Why I love muzzles

Suggest to someone that they muzzle their dog and you get reactions ranging from anger or distress to horror. Take a dog out wearing a muzzle and some people will drag their children across the street and whisper hehind their hands. Even among dog trainers and professionals muzzles are often viewed with suspicion – or as an indication of a lazy owner. If a dog is properly trained, some argue, he shouldn’t have to wear a muzzle.

I don’t agree. I think they’re great! Used properly, they are valuable training tools and, sometimes, essential permanent management tools, that allow for safe interaction, training and exercise and remove significant stress from both owner and dog.

Let me be blunt: if a dog has bitten a person in a public place, a second incident is likely cost that dog his life. A dog may be trained and rehabilitated to a high degree, but can we ever be 100% certain that there won’t be another incident? And even if the chance of it is only one in a hundred or a thousand, would you be prepared to take those odds on your dog’s life? Using a muzzle, in situations where the owner cannot completely control access to people, such as when the dog is off lead or in a crowded place, allows the owner to relax and the dog still to enjoy freedom, while ensuring that the public – and the dog – are kept safe. A win-win.

Muzzles are also great when working with dog-reactive dogs, both on lead and off. The muzzle allows dogs to be assessed and to work with other dogs, without putting the other dogs at risk. It may also allow a dog to play off lead with other dogs, where the issue is more inappropriate nipping and grabbing than serious aggression. Most importantly, using the muzzle stops the owner feeling anxious, which immediately improves the chances of the dog not being reactive!

But preventing biting is only one reason a dog might need to be muzzled. There are several other reasons:

  • To stop scavenging: if a dog is on a restricted diet, using a muzzle can avoid the risk of picking up and eating unwanted food.  If the diet is due to a medical condition or allergy, this could be live-saving.
  • To protect wildlife: some breeds will instinctively chase and, potentially, kill small animals (rabbits, hares, squirrels) – a muzzle will mean that the chase does not end in a kill.
  • To prevent self-harm: if a dog has a wound or a sore area, a muzzle may be more acceptable, especially outside or in the car, than the “Cone of Shame“, but will still protect the wound from licking and chewing.
  • To allow safe handling in the case of injury: understandably a dog that is injured and in pain might try to bite those helping him – a muzzle can allow him to be treated.
  • To comply with the law: several countries have muzzle laws which affect specific breeds, regardless of whether they have shown aggression. In some cases the list includes most bull breeds and a significant number of other large breeds.

My absolute favourite reason is the one I overheard a young hockey-player telling his mother, when he saw my lurcher in her muzzle:

“Look mummy, that dog’s wearing a mouth guard so that it won’t get hit in the teeth by a ball!”

Given their usefulness, I believe muzzle training is essential for all dogs, even if only in case of the injury situation. It is worth taking a little time to teach your dog to see the muzzle as something positive and unthreatening, so that you will be able to use one if you need to. This video by Chirag Patel is an excellent tutorial on how to muzzle train your dog. Have fun!

Note: Please only use basket-style muzzles with your dogs when out on walks. Mesh muzzles that hold the dog’s mouth shut do not allow the dog to pant and should therefore not be used as a day-to-day muzzle or for exercise. Sighthound and Baskerville basket muzzles, such as the one being used in the video, are my favourite types.

Let me know what you think. Have you used muzzles? What do you think when you see dogs wearing them?

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  • Pamela

    Reply Reply 08/01/2012

    My friend has the sweetest cocker spaniel ever who wears a basket muzzle on walks to prevent scavenging. It’s sad to see people avoiding him out of fear.

    I’ve seen some styles of muzzles in bright cheery colors to look less threatening. But the quote about the mouth guard was priceless.

  • Janet Finlay

    Reply Reply 08/01/2012

    Wonderful wasn’t it? I could’ve hugged him!

    It is really sad when people go out of their way to avoid a dog in a muzzle – and rather illogical since of course the muzzle means they are not able to do serious harm even if minded to do so! I like the brightly coloured muzzles and am thinking of getting my lurcher a red one to match the rest of her walking ensemble – will see if it changes people’s reactions!

    Thanks for your comments.

  • Vicki

    Reply Reply 08/01/2012

    I think the message to avoid a dog with a muzzle is needed in some cases. With a dino that is leash aggressive with other dogs, it sends the message, loud and clear, that you and your mdif need to give a wide berth and let this dog pass. I’ve seen way too many situations where a dog who is clearly terrified is chased by off leash dogs because mdif. Even while the owner is screaming at them to leash their dog because hers is traumatized. Mdifs don’t get it and need a visual sometimes.

