Why And When Should My Dog Wear A Muzzle?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
A muzzle is a handy and practical item that can keep both your dog and his surroundings safe. Here are the most common reasons why your dog should wear a muzzle.

On dogs, muzzles are one of the biggest, if not the biggest, controversial topics to all-dog related topics—the biggest reason for this rests in the fact that muzzles are unjustly associated with aggressive dogs.

To many people, muzzles provoke images of aggressive dogs, which has been the case for decades.

For years people have been creating stigma with a dog wearing a muzzle is that the dog must be dangerous. That’s one side.

On the other side, some people muzzle on dogs as a sign that the dog’s owner is just being responsible for keeping the dog and the public safe.

There are many reasons why a dog may be wearing a muzzle, and they don’t have to be connected with any sort of aggression.

Here the most common reasons for a dog wearing a muzzle:

  • The dog may be recovering from a painful injury
  • The dog may be nervous around unfamiliar people
  • The dog is of large dog breed, and the owner wants to protect both the dog and the surrounding
  • Maybe the country’s regulations demand specific dog breed wearing a muzzle

One thing about muzzles is for sure: muzzles should never be used to solve problem behavior, or used to punish your dog!

Dog Muzzles

You may be a proud owner of sweet Labrador and thinking – Well, my Lab never got into any trouble, and he is nice to people, even strangers, and adores children, and other pets. Therefore, my Lab doesn’t need a muzzle, like NEVER.

Although this may be the case, it’s not necessarily true, and there is a simple reason for this – dogs are dogs.

Just like humans, dogs are highly individual creatures, and what may be expected for one can be terrifying for others.

Plus, dogs have a natural fight and protection response. This means that when a dog is stressful he goes into ‘attack mode’ when most of the bites occur.

When dogs are scared or stressed mentally or physically, they will try to run first.

If they can’t run, they will be forced to defend themselves. Yes, even sweet family dogs, who spend 24/7 playing couch potatoes can become aggressive in threatening situation.

Even those who work with dogs can sometimes have difficulties determining when a dog may switch to an aggressive state.

Loving your dog like a family member is great, but you need to bear in mind that your dog is an animal, and in the animal world, communication is different compared to humans, so make sure always to read the dog’s body language.

Some dogs, especially those with a history of biting, may be trained carefully to wear a muzzle in a specific situation, such as going to the vet, to the dog park, or when meeting other dogs.

Due to some breed-specific legislation, some dogs must wear a muzzle when in public, even if they are not aggressive, nor they show any sign of aggression.

Modern muzzles are far different and more pleasant to a dog than muzzle created decades ago.

They are carefully designed to fit comfortably on dogs, and they come in various shapes and sizes, and can even accommodate short-faced breeds.

Training your dog to accept a muzzle is an important step that should be handled with patience and consistency.

Be Ready

Don’t wait until you NEED to wear a muzzle. Teaching your dog to wear a muzzle should start in early, while he is a puppy. For best muzzle and how to introduce a muzzle to your dog, talk to your veterinarian.

Maybe your dog is anxious at the vet, or your dog is a large dog breed such as Rottweiler and the vet will prefer for a dog to wear a muzzle on.

Your dog will also have to wear a muzzle in the exam room – this way, you are lowering the tension because no one is worrying about getting bit.

Even the friendliest and the smallest dogs, such as Golden Retriever or Pomeranian may bite when injured or in pain. We never want to think about an emergency happening, but its always better to be prepared just in case.

The very first step of preparing a dog first aid kid is your dog happily wearing it. Your groomer will also be happy when a dog has a muzzle on and is comfortable wearing it.

If you have a dog who has shown any aggression or any sign of aggression toward people or dogs, the muzzle is a must.

Prevent a bite before it happens. If your dog dislikes wearing a muzzle, talk to a professional trainer for the best training plan on how to teach your dog to wear a muzzle.

Be Responsible

If your dog already has a bite history, whether with dogs or people, your first step should be to muzzle your dog.

Seek help from an experