How to Muzzle a Dog to Prevent Biting

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A dog may bite out of fear or aggression, but slipping a muzzle over his nose and mouth and securing it with a strap is an effective way to prevent biting. Different types of muzzles include:

  • Grooming muzzles
  • Loft muzzles
  • Leather muzzles
  • Plastic or metal basket muzzles

Muzzles prevent dogs from opening their jaws very wide, and provide a barrier to inhibit biting. Dogs can breathe freely when wearing a muzzle. Some types, such as grooming muzzles, are open on the end, so your dog can still lap up a drink of water while wearing it.

Step 1: Getting Acquainted

Show your dog the muzzle. Let him sniff it and thoroughly check it out if he wants to.

Step 2: Use Positive Association

Hold a treat near the muzzle and encourage your dog to move in close to it to receive his treat.

Step 3: Reinforce the Positive

Place a treat inside the muzzle and let your dog eat the treat out of it.

Step 4: Slip It On

Place the muzzle over your dog's nose and mouth, but don't secure it with the strap. Speak gently and reassuringly while the muzzle is in place. Remove it after a short time, as little as 15 seconds or as long as a minute, depending on how your dog reacts to being muzzled.

Warning

  • If your dog becomes anxious and panics when you put the muzzle on, remove it immediately and spend more time repeating the previous steps of giving him treats near and in the muzzle.

Tip

  • Slip a treat into the muzzle while your dog is wearing it, if possible to provide additional positive association with it.

Step 5: Strap It In Place

Secure the strap in back of your dog's head once he's used to wearing it without panicking. Some use buckles and some have snap clips, but make sure it's secure without being too tight.

Warning

    • Muzzles should not be left on for extensive periods of time. Different dogs handle wearing a muzzle differently, and some may be able to wear one longer than others. Watch your dog for signs that your dog's becoming frustrated or anxious while wearing the muzzle and remove it immediately
    •  Muzzles are useful for preventing biting, but they are not a treatment for aggression. Jackie Ferrier, canine aggression researcher and author of "The Dog Aggression System," recommends helping your dog learn to deal with his aggressive tendencies through training and socialization.   

Tip

  • Leave the muzzle on your dog for longer periods each time you put it on him. Sherry Woodard, a behavior consultant at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, recommends that you make sure your dog isn't preoccupied with the muzzle and can focus his attention elsewhere before you start training him with it or take him out in public while wearing it.

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