Are Muzzles Cruel? Not When You Use Them Correctly!

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Muzzles are a contentious topic among dog owners. It’s no surprise since they are misunderstood and often misused by dog owners.

In fact, dog owners ask all the time whether a muzzle is inhumane.

So, are muzzles cruel? Muzzles, when used correctly, are helpful and humane. If your dog is injured, he may bite. A muzzle will calm him so you can get him needed medical care.

Some dogs are prone to bite, so a muzzle is a beneficial tool for trips to the vet or when your dog is around other dogs. Of course, you should never use a muzzle to punish your dog, but to control and protect him and others.

If you’re considering a muzzle for your dog, here’s everything you need to know about different styles of muzzles and how to use a muzzle in the best way for your dog.  

How Muzzles Work

A muzzle is a device that fits over your dog’s snout with straps attached to fit snugly around the dog’s neck. The muzzle keeps your dog from biting or chewing.  But some muzzles are restrictive enough to stop a dog from barking, too. They’re made out of various materials such as:

  • Nylon
  • Plastic
  • Mesh
  • Padding
  • Leather
  • Breathable basket

Today’s muzzles fit more comfortably than the older versions. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most muzzles allow your dog to eat, drink and pant, but prevents him from being able to bite.

Here’s our complete guide to the best muzzles

Why and When Muzzles Are Used

Muzzles are great deterrents for bad behavior. If you notice some bad behavior in your dog,  it might be time to buy a good muzzle.

Here are some reasons muzzles are beneficial:

Keep people away– Muzzles are helpful training tools for a fearful or shy dog, especially because when people see a dog with a muzzle they naturally stay away. This allows you to walk your dog without interruptions.

Prevent bites– Muzzles prevent dog bites at dog parks. If your dog bites another dog or a person, you could be sued or even lose your dog if the bites are severe enough. Dog owners must be sure their dog isn’t a safety risk around joggers, walkers, bike riders or kids who walk past the house. Neighborhoods are notorious for lawsuits and fights over bad dog behavior, so avoid these issues with a good muzzle for your dog. 

Aggressiveness– If your dog exhibits aggressive behavior around other dogs or people, use a muzzle to control his behavior. Use the muzzle for only a short time until you can train your dog to not react aggressively. If training doesn’t work,  a muzzle is a good alternative. 

Traveling– Some public places require dogs to wear a muzzle. It’s not a bad idea for your dog to wear a muzzle if you’re riding on public transportation since the noises, people and loud noises could be upsetting for your dog. 

State law- Some states require specific dog breeds muzzled in public places. Know your state’s laws about having your dog in public so you won’t end up with a citation. 

Prevent rummaging– Dogs love to snoop in the grass on walks or in your backyard. They eat acorns, chew on sticks and nibble on mushrooms. This is a dangerous habit and may be life-threatening. If your dog wears a muzzle outside, this will deter this behavior. 

What To Look For In A Proper Muzzle

Buying the proper muzzle for your dog is important. The right muzzle will be helpful to train your dog. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when buying a muzzle for your dog.

  • Correct fit–Make sure you get the right size muzzle. Measure the length and around your dog’s snout and neck.
  • Specific styleChoose the style muzzle you want depending upon what your dog needs. Basket muzzles and loop muzzles are helpful for training your dog to stop barking or biting. Grooming muzzles help your dog stay calm in the course of grooming or nail clipping. 
  • Comfy–The muzzle shouldn’t irritate your dog’s face or neck. This is often caused by cheap materials. Spend the money for a better quality muzzle, it’s worth the investment for your dog’s comfort.

Popular Muzzle Styles

Basket muzzle

Baskerville Ultra Muzzle, Black, Size 5
  • SOFT & LIGHTWEIGHT rubber basket design gives all-around mouth protection allowing canines...
  • SAFE & SECURE ergonomically designed safety strapping ensures muzzle will remain securely in place...
  • ADJUSTABLE & COMFORTABLE Neoprene padded lining for added comfort and fully adjustable neck and head...

This muzzle is a cage made of metal or plastic that fits over your dog’s snout. It looks uncomfortable, but it’s actually the most comfortable muzzle for dogs, because it allows them to pant, drink and eat dry food.

Basket muzzles have adjustable straps to ensure control over your dog while training him.  Veterinarians recommend this muzzle if your dog is aggressive when on walks or going to the vet or groomer. 

Mesh muzzle

Coastal Pet BestFit Mesh Muzzle 01300-BLK06
  • Black Best Fit Mesh Dog Muzzle, Size 6. Approximate nose circumference is 8-Inches
  • Strong, Adjustable breathable mesh. Open front allows panting, breathing, and drinking.
  • Recommended for standard breeds, such as Dalmatian and Weimaraner.

Mesh muzzles are made of soft, breathable material with extra padding on the nose for your dog’s comfort. Adjustable straps allow comfort for your dog’s neck and snout. These muzzles are best for only short periods of time.

They work well if you’re training a puppy to not bite. Your dog can pant and drink water while wearing a mesh muzzle. This muzzle should fit snugly for the best results. 

Breed designed muzzles

Canine Friendly Short Snout Dog Muzzle, Small,...
  • Made from breathable mesh and durable nylon construction
  • Adjustable slider and easy to use side release buckle
  • Makes muzzling quick and convenient

These muzzles are designed with one breed in mind. For instance, Greyhounds and Whippets, with their characteristic long snouts, need a specially designed muzzle.

French bulldogs and Pugs also need a specially designed muzzle because of their flat face. A specially designed muzzle can prevent overheating of this breed. 

Do’s & Don’ts

Once you’ve purchased a muzzle, you must acclimate your dog to it. Never put it on your dog and expect him to go for a walk. Your dog won’t like the muzzle at first, because it’s something new and it’ll feel restrictive to him.

Create a training routine for daily training times. It may take a week or more, depending upon your dog’s temperament and how well he adjusts to change. Don’t rush your dog into wearing the muzzle or he will balk and refuse to wear it.

Take your time, give him at least a week of step by step training.

Follow these steps:

  1. One the first day of training, introduce your dog to the muzzle. Allow him to sniff it. Let him see it’s not a threat. Give him a treat as he inspects and sniffs it, he’ll associate the muzzle with rewards.
  2. The next day, hold the muzzle up with a treat behind it, so your dog must reach through the snout of the muzzle to get the treat. He may be shy at first. Over time, he will automatically reach through the muzzle for his treat without hesitation.
  3. After he’s completely comfortable putting his head through the muzzle, snap the muzzle around his snout. Adjust it if necessary. Give him a treat as you do this. Take the muzzle off and do it again, giving him a treat each time you put on the muzzle. Practice this for several days so your dog grows accustomed to the feel of wearing a muzzle. 
  4. After your dog is comfortable with you putting on the muzzle, put it on and allow some time to pass. Count to 50, give him a treat and praise him for “ good muzzle time.” Use the same language every time you put it on. Increase the amount of time bit by bit, giving him lots of praise and treats when he wears it. Give him treats when you take the muzzle off, too. 
  5. The next day, put on his muzzle, giving him a treat, then take him for a little walk around the yard. He may be confused that he can’t eat acorns or chew on sticks. Praise him and give him treats periodically. Don’t leave the muzzle on too long, but long enough to see how well your dog does wearing the muzzle. 
  6. When you’re completely confident your dog is comfortable wearing the muzzle, take him for a walk. Keep the first couple of walks shorter than normal in case your dog gets upset. Give lots of praise and treats during the walk. 

Muzzles can be humane dog training tools when used correctly. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about muzzles and how to use them.

But, a muzzle may be just what you need to keep your pet safe and happy. As a dog owner, that’s your biggest priority. So, why not try a muzzle for your dog.

Last update on 2020-06-04 at 11:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API