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Training for Muzzles is a really important part of training – and should (technically) be something you train all dogs for.

“But Ali, my dog’s not aggressive, they don’t need muzzle training?”

Well, my friend, they may not need it on a day to day basis – but no dog has a predictable response to pain. Pain is unpredictable and even the “nicest” of dogs can bite when in pain. So, to me? This may be superfluous training for you, but on the instance you need it? It’s there. And the time you need it, it’ll be too late and it’ll stress your pup out much more than it may need to.
So! In short? Muzzle training is never a waste of time, it’s always a good thing.

Besides! In some countries – some breeds must be muzzled by law. So, there’s a whole host of reasons that you might be looking to get a great muzzle.

If you’re looking for a muzzle, then you’re going to want to consider the following as the main factors, I certainly do!

Indie demonstrating a wire basket muzzle
Indie demonstrating a wire basket muzzle from Ray Allen – I’m actually a really big fan of these! See the third strap there that goes between the eyes? This ensures that your dog cannot slip it down over his or her nose.

Value

How often are you going to use this? Do you need it for emergency use? In which case you’re going to want something probably low cost but strong and resilient. This is where you want to focus on the value for money you’d receive with the

Bite-Proof-ness

Did you know that not all muzzles are bite-proof? Strange thing to say, right? Because you would imagine all muzzles should do this because that’s their main purpose!

I get it, I totally get it.

But it’s good to know that a persistent dog, a smart dog or just a normal dog can find a work around. So, I like to measure the bite-proof-ness of muzzles too. This way you know if it’s appropriate for your dog if it’s a deterrent or it needs to be totally, perfectly secure.

Oftentimes truly ‘biteproof’ muzzles must compromise something else. This is why there are so many muzzles that aren’t truly biteproof.

Comfort

This has to be a ‘percieved’ comfort. Luckily enough for me, I know my woof pretty well, I know how well Indie has been desensitized to a muzzle and I know when it’s irritating him or he’s finding it unwieldy. As a consequence, he’s my main tester for muzzles.

For you? You want to look out for things like:

  • hitting it off of things
  • stratching/pawing at face
  • rubbing face against the ground
  • itchiness after wearing.
  • catches or pokey-bits
  • chaffing or rubbing anywhere.

They’ll help you decide if this is truly comfortable for your dog.

Robustness

Things break. Especially with larger, stronger dogs. It can happen because of poor manufacturing, it can happen from repeated slamming or from chewing – but robustness is important when it comes to a muzzle.

Ideally? We want to be able to rely on these pieces of equipment. We want to know that our dog is contained for whatever reason, and them breaking is something that could possibly present a problem.

Bull breed in a baskerville muzzle
Bull breed in a baskerville muzzle – these are a reasonably priced muzzle that is quite widely available. Indie has one of these, though it has required modification

Security

The security of a muzzle mainly refers to whether a properly fitted muzzle can be easily slipped. This is always subjective to breed (because the more flat faced breeds need special muzzles), but if your dog has a pronounced enough nose? Most regular muzzles work, and certainly that’s how I’ve been testing them.

Weight

How heavy is the muzzle? Ideally we want something light in weight.

This is naturally less problematic for dogs because things don’t need to be necessarily heavy especially when we’re talking about when it covers their mouth and is held (mainly) by their nose which is pretty sensitive. So, the lighter they are the easier they are to wear.

Treat Delivery

Can treats be delivered? Is it easy enough to deliver them? Or is it something that has a bit of a knack to it? Or is it impossible?

I think treat delivery is really important, largely because for any sort of training, treats really help! Especially seen as muzzles kind of rule out toys and play as a reward or motivator. I would always suggest that muzzle have a good balance between treat deliverability and bite-proof-ness.

Mouth Movement

It may sound counter-intuitive, but a good muzzle will allow your dog to

if and when they need to. It would be like getting suddenly travel sick and being told you absolutely cannot vomit in the car… or if you get hot, you can’t sweat. From increasing risks of heatstroke to choking, they’re all things that need to remain.

These are four things (mainly three, but it’s also to demonstrate that barking should be possible and that’s not the purpose of a muzzle) are really important for welfare reasons. If your dog is going to be wearing a muzzle, let’s not make it so tight that they could choke on their own vomit in the time it might take to get it off.

dog wearing an inappropriate muzzle. Fabric muzzles are not acceptable for dogs
dog wearing an inappropriate muzzle. Fabric muzzles are not acceptable for dogs – they are too constrictive and such, I would never recommend their use except in an actual emergency. These types of muzzles will not be reviewed as a ‘muzzle’.

Airflow

This is one of the most underrated features of a muzzle (in my opinion), because in hotter climates, or warmer weather, it’s very important that we ensure our dogs can breathe freely.

And on a hotter day that may be lower in oxygen and a higher humidity, it could create an issue if you have a low-airflow muzzle on your dog.

The 9 Points Of Assessing A Muzzle

It’s not going to be the easiest assessment in the world for you, I understand that! Which is why this is the system I use to measure all of my muzzles for you in the reviews I write for them. I find it helps give a consistent approach and makes it very understandable!

If you have any questions about either a specific muzzle get in touch! Or, if you’re researching muzzles because you have a reactive dog, then I’d be more than happy to chat or help you on the Rebarkable Reactives course!

Ali from Rebarkable and her dog Indie

Author, Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.

Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021’s worlds’ best pet blog!





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