Dog Muzzles: What You Need to Know for Correct Use

The muzzle, a very useful preventative tool when used right. The media sadly contributed to the bad reputation of the muzzle, and instead of seeing it as a common and useful training tool, it’s often seen as a way to control dangerous and aggressive dogs. Due to the misconceptions that people have about muzzles, they don’t get used as often, even though many pets and owners could benefit from them. 

What is a muzzle?

The muzzle is a piece of equipment that covers the snout of the dog. It can be used for a range of behavior issues which involve the dog’s mouth. One of the biggest misconceptions around the muzzle is that they are only used to prevent dogs from biting. A muzzle can also be a great tool for dogs that eat unwanted objects off the floor during walks. By wearing a muzzle, you can prevent your dog from eating dangerous or toxic objects, or other unwanted objects, like feces from animals or humans. The muzzle is a great tool to not only keep the community and other animals safe, but also to keep your own dog safe.

Types of muzzles

For dogs, there are 2 main types of muzzles. The basket muzzle, and the nylon muzzle. A basket muzzle can come in different materials, like plastic, leather, or wire. This type of muzzle will give your pet the most freedom. When properly fitted, the dog will be able to drink and pant. The nylon muzzle on the other hand, will keep the mouth of the dog closed, which means they are unable to pant and drink. There are variations of the nylon muzzle where the front will be covered in mesh, leaving more room for a looser fit and hence more opportunity to pant. In the picture below you can see our fur client Max wearing his basket muzzle.

Basket Muzzle
Our fur client Max wearing his basket muzzle.

Which muzzle to use?

As basket type muzzles allow breathing and drinking, they are most suitable for everyday use, like on dog walks. Because the dog is able to drink and pant with this type of muzzle, it also reduces muzzle related stress. Nylon type muzzles are generally used for short periods of time, like when certain treatments must be done at the vet or groomer. In the picture below, you can see the nylon type muzzle. The wearing of both muzzles needs to be trained through positive reinforcement.

Nylon Muzzle

Make sure you get the right size and fit for your dog. Besides different sizes, they are also available in different widths. Each brand of muzzle will come with a guideline for sizing. If you are unsure, ask a professional to help pick the right fit for your dog. 

Dangers of a muzzle

When using a muzzle, there are certain things you need to keep in mind. Always make sure you use the right fit. A wrong fitted muzzle can be uncomfortable for your dog, and risks slipping off.

With the nylon muzzle, the risk of overheating increases, as they restrict panting and drinking. As a basket muzzle allows for panting, and the dog usually can open their mouth almost fully, the chance of overheating is way smaller than with the nylon muzzle.

Another risk of the nylon muzzle is that a dog will be unable to vomit. If you notice your dog needs to vomit, the muzzle must be removed immediately. Failing to do so might lead to choking.

A muzzle should always be used under supervision. Never muzzle a dog that has difficulty breathing or has an increased risk of vomiting. 

How to use the muzzle

Wearing a muzzle needs to be trained, step by step, and in a positive way, using positive reinforcement. Even if your dog doesn’t “need” one, it’s always useful to train your dog to be comfortable about wearing one. This might come in handy one day if you’re at the vet and your dog is in pain, as an animal in pain can react unpredictably. If you are unsure how to correctly train the use of a muzzle, consult with a professional. 

A common mistake people make is using a muzzle without training. For example, they have a nervous dog and unexpectedly kids are coming over. To keep everyone safe, they decide to muzzle the dog. This is not the right way to use a muzzle. Besides that, the dog most likely will start resenting wearing a muzzle as it’s only used in scary/annoying/stressful situations, they will also still be nervous around the kids. It’s important to realize that the muzzle does not solve the underlying reason your dog is showing unwanted behavior, it’s a tool to keep your dog, and others, safe from injury while you are either actively working on resolving the underlying issue, or are actively keeping your dog safe and out of situations they are uncomfortable in. 

Did you know?

That some countries have specific rules about certain breeds that need to be muzzled by law? Make sure that you are always aware of laws regarding muzzles, especially if you travel with your dog.

The dog muzzle

A useful tool when used right. Hopefully, through this article, we have dispelled some of the myths around the dog muzzle and opened up more people to the idea of using a muzzle when their dog needs it for safety reasons. If you have a dog that uses a muzzle and are in need of care or walks for your dog, we would love to help. For more information about our dog sitting or dog walking services in Dubai, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help.

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