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Aggression is something that dog parents might not want to associate with their dogs. But it is something that happens.
There are a number of reasons why dogs can be aggressive and they show this aggression in form of incessant barking and even biting. Hence the need for a dog muzzle.
However, dog muzzles are not only used on dogs that are considered aggressive.
We know that a number of people are scared of the idea of a dog muzzle. And we can’t exactly tell you if your fears are valid or not. What we can do, however, is to give you the facts and allow you decide for yourself if your fears are valid or not. Deal?
What Is A Dog Muzzle?
The idea behind a dog muzzle is generally to restrain a dog’s mouth and jaw movement.
Hold your horses! It’s not about cruelty or any such thing.
The idea is to stop aggressive dogs or dogs that are considered a threat from barking incessantly and biting while they are being attended to. It is also used to restrain dogs during grooming or a physical exam.
Dog muzzles are usually made in such a way that the wearer can still breathe so you need not fear that your dog will suffocate. Also, some dog muzzles are structured to allow dogs drink and there are very few that even allow them eat.
A dog muzzle can be made of wire, nylon, plastic or leather. It typically features a buckle that is fastened to ensure that the dog does not pull it off himself because, well, removing it defeats the purpose.
Situations Where A Dog Muzzle Might Be Necessary
The American Kennel Club gives us a few situations in which you should consider using a dog muzzle on your dog:
Some injured dogs express their pain through biting. This shouldn’t sound all that weird to you. This is because we humans have a habit of biting on something when we are going through unbearable pain. Especially when we are trying to be brave about it and not scream.
We all know not to bite on somebody but when the pain is unbearable, we aren’t really thinking about what’s right and what’s not. Same goes for dogs. So, the best thing in that situation is to muzzle them up.
There are also times when dogs bark and bite indiscriminately out of fear. That is also a reason to muzzle them up.
If you have a dog that is aggressive and has actually bitten someone or even another dog, you might want to get him a dog muzzle.
Actually, what he primarily needs is to work with his veterinarian because aggression is not normal behavior. It is during the therapy that he gets to wear the muzzle so that he does not harm anybody or even himself in the process.
Not all dogs need a dog muzzle during grooming. Most of them are used to the grooming process and are OK with it.
However, there are some dogs that, irrespective of how many times they have been through it, have never gotten used to being groomed. Those dogs need to be muzzled. Unless you are willing to brave the dog bites.
If you’ve been taking your dog for his regular vet visits, you should be used to seeing him wear a muzzle. The vet usually makes him wear a muzzle so that he doesn’t meddle with the whole veterinary procedure by biting or even barking.
Some states require that certain dog breeds wear a dog muzzle when they are in public. Apparently, there is a thing called Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and it considers some dog breeds dangerous. Those are the dogs that have been mandated to wear a dog muzzle in public.
Types Of Dog Muzzles
According to Pets on Mom.me, there are basically two types of dog muzzles. They are the Occlusion dog muzzle and the Basket dog muzzle. Each of them is created for special reasons and we will like you to bear the above mentioned situations in mind as you go through this section.
Occlusion Dog Muzzle
First of all, an occlusion dog muzzle is not meant to be used for a long period of time. It is usually made of nylon and covers a dog’s mouth totally.
An occlusion dog muzzle will not allow your dog do anything with his snout except breathe. This is why he shouldn’t be wearing it for a long period of time.
An occlusion dog muzzle is most often used at the vet’s or during grooming. Now, when your dog is wearing an occlusion muzzle, he must not be left unattended. Someone has to be with him to check for any signs that could be out of the ordinary.
If there is no one to do this, a dog on an occlusion dog muzzle runs the risk of overheating or even dying.
Basket Dog Muzzle
A basket muzzle is basically used for every other thing we talked about in “Situations Where A Dog Muzzle Might Be Necessary”. It can typically be worn for longer than an occlusion muzzle.
There are many kinds of basket dog muzzles and they include:
Leather Dog Muzzle
This is what the police usually use to train their dogs. It is made of leather, so it’s very strong and durable. A leather dog muzzle allows the wearer breathe and even pant while simultaneously preventing him from biting anybody or dog.
This muzzle is usually worn just for the duration of the training.
Wire Dog Muzzle
If your dog is going to wear the muzzle for an extended period of time and is going to be unattended to, this is your best bet. It is a basket shaped muzzle with a strap (the strap is usually made of leather) that is used to fasten the muzzle to your dog’s snout.
A wire dog muzzle allows your dog pant, breathe and even drink but it doesn’t allow him eat. Which is alright if your dog is on a biting spree.
This kind of muzzle is not advisable for training, the likes of which professional dogs go through. This is because the wire could leave a bruise if it happens to hit someone.