  • Janet Finlay

    Reply Reply 08/01/2012

    Hi Vicki

    I take your point and agree – indeed I think if a dog is on leash it should be given space by others whether it is muzzled or not – the leash should be enough of a signal (though I realise it isn’t for some people!). A muzzle as well makes the need for space very clear. I really had in mind dogs muzzled off-lead where (in my experience at least) people assume that the dog is people-aggressive, when there may be a whole host of other reasons. In an ideal world I guess people would ask first before they approach rather than making an assumption either way.

    Many thanks for your comments.

  • Kme

    Reply Reply 18/01/2012

    I too have a working cocker spaniel that I’ve had to muzzle. This is because the vets bills were becoming too frequent he would literally eat anything, carcasses, dead birds etc and it wasn’t fair to see him being so sick. What gets me is they just dont learn!! I have a Baskerville muzzle but he hates wearing it. He spends his entire walk trying to get it off when he’s an energetic dog that loves running around I feel like he’s not getting the right exercise if he’s constantly worrying about his muzzle.

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 18/01/2012

      I think they don’t learn because the consequences of being ill are too far removed from the very satisfying and rewarding experience of eating the carcass – sometimes it is frustrating that they can’t rationalise things as we do though! I know it can be difficult when you have an urgent need to use it as you did, but did you introduce the muzzle slowly using lots of treats etc as demonstrated in the video? It really does help to give them a good association with it and even now might be worth trying if you haven’t already. Another thing you can do is TTouch mouth work all around the dog’s mouth – little circles along the muzzle and lips and then (if you can) on the gums (make sure your fingers are wet for that).

      Hope you can make it more acceptable to him.

  • Paula

    Reply Reply 29/04/2012

    Just stumbled on this and so glad i did! I have a 7 year old springer which we adopted two years ago and had many problems due to cruel treatment(found dumped with both back legs broken) He is fear aggressive to bigger dogs but gentle as a lamb to smaller or elderly dogs but will also chase and kill rabbits, small furies and if given the chance i think would kill a cat! Due to this he is kept on lead even knowing his recall is great i have to be careful with off lead dogs who’s recall are not to good and if bigger my dog will tell them where to go and will go deaf if he sees a small fury or birds and then the chase is on! but saying all this he is a loving and gentle boy and loves people and children and is P.A.T registered but would love to give him off lead play…
    After watching this video i will be buying my boy a muzzle and use this method to ensure he sees the muzzle as fun times. Any ideas what games we can play off lead while wearing a muzzle?

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 29/04/2012

      While you obviously can’t play fetch or tug games with the muzzle on, you can still play search games (getting them to indicate hidden things or people), agility type games (jumping, weaving, balancing – we often do these in the woods using fallen trees etc) or training games (nice outdoor ones – recall games between several people, HTM moves etc) – just practice posting the treats through the muzzle so you can reward effectively!
      If you think he might take off after furries and get into difficulties, worth trying a long line.
      Have fun.

    • Patrick

      Reply Reply 16/11/2013

      We own a loving German pointer cross bitch, at home she is perfect with kids and people but is dog aggressive with some dogs, she is only young and needs lots of exercise, we have been to a trainer and have worked on her re call ( this is excellent especially with a whistle) but we are considering using a muzzle to re build confidence with her off lead, I am a bit concerned as the more research I do the more negativity there seems to be about muzzles especially if the dog is off lead ?

      • Janet Finlay

        Reply Reply 18/11/2013

        Hi Patrick Well done on getting so far with your girl – having a great recall is so important. I would certainly train her to wear a muzzle off lead – it will give you confidence and will protect other dogs (even if there is only a small chance of her injuring another dog – do you want to take that risk?). The key is to introduce it properly so she is comfortable wearing it. Make sure you use a light basket style muzzle (the Baskerville Ultra are very good) that fits her well. Teach her to wear it (see video in the post above). I am not sure what negativity you are seeing? Are people saying that muzzled dogs shouldn’t be off lead or that dogs shouldn’t wear muzzles? I think you will always have some people who disagree but, for me, it is the responsible thing to do if your dog has any kind of history of aggression to other dogs. If you have genuinely got her recall to be excellent even with distractions, then the muzzle becomes a safety net – but they are important. If you are worried about people’s perceptions then you can always say she is wearing it because she is a scavenger with a delicate constitution….!

