By: | | Dog Training Tips

Muzzles aren’t just for aggressive, nervous dogs with a bite history. Every dog should be muzzle trained. When scared or in pain, even the sweetest dog in the world may lash out.

In an emergency, your dog will need to wear a muzzle so that you, your pet sitter, or your vet can safely assist them. If your dog is unfamiliar with being muzzled, that emergency will be all the more stressful.

Train your dog to wear a muzzle using positive reinforcement, and they’ll be happy to wear it – making emergencies much, much less stressful for everyone involved.

Which Muzzle Should You Buy?

Invest in a basket-style muzzle that allows your dog to open their mouth, pant, drink water and accept treats. It might be made of rubber, metal or leather. Baskerville brand muzzles are popular amongst dog trainers.

Shape Your Dog so They’ll Love Their Muzzle

When you first bring the muzzle home, don’t put it on your dog’s face just yet.

Hold it up in front of your dog and allow them to investigate at their own pace. When your dog sniffs the muzzle, or even just looks at it, click your clicker (or say, “good dog!”) and give your dog a treat. Do this exercise for about five minutes, rewarding your dog with a small piece of food every time they show interest in the muzzle.

After a few sessions, you can stop rewarding your dog every time they sniff or touch the muzzle. Begin to only reward them if they get their nose close to the inside of the muzzle. As your dog gets closer and closer to putting their nose inside, give them treats for their efforts.

This type of training is called “shaping.” Your dog’s actions will get closer and closer to the behavior you want – which is for them to place their face inside the muzzle and hold for several seconds – as you continue to reward their best attempts.

Your dog will soon place their entire nose inside the muzzle. Begin to only reward them for keeping their nose inside for longer and longer periods of time.

To avoid frustrating your dog, reward them for gradual signs of improvement. Don’t go more than 3 attempts without giving your dog a reward.

You can also give your dog a treat through the muzzle to encourage them to keep their nose inside.

Once your dog is confident about having the muzzle around their nose, you can begin to fasten the straps and have your dog wear it for short periods of time. Continuously feed treats through the vents to create a positive experience.

Advanced Muzzle Training

After a few successful exercises, you can begin to have fewer, infrequent sessions to keep your dog familiar with the muzzle while you move onto other training.

Put your dog’s muzzle on right before a walk, and they’ll begin to associate it with going on fun adventures.

A muzzle is also great for keeping your dog from eating sticks, trash and grass on walks if they’re having trouble learning a reliable “leave it.”

Ready Pet Go Pet Sitters Are Always Prepared

When you schedule a Meet & Greet with Ready Pet Go, ask us about how we handle emergencies. Our pet sitters and dog walkers are certified in pet first aid and recognize signs that may mean your pet needs emergency vet care.