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To muzzle or not to muzzle? If you are a new pet parent, you might be wondering if it’s a good idea to use one because this gear is quite controversial in the canine community. There are animal rights groups that are totally against the idea, yet there are dog trainers who strongly recommend it.
Muzzling dogs is often seen as an inhumane act. It’s often misunderstood but the truth is this only depends on how a pet owner uses it. Just because a dog is wearing a muzzle does not mean he’s bad or he’s a biting dog. Here are the reasons why would you want to consider muzzling your pooch.
- It helps control aggression. There are many possible reasons why dogs display hostile behavior. In most cases, it’s just how they react to a frightening experience. Fear can cause even the friendliest dog to suddenly become aggressive. It’s possible that he senses danger or he cannot escape from something or someone. Maybe it’s just his way of defending himself from a perceived danger. Dogs from shelters and rescue centers usually exhibit aggressive behavior due to abuse or having experienced a traumatic situation with their previous owners. If you got a rescue dog displaying aggression like growling and biting, you should consider obedience training. For the meantime, you can use a muzzle when going out with your dog before the training starts.
- Putting on a muzzle may be required in your state for specific breeds. Putting on a muzzle is actually a requirement in some countries for specific breeds. United States has no federal law imposing a ban on dangerous breeds of dogs, but in other parts of the world like the United Kingdom and Ireland, it’s mandatory to securely muzzle certain breeds while keeping them on lead in public. Breeds of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans in the U.S. include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and American bulldogs. It’s better to be safe than sorry so if you think your pooch is likely to bite or cause injury, better put that muzzle on when going outside.
- It gives you the peace of mind during trainings. Certified professional dog trainer Katelyn Schutz said a muzzle can give you the confidence that your pet sitter can safely walk a leash-reactive dog without incident. Many dogs react while on leash because that’s their way of expressing their frustration, perhaps due to the fact that they cannot chase a critter or other moving objects. Some dogs tend to chase everything out of prey drive and it’s a natural canine instinct. Most dogs are reactive and in such a case, using a muzzle can be a very useful tool in modifying their behavior.
- It calms down a dog during vet visits. It’s not surprising to see dogs showing anxious behavior during trips to the vet. Many dogs fear the vet because of a traumatic experience in the past. Because of fear, they resort to snapping and even biting that a vet is left without a choice but to use a muzzle. If you are struggling in making your veterinary visits a pleasant experience for your pooch, putting on a muzzle can be of great help. With a muzzle on, vets or their assistants can safely handle a terrified or injured pet during emergency.
- It may be appropriate to use during grooming sessions. There are instances when dogs don’t like being groomed. Some dogs even require sedation just to calm down. If your dog is not familiar with a groomer, you may consider a muzzle to ensure the groomer’s safety.
Types of Canine Muzzle
Not all muzzles are created equal. They come in various styles and materials. In addition to your intention of putting on a muzzle on your pet, it is also important to know which type to use based on your pet’s situation.
- Basket type – it’s the most popular and also the safest type to use because dogs can drink or pant easily while wearing it. Basket muzzles are made of different types of materials, but the common ones are plastic, wire, and leather. Apparently, leather basket muzzles are a bit more expensive compared to plastic but they are preferred by many because they exude an elegant design. Plastic muzzles are much more affordable and comfortable than wire types but be cautious in buying them because your dog may bite them if they are made of cheap plastic.
- Occlusion type – this one is specially created for biting dogs because it completely shuts a dog’s mouth. The advantage of using it is it’s compact enough so you don’t have to worry that it might fall out of place. The disadvantage is it could heighten a dog’s fear if not used accordingly. This type of dog muzzle is usually made of durable fabric. Because it’s not as breathable as a basket muzzle, occlusion muzzles are only ideal to use for a short period.
- Police style – this one is especially made for protection training. Also known as agitation muzzle, the purpose of using this one is to encourage aggression. Police service dogs like the Belgian Malinois are trained to bite and hold a suspect’s torso.