Plastic Dog Muzzle
This is not an everyday muzzle. You can only use it if the plan is for your dog to wear it once in a while. A dog wearing a plastic muzzle should not be left unattended to. Also, an aggressive dog should not be made to wear a plastic dog muzzle and here is why:
A plastic dog muzzle can easily break if too much pressure is exerted on it, thereby defeating the purpose of the muzzle.
As you know, plastic is not very durable. So, if your dog is going to wear it, you should be with him for as long as he will be wearing it.
Introducing Your Dog To A Dog Muzzle
Just like basically anything you could introduce your dog to, the key is to do it early and slowly. The best way to introduce your dog to a dog muzzle is actually to do it before it looks to you like he needs it.
The truth is that almost every dog will need a dog muzzle at one point in their lives. And it could be quite disastrous if you try to introduce a dog muzzle to an agitated dog. He might get more agitated and even aggressive and start to lash out.
This could lead to even bigger issues like him getting aggressive anytime anybody comes close to his snout. And that’s a very huge and ugly possibility because he has learnt to equate anybody coming close to his face with the dog muzzle.
So the best thing is to preempt the situation. Every now and then try to get him to get comfortable wearing a dog muzzle when he is not agitated. So instead of equating the muzzle with a stressful situation, he learns to equate the dog muzzle with fun and his favorite treats. This way, he doesn’t see the muzzle as a threat.
There are several ways you could make that happen…
Start Slow And Reward
What some people do is that they put a treat inside the muzzle and then allow the dog eat it off the muzzle. This is one way of getting your dog accustomed to wearing a muzzle.
Again, start off by making him wear the dog muzzle just for short time periods.
Be with him during those periods so that you can note if he has any issues with the muzzle. Is it too tight? Can he breathe fine or drink fine? Is he able to remove the muzzle on his own?
These are some of the things you need to pay attention to while introducing him to the muzzle.
Dog Muzzle Fitting
You don’t really need to bother about fitting when you’re still trying to introduce your dog to a dog muzzle. At the point of introduction, you should focus on getting him comfortable with wearing a muzzle. But if he is well adjusted to wearing one then there are some things you need to bear in mind to determine the right fit for him.
First of all, what you are looking for is a muzzle that is snug not a muzzle that is tight. So be sure that the muzzle fits nicely and is neither too tight nor too loose.
Also, the muzzle should allow your dog adequate mouth and jaw movement but not too much.
Alternatively, you could just take him with you when you go to get the dog muzzle. The professionals at the store should be able to do a proper fitting.
A dog muzzle is fantastic and a life saver and all that . But here’s something to note, though…
A Dog Muzzle Shouldn’t Always Be Your First Port Of Call
Generally, whatever the issue you’re facing with your dog, try to solve it without the muzzle first.
The muzzle is neither a bad thing nor an instrument of torture. And most times, it’s not even uncomfortable. But if you can do without it please do.
A Few Things To Note
First, a dog should not be muzzled for too long. This is because, though very few muzzles allow the wearer eat, most don’t. In fact, the amount of time your dog is wearing a muzzle should be less than the amount of time when he isn’t wearing a muzzle (except in extreme situations).
Also, muzzling your dog is not the solution to aggression. It is supposed to help the solution. So if your dog is aggressive, don’t look to quick fixes. You’ll just end up aggravating the situation. Take him to see an animal behaviorist or a veterinarian, they should know what to do.
If your dog is wearing a muzzle because you are trying to keep him from chewing on stuff, you could consider doing something about those things he loves to chew on. Not necessarily doing away with them but protecting them, like dog proofing.
You could also consider getting him a chew toy, that should distract him from things he shouldn’t be chewing on.
To conclude this, we’ll like to go over the fine points of this write up. So what have we learnt?
- A dog muzzle is used to restrain a dog’s jaw and mouth movement not to stop him from moving them completely.
- It is constructed in such a way that it allows your dog breathe so you need not worry about suffocation.
- Dog muzzles are usually used in emergency and threatening situations. They are also used during grooming and physical examinations and in accordance with the stipulations of the Breed Specific Legislation.
- There are basically two types of dog muzzles: occlusion dog muzzle and basket dog muzzle.
- There are about three types of basket muzzles: the ones made of leather (used for training professional dogs), the ones made of wire and the ones made of plastic.
- Your dog’s muzzle should have a snug fit. It should neither be too tight (so it doesn’t chaff) nor too loose (so your dog cannot pull it off)
- And finally, a dog muzzle is not the cure or solution for aggression. If you have an aggressive dog on your hands, visit an animal behaviorist or your veterinarian. A dog muzzle should help the solution not be the solution.