In the contest of who dislikes the thought of putting a muzzle on my dog, I’d come in a close second to the dog who has to wear it. That is unless I think about the alternatives to not wearing one. A muzzle is not an excuse to put a dog into situations in which they’re inclined to bite a person or another dog, but should it occur, the muzzle will help minimize damage.
I have been getting both Sunny and I used to having him wear a muzzle. We will be spending time visiting family this summer and though in the past we have rarely run into people during our daily walks, the more often we do it, the more likely it is that we will. I decided that I’d feel less stress if he was wearing a muzzle. A big step for me was to replace the image of ‘Hannibal Lecter’ with ‘hockey player’ when I looked at him.
The Baskerville Ultra Muzzle has large spaces in the grid of the muzzle which make it easy to feed your dog treats. One problem that I ran into with it is that the holes in the strap are not easy to locate and require a bit of extra fussing when fastening it on. I attempted to remedy this with a pair of vice grips and a hot nail, poking a number of easier to find holes in the strap. It’s not a perfect solution but I think the more I use the ‘right’ hole the easier it will be to find it. I tried the additional head strap which snaps onto the top of the muzzle and reaches over his head to clip on his collar. Maybe I didn’t snug it up tight enough but as the collar slid around his neck it took the strap with it.
So far any of his attempts to remove the muzzle have failed. This is important. If a dog successfully gets the muzzle off they are more likely to continue to try in the future. I am also coming up with sequences of putting the muzzle on and taking it off that I hope will effect how Sunny ‘feels’ about it. Immediately after the muzzle goes on either the door opens and he can run in the unfenced area outside the house, or his leash comes off. The muzzle predicts good things. I take the muzzle off and bring him inside or put him back on leash. Neither of those outcomes is horrible, but being outside and off leash is better.
This is by far my favorite and the most inspiring training video I’ve seen on teaching dogs to wear a muzzle.
This recent post on the Notes From A Dog Walker blog shows how you can turn your muzzle into a treat dispenser.