Muzzles and Muzzle Training 

May 1, 2021

There are many of us that have reactive dogs.  It could be human, dog, cat, squirrel, wheels, etc. reactivity.  An important piece of information is to try and understand where the reactivity is coming from.  Is it coming from fear, aggression or movement?  If unable to determine this, I always encourage getting a trainer involved to help with this determination and exercises to help counter condition.

There are dogs where their reactivity will not go away 100% but can be managed.  Part of this management is an amazing tool called a muzzle.  Many people associate muzzles with aggressive dogs and that's not the case.  Muzzles can be used for those dogs that can't resist tempting trash on the sidewalk, counter conditioning training towards a stimulus or for a pet parents peace of mind.  

Here is an example as to why one of my dog uses a muzzle:

I have a 6 year old Second Chance Rescue NYC rescue German Shepherd named Rebel. Rebel is one of the most gentle GSD's I've ever had.  We started fostering him in October and would take him to Central Park for walks during off leash dog hours for socialization.  The first few weeks, he wanted to nicely and gently say hello to all dogs. After a couple months, I noticed his focus on smaller dogs.  I started to work with him on counter conditioning his focus when he would see a smaller dog.  I also ALWAYS have Rebel on leash to avoid any potential altercations.  Unfortunately, there are a tremendous amount of dog owners that feel their dog is allowed to behave however it chooses during off leash dog hours and this is wrong.  Several weeks ago I was walking in the park with Rebel when two different smaller dogs ran full force at Rebel and jumped into his face. Rebel reacted with each dog, grabbing the dog with his mouth, but released when given the command.  Each time the other dog owner was furious with me for having an aggressive dog.  What these dog owners refuse to see is that my dog reacted to THEIR dogs bad behavior.  I ask you,if someone runs full force at you and physically touches/pushes you,would you have no reaction?  It's not fair and it's not OK that dog owners allow this behavior, even if it's off-leash hours. Knowing that my German Shepherd will always be blamed for any reactive behavior because of the breed and size, I have muzzle trained him form y peace of mind and HIS safety.  Due to not being able to trust other dog owners, I have now also avoided off-leash dog hours when I walk my pack.  I have three dogs, one that loves to run free and play during off leash hours, but now cannot.

There are muzzles that still allow dogs to drink water and take treats but there are also muzzles that are more enclosed if you don't want any potential of anything getting into the muzzle or your dog potentially biting through it.

Muzzles are an amazing tool to desensitize and counter condition your dog to a stimulus safely.  Muzzle desensitization is a several weeks long process as well.  If you feel a muzzle is an excellent path for you and your dog to go down, I encourage you to join the Facebook group of Muzzle pups.

Tap on Announcements to find fabulous muzzle information, including desensitization videos. Included is a short video of Rebel demonstrating the beginning of muzzle training.

I am happy to coach your through muzzle train your fuzzy for their safety.

If you believe your dog could benefit from my services, please get in touch.