Our Top 5 Dog Muzzles
ProGuard Softie Muzzle Giant Red
It’s ideal for breeds with a long snout, like Great Danes, Newfoundlands, and St. Bernards. Pro-Guard Softie line topped our list because it’s created with comfort in mind, not to mention that it’s a bang for the buck. With this muzzle on, your pooch can still bark but not as loud as he usually does.
As the name implies, Softie is made of a very soft and comfortable material, which makes it ideal if you need to prevent your pet from licking stitches. It’s made of DuPont fabric, which is known for its quality and versatility. Since it’s easy to wash, you can run it through the washing machine several times and not worry that it will no longer hold up well.
The side panels are made from nylon while the front section is made from fishnet plastic mesh to let dogs pant and breathe. You can easily snap it behind your pet’s head because it comes with an adjustable back strap. In addition to the giant size, it’s available in five more sizes, ranging from extra-small to extra-large.
While it’s suitable for most dogs, Softie is not something you would like to use if your pooch is very aggressive or notorious for biting or attacking. Your dog might end up destroying the gear so you need something durable like leather.
- Made from patented DuPont fabric
- Easy to wash and care
- 16” circumference around muzzle nose
- 21” to 33” neck strap
Canine Friendly Short Snout Dog Muzzle
Brachycephalic dogs or short-nosed breeds are prone to breathing difficulties because they have narrowed nostrils or an overly long soft palate. Finding the perfect muzzle for them may be a bit tricky, because you will need to prioritize breathability in buying one.
As the brand name implies, this one is truly canine friendly because it’s made with mesh to allow a brachycephalic dog breathe properly. It’s a bit pricier than some of the muzzles here but it’s value for money because it is constructed with durable nylon.
In case you are worried about the mesh getting onto your pet’s eyes, you will like its soft bumper feature. What’s more, it’s so easy to put on since it’s designed with buckles on the side. Just make sure you are getting the appropriate size for your pooch so you will not have a hard time buckling it behind his head. The only concern about it is the reviews stating that the small size is too small for their dogs. But feature-wise, it’s still one of those quality muzzles you will likely purchase for your pet.
- Made from durable nylon and breathable mesh
- With a side-release buckle
- With soft bumpers
- Comes in small to extra-large size
Bestia Maximus Basket Muzzle
Bestia’s muzzles are known for their soft nose pads, which ensure your pet will not get hurt while wearing them. This muzzle, which comes in black and brown colors, is specially created for large and giant breeds like German Shepherds, Neapolitanian Mastiffs, and Dogue de Bordeaux.
Basket muzzles are great for most dogs, regardless if they are giant breeds or not. It’s the safest type you can use for your dog. What we like most about this it’s not only comfortable to use on dogs. Function meets style in this muzzle because in addition to the perfect breathability, it comes in studded leather design.
This leather muzzle is a bit on the higher end, but it’s pretty understood since it’s made of 100% genuine leather. If you don’t mind spending more for a fashionable yet durable muzzle then you cannot go wrong with this one.
You can find muzzles made of different types of leather but genuine leather is known for being the strongest type of all. When it comes to durability, genuine and natural leather is your best choice.
- Easy to use with its basket design
- Made of 100% genuine and natural leather
- Fits medium to giant breeds
- Handmade quality
- Made in Europe
GoodBoy Gentle Muzzle
If you’re still not convinced about putting on a muzzle on your dog, this gentle muzzle can be the answer to your problem. This one is created with safety in mind, because it has a comfortable padding that eliminates chafing. GoodBoy stays true to their commitment that muzzles should never be painful for dogs.
Your dog can still drink or pant even with this gear on, without compromising its real function which is to keep your dog from biting or causing injury to others. It’s ideal for pet parents who have not tried muzzling their dogs before because it comes with a guide that shows how to safely introduce the gear.
