No matter how obedient and friendly your dog is, a muzzle is a must in certain scenarios. Wearing one during daily walks or not is up to you. However, you will most likely not be allowed into public transport without this accessory. And the size of the dog does not matter to the driver. They can prohibit travel with both a German Shepherd and a Dachshund.
But before answering the question of how to teach your dog to wear a muzzle, we need to talk a bit about styles.
How to choose the right muzzle
Muzzles are divided into several types depending on their application. If you are going to make your dog wear a muzzle in the summer for regular walks, then you need to choose a fairly loose model, for example, a wire “basket”. In this type of muzzle, the dog will be able to open its mouth and stick out its tongue to cool itself.
The dog does not have a large number of sweat glands (only on the paw pads and nose), and breathing through its mouth contributes a lot to thermoregulation. If the dog’s mouth is tightly pulled together, then it will not have the opportunity to cool himself, which can lead to a heat stroke and even death.
Muzzles are not only used to protect the surrounding people and animals but also yourself. Often, when providing first aid or other unpleasant manipulations, a pet may involuntarily bite you. In addition, a muzzle is necessary during a trip to the vet. In these cases, when a short-term fixation of the mouth is required, a fabric model is perfect. It does not allow the animal to open its mouth and stick out its tongue.
It is recommended that you purchase such dog equipment with your dog present. That way you can try out whether it fits your dog. If you buy a free model, then it, accordingly, should sit freely on your dog’s mouth without rubbing its nose.
Also, if you buy a muzzle for a growing puppy, you should expect that as the puppy grows, you will need to buy new, larger ones.
Teaching your dog to wear a muzzle step-by-step
First of all, let’s figure out what age is the best to start training. Usually, the best age to train your puppy to wear a muzzle is 5 – 6 months old. If you missed this period, no worries! The training scheme is still the same for both puppies and adult dogs. You might just have to put a little more effort into training an adult dog.
In the first stage of training, you just need to show your pet the muzzle and let the pet sniff it. Let the dog calmly get acquainted with the thing and understand that it is no threat. At the same time, do not allow your pet to bite, scratch, or chew the muzzle. After your pet calmly sniffs it, praise him.
Now show the dog a piece of treat and put it in the muzzle so that the dog has to stick his nose all the way in to get it. At this stage, do not fasten the muzzle. The pet should be able to take his nose out freely after getting the treat (otherwise you might frighten your pet). Repeat this exercise several times until your dog is fully accustomed to the new equipment and can stay in it for a couple of seconds.
Next, proceed the same way as in step 2, except that this time you do not give the treat to your dog right away. Wait 2 – 3 seconds before releasing the treat to your dog. Repeat this exercise multiple times, gradually increasing the time between treats. If the dog remains in the muzzle after receiving food be sure to encourage and reward this behavior.
When your dog learns to stay in the muzzle for up to 10 seconds, you can begin to fasten the straps. Praise and treat your dog for being calm.
In order for your pet to form a positive attitude towards the muzzle, put it on for a short time before feeding or going for a walk. If you see that he is trying to take off the thing, distract him with a game or just call him for a run. When he behaves calmly, actively praise and give him treats. Do not take the muzzle off when the dog is trying to remove it himself.
Now that you know how to teach a dog to wear a muzzle, all you need is to have patience and understanding. Think about how you yourself would react if someone tried to put such a thing on you.
Common mistakes during this training
- Transitioning to the next step before the dog is comfortable with the current step;
- Removing the muzzle while the dog is actively trying to do so on his own;
- Putting the muzzle on immediately before unpleasant procedures. In this case, the pet will associate it with something unpleasant;
- Not using the appropriate type of muzzle.