Reasons To Muzzle Train Your Pooch ♡

The other week I bought a muzzle for Lulu. Why you ask? Well, for a few reasons.


The most common reasons for popping a muzzle on your pooch include: scavenging. public access. anxiety. meeting new friends. trauma + stress. reactivity + aggression. A muzzle is only meant to be used for short periods of time, and only when your dog is supervised.


Most people who see a dog in a muzzle assume it must be aggressive - they take a wide birth and keep their dog away. In fact, my reason for wanting Lulu to be comfortable in a muzzle is so that people will keep their dog away!


Lulu HATES dogs in her face. Because Lulu looks "cute", people often go out of their way to let their dog come up to her, even if I advise them she is not friendly. She usually responds with her savagery where she says "get the f$#@ out of my face". It is all noise. It is also a warning that she doesn't like that dog getting up in her grill - or doesn't like being assaulted by their eyeballs from a distance. She is more prone to this if her allergies and IBS are making her feel sh!t, which is often. But, there is no consistency with Lulu. It is not all dogs. There is no pattern. It is not every day. Sometimes it is every dog, all day. I'd rather people just kept their dog by their side and keep walking past.




So let me talk you through some of the reasons you might want to muzzle train:

  • Scavengers: Yep, Lulu is [a BIG] one. There are parts of the beach I have labelled "Lulu's Buffet". She always finds something [fish bones usually] to eat here. Thankfully she won't touch Puffer Fish. For anyone who want's to prevent their dog from picking up more than a hoover in a filthy home, a muzzle is a great tool. A lot of people who travel with their dogs also pop muzzles on their dogs so they don't pick up/ingest baits or poisons while on the road in unfamiliar places.

  • Public Transport / Bunnings / Other Public Access: In Victoria, you can take your dog on the train network [excluding V-Line] if they are wearing a muzzle. The same applies to most Bunnings stores where you can walk your dog on leash if they are in a muzzle - meaning they don't have to go in the cart. Confirm this with your local Bunnings store.

  • Anxiety: A muzzle may relieve anxiety in your pet in unfamiliar places. It may also relieve anxiety in places your dog dislikes [for Lulu, the vet!].

  • Meeting New Friends: A friend of mine is muzzle training her dog because her boyfriend has a cat. Her dog hasn't been to the boyfriends house and met the cat yet, however it is a safer way to introduce unfamiliar dogs to other pets and people, including babies.

  • Trauma + Stress: As much as I don't like to think about this point, a dog that has experienced trauma [injuries] or significant stress may react in an aggressive manner to protect itself. In emergency situations at the vet, they are likely to pop a muzzle on your pal. If your dog is already trained to wear a muzzle, this will not be stressful for them and it allows for safe treatment by your amazing pet doctor! Similarly, a muzzle can be a useful tool for dogs recovering from an injury - to prevent licking + nibbling of healing wounds.

  • Fear Based Reactivity + Aggression: For our reactive pals, muzzles offer a layer of protection in situations that create automatic behaviours for our fragile friends. While most owners of reactive dogs avoid placing their beautiful dogs in these stressful + triggering situations, there may be times when this is unavoidable [exercise, vet visits, training sessions etc]. Having a muzzle trained dog offers an extra layer of protection, in the event that something unexpected or unavoidable happens, when your dog find's itself in a stressful situation. In this situation, a muzzle is not a replacement for behavioural training and tools.


IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU:


Seek advice on the style + proper fit of the muzzle, based on what you are using your muzzle for.


There are soft muzzles + basket muzzles.... we selected a basket muzzle which still allows panting, treats + water but prevents most scavenging. We went into our local pet supply store and tried on various sizes to ensure it was the correct size for Lulu. This is much harder to do online.


Research training techniques.


There are loads of resources if you google. Find one that makes sense to you. I will admit that I didn't really do this however I had spoken to friends about their techniques. We started off training to get Lulu placing her snout in the basket on command. Initially I smeared Goat's Curd on the inside of the basket [it was going out of date!!]. Peanut butter and yoghurt are also great to use - use something that smears inside the muzzle which motivates your pal to pop their snout in on their own.


We then moved to a simple command paired with receiving the curd off my finger through the muzzle. We did not do the muzzle up at this stage. This came later.


Make training fun + rewarding. And don't rush it!


Once she was happy with the muzzle being done up, we then moved to outside games - ball chasing [even though she couldn't catch it, she still chases], and a short beach walk with LOADS of treats [video at the bottom]. Make it fun and rewarding for them. Don't push too far to start as this may create a negative association.


We'll leave this for you to research as different techniques work for different dogs. Please take any training slowly. This will ensure that it is not stressful for your dog.