  • Jeff

    Reply Reply 23/11/2012

    I run a doggy day care and had a lab here for a whole month. He is a great dog. Very gentle with people and kids. He also got along very well with my own dog very well. They are best buds now. However, when I decided to watch another couple of dogs we noticed a bit of aggression towards the pit bull coming from the lab. We kept them separate as well as we could, we had the pit bull locked up using a baby gate (built a proper gate after the situation) and the lab was kindly watching TV when he all of a sudden jumped and rushed after the pit bull. Grabbing him by the ear and chomping down hard. He caused some injury to the pit bull and little to say her owner was not too happy (lab owner willing to pay all vet bills thankfully). After this incident I ran out, grabbed a muzzle, and started muzzle training the lab. I have done the same with my own dog. Not because they are going to necessarily be aggressive all the time. My dog hasn’t even shown a sign of aggression but I don’t want to take chances, he plays with an open mouth, giving little nips and being a little s**t disturber. When I have other dogs over here I now keep the two in a separate room and I keep muzzles on both of them (they are plastic cages that allow eating, drinking, and panting). I keep them on the dogs because of they brake loose from their barricade I don’t want to take the chance with other peoples dogs. If I introduce dogs together I am sure to have them in muzzles when introducing them. I don’t want to take chances with other peoples dogs. Although clients sign a waiver letting them know of all the risks involved keeping their dogs with other dogs I would just hate to have a dog fight occur.

    A family dog can be very nice and humble and seem like a “loving and gentle pet” but a person can never be 100% sure when it comes to different situations. It’s my belief that if the public insists in taking their dogs to dog parks to interact with other dogs it be necessary to muzzle their pet. I’ve heard of some pretty brutal dog fights in dog parks, these can easily be prevented.

  • David Lee

    Reply Reply 26/11/2012

    Interesting read. I too like the quote from the child about the mouth guard, very amusing!

    I have a happy little Welsh Terrier who thankfully we only use a small muzzle for when me and my partner are grooming him as he tends to not like it very much and get a bit bitey. We’ve never used a muzzle when out on walks.

    I think the publics conception of Muzzles needs to change. There are many different styles out there which look less like Hannibal Lecter and are of a softer material with mesh. Having said that when I see particular breeds (Staffies, Rottweilers) wearing muzzles I can’t help wondering how agressive they are or if they have attacked someone before?

    There are many great alternatives to muzzles on the market now, which the public need to be made of aware of.

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 18/11/2013

      The softer mesh muzzles are only really suitable for short term use when handling (for example at the vet or groomers). They should not be used during exercise as they don’t allow the dog to pant properly. Basket muzzles are the best for that – and there are some comfy light ones like the Baskerville Ultra plus brightly coloured ones – I am sure dogs wearing pink muzzles are less alarming! 🙂

  • Ken

    Reply Reply 27/12/2012

    About 4 days ago, we adopted a rescue Jack Russell terrier mix. He’s 3 yrs old and is wonderful with people, children, other dogs, but has a major problems with my 2 cats. His predator instinct comes out and he goes after them. I don’t want to give him up, but I’m trying to come up with ways to reduce the danger to my cats and hopefully to change his attitude toward them.
    Currently I keep the JRT, his name is Merlin, separated from my cats by having a gate dividing my house. I’m wondering if as a method to acclimate everyone, if I used a muzzle on Merlin, when attempting to introduce the cats and him? If he were to charge the cats, at least he wouldn’t be able to harm them. I don’t know, does anyone have any experience with this type of situation?

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 18/11/2013

      Sorry Ken – I missed your comment. You have probably found an answer elsewhere but for anyone else with a similar issue, I think it depends on how you are doing this. I might use a muzzle at some point during a counter conditioning programme (the first time the dog was off lead near the cats for instance) but this would be after a LOT of work on counter conditioning with the dog on a lead/harness so he was unable to go after the cats, behind the barriers and so on. I definitely wouldn’t just muzzle him and let him in with the cats – he would still be practising the chase and could still injure the cats.

  • Fio

    Reply Reply 18/12/2013

    Thanks for a great, common sense site! I am training my 2 year old staffy cross to wear a muzzle, and would love your help. She is used to wearing a Halti, in it she is very subdued and also extremely well behaved, in fact not the same dog at all. I have introduced the muzzle really slowly and gently, and she has no problems eating out of it and letting me put it on. But then she freezes. I have tried treat trails, etc, but am getting nowhere. She just stands and shivers, with her nose on the ground.
    I will persist,as she is a restricted breed where I live and cannot go out in public without a muzzle. Any tips would be very welcome.Thanks!

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 18/12/2013

      I think I would take some steps back and continue working with the muzzle as a treat dispenser, as a predictor of great things. Up the value of your treats if you need to – rather than her letting you put it on her, you want her to be pushing her head into it – really loving it. Don’t even attempt to do it up until she is doing this.

