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Dog Muzzles, yes or no?

A dog muzzle is not a last resort or an admission of a dog that is vicious…

When Australians think of putting a muzzle on their dog, they seem to gain the wrong idea about muzzles quite a lot of the time. Often Muzzling a dog is a dog owners “last resort” and they have come to the conclusion their dog is dangerous and they have no other choice?.

I have seen people … apologising to their dog when fitting a muzzle, crying at the thought of it too.

There are a couple of things that I would like to share with you on muzzles and perhaps give you a different perspective.

The first point I would like to make is that a dog that is fitted with a correctly sized and shape basket style muzzle will not be uncomfortable or in any pain. Muzzles don’t hurt and they are not supposed to restrict anything but access to the dogs mouth. So no biting or eating things you don’t want them eating, such as poisons etc.

There are essentially two types of muzzles, one is the Basket Muzzle that comes and a variety of designs, and the other style are known as Occlusive muzzles. Occlusive muzzles lock the dogs mouth shut, they won’t allow the dog to display any signs of stress, the dog cannot bark, bite, pant or drink. These types are often found at vets and groomers, and they can add quite a degree of stress to your dog. They are also dangerous if left on your dog as the dog cannot drink or pant, meaning the dog may dehydrate or over heat.

Occlusive muzzles are often cheap like the cloth style nylon dog muzzles, but we don’t use or recommend them here.

Basket Muzzles though like the Jafco Muzzles that we sell are very comfortable light and well ventilated so your dog can feel normal, minus the biting aspect.

Jafco Clear Plastic Muzzle

Another thing to think about is that, there are too many dogs bites in our country, this is inspiring insane laws and restrictions on dogs. Going with the feeling that muzzles are a last report means many people who have a moderately aggressive dog don’t muzzle their dogs and on a bad day, we have a dog bite.

They aren’t a last resort, but they are a responsible measure of prevention and risk management and can be a vital part of rehabilitating your dog. Don’t leave muzzling your dog until it has bitten someone; instead fit one so that you can avoid needing a last resort.

Here at K9 Pro, one of the most common reasons that we recommend a muzzle for a client and their dog is to give the client more confidence, knowing that their dog cannot bite allows them to work with their dog without the risk of anyone or another dog being bitten.

Here are some things many people don’t know about Muzzle use throughout the world.

  • Whilst we in Australia tend to think of a dog wearing a muzzle is a very dangerous dog, in other parts of the world they are part of many dogs every day non aggressive lives.
  • Strange that people will walk up to a dog on the street that has no muzzle fitted and perhaps be bitten but avoid a dog wearing a muzzle when it cannot bite?
  • There are many places around the world that allow you to take your dog on public transport as long as your dog is muzzled.
  • There are competitions in Europe that have exercises such as Heel off Leash with Muzzles?, where the dog isn’t aggressive as such, it is a standard exercise in sports such as Belgian Ring Sport.
  • Dogs that are conditioned to wear a muzzle properly will be taught to drink, work track and behaviour quite normally when wearing a muzzle.
  • Dog aggression is often driven by fear or insecurity, conditioning your dog to wear a muzzle without concern can really help with the fear and reactivity but not fitting a muzzle only after your dog bites, making matters worse.
  • At K9 Pro we supply a muzzle training program with every muzzle we sell, we want dogs trained properly to wear a muzzle without stress.
  • We only sell Basket style muzzles, not Occlusive style muzzles that add stress etc. to your dog whilst wearing.
  • We have muzzles that suit all sized dogs and muzzles for various purposes, from the Jafco Plastic Basket muzzles for just about all dogs to the super heavy duty leather basket muzzles for Police and Protection dogs.

Of course like anything else there are many myths that float around and common sense is not as common as we would like it to be. I was sent an article that really gives the complete wrong idea, the article is called The Dangers of Dog Muzzles? and describes how a friend of the author bought a muzzle, left it on her dog and went out, leaving the dog no way to access water. On a hot day the dog was in a bad way on the owners return.

The article perhaps should have been called Dumb and Dumber buy a muzzle?. Maybe their next article will be “Back yards are Dangerous, I left my dog in my back yard with no food or water and it died…”

Love to hear your comments, add them below!

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13 comments

  1. What about muzzles to prevent medium-sized dogs getting poisoned from bossing toads around? I would like to give them a little time in the yard at night without me hovering around them with my trusty shovel. (They poke the toads to make them hop then try to herd them.)

