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Muzzles are OK: Teaching your dog to wear one can help keep everyone safe

May 1, 2016

Making muzzles OK, rather than a scary symbol that means an animal is dangerous, is a message that BC SPCA manager of animal welfare Kim Monteith would like to help spread far and wide.

“Dogs may have to wear a muzzle for many reasons – they may be reactive dogs, they could be fearful or show aggression toward other dogs, or perhaps, they don’t like to be handled at the vet or groomer’s,” Monteith says. “People see them and they might get nervous, or think something is wrong with the dog. We need to change that.”

Basket muzzles that allow the dog to breathe, pant and eat properly while wearing are optimal if a pet guardian needs to use a muzzle, Monteith notes.

“Sometimes, you just want to make sure everyone stays safe, including your pet, especially if he’s fearful and experiencing something new,” she says. “Teaching your dog to wear a muzzle can help protect everyone, no matter what the reason your pet may need to wear it.”

When teaching your pet dog to wear a muzzle, it’s important to make it fun, and help him feel comfortable wearing it.

“To help him learn that the muzzle equals something good, simply bring out the muzzle and then give a treat,” Monteith says. “You want him to see the muzzle and think, ‘Yay! A treat is coming.’ Once he’s really happy about seeing the muzzle, then start feeding the treats through his muzzle, and get him used to having his nose in the muzzle – soon, it becomes normal and he won’t think it’s strange to have it on when you’re going out.”

It is also important to fit the muzzle properly, and to never leave it on your pet unattended, Monteith says, as your pet can be seriously harmed if a muzzle is left on and gets caught or snags on something while your pet is unsupervised.