Muzzle Training - A step-by-step guide
Going to the vets can be a scary time for your dog, particularly if they are in pain, and it can be hard for them to understand what is going on. If they are being held onto and being closely examined they may feel that they have no way in which to escape. Some dogs may resort to growling, snapping or biting to show that they are uncomfortable, worried or scared.
If you feel that your dog may growl, snap or bite, or you are just not sure, it is a good idea to get your dog used to wearing a muzzle. If your vet asks you to muzzle train your dog please do not be offended, it is to ensure that the vet, yourself and the dog is kept safe.
Most dogs do not enjoy wearing a muzzle for the first time as it can be an odd feeling and it may make them even more anxious when going to the vets. By following our step-by-step guide you will turn wearing a muzzle into a much more pleasurable experience for them and produce long-lasting results. Allow plenty of time to muzzle train your dog before you next need to use it at the vets.
Step 1: If you have tried using a muzzle before unsuccessfully or your dog is simply worried by the sight of it, do not attempt to put it on him yet. Instead, place the muzzle on the floor and encourage him to sniff or touch it. Every time he does give him lots of praise and a super tasty treat. DO NOT FORCE HIM TO TOUCH THE MUZZLE. When he is happily touching the muzzle and looking at you for a treat you can progress to the next step.
Step 2: Place a tasty treat, such as a piece of cheese or sausage, into the muzzle and allow the dog to put his nose in it and take it straight back out. Do not attempt to close the muzzle at this point. Once he gets used to putting his nose into the muzzle you can give this action the name ‘muzzle on’.
Step 3: Place a few treats in the bottom of the muzzle. When he goes to put his nose in, say to him ‘muzzle on’, and then hold the straps behind his head for a few seconds, release and allow him to take his nose out. Repeat this action until your dog is relaxed with this. You may find talking to you dog, telling him he is being good, will help him feel more relaxed when you are holding the muzzle on.
Step 4: Follow step 3 but this time, close the clasp of the muzzle behind his head. Undo the clasp straight away and allow him to take his nose out. Rushing at this point will undo the good work that you have done so far.
Step 5: Slowly start to increase the length of time that you leave the muzzle on for. Remember to put your treats in the muzzle before he puts his nose in, keep talking to him to tell him is doing well and you may want to try feeding him tasty treats once the muzzle is clipped up.
- If your dog gets worried at any point, take a break and then start again from the previous step, you may just have been moving too quickly.
- If you will only be using the muzzle at the vets, put it on your dog for short periods randomly at home or when doing something enjoyable otherwise your dog will soon learn that when he sees the muzzle it means a dreaded trip to the vets!
- Use a basket muzzle and not a fabric muzzle. A basket muzzle is safer for those around as it is fully enclosed and it is also better for your dog as they can open their mouths more fully in order to still be able to eat and drink and so will be more relaxed. A basket muzzle also allows them pant, which they will often do in times of stress, and the gaps allow you to pop small treats through to carry on rewarding good behaviour.
- Make sure that you have the basket muzzle the right way up. The shorter length sits on top of the nose with the longer length underneath the chin.
If you have any questions about this guide, or have any other training questions, then please call us on 0844 248 8181 or email firstname.lastname@example.org