      You can also help her get used to things on her muzzle using a face wrap. A simple way to do this is use a piece of soft elastic, perhaps 3/4 inch wide. It needs to be long enough to go over the muzzle, cross under the chin and come up behind the back of the head. Lay the centre of it over the muzzle, cross under the chin and bring the ends up behind the head. Tie off loosely: it should be loose enough not to be putting pressure on but not so it is hanging loose. TTouch mouth work can also help – there is a video of this in my advent calendar – day 17 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Txp2Ar0Xmk4.

      Hope that helps – good luck.

  • debbie

    Reply Reply 12/01/2014

    Just wanted to thank you for putting this on. I have two jackrussells they are brother and sister. Had them neutered at 5 months per vets recommendations. At 7 months the male became aggressive to visitors and would run and bite them. After he bit we got the help of a behaviorist qualified and recommended by our vet. She only saw us once came to our house for an hour and a half and charged us £200. I didnt mind as long as it would sort them out. We walked them separately for a year which was hard going and the moment they were together again they both attacked and bit a cyclist hard!! Lucky he didn’t take it further. She said not to use a muzzle but my home situation changed when my daughter finished school and sharing dog walks stopped. I was nervous taking them out together and started putting muzzles on with them on lead as rushing people is still frightening! They are much better behaved on the lead now. I don’t muzzle them and prefer to take them out at quiet times but they miss running free…and getting tired out…! I’m so scared they run off and manage to take their muzzle off. They will bite!! Any suggestions? I use the Baskerville ultra. Size 2 for boy and blue size 1 for girl. They manage to get them off….

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 12/01/2014

      I would certainly muzzle them in public – if they bite or even rush at someone, they could get both you and them into a lot of trouble. If they are now ealking well on the lead this is certainly the safest thing. I would be very cautious letting them off lead in public if you think they can remove the muzzles (do you use the centre straps? These help make them more secure I think). At the very least use a long line and a harness so that they can’t run off. There are lots of things you can do at home that will tire them out but safely. Have a look at this video for some ideas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMzxo78PHzc (it is part of an advent series so excuse the Christmas theme!). I’m not sure what the behaviourist recommended for working on the problem but there are things you can do to reduce their reactivity to people – but it really does need professional help locally. If you let me know where you are based I see if I can recommend someone.

  • Morgan

    Reply Reply 18/01/2014

    Hey I have a boxer who is a little over a year old. My family isn’t able to be with the dogs all day so from seven to three my dog is usually outside with my sister’s dog in our fenced in back yard. Lately I have noticed that she would eat rocks while I was away and then throw them up later on in the day. I can’t keep her out of the rocks because of how my backyard is, but I bought a basket muzzle for her to wear. A vet recommended this so I’m fine with it, but I’m afraid the other dog might try and pull or rip it off of her since he is a demon dog who tears up everything. Do you have any idea if that is possible for him to do or what I could do to prevent it before it happens that would be great?!

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 19/01/2014

      While I am a fan of muzzles, I would be a little concerned about leaving a dog muzzled while unattended for that length of time to be honest but if that is what the vet recommended then they must be convinced the muzzle you are using is safe for this. You can spend some time desensitising the other dog to the muzzle – reward him for ignoring it when it is on your dog. This will help make it a “non-event” for him – but it is very difficult to generalise this to a situation where they are running together unattended – if he gets excited he may still grab it. The best you can do is desensitise him as far as possible, ensure it is well fitted and without obvious bits hanging down for him to get hold of or that may flap about and excite him.

      But I wonder if there is anyway you could create a run for the dogs in your yard that was rock free to avoid any of these other issues?

  • debbie

    Reply Reply 19/01/2014

    Hi Janet
    Thank you for your advice. We live in Harrogate North Yorkshire.

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 19/01/2014

      Then I can recommend Angela Lowrie of Tailwaggers – she is based at Touch Canine Centre on the Skipton Road out of Harrogate and will be able to help.

  • debbie

    Reply Reply 19/01/2014

    Thank you Janet. I’ll be contacting her.

  • Leonie

    Reply Reply 30/03/2014

    I have a Jack Russell who is four.Jessie loves people but hates other dogs.This was a shock to me when we brought her home.I made the decision to muzzle her when other dogs are around and it works a treat.We take her to dog training every Sunday to try and socialise her but without much luck so she wears the muzzle to training.At first everyone was a bit taken back but now they all love her and call her Hannibel.I can relax without fear of her hurting another dog.and she can still get some exposure to other dogs.

