Muzzles, they are not what the media will have you believe.
What does it make you think or feel when you see a dog wearing a muzzle? For me, I want to high five the owner for being responsible. I know that this may be inappropriate so ill always try and give a smile instead. There are various reasons that a dog may be wearing a muzzle. It doesn’t mean that they have a beast who wants to savage anything and everything that walks past. A dog is wearing a muzzle as their human wants to set them up to succeed. They don’t want to set them up to fail. They want to keep their dog safe. Sometimes a dog may be wearing a muzzle to keep others safe. Dogs wearing muzzles can sometimes play happily with other dogs, they may just like to scavenge ( a natural canine behavior) but their humans want to ensure that they are not going to get sick from something that they could have found. Maybe they resource guard things that they find. Maybe they are particular about which dogs they like. Or even they react to the cyclist that zooms past. There is a mirage of reasons for muzzling. The point is, If someone has muzzled their dog, it is because they love them. They are setting their dog up to succeed. Give them a smile though, you never know, you could open the door to a new friendship. Keep in mind though that there is a reason for a dog wearing the muzzle. Maybe they are in training, they may not be feeling great. So, don’t just let your dog run up and bother them and make sure to give space. I will often muzzle Sheba when she meets a new dog and until I can see that she is happy. Why? Because I know that some dogs she is not as fond of, yet some she adores. It means that she does not hurt another dog. Once she is happy then the muzzle can come off. Also muzzle games are a great way of enriching our dog’s lives, It’s a game to play when its raining outside. Her knowing how to play muzzle games helped with our scent work. Some dogs really dislike the vets or the groomers. They may react through fear. Putting a muzzle on an untrained dog who is already fearful will only raise their cortisol levels (stress hormone) more. This will only add fuel to the fire in terms of stress for the dog. By having your dog trained to a muzzle before you need it as a last resort means that your dog is calm wearing one. Also that you don't need to muzzle train as a matter of urgency. If I am called to an injured dog, then the first thing that I must do is muzzle the dog. BEFORE administering first aid. WHY? Well a frightened dog or a dog in pain is likely to bite. Even the most placid and friendly dog! If they are hurting and scared, then of course they will need to protect themselves. Muzzles are a safety tool. Not a punishment.
So which type of muzzle to choose. There are many different types of muzzle about. My favourite is the one pictured above and its from The Muzzle Shop
Cloth muzzles These are meant for vet visits or periodically during grooming. They are not meant to be left on for long periods of time and could be debated that they should only be on for a few minutes due to preventing the dog from opening their mouth. This means the dog can’t pant or cool themselves and they could overheat and die. Another alternative to this is a blow up collar. Sometimes known as a buster collar. These are inflatable collars that restrict the dogs movement a little in order to prevent them from getting their head round to other parts of their body. This can be an alternative to using a cloth muzzle. Much safer for a dog who is not overly keen on grooming as they can pant freely. I must thank Liz from https://www.facebook.com/lizfureverfriends/ for her input here. Liz is a groomer who works with reactive dogs in a force free manner to help them enjoy the grooming process again.
Basket or cage type muzzle Whilst there are various manufactures of these, they are not all the same quality or design.
They are light weight, wide range of colour's, a U.K small business which is my preference to support and the team are great. They are very helpful if you need assistance. The muzzles are well made and perfect for exercise. The one pictured was kindly gifted to me well to Sheba by a friend and college. I had wanted one for ages after seeing a client of mine used them and I loved the whole product. There was nothing that I disliked about them. I love how easy it is for Sheba to take treats from this one as you can see in the picture. The dog can really open their mouth wider than other types which is important not just for health but also for your dog to feel happy. The company makes different styles too so ones with a little extra security if required. I love how light weight they are too. This is the brand that sheba is wearing in the photos
Baskerville Ultra These are great for dogs as they can pant, drink and eat in them. They can still pick up food though from the floor. If this is your reason for using a muzzle, then this may not be the best option. Some dogs they work great for but there are some who are determined and will still pick things up with this type. However, for play I do like this one as it has an extra security strap and allows your dog to fully open their mouth unlike its sister muzzle the original. The Original Baskerville I love the added security feature of this as it has a removable plastic guard to assist in more protection. The muzzle itself I find is a good fit, but I don’t like how the dog can’t pant as freely. Great for lead work but less great for the dogs cooling ability or if you are using them for exercise. Also drinking is not possible in this muzzle and taking treats is a skill for human and canine to master.
Bumas Muzzle This is the luxury muzzle option. Fancy, pretty, you can even choose which colour's you want each strap! They do come with the price tag to match the choices though. I get exactly whey they cost what they do, and I don’t want to seem as if I am devaluing them. Only that I understand why they maybe a bit out of people’s price range. They are beautiful but a little more expensive as they are made to fit your dog. They are not mass produced. These are the best muzzles for flat faced breeds such as French bulldogs or pugs etc..
There are various options to choose from. Two things are now important. The right fit and then muzzle training. We cant just pop a muzzle on the dog and expect them to accept it. Its important to muzzle train them in a positive and rewarding manner. If you need any help with this then please don't hesitate to get in touch.