How often have you seen a dog wearing a muzzle and assumed the worst?
Is that dog aggressive? Does that dog bite? That dog looks scary!
The Most Common Misconceptions Behind Dog Muzzles
The term “muzzle” has become synonymous with “bad dog”, but why? Why is it that when we see dogs wearing muzzles we automatically assume that that dog should be feared?
As human beings, we are influenced at an early age by things we see on mainstream media. When a dog wears a muzzle in most television shows and movies, that dog is often presented as aggressive and dangerous.
Think back to the last time you saw a dog on TV or in a movie wearing a muzzle. It is likely that at some point during that show or movie that the dog was growling, bearing his teeth, lunging or barking.
While there are some cases where dogs wearing muzzles are doing so because they have aggressive tendencies, in most cases a dog in a muzzle is a good dog with a vigilant owner.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions behind dogs wearing muzzles.
Misconception 1 – Dogs Wearing Muzzles Are Aggressive or Dangerous
A dog’s mouth is one of the most important parts of his body. He uses his mouth for an incredibly long list of important things. Only one of those things is self defense.
Muzzles are often used to help protect the dog from his own mouth more than it is to protect someone else from it.
Muzzles can help prevent all types of dangerous behaviors such as eating something dangerous off of the street, chewing the leash while walking, excessive or anxious grooming behaviors, wound chewing and more.
Misconception 2 – If A Dog Is Wearing A Muzzle It Means He Has A Bite History
Just because you see a dog wearing a muzzle does not mean that dog has bitten someone in the past. In fact, most of the time muzzles are used by conscientious owners working to prevent bites from happening.
The more we learn about our canine counterparts the more we discover how complex and emotional these animals really are.
For dogs, biting is almost always their last resort.
Dogs usually only bite after presenting multiple other warnings signs which have been ignored.
When you understand canine body language, you’ll quickly pick up on these warning cues. If you know your dog well and know your dog struggles with anxiety and fear wearing a muzzle in public allows others to know not to approach your dog thereby giving your fearful dog space, preventing potential bites brought on by this fear.
Misconception 3 – Muzzles Are Cruel
Muzzles are certainly controversial, but when used properly they can allow otherwise anxious or fearful dogs an opportunity to engage with the world in a safer way. In fact, positive reinforcement trainers stand behind the responsible and appropriate use of muzzles.
Quality and correctly fitted muzzles are not uncomfortable for dogs to wear. Of course, wearing a muzzle will feel unnatural to most dogs at first, but you can help your dog get acclimated to wearing a muzzle through slow positive reinforcement training techniques using treats and food.
Yes – it is totally possible to train your dog to love wearing his muzzle!
Misconception 4 – Friendly Or Calm Dogs Don’t Need To Wear Muzzles
Even if your dog is the sweetest and most mild-mannered dog on the planet, he could still be a great candidate for a muzzle. In fact, all dogs regardless of breed, size or temperament should be trained at an early age to wear a muzzle.
Chances are that your dog will need to wear a muzzle at some point in his life whether he is at the vet, groomer, on a walk or visiting the dog park.
Remember, muzzles are not designed solely to prevent dogs from biting. They are designed first and foremost to protect your dog.
3 Common Types Of Dog Muzzles And What Each Is Used For
When used properly, dog muzzles are an incredible and essential tool to ensure your dog’s safety.
With that being said, we should note that not all muzzles are the same. The three most commonly used muzzles by training experts are:
The Basket Muzzle
The basket muzzle is one of the most common types of muzzles you will see when out and about. These muzzles are designed to cover your dog’s entire snout and clips behind the ears.
Basket muzzles are called such because they resemble a basket. They can be made of different types of materials including wire, plastic or durable rubber.
A basket muzzle is commonly designed for longer term wear, but this doesn’t mean you should leave your dog in his muzzle all day. Basket muzzles are ideal for taking your dog on walks, hikes, outings, and in public for brief periods of time. They allow your dog to pant, drink and take treats while wearing the muzzle.
These muzzles come in different brands and styles such as the Baskerville Muzzle, Jafco, Dean and Tyler.
The Bumas Muzzle
Bumas muzzles are custom designed, leather muzzles made to order. They are similar in design to basket muzzles although they have less space around the snout to feed treats.
The Cloth Muzzle
Cloth muzzles are soft muzzles designed for short term wear only. They fit snugly around your dog’s snout and are primarily worn when your dog is at the vet or groomers.
Cloth muzzles help to prevent dogs who might be very anxious, or in pain, from nipping or biting during a procedure.
Muzzles designed for longer term wear should always allow your dog to pant, take treats and drink water.
The Do’s And Don’ts Of Muzzling Your Dog
When used appropriately, muzzles can be an incredible and beneficial tool to help keep your dog safe and give you an added sense of security.
Of course, that doesn’t mean muzzles are right for all occasions. There are times you should and should not use a muzzle, and understanding when to use muzzles appropriately is key to ensuring your dog is happy wearing his muzzle when he should.
When You Can Use Muzzles
- When your dog is going to the groomer
- When your dog is going to the vet
- If your dog has exhibited aggressive behaviors towards other people, dogs or cats
- If your dog has a bad habit of eating dangerous items from the street when on walks
When You Should Not Use Muzzles
- To stop your dog from barking
- As a form of punishment
- Or to stop your dog from chewing inside the home
Please also note that dogs should not wear muzzles all day. As we mentioned above, all muzzles are designed for temporary wear only.
Muzzles should also always be worn with supervision.
For more tips on choosing the right muzzle for your dog, watch our video below:
So, did we change your perception of dogs wearing muzzles?
Tell us what you think about muzzles in the comment section below.