Muzzles can be an important part of managing dogs: indeed, under Irish law, all so-called restricted breeds (and their cross-breeds) must be muzzled in public (the truth is that they rarely are, but that does not mean that people have permission to flout the law).
These eleven breeds are
- American pit bull terrier
- English bull terrier
- Staffordshire bull terrier
- Bull mastiff
- Dobermann pinscher
- German shepherd (Alsatian)
- Rhodesian ridgeback
- Japanese akita
- Japanese tosa
The law is a farce. I see more muzzled greyhounds than muzzled breeds of these types.
It is important not to just stick a muzzle on a dog, with no prior training. If you do this, the dog will just learn to be frightened of the muzzle and to associate it with negative experiences.This is likely to make it difficult to put the muzzle on the dog the next time.
As a vet, I know plenty of dogs that are impossible to put a muzzle on, because they have learned to associate this with bad experiences.
So instead, you should use a specific technique to teach the dog to associate wearing the muzzle with positive associations (see video here)
This involves combining treats and praise with using the muzzle in a low stress environment.
If you have one of these breeds, or if you have a dog which you may need to muzzle from time to time, it’s worth doing this.
Using muzzles at vet clinics
As a vet, I often see scared animals that need urgent treatment, and the dogs need to be muzzled to ensure the safety of the humans giving the treatment.
These days, we will often use sedation as well, but sometimes the use of a muzzle is unavoidable, even if the dog hasn’t been trained to be used to it.So which one should you use?
Occlusion muzzle (also known as a cone muzzle, usually made from black nylon material)
Occlusion muzzles are designed for very short-term use (60 seconds). These types of muzzles prevent dogs from panting and opening their mouth, which can cause panic in an already stressed dog.
A dog that has a bad experience like this may show increased fear-aggressive behaviour when next in the veterinary practice.
Baskerville Ultra muzzle
Why is it important to muzzle train?
Questions from listeners
- My cat is breathing really heavy the past week, would that be due to this hot weather. He is a healthy little fella and drinking loads of water, is there anything I can to cool him down in this hot weather. Tks Lisa
- To the delighted of my kids we have a hedgehog in our garden he just suddenly appeared, can you advise what to give ‘Spiky’ to eat and drink ? Karen
- I have a Jack Russell with a summer allergy. I have 5 Jacks but only one suffers. Very bad scratching. Up to date with spot on. Used Bravecto pill last year but didn’t really help and its 30 euro for 1. I gave him Antihistamines and a steroid allergy cream for humans which has helped a bit. Any other suggestions please. Clare
- My 4 year old cockapoo took a tiny funny spell last week, she seemed to have lost her balance, was unable to get back on her feet for a while, back legs shaking etc, 2 mins later, right as rain. Could you ask Pete what might have been wrong here?
To find out the answer to these questions and to listen to the podcast, click on the play button below.