Muzzle training a dog has many benefits from preventing bites to making visiting the groomers or vet a breeze!
Do you have a dog that you cant take to the groomers or have difficulty at the vet because your dog may be a “bite risk?”
Well, then Muzzle training a dog is a great option! In this article, we’ll go over how to muzzle train a dog so that your dog enjoys putting on the muzzle instead of it being a fight.
Why Muzzle Train Your Dog?
You may be wondering why even spend time muzzle training a dog in the first place?
The simple answer is that dogs bite for a variety of reasons. Many of the reasons dogs bite can be successfully trained so that the dog never decides to bite again.
Then there are reasons where a dog simply can’t be trained to not bite. For instance, pain, many times as dogs get older they may feel joint, hip, or other physical pains that if touched a bite may be quick to follow as a reflex response even if your dog didn’t want to bite.
Think about it this way, when was the last time you stumped your toe on the corner of a table? You likely responded by being upset or yelling.
Even better, think about the last time someone scared you unexpectedly. The response most humans have, when scared unexpectedly, is a reflex.
Most humans will likely yell when scared or reflexively throw a punch.
The same is true for dogs.
More often than not training a dog not to bite is very achievable but, the muzzle provides you with a tool to prevent any bites from occurring, especially at the vet where dogs may have to get medications and vaccines.
So remember that muzzle training a dog is a great tool to prevent dog bites, especially if your pup has a pain response, or if your training your pup not to bite.
Type Of Dog Muzzle’s
There are a variety of different dog muzzles to choose from, below we will go over some dog muzzles we recommend and some we suggest avoiding.
Recommended Dog Muzzle:
Basket Muzzle With Forehead Strap: The Basket Muzzle with the forehead strap is the muzzle we recommend.
The reason we love this dog muzzle is that the basket muzzle allows the dog the breathe, drink water, and even take treats.
The reason we love the forehead strap is so that your dog won’t be able to pull the muzzle down and take it off.
Not Recommended Dog Muzzle:
Nylon Muzzle: We don’t recommend the nylon muzzle because it essentially shuts the dog’s mouth limiting your dog’s breathing, ability to drink water, and take rewards.
We also don’t recommend this muzzle because it doesn’t have the forehead strap, which ensures that your dog doesn’t just paw at the muzzle and take it off.
Muzzle Training A Dog 101
Now that we understand what muzzle you should be using let jump into beginning muzzle training a dog!
Many times when we want to muzzle a dog we simply just shove the muzzle on your dog which makes your dog dislike the muzzle more and more!
Instead of getting a muzzle and just “making ” your dog wear it, we want to change the way your pup perceives the muzzle, so your dog wants to put the muzzle on.
Phase One: Creating a positive association
The first step in muzzle training before we even put the muzzle on your dog, is creating a positive association so your dog begins viewing the muzzle as something good and not bad.
- Get your pups food or treats
- Take out the dog muzzle
- Anytime your dog touches the muzzle with his/her nose give a treat
- Continue doing this until the next time you take out the muzzle your pup instantly touches the muzzle enthusiastically.
This first phase again is about teaching your pup that every time the dog muzzle is out good things happen.
Phase 2: Inside The Muzzle
Now that your dog understands that the muzzle is a predictor of good things “reward, treats, etc.”
Now it’s time to toss some food inside the muzzle, and begin getting your pup comfortable eating out of the muzzle.
- Toss a piece of your pups food or treat inside the muzzle
- allow your pup to eat the food
- Repeat until your pup is eating out the muzzle with no issue’s
Phase 3: Offering The Behavior
At this point, your pup should enjoy touching the muzzle with his/her nose and is comfortable eating out the muzzle.
The next step is instead of tossing treats inside the muzzle, you want to begin allowing your pup to offer the behavior of putting his nose inside the muzzle.
Whenever your pup goes inside the muzzle, then you reward your dog.
If your pup is struggling with putting his nose inside the muzzle you can either attempt to help help your pup by pointing or simply allow your pup to problem solve and wait until your dog puts his nose inside the muzzle by himself.
Be sure to make it a major reward when your dog does willingly puts his nose inside the muzzle on his own “you just won the lottery!”
- Take muzzle out
- Wait for your dog to poke or put his/her nose in the muzzle
- provide help by pointing
- reward heavily when your dog does put nose inside the muzzle
- repeat and, only reward your pup for putting his/her nose in the muzzle
Phase 4: Naming The Behavior
Now that your dog is comfortable and can put his/her nose inside the muzzle for a longer time than before.
We now want to name begin to name the behavior so that next time all you have to say is “muzzle” for your pup to put his/her nose inside the muzzle.
- Take out the dog muzzle
- Say “muzzle” before presenting the muzzle to your pup
- when your pup puts his/her nose inside the muzzle reward
Phase 6: Increasing duration
By this point, your dog should want to put his/her nose inside the muzzle because the muzzle represents good things to your pup.
The very next phase is to begin increasing the amount of time your dog has his/her nose inside of the muzzle.
Instead of rewarding your pup for just putting his/her nose inside of the muzzle. We are now only rewarding your dog for having his/her nose inside the muzzle for a longer time.
For instance, if your dog puts his/her nose inside the muzzle for a second. Next time only reward your dog when his/her nose is inside the muzzle for 3 seconds, then 6 seconds, and so on.
You can use verbal praise “good” when your pup has his/her nose inside the muzzle to encourage your dog.
- Take muzzle out
- Say “muzzle” wait for your dog to put his/her nose inside the muzzle
- Reward only if your dog kept his nose inside the muzzle for longer than his last repetition.
- Begin gradually increasing the amount of time your dog has to keep his nose inside the muzzle to get rewarded.
- Be sure to use verbal praise to let your pup he’s doing a good job.
Phase 7: Adding The Straps
At this point, your dog should be able to put his/her nose inside the muzzle for an extended time, not just a second or 2.
Your dog should be comfortable having his/her nose inside the muzzle. Now we want to begin connecting the straps and then reward your pup through the basket muzzle.
- Say Muzzle
- When your dog puts his/her nose inside the muzzle say “good”
- While your dog’s nose is inside reward your pup through the muzzle
- begin putting the muzzle straps together
- when all straps are together reward your pup allot for not pawing at the muzzle.
- Repeat, until fluent
What To Avoid
Whenever we are muzzle training a dog we never want to force your pup to put the muzzle.
The reason for this is because by forcing your dog to put the muzzle on you are essentially deciding for your dog.
Instead, this whole article is about teaching your dog how to want to put his nose in the muzzle on his own because good things happen vs us deciding for our dogs.
Muzzle training a dog doesn’t have to be difficult, if you follow the guidelines above you will quickly find that your pup will love the dog muzzle because we took the time to teach your pup that the muzzle isn’t anything bad!
Receive your free dog training consultation and set your pup up for success!