Yes yes, muzzles are a training tool for dogs who are reactive to other dogs or people but the reasons for using a muzzle do not end there. It’s important to remember that if you see a muzzled dog, they are not a bad dog, what you are seeing is a responsible owner taking the correct precautions for all be it other dogs, specific people, wildlife, or the muzzled dog itself.
The process of muzzle training is not a “cruel” or “lazy” one despite some misinformed opinions out there, some of which assume the muzzle is simply shoved onto the snout. Professional canine behaviourists will tell you it takes time, trust, patience, and a lot of peanut butter!
Keen to learn more? Here are some of the reasons besides nerves and reactivity that the muzzled dog you spot on your daily walks may be sporting the head gear:
Wildlife scavenging: They say, “the early bird catches the worm” but in some cases it’s “the dog catches the poor defenceless squirrel”. It’s not their fault, many breeds have strong prey instincts or perhaps they’re just greedy and consider horse poop or roadkill to be a delicacy. Either way, it’s not good for the dog or the local wildlife. Good recall training and a muzzle will help avoid tragedy.
Food scavenging: For some dog owners, the sight of their four-legged friend’s head in a bin a common occurrence. The embarrassment of picnics being raided is one thing but the worry of (potentially expensive!) trips to the vet for eating toxic things is just too much of a risk for some. This is when an anti-scavenging muzzle may be required. Our Baskerville Classic muzzle is a comfortable and humane design that offers enough room for dogs to pant, cool down and drink but the extra guard at the front means they can’t eat things they shouldn’t!
New situations or people: Like people, some dogs are shy and anxious of new experiences and so, rather than risk anything dangerous a muzzle can be used to protect both animal and human.
Wound licking: While Pixar’s movie “UP” made the “cone of shame” a sweet and relatable giggle for all, the reality is that recovery collars and cones aren’t very practical, especially on walks. The muzzled dog you see may just be recovering from surgery and the owner is taking precautionary steps to avoid the risk of infection.
Legislation: In many countries it is actually unlawful to bring your unmuzzled dog to certain places. Whether it’s breed related or behavioural history, seeing a muzzled dog should only give more credit to the owner. For example, in Italy all dogs need to be muzzled on public transport. It’s the law!
So next time you see a muzzled dog out and about, take a moment and consider all the possible reasons this owner may have taken the time to muzzle train their much-loved pet.