Having your dog comfortable with wearing a muzzle is a very important skill for them to have. There is a stigma around muzzles, the dog must be ‘aggressive’ or ‘mean’, but that is simply not true. Muzzles are a safety tool that can be used in many different situations to not only keep humans safe, but the dog as well, no different than a leash!
At the veterinary clinic we are doing many things that would not normally be done to your dog on a daily basis. With this, patients also typically come to us in very painful state. Both of these situations can lead to aggression. Having your dog muzzle trained allows your pet to have one less stressor at the clinic while also keeping everyone safe. If your dog has never had a muzzle on before and we place one abruptly at the clinic, your dog could react negatively to it and this could make them averse to the veterinary hospital. This is why having your dog comfortable with having a muzzle placed and keeping one on could make their entire veterinary experience a positive one.
The muzzle shown in this picture is called a basket muzzle. It may look scary and most owners get an uneasy feeling knowing their dog must be muzzled, but it is important to understand that this does not mean you have a bad dog, especially if your dog is comfortable with the muzzle on, he will see it more as a familiar element. Basket muzzles allow a dog to eat and drink while still keeping them from biting. This muzzle is widely used at clinics because we are able to feed treats while they have it on! This will keep the experience positive for whatever procedure we are doing.
Muzzle training should be on your list for puppies but it is possible to train adult dogs as well! Even if your dog never has to wear a muzzle at least they will be exposed to it and will not be scared of it. The goal of muzzle training is to have your dog excited to see a muzzle because they know positive things will happen, like getting a high-value treat. Make a fun game out of it and it will help strengthen the bond between you and your dog. To learn more about which muzzle is right for your dog or how to muzzle train, visit: muzzleupproject.com or ask your veterinarian.