  • Lauren

    Reply Reply 21/05/2014

    I have tried everything with my jack Russell, it turns out he is just a dominant dog who will refuse to back down from a fight and nothing I do can ever fix this. (believe me I have tried everything) I rely on the muzzle now to assure me that he won’t start a fight with another dog. he already has previous war wounds from fights with dogs of all sizes and cats… I love him dearly but the aggression and prey drive with other animals is too much for me to handle without his muzzle. (he does also have very high prey drive and has killed few small wild animals like rabbits etc)

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 21/05/2014

      Hi Lauren – thanks so much for your comment. Muzzles are great aren’t they? Really important to give that reassurance that our dog can’t hurt another dog or other creature. Interested that you say your dog is dominant – what has led you to that conclusion? Most aggression of this type is rooted in fear. It may not look like the dog is frightened but fighting is one of the main fear responses. Dominance only really applies to conflicts over resources – so unless your dog is fighting another dog over food or a female etc. then it is unlikely to be dominant behaviour. Whatever the reason for it I know that living with this kind of aggression is really tough – and combined with prey drive must be even harder. If you’re on Facebook I have a free support group for owners of dogs who can be reactive/aggressive which you are welcome to join (it is a closed group so you have to ask to join but then I’ll approve it) – you may find some new ideas to help – and you will certainly find people who understand the problems.

  • Joyce Marsh

    Reply Reply 26/05/2014

    Hi Janet – I have been very interested to read all of the comments from others about muzzle use. I have a 2 year old springer spaniel that has been with us from a puppy. My husband and I have worked hard to train him and he is a responsive dog, obeys a lot of commands with voice and hand movements, comes back to the whistle and is loving and playful with my grandchildren. Over the past year he has started to show aggression to some other dogs but not all dogs. It has caused problems with other dog owners as we are inclined to take him on the same walk along our local beach each day. I do not blame the other owners as although he has not actually bitten another dog he will go after them and has occasionally rolled them in an aggressive way. We have now trained him to the muzzle, we have a Baskerville Ultra and he appears quite happy to have it on. My husband thought he could just use it when it was busy on the walk but today he went after a dog that we know he does not like directly he got out of the car. I think we will need to use the muzzle whenever he is off lead for peace of mind. Hopefully he will become less likely to go after other dogs. We have been reported to the dog warden and are waiting for him to call!!

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 26/05/2014

      Hi Joyce – very wise I think to muzzle your boy if he is off the lead. It will give both you and other owners peace of mind and should help with the dog warden hopefully. You might also consider a long line where he may be seeing other dogs – at least as you work on the issue – as of course he can still roll another dog with the muzzle on and this might be traumatic for the other dog. A long line would allow him freedom while enabling you to prevent him charging other dogs. As he already has a good recall you could work on tightening this up with distractions so that you can recall him if he is running towards another dog. Good luck with changing this behaviour.

      • Joyce Marsh

        Reply Reply 27/05/2014

        thank you Janet, I have found this website so helpful. Nobody likes to think that their dog is a problem dog. It is reassuring to know that other responsible dog owners have similar problems and that there are people like you to give advice.

        I will let you know things go.

  • Patricia

    Reply Reply 02/06/2014

    Hello Vicky!
    I have a two year old Jack Russell who is really sweet around me and everyone else she encounters. She gets tons of exercise everyday out in my backyard. I usually spend time with her when I get home from my 9-5 job so my mom will put her outside, feed her and take care of her if need be and I take responsibility of her at night. She recently started biting my mom, but only when I am around or if my mom and i get into a quarrel. I think she is starting to become protective of me. This has happened at least five times already and my mom wants to get rid of her now. I really don’t want to get rid of her because i do not want to lose her. My parents are divorced and my dad said he would take care of the dog, but i still want to work with my JR and see if i can rectify the problem. When should i use a muzzle so that my little friend knows when she should not be biting, I do not want another bite to occur.
    Thanks !

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 02/06/2014

      Hi Patricia

      You could start teaching your dog to wear a muzzle as soon as possible (see the video on my post) so that you are able to use it in any situation where you feel she may be likely to bite your mother. But I would strongly recommend that you find a qualified trainer/behaviourist to help you work through this problem locally. Please find someone who uses dog-friendly, force free methods. It may be that your dog is guarding you or it may be that she is afraid for some reason . But working with someone locally would enable you to get the most appropriate help in solving this problem. If you let me know where you are I may be able to recommend someone. Good luck.

  • We have a large (seems to always be about 100) dog rescue center in a small town in Mexico. It has been in existence for almost four years. We have had some tough times but we keep hanging on by our fingernails and bit by bit are becoming more established. Where before ticks, parvo, distemper, roto-virus were our biggest killers, now we have got a grip on all that and our biggest problem has become dog-dog aggression.

    Although we have individual pens for aggressive dogs (dog aggressive, we have no people aggressive dogs), these are very hard to maintain because each of these dogs must be walked at least 5 times per week to get them out. It is much more manageable for us to have 3 – 8 dog (depending on the size of the pen and the size of the dogs) together in one group with a little more room to move around.

    Many of these dogs have been together for years without problems. What we are experiencing now however is a rash of “pack attacks” where one dog becomes a kind of Jonah and then one night is attacked and killed without much prior warning (well if we were perfect we would pick up immediately on the Jonah conversion and pull it out – the problem is we don’t have a lot of options to isolate). We lost a dog last night that we had rescued over a year ago and had been living with his pen mates without much difficulty (he appeared a little hassled but no prior fighting) but POW last night they killed him. I heard the commotion and didn’t recognize it for what it was, to my everlasting sorrow.

    We are at our wits end, so I propose putting the dog aggressive dogs in muzzles to neutralize them. It is either that or euthanasia and they are all potential adoption prospects who are totally okay with people, so we don’t want to do that. However, last night was the last straw – we lost one of our favorite rescues who had had his rear feet amputated and was then abandoned. We had pulled him through that and he was comfortable at least.

    Sorry to be so loquacious, but I am very distressed. I read through all the comments and responses on this post and didn’t see anything similar to our problem. You seem to be very kindly sharing your advice and we would appreciate your comments very much. You can see our facility by going to the website given above and touching on CRESCA (Centro de Rescate Canino). Thank you very much for any thoughts you might have. If you have a fee, we would gladly pay it. thank you again.

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 13/06/2014

      Hi Mickey
      I am very sorry to hear about your loss. A tragic thing to have happened. Your situation is very difficult I appreciate that but I would be separating out the dog-aggressive dogs into separate pens – I know this will be hard but I don’t think that permanently muzzling dogs is either fair or workable in this context. It would still be possible for a dog to kill another if unattended in a muzzle (depending on the dog and the situation) and all the dogs would still be very stressed. If you can identify the one(s) that are triggering the aggression then separate them out and see if the rest settle down. Or as you say pull out the one that is being picked on (but you may find another takes its place). Is there any chance of splitting up your larger pens to allow this? Or rearranging the groups to see if the “Jonah” dogs are better together?

      Ideally you need a local trainer to help – but one who will not use fear or coercion – I am guessing you may not have such a trainer? But without seeing the dogs and the interactions it is very difficult to advise in any detail. 🙁

      Wishing you all the best

  • Beth

    Reply Reply 14/06/2014

    It has been great reading all the comments. I have a 5 year old boxer who was attacked while young and has since himself attacked two other dogs, but only while in my presence. My sister’s dog (although he never bit her dog, he did aggressively charged after her, but the other dog he tore his ear) I am very nervous about this and we will be sharing a beach house this year with this family, so I have been trying to muzzle train and everything is good except my dog will not walk with it on and will only put the muzzle to the ground. He is a very loving dog.

  • Alice

    Reply Reply 04/12/2014

    Thank you for writing this article. When we first got our Corgi, we wouldn’t have ever imagined that we would muzzle her. For the longest time she was “our baby”, and, even though 2 years later she would “nip” and be overly territorial of mutual bones with the Corgi/German Shepard we got from the homeless shelter to keep her company – we still never thought we would HAVE to muzzle her. Then our baby came along. We kept her crated for a while in the dining room but, finally we just let her roam around when our toddler was 2. First week, we had problems. Our son is obsessed with her and, nips at her constantly. We’re also trying to work with him to …well, not hit the dog, and to avoid her eyes and not back her into a corner but – it’s difficult at this phase. We got a Baskerville muzzle for her, and today is the first day I feel I can finally relax. She can still sort of eat through it, and she drinks through it, and appears to be able to breathe through it (as far as I can tell), just fine, and isn’t fighting it too much. It’s allowed us to rebond with the dog and not view her as a constant threat. I know we still have to work on our toddler but, I am so grateful for this stop-gap measure. I know we failed to socialize her, but, not sure what we can do about it now.

  • Wendy

    Reply Reply 11/01/2015

    Hi Janet, stumbled across your article while looking up Tellington touch. It is very reassuring to hear your positive comments about muzzles. I rescued a dog from the Dog Meat Trade in Thailand two years ago. As you can imagine he has literally been to hell and back and obviously learned to survive in a very basic Thai government shelter where dogs were unneutured, dying of distemper and fighting for food! He has come a long way in every sense of the word and unsurprisingly can be quite reactive……I realised very early on that to protect other dogs and for his own safety I had to be a responsible owner and muzzle him, especially when off lead. I hav worked with a trainer and we have made great progress using BAT and he now has many friends and often wants to play. However, there are still some dogs that he will react to, particularly ones that don’t listen to his warnings and run at him, although sometimes I can’t identify why he doesn’t like a specific dog, there is not always a pattern to breed etc. I do get very frustrated when people still let there dog run at my muzzled dog on a long leash as he gets stressed and then more reactive, it’s very annoying!!! I have also been told by people that he should never be off lead but he has never bitten a dog while with me, and I feel I am taking reasonable steps to prevent this…….I know you can’t please everybody, that is life I guess!! If you ever bring your workshops on reactive dogs to Hertfordshire please let me know!

  • Nicole Quinn

    Reply Reply 16/01/2015

    Hi I have two male Groodles (Golden Retriever x Poodles) both between 35kg – 50kg and they’re so gentle and friendly with people however they show so much aggression to other dogs, possums and cats. We had an incident with the dog sitter and both dogs where being walked at the same time (I do not walk them both at the same time as it is too hard to hold them both back but she insisted) and they went around the corner, walked into a tiny dog and all hell broke loose. Luckily the small dog owner managed to get his dog out of the way so no harm was done to the dog. I was wondering if a wire muzzle would be suitable for walking the dogs?

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 08/07/2015

      Do you mean a wire basket muzzle? If it is comfortable for the dog I don’t see why not – though I prefer plastic ones as they are lighter. The only ones that should never be used for walking are the cloth ones that hold the mouth shut.

  • Tricia

    Reply Reply 05/05/2015

    Hi I have a rescue dog and unsure of its past and because Im nervous mixing with other dogs I walk the dog away from others. I would love not to have to get in the car to take her for a walk and I am thinking of a muzzle.
    The dog is fantastic around humans but I am wary of her meeting other dogs especially those off lead, which may I add I dont agree with in a public place.
    Because she is a mixed breed dog she has some staffie in her and I dont want the muzzle to make her look viscious have you any suggestions please

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 08/07/2015

      If you are concerned that she might injure another dog if approached then I would certainly use a muzzle. If you are worried about how it looks it is possible to get brightly coloured ones which can help with that – hard to feel that a dog in a bright pink muzzle is vicious! But to be honest I think it is more important that she is not able to hurt another dog (and potentially get into trouble) than what people think. You know she isn’t vicious! 🙂

  • Elaine Moore

    Reply Reply 02/08/2015

    Hello, great comments on dogs with muzzles, my dog is a large German Shepard I got him when he was 10 months and he was very hard work he had been put into dog fights, and had cigerates stubbed out on him. We have used many different muzzles including the basket muzzle, we have found a nice black rubber one that comes in different sizes with a larger opening at the bottom for his tongue, this also means he can hold a ball with prongs on it so we can play fetch, he is not off lead but the leather round lead I use is a training lead so its 6-8 feet. infect we have lost the two mine type balls we use and I was browsing the net for new ones when I found this site. We used cream cheese on the muzzle to introduce it, and left it around for him to sniff with his walking harness and lead. people do let there dogs off lead and do not stop them coming up to us, we go to a farm now that has open paths and off trails that are only used by three or four of us that have like minded dogs. So we can give them space. The peace that I felt and the way my dog relaxed told me it was right, I just wished we had done it sooner, he’s 8 now and he’s been in a muzzle for all walks now for 3 yrs now.

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 03/09/2015

      Brilliant. I think muzzles can be so useful to take the tension out of situations and allow everyone to relax!

  • Laura

    Reply Reply 16/09/2015

    The chap in the video is a total star! And what a relief in general to read this piece. We have two rescue dogs one of whom is a five year old goldendoodle who is sadly prone to seziures. The seizures are heart-breaking and absolutely terrifying. We have figured out that they are caused by vasovagal syncope, specifically, in her case, vomiting drops her blood pressure, starving her brain of oxygen and causing grand mal seizures. To make matters worse she has a habit of eating things that make her vomit like rotting carcasses and sticks. I have been thinking about a muzzle for a while but was concerned that people would think me cruel or her aggressive but I am now convinced that this is the best option for her safety and my peace of mind. I have started training her with it and thanks to the brilliant video things are going very well, I could kiss that man!I can’t wait to take her on off the lead walks without the fear of her eating something that could make her so unwell. Thank you!

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 09/01/2016

      Just catching up on comments! Chirag’s video is brilliant isn’t it? Hope things are going well with your girl.

  • Gill

    Reply Reply 19/10/2015

    Hi Janet. I have a 3 yr old Flatcoated retriever bitch, who is the world’s worst scavenger. I am about to start her on an allergy elimination diet, so I really need to stop her eating all the rubbish that she does when we’re out on a walk. As she is black, I thought a black muzzle would not show up so much, but it will still look as if she is aggressive, which she is most definitely not. I don’t know if a brightly coloured one will look better, or worse though? She is very licky, (typical of the breed and her way of appeasement), with people and other dogs, so will a muzzle stop her from doing this, as I still want her to be able to do this behaviour? Also, how effective will the muzzle be in stopping her from eating the gross soft stuff, (unmentionables), if you can feed treats through them? Although I won’t be doing that at the moment. Many thanks for any advice you can offer.

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 09/01/2016

      I wouldn’t worry too much what people think to be honest – it sounds like you need to stop her scavenging. You’ve probably made a decision on it by now (sorry – have been away from the blog for a while) but I think I would tend to go for bright colours that people are likely to comment on – then you can explain why she is wearing it. If something is very soft she’d be able to shove her muzzle in and lick through it but it will slow her down at least! Treats you have to “post” through.

  • Lynda

    Reply Reply 28/10/2015

    I can’t believe I just muzzled my retired greyhound. She’s had a wound on her foot she won’t stop licking even wrapped, she’s getting to it. I never see her licking it so it must be at night. I really hope the muzzle helps. She’s on so many antibiotics. Her wound needs to heal. The muzzle is a typical plastic basket style…it has to help!

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 09/01/2016

      Hope it helped and she is healed up now.

  • louis Brown

    Reply Reply 08/12/2015

    I janet, I’m not sure if you are still checking this site, good article, my question is , I have a 8 year old rottweiler who just recently had to get one toe amputated due to a possible tumor, after they removed her bandage the vet wants to make sure that she absolutely does not lick or pick on her paw for 10 days when stitches are removed. I tried to put the Cone of shame , but she absolutely refuses to wear it, she cried and it was extremely hard to eat, take off and put on was a battle, so that was out, then I purchased an inflatable cushion one, and it was fine, but realized in one minute she could reach the site. So she is trained well to wear a muzzle at the vet , I started using a basket muzzle one yesterday . I remove it when she eats and drinks and easily put it back, she slept well with it, I was wandering what you think of her wearing it for ten days or so to prevent her from licking or biting on it, which would be very bad for her. Thanks

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 09/01/2016

      Sorry I just got to the comments. How did it go?

  • rae

    Reply Reply 17/12/2015

    Hi, I have 1 1/2 year old bullmastiff, he is brilliant with people and my 20 month old daughter he loves other dogs but other dogs don’t tend to like him! Probably because of his size and he’s quite boustrous. He has been neutered so has calmed down a lot too, but was thinking of muzzling him. He’s an excellent walker on lead until he sees another dog then starts pulling and he’s pretty strong so if he wants to go there’s no stopping him. He’s never been aggressive to another dog but I don’t want the opportunity to arise were he goes up to another dog and it get defensive and then they start scrapping because he could do damage. Now my problem is people already cross the road when they see him and make comments like ‘blimey he’s huge’ if they see such a big dog with a muzzle on they would think worse when I just want every one to know what a wonderful boy he is! Advice would be lovely!

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 09/01/2016

      If you think there is any risk to other dogs then a muzzle is a good precaution. But you may be better looking at ways of managing him in the presence of other dogs so he does not pull towards them. I know it is difficult with a big dog but you may want to look at techniques like the TTouch balance lead to give you more influence over him. You can see an introduction to this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMx3OuWvrmU

  • Nicola

    Reply Reply 01/03/2016

    Our 3 year old border collie tries to bite some people’s feet as they go past on a walk. She is a lovely.dog but sounds ferocious when she is trying to get to shoes and feet. She doesn’t do it with us or the.family but just occasionally on a walk. Thinking of a muzzle that has lead attached. She was attacked by a staff a couple of times so she is nervous and didn’t get socialised till over dour months as she was really ill as a puppy which delayed her boosters. People in our area know of her and say to me she should be muzzled. Help! Thanks

    • Janet Finlay

      Reply Reply 11/03/2016

      Definitely muzzle her – this behaviour could get her and you into serious trouble with current legislation where people only have to feel threatened to bring a complaint rather than actually be bitten.

      I would attach your lead to a good harness as normal and just have the muzzle on (teach her to wear it first). If she is off lead when she does this then work on her recall so that you can call her away if you are passing people.

  • Margaret Burnett

    Reply Reply 09/04/2016

    Very helpful video , this has convinced me to use one.I have a 2year old
    Female Germanshepherds.Shei is not aggressive how ever she is big
    and has taken a dislike of a small dog other dogs she good.
    She likes people no problem. Dog trainer and she is a dog behaviourest,
    tells me she is not an aggressive dog So that is good I still want my dog to
    Have the muzzle you recommend I. would feel terrible if she hurt or frightened a dog.
    Many Thanks Margaret

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