  2. G’day, I just got my dog back from the vets after nearly a week long stay. The day after taking him for a walk in a rural area close to a sheep farm he got very sick and was vomiting blood. He was fine before the walk so I am fairly certain that he ate something poisonous when I was not looking while we were out walking. He’s picked up things that he tried to eat before but I usually see him doing it and stop him. Since I can’t be looking at him 100% of the time I’m thinking about getting a muzzle for him to wear. Which type of muzzle will stop him from being able to eat inappropriate things but still be comfortable for him to wear while out walking,?

  3. I give in; Steve you were right again. Have worked really hard on addressing Abby’s reactivity to fluffies but damn it these little dogs have a death wish. Now Abby ignores them they have to attack her for attention and off we go on the reactivity cycle again. Thanks for the feel good article! You told me twelve months ago to do it; knew my girl could be managed but you can’t control foolish owners of fluffies. So a muzzle it is. Not as a last resort but to avoid me having a heart attack every time one of those foolish dogs runs up to my 44kg reactive shepherd!

  4. Angela Hamond-Fenton

    What a great article! LOVED IT! But I do have to disagree with you on a few points (which doesn’t detract from the overall message of your muzzle-positive article!). I am a Groomer, and while I started out with “occlusive” muzzles, I find them USELESS for grooming. I do use the basket style muzzles for my grooming run – and have no issues using them on a lot of the dogs I care for – even the ones I adore! MANY dogs do not like having their feet touched/nails clipped, and although I never feel afraid that they will attack me, some of them “mouth” my hands while I am trying to handle their feet. Mouthing leads (in some cases) to biting, and so from the start I prevent this from happening by muzzling at “feet time”. (and sometimes at “ear time”!) and then remove the muzzle for their bath. Everyone is happy (and safe!). I do however, use an occlusive muzzle on one of my own dogs – not because he bites – but because he BARKS. He is ultra-stimulated when it comes to working with me, and even more so if I get one of my other dogs out to work. At home it is not a problem but at shows and trials it is a problem that MUST be addressed. He is not left with the occlusive muzzle on for long periods of time, pretty much only when I know he will make noise while I am warming up/in the ring with another of my dogs. Thank you though, for hi-lighting the dangers of using occlusives, like any piece of equipment used in training – the user must have thorough knowledge of the pros/cons and dangers. 🙂

  5. Great article. I’ve always thought what a responsible owner when I see a dog wearing a muzzle. Interesting about the use of muzzles in other countries and how it is “the norm” in many circumstances. If dogs can get out more and lead a better life by wearing a muzzle then that has to be a good thing, rather than left in backyards and not taken out due to aggression or possible aggression. On the plus side, other dog owners will hopefully be more inclined to not let their dogs come up to your dog, which can only help a reactive or aggressive dog.

  6. I’m so glad to read this article . I have to crate my 2 Dane girls. As they matured the bigger girl became very non tolerant to her sister. Even working with a behaviourist , she could not be trusted. Now when I want to spend time with both, I use basket muzzles, both are so much calmer and will tolerate each other. She is also reactive to other dogs. The muzzle gives us both confidence when walking and I like the fact that most people give us space when the see her. This means I can walk straight and they freak out and cross the road. Makes my dog know I’m the pack leader…… Even on the street

  7. This is a very interesting point that I had never really thought of. I think people need to spend less time worrying about how people may perceive them and their dogs, and just enjoy themselves and their dogs to the fullest extent!

  8. What a great article, thank you. It has given me the nudge and the understanding I need to get a muzzle for my dog. I don’t want people being scared of my dog but I do want to relax a little more when she is off leash. Can’t wait for the Victorian workshops Steve! Many thanks to you and your staff for a great website with fab information!! Kind Regards, Steph & Ollie

  9. Good post Danika, it would be great to see people think, “well there is a responsible dog owner” when they saw a dog with a muzzle.

    How many people think that a dog on leash would of course be out of control off leash? I bet they don’t think that at all, if having a leash on a dog is the norm, muzzles don’t have to be on out of control dangerous dogs…

  10. I have a German Shepherd who use to be quite reactive to other dogs and any people bar her direct family. I purchased one of the basket muzzles off K9 Pro and I haven’t looked back. People always asked me if she was aggressive and my response was I don’t know but for her safety and yours she is muzzled.
    It would be good if people didn’t see a muzzle as an aggressive dog but I don’t think our society will reach that point.
    When I first put the muzzle on my dog in a public situation I found I was so much more confident as I knew that she couldn’t hurt anyone or any other dogs, it allowed me to introduce her to new situations that she couldn’t handle before.
    I hear so many people say they feel bad having to resort to the muzzle but like I say to them if you feel more confident while handling the dog while muzzled you are doing the right thing.

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