This one is ideal to use if you want to prevent your pet from biting or eating things he’s not supposed to eat. Let’s admit it, some dogs chew everything they see. There’s also a medical condition called Pica wherein an animal craves non-food items. Many dogs with this condition are being trained how to accept wearing a basket muzzle at an early age.
For extra security, this gear is packed with a bonus collar and a connection strap. It lets your dog walk naturally without risk of injury to the head or neck because of the safer lead attachment location.
- Soft Neoprene Padding
- Gear comes with an easy to follow training guide
- Comes in four different sizes
- With high-quality plastic buckles
- With bonus collar and connection strap
Dean & Tyler Muzzle Pro with Ventilation Holes
Looking for a heavy duty muzzle for your pooch? This one is among the best ones you can find online. Besides Dean & Tyler’s simple yet elegant product line, it’s made with nothing but only the highest quality materials. Heavy duty leather muzzles like these are ideal when grooming overly aggressive dogs or those that are likely to attack.
The leather-covered steel bar is glued and stitched for extra durability during agitation work. It is recommended for German Shepherds and similar breeds. This kind of muzzle is not just perfect for training dogs. Any dog with a penchant for licking or eating rocks and garbage will benefit from this kind of muzzle. Since it comes with ventilation holes, you can guarantee your pet can properly cool down or pant.
- Professionally hand-crafted
- Has a steel bar
- Heavy duty for large and giant breeds
- Made of high-quality leather muzzle
- Elegant black color
How to Get Your Dog to Wear a Muzzle
Your dog may be the sweetest pooch out there, but believe it or not, even the friendliest of all dogs can be aggressive when the situation calls for it. It’s just normal for dogs to show aggression when they are scared or hurt. For instance, a dog may be afraid to be examined if he went through a series of unpleasant experiences in previous vet visits. In this case, you may consider putting on a muzzle. If it’s your first time, here are things you can do to help your pooch become comfortable with it:
- Offer some treats. Do it several times until your pet gets used to the smell and feel of the muzzle. Keep that treat ready for every attempt you make. Stop giving treats as soon as you removed the gear. If you’re able to put it on without a hassle, praise your dog for a job well done.
- Associate the muzzle with something fun, like your pet’s favorite food or car rides, if your fur baby enjoys wandering around.
- Keep trying. For each attempt, try to increase the time you are putting it on your dog. Start by putting it on for half a minute then increase it to one minute the next time. And don’t forget the treats!
- Be gentle in slipping it onto your pet’s nose. Applying force might make your pooch think the gear may harm him. It might even make a dog more assertive.
- Don’t show any reaction when training your pet to wear the muzzle. Your dog will sense when you’re feeling sorry for him. Likewise, he will only feel uncomfortable when you teased him while wearing it.
It’s nice to keep a muzzle in handy because you never know when you are going to need it. You’ll want to have one in your first aid kit. But remember, a muzzle is created for temporary restraint only. Even if a certain gear offers excellent breathability, it is not safe to keep it on for an extended period because it may interfere with your pet’s natural cooling system.
It is advisable to keep your pet attended at all times while he’s wearing the gear. A muzzle is not recommended for heavy barkers. If your pet is barking a lot and you cannot seem to control it, you may need to seek the help of an animal behaviorist to resolve anxiety issues.
Putting on a muzzle on your pet is not inhumane as long as it’s done with a good intention. It actually goes to show that you are being responsible, especially if you know your dog is likely to behave in a forceful way when in public. Muzzling a dog just ensures everybody’s safety.
It only boils down to your intent and the type of muzzle you are going to use. Most of the products you can find these days are created with your pet’s safety and comfort in mind, with features like easy to use buckle and adjustable slider so you don’t have to worry about putting it on your pet.
If you liked this article, please check out more below:
- Can Dogs Feel Depressed? What You Need to Know
- Why Training Your Puppy Is The Best Thing You’ll Do For You Both
- 10 Best Leather Dog Collars That You Will Immediately Love