Features August 2009 Issue

Training Your Dog to Comfortably Wear a Muzzle

Why (and how) to condition your dog to comfortably wear a muzzle.

Long thought to be a sign of a “bad dog,” muzzles are more commonly seen today on ordinary pet dogs who are being proactively managed by a smart owner! But our guess is that many of our readers haven’t given a second thought to introducing a muzzle to their precious pooches. In reality, it would behoove all of us to consider purchasing a muzzle and familiarizing our dogs to it before we’re put into a situation of having to use one. Face it, some of our dogs just do not like to be handled. Bing, a Belgian Sheepdog belonging to Ali Brown, trainer and author of Scaredy Dog! and Focus Not Fear, doesn’t like people touching him. So she free-shaped him to accept (read: love) a nylon muzzle, and now he wears one for veterinary visits, chiropractic adjustments, and grooming appointments. No matter how sweet, a dog in pain can bite. A muzzle can be a lifesaver if your dog has a critical injury and needs medical help. Chances are good that the emergency vet staff might want to muzzle your dog. Two years ago when we thought that Axel, my large Bouvier, was bloating, the ER vet told us that he’d be muzzling Axel as a precaution during the exam. Although I wasn’t thrilled - Axel was a highly regarded therapy dog - I relented, putting myself in the shoes of the vet who was dealing with a “scary” large breed dog whom he didn’t know, and one who was possibly in a great amount of pain. (Note: no bloat!)

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