Even if a dog’s behavior is exemplary, dog owners should be aware that teaching a dog to wear a muzzle is useful across a variety of situations. While a muzzle can prevent dog bites, it’s also useful as a preventive measure or temporary tool for a stressful situation, a groomer or vet visit or in case your dog requires medical care.

Keep reading to learn when should you use a muzzle on a dog, when not to and how to train your pet to wear one.

Dog wearing basket muzzle concept image for when should you use a muzzle on a dog.

Types of Dog Muzzles

Let’s look at the different types of muzzles.

Basket Muzzle

Basket muzzles are perfect for trips to the dog park, walks and surgery recovery. While they might look a little more intimidating, your pet might prefer them to soft muzzles because they don’t hold your dog’s mouth closed.

Soft Muzzle

A soft muzzle wraps around your dog’s nose and mouth, holding it closed. Because they stop a dog from panting, which is the only way it can cool down, only use this type of muzzle for very short periods. Never use a soft muzzle in hot weather because the dog can’t cool off or drink water.

Homemade Dog Muzzle

In an emergency, you might be forced to fashion a homemade muzzle as a last resort. Only use this type of muzzle for a short period — but ideally, aim to purchase an “official” one for your dog just in case.

Muzzle Misconceptions

Here are some common misconceptions about using a muzzle:

  • Muzzles are only for aggressive dogs: Even the friendliest dogs can become fearful and most aggressive dogs when injured or in a threatening situation.
  • A muzzled dog is a bite risk: Although they’re often used to prevent biting, not every dog wearing a muzzle is a dangerous dog.
  • Muzzles are cruel: A well-fitting, basket-style muzzle won’t cause discomfort or distress, provided a positive association is established. Adjust the neck strap so you can fit one finger between it and your dog’s head.

Young female owner putting a muzzle to her dog.

When Should You Use a Muzzle On a Dog and Why is It Necessary

Here are some of the occasions a dog owner might need to put a muzzle on their pet.

For an Injured or Frightened Dog

After an injury or surgery, a dog might feel vulnerable and be more likely to bite people or other dogs. It might behave in a way that’s completely out of character, which is why we recommend you carry a muzzle in your dog kit.

If Your Dog Has a Bite History or Displays Aggressive Behavior

While it’s possible to train most dogs out of aggression, it’s a process. You might have a dog with behavioral problems due to being abused in the past. You’ll need to make sure they wear a muzzle while you seek behavior modification training to protect other animals and people.

Stressful Situations and Grooming Sessions and Vet Visits

Animal behavior can be unpredictable, but it’s common for sweet-natured dogs to get scared during stressful situations such as the vet or grooming salon. Procedures like nail trimming and bathing can be particularly disconcerting.

Specific Dog Breeds Require a Muzzle by Law

Some locations designate certain breeds as dangerous and have laws that these dogs must wear muzzles in public areas. Pit bulls, mastiffs and rottweilers are examples of breeds that might be required to wear one in specific states.

Dog wearing muzzle during vet visit.

Muzzle Training Step-by-Step Process

It’s important to train your dog to use a muzzle ahead of time because introducing it while your dog is distressed is likely to lead to a strong negative association.

Let’s look at how to train a dog to accept a muzzle:

  • Place the muzzle on the floor and give your dog a treat each time it sniffs it.
  • Gently touch the muzzle on your dog’s face, and then, give it a treat and repeat until a positive association is established.
  • Use a treat to tempt your dog to put their nose in the muzzle and repeat until your dog is completely at ease.
  • Slip the muzzle on your dog’s head and give it a few treats through the cage. Repeat until the dog is comfortable.
  • Put the muzzle on, fasten the strap, give your dog a treat and then remove the muzzle immediately.
  • Slowly increase the amount of time it wears the muzzle. Start slowly introducing your dog’s collar and leash along with the muzzle.

Should You Hire a Professional Dog Trainer?

Animal behavior is highly complex, and maintaining the demeanor necessary to calmly and consistently introduce a muzzle isn’t easy. Let the friendly professionals at The Dog Wizard take care of training to ensure your dog has the best experience of muzzle training. Call us today at (877) 585-9727 to find out more about our dog training services.