Many people associate a canine muzzle with an aggressive dog and think that the only reason to use one is to keep the animal from harming people, but there are many other reasons for them. While they are used for training and behavioral challenges, they are great for a number of purposes.
Reasons for dogs to wear a snout include:
- Preventing them from digesting things that might upset their stomach while walking
- Prevent them from eating other animals’ droppings while walking
- Avoid putting them at risk to wildlife – even if they are just playful!
- Controlling their response to anxiety around other dogs or strangers
- Protect your dog and the vet during veterinary procedures.
Visiting the vet can be scary for your dog, especially if he’s in pain. They can find it difficult to understand what is happening to them and they may feel threatened. Some puppies resort to cracking, growling, and even biting – not because they are naturally aggressive, but because they are trying to show the vet that they are feeling concerned, uncomfortable, or anxious.
These are the reasons why it is best to use a snout on every dog and dispel the myth that a snout automatically means a nuisance pup.
Remember that with a properly seated mouthpiece, your dog can still breathe, gasp, bark, drink, and take treats easily.
Here’s how to train your dog to wear a snout
It is common for dogs to initially refuse to wear a snout. It can make them feel strange and even make them more anxious, especially when they go to the vet.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to give your dog enough time to enjoy wearing a snout. Each dog will approach the process differently. Some will go through the steps with ease over a few days with 3-4 short workouts per day. Others may need to repeat some or all of the steps several times before proceeding to the next.
If you follow this step-by-step guide to muzzle training, wearing a muzzle will become a much more acceptable experience for you, and therefore will produce lasting results.
1. Carefully insert the snout
If your dog seems concerned by his or her presence, or if you’ve previously tried unsuccessfully to use one with him, the vets advise not to put him on just yet. They say, “Instead, just put it on the floor and encourage them to touch it or sniff it.
Reward them with praise and a tasty treat every time. Don’t force them to touch it, however. Once they happily touch the snout and sniff and then look for a treat, you can move on to step two. “
2. Encourage further interaction
Put a tasty treat like a piece of sausage or cheese in the snout and let your puppy stick its nose in and take the treat out right away. Don’t try to shut your mouth just yet – we’re still working on positive conditioning your association. If your dog is used to poking his nose in, you can use an action call name like “snout on”.
3. Hold the muzzle without attaching it
If your dog pokes his nose in to get the treat back, say “Shut up” then hold him with the straps behind his head for a few seconds. Then release it and let her take the nose out.
By repeating this action, they’ll feel comfortable wearing the snout without immediately worrying that it’s out of their control. Talking to them and telling them that they are good at this can help you relax further.
4. Fasten the snout around your neck
This time, work on familiarizing them with the closure of the muzzle, which is fastened around their neck without having it over their nose. Some dogs are uncomfortable with the clasp itself and the sound it makes in place. So it’s best to train them to relax when they hear it before continuing.
5. Briefly attach the muzzle
Repeat step 3, but instead clip the snout with the nose in it – then immediately loosen it and let it take the nose out. Speeding up this step will only undo any positive conditioning that you have been working on.
6. Gradually increase the fastening time
Slowly but surely increase the amount of time they spend in the attached snout. Remember to still poke treats before your dog pokes his nose in and talk to them and tell them how well they are. You can also try giving them a treat while they snout.
If your dog is feeling uncomfortable, take a break and then start the previous step – you may have been moving a little too quickly. The key is not to force any of the steps and make them feel only positive emotions as they get used to wearing their snout. Muzzles are an effective way to keep both your dog and anyone they come in contact with safe, regardless of your dog’s temperament!
About the author: Emma is a professional writer and blogger with two furry friends and great knowledge of pet behavior and health. She has written for numerous major animal magazines and health websites and is a regular contributor to The Catington Post.