The Benefits of Muzzle-Training Your Pet
Ever have a pet who embarrassed you at the vet, trying to eat the staff alive as they to trim your pets nails or draw their blood? Have a dog who doesn’t “play nice” with others, and you’re not sure how to safely start socializing? As dog walkers, we sometimes encounter this. How about a pooch who hoovers up everything on walks, often getting sick from their tasty endeavors? Perhaps positively muzzle training your pet will help!
There are many benefits of training your pet to delightfully wear a muzzle. Think about how stressful being muzzled can be for a cat or dog. By training your dog to LOVE wearing a muzzle, you take away all of that anxiety associated with the muzzle, making things like vet procedures much less scary for your beloved pet. Our old man Boomer was ill and needed to see a specialist the last several years of his life. For our damaged little rescue dog, it was hard for him to understand why strangers were poking and prodding him, so he’d often growl and curl a lip at the vets trying to help him. So I trained Boomer to love his “muzzie” to ensure when he had to lay on his back for ultrasounds, or have his blood drawn for the ump-teenth time, that he was relaxed… and so was the vet staff!
Some folks have dogs who may suffer from some behavioral challenges, such as “stranger danger” or “dog-dog aggression”. Teaching your dog to positively wear a muzzle can allow you to move forward with socializing and training your dog, in a safer manner. If you have a professional dog walker, muzzle training your dog can provide you with the peace of mind knowing your pet sitter can safely walk your leash-reactive dog without incident. The picture in this blog is my pal, Behla, a foster dog who came into our rescue with severe dog-dog aggression problems. Through diligent training with me and the hard work and dedication of her committed foster dad, Behla now has many dog friends! Initially, we trained her to love wearing a basket muzzle, so we could safely begin to introduce her to other dogs. She graduated my basic manners class with flying colors, and loved to show off her helpful training tool. Behla has made such progress in her training and socialization, she no longer needs her muzzle to be around other dogs!
Have a little hoover who eats everything and anything while you’re out on a walk? Teaching your dog to wear a basket muzzle during walks can help prevent your pup from ingesting unsafe items! Take the worry away from your professional dog walker, and teach them how to apply the muzzle for safe and healthy walks while you’re away.
Cats, too, can benefit from simple muzzle training. Though you may not need it often, positive muzzle training with a cat can make vet visits much safer and more pleasant, for example. It can also benefit those who have pet cats that may not tolerate administration of medication, or certain medical procedures. Positive muzzle training in cats can help prevent these types of situations, making you, your pet, and anyone handling your pet feel safe and secure!
So now that you’ve decided to muzzle train your pet, first pick out a muzzle that will most benefit your cat or dog. For cats, there are a few different styles, but most all of them cover your cat’s entire head. This actually benefits the cat, as they tend to escalate when they can see what is happening. By lightly covering your cat’s face, it can help calm them. For dogs, there are two different kinds — a commercial muzzle like the ones they use at your veterinarian, and basket muzzle that essentially is a “cage” that goes over your dog’s snout. A commercial muzzle does not allow your dog to eat or drink, as it purses their lips tight, which it why these are often used for medical procedures. A basket muzzle is often used more for training purposes. These allow the dog to eat, drink, pant, bark, and use their mouth normally, but it restricts them being able to bite or pick up something off the ground.
Second, train your pet to LOVE wearing the muzzle! Start slow, and just present the muzzle to your pet. You can spray it with calming pheromones, or leave a tasty treat on top of it, to encourage your pet to come towards the muzzle all on their own. Find a A+ top grade reinforcement, such as a stinky morsel. Hold the muzzle open, and begin to lure your pet INTO the muzzle with treats. Both dog and cat muzzle have a breathing hole in the front — put the treat on the other side of this hole, so your pet has to put their snout through the muzzle to get it. Once your pet is comfortable putting their nose or face into the muzzle, start putting the muzzle on completely for only a few seconds. Practice small amounts frequently. Through more training sessions, work up to having your pet wear the muzzle for longer periods of time. Do not force the muzzle one your pet, or this can regress your training. For more helpful training tips, check out the ASPCA website on “Teaching your dog to wear a muzzle”.
Take a bite out of training, and teach your pet to love his or her muzzle today!
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