How to muzzle train your dog
STEP 1: Muzzle type and size
- Choose the design and size that are suitable for your dog’s needs.
- Basketmuzzles, usually made from plastic or rubber are the preferred choice, especially for long-term regular use. Soft fabric muzzles don’t allow dogs to pant or drink and dog’s may still be able to “nip” with these on.
STEP 2: Fun introduction
- In a safe and comfortable area, scatter your dog’s favourite treats on the floor beside and inside the muzzle. Encourage your dog to approach and investigate the muzzle.
STEP 3: Wait for them to come
- Holding the muzzle in your hand or between your knees, place a few of your dog’s favourite treats (or doggy friendly peanut butter) on the inside of the muzzle.
- Hold the muzzle still, avoid approaching your dog with the muzzle at this stage. Be patient and wait for them to approach the muzzle.
- It’s important to avoid closing the strap on the muzzle at this stage. Leave it open for your dog to explore freely.
- Repeat this step many times and slowly introduce movement. When your dog’s nose is in the muzzle, slowly remove the muzzle away from them and towards you.
STEP 4: Getting used to the straps
- Close the strap, but make sure to make it longer so that it’s loose. Repeat step 3, encouraging your dog to put their head through the strap and then into the muzzle. Give them a treat and encouragement when they place their nose in the muzzle.
- Don’t rush this step. Make sure your dog is comfortable with the noise of the strap closing.
STEP 5: Closing the straps
- When your dog is comfortable with step 4, slowly introduce opening and closing the strap when your dog puts their nose in.
- Start by moving the straps around their head without closing them. This will get them used to the feeling of the muzzle becoming tighter on their face.
- When you start closing the strap completely, only leave it closed for a few seconds and clowly build this time up. Reward your dog for being calm and still.
STEP 6: Fun activities when wearing the muzzle
- Feed your dog through the muzzle and then take it off. Do something your dog enjoys, like hiding their favourite treat for them to find while wearing the muzzle.
- Gradually build up the length of time that your dog wears the muzzle.
STEP 7: Building up time wearing the muzzle
- Plan positive experiences in advance for when your dog is wearing the muzzle so that it doesn’t become associated with things they may find frightening.
- Start to take them on small, quiet walks while wearing the muzzle and build them up slowly.
If your dog seems unsure at any point during muzzle training, try to go back one step and take more time. Repeat each step as often as needed; every dog is different and some adapt more quickly than others.
Muzzles should never be used as the only method of dealing with a dog that has bitten and instead should be used as an extra safety measure alongside a behaviour modification program.
If you have any concerns about your dog or need help with muzzle training, Joii is here to help. Download the app and speak to one of our vets now, who can also refer you to our behaviourist.