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Muzzles are often a very judged thing in the dog community.

And it’s not deserved.

It’s often referred to as a stigma.

An experience that a muzzled dog gets where they’re instantly judged for wearing a muzzle, and it’s often entirely unjustified.

Muzzled dogs are dogs too and they are thoroughly misunderstood in most situations. So, I wanted to chat to a wider audience today, and chat to you about what a muzzled dog truly is.

What Is Muzzle Stigma

Muzzle stigma is the instantaneous judgement of others put on a dog and their parent because the dog is wearing a muzzle. There is a pre-conceived idea about the wearing of muzzles, such that they are “Bad Dogs”.

It’s something I’ve actually experienced. I literally heard a child ask his mother why my dog was wearing a muzzle. Her response? “Because he’s a bad dog, sweetie” And I remember it, verbatim.

That statement broke my heart as his parent. Especially when at the time, he was in a perfect loose leash walk at my side enjoying a very casual sniff.

What I should have done is correct her gently and say “Well, no actually…” but I didn’t because of the emotional toll it took on me.

Now, with that in mind? let’s talk about what a muzzled dog really is.

Muzzled German Shepherd wearing a polymer coated muzzle, do you think this dog experiences a lot of stigma?
German Shepherd wearing a polymer coated muzzle, do you think this dog experiences a lot of stigma? I do!

1 – Muzzled Dogs Are Loved

A Muzzled dog is always a loved dog. That dog is the center of that pet parents world and you know why I can tell? Because that dog parent is doing everything they can to prevent an accident from happening.

At the end of the day, they are animals. Accidents happen! And a well-fitted muzzle can stop that accident, becoming an issue. These are loved dogs.

2 – They Are Good Dogs

Often times a reactive dog, a fearful dog (which are actually the same things, unless it’s medical) or whatever the dog is wearing that muzzle for is a great dog underneath that muzzle. Their problem? Is usually just that they find the world, or a part of that world quite scary.

Which, really, is that a shock? This world was not made for dogs. And we ask our dogs more than any other domesticated animal. Is it any wonder that they find it weird?

3 – They’re Not Always Reactive

Muzzles aren’t always a reactive dog thing! They can be worn in the vets, they can be worn because they scavenge, or the dog may be in pain or has stitches. Or, it may be down to breed-specific legislation, or even just the fact that the owner is an incredibly cautious person by their own nature.

There are lots of reasons that a dog may be wearing a muzzle, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you do need help with a reactive dog, Rebarkable Reactives can really help.

4 – They May Need Your Help

Not just because some muzzles inhibit canine communication between one another – but also because if they are reactive, and in training, their parent is trying really hard to keep them relaxed, and calm, and space really helps that.

Their parent also likely deals with a lot of stressful situations every day that you don’t want to contribute to. Whilst the dog may not be perfect? Their parent is trying. That’s what that muzzle shows!

mixed breed dog wearing a baskerville ultra muzzle
Mixed breed herding dog wearing a baskerville ultra muzzle – I would be willing to bet this gorgeous heterochromatic dog experiences a lot of stigma too, somehow.

5 – They’re Usually Really Well Trained!

The dog behind a muzzle, the dog that is comfortable in a muzzle, is almost always a really well trained dog. Partially because their parent is invested in that dog. But often, these dogs have been properly desensitized to a muzzle, they’ve got all sorts of cues and commands, that most dogs probably don’t.

In short! They’re No Different To Any Other Dog.

So, let’s be less judge-y about muzzled dogs.

A Muzzle is a good thing.

It’s a responsible thing!

It’s often a decision that hasn’t been taken lightly (because of the stigma) and if we remove that stigma? We actually may prevent more accidents, we make the world a safer place for our dogs and us.

Let’s foster a culture of understanding and not judgement, let’s be wonderful, open-minded individuals who are there to support each other as dog parents – because it’s the right thing to do.

If you want help deciding which muzzle to use for your dog, or want to find out more about muzzles? Go check out our Muzzle section.

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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