle him for certain procedures
  • He might eat horrid things that could harm him

Please note: Never muzzle your dog because he has a barking problem. This should be dealt with using a totally different protocol. This is especially the case as a lot of barking happens when the owner is not there so it could probably be a sign of separation distress.

Please see: 7 Day Separation Prevention Survival Guide

There are many reasons a dog would wear a muzzle, not just aggression. It can look quite intimidating to see a basket type muzzle on a dogs face. It is probably for this reason that the “Baskerville Ultra” also comes in pink. If your dog has taken to eating unwanted items on a walk, it might be that you have to use a muzzle to keep him safe. This poster really does apply to you too. If you are going to use this type of device it should be done so with the following caveat:

  1. He is never left unsupervised or out of site with it on (if he vomited into a muzzle without you realising he could choke on his own vomit)
  2. You use positive training techniques to INCREASE his repertoire of behaviours and differentially reinforce more desirable behaviours.
  3. Remember, stopping behaviour is not increasing his repertoire, we want to be mindful of what we want him to do INSTEAD of the unwanted behaviour.
This is in the resource pack:

Whate (2)

We do not recommend just sticking a muzzle on him without acclimatising him to wearing it (using positive associations- see video below). Secondly, setting him up with an appropriate training/behaviour schedule to help reduce the need for the muzzle.

We would like to remind you that we recommend people to work with a professional positive reinforcement trainer, who understands how to use applied behaviour techniques which are lasting & ethical. The focus should be on enhancing your learning & progress.

The worst thing you could do with a dog that runs and eats horrid things (or charges at people, dogs, objects etc) is to run at him and/or tell him off.. This action may act as an establishing operation for the behaviour to become more “sought after” or “salient”. It could also act to make him run and hide with his contraband! This is not a good idea and could be very dangerous!

Shouting at him may also scare him which is not useful and he may even try to gobble it all down before you get there (or if he is charging at things to make them go away, telling him off is punishing fear based behaviour and should NOT under any circumstances be punished). We always say, people are either part of the problem or they are part of the solution!

This is part of the resource pack and show you how you might condition fear

conditioning fear with prong

This shows you how you might change the conditioning process to something that is potentially fearful

changing behaviour cc cer

The occlusion and basket. The occlusion type muzzles are often mis-marketed as training muzzles- they are not training muzzles. This is very misleading, because people assume that they can walk Fido wearing one. These nylon occlusion muzzles mean that he cannot pant, drink and restrict him from opening his mouth. The Nylon fabric (even the mesh ones) is not conducive to respiration and they are dangerous. This alone can cause unnecessary stress and this will exasperate any problems in addition to him not being able to appropriately respire!!! Please do not exercise your dog in a nylon muzzle of any description.

This is the Mikki training muzzle:

The sell on this is that they can pant, drink and receive treats, it is nylon. Personally, this muzzle is absolutely great for grooming salons, short term use at a vets, or an emergency situation. We would NOT, despite this marketing, recommend this for walking your dog. It is an occlusion muzzle. This product is great, but the purpose is not for exercising your dog. It is dangerous for that purpose but great for short term use. It really should come with a warning about this:

Nobby Muzzle:

This is an occlusion muzzle. It comes with an advisory. This is great, because it is not misleading buyers. It states specifically that it does not allow a dog to pant, drink etc and even gives a recommended time to leave the muzzle on for. This seems to be a good muzzle for vets, groomers etc and a bit of honesty means they are not trying to mislead their buyers.

The traditional Baskerville muzzle:

We personally found it VERY difficult to get treats through (you want treats when you are positive reinforcement training and even acclimatising a dog to wearing a muzzle- explained below), it is cheap and it has the added benefit that it will fit a slim/shorter nosed dog, such as a Cocker Spaniel. These are still widely used, they must not be too tight and they can get sticks and things wedged in them so it is very important to NEVER leave your dog unsupervised when wearing one of these, plus, if your dog vomits into the muzzle, he could very quickly choke:

The Baskerville Ultra:

This is by far THE best muzzle on the market. It is easy to get treats through, it has a head attachment so it can go through the collar and it seems to fit comfortably on their faces. This is slightly more expensive, but well worth the spend. They need to bring out a different range o fit smaller dogs with slimmer faces. They do not fit Cocker Spaniels or small breeds. They are great for dogs with wider faces. Really nice soft durable material. Seem comfortable to wear too!

Basket Muzzle Dean & Tyler:

This is the best quality muzzle that we have ever used. You certainly get what you pay for, it has several fastening points, a secure, safe fit, it can fit smaller nosed dogs, they can drink, pant & get treats through it and it sits comfortably on their noses:

The poster on the featured image is part of The Essential Dog Trainers Resource Guide, this is part of a poster pack with training schedules, resources, sheets, protocols, habituation schedules, critical periods, socialisation charts, ladder of aggression, learn that you return (separation anxiety protocols) and now the muzzle awareness poster. All of the resources are available in PDF, JPG & PNG. Please note: Purchase means that you will get all the additional posters as we are adding to this all of the time. These resources are fully share-able among your clients, vets, groomers, shops etc. You get a certificate to show you have the course and that you are allowed to disseminate through your practice.

They are fully downloadable from: Poster Resource Pack

Some Of The Posters (and colouring book/word quiz for kids) Featured In The Pack

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Click To Calm:

This is a great resource for people interested in using positive methods to work with any dog. Particularly those showing signs of aggression:

Useful article by Nan Arthur on Muzzles, why we need to condition a dog to wearing one, how to condition it and get a proper fit etc: Clicker Training

Finally, a short, but detailed video of Chirag Patel, showing you how to acclimatise any dog to like wearing a muzzle. This is a really nice step-by-step guide, great for sharing with clients and good if your dog has had a previously bad experience with a muzzle. Enjoy! Video

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positive reinforcement training in dogs

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