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  • Writer's pictureHeather Brendle

Muzzle Me, Please.

I muzzle train my dogs. Yes, this includes perfect Thiago, even though he howls in excitement when he knows he is entering the parking lot of the vet's office. Why??? Because the day may come when he is not excited to be at the vet. The day may come when he is in serious pain and responds to someone touching him in that painful area. The day may come when I am not there to tell the staff about how he does worse with restraint, and about the behaviors I have trained instead, so restraint is less necessary. When I feel like crap or am under severe stress, I have a much shorter fuse and that is NORMAL for dogs too.

Aside from the above reasons, muzzles are also required for some dogs that need to be on certain medications. Think prednisone. Some dogs get so grabby on prednisone, they will put anything in their mouth, but they also need the drug to get better. Enter, the muzzle. You have already conditioned your dog to the muzzle so asking them to wear it for the short-term to keep them from grabbing potentially harmful items for consumption, while the medication does its job, feels like a win to me.

Let's talk about muzzles and the stigma they carry because while it is so much better, it still exists. I get it, we owned pit bull type dogs for 16 years. I also remember when I first used a gentle leader back in 2003 and chose black so it would disappear and not be mistaken for a muzzle on my first Rottweiler. My answer is to get your dog a fancy schmancy muzzle! Have a dog that you dress in pink? Get them a pink muzzle with rhinestones and watch people smile and ooh and ahh over your dog. Have a dog that you nicknamed Steggy (stegosaurus for his dinosaur style noises)? Get him a custom muzzle made to resemble a stegosaurus. Don't have the budget for a custom muzzle? Buy a simple basket muzzle and bling it yourself! There are so many options out there now that help change the way people think about muzzles and I am here for it all.

Muzzle training just feels like another step in being a proactive and responsible owner. You have no idea what is to come in your dog's life and spending some short training sessions working on this behavior is a no brainer (don't forget refreshers!). There are so many awesome and creative ways to train this behavior and get your dog comfortable, just search things like #muzzletraining #positivereinforcementmuzzletraining or #muzzletrainingtips in youtube or IG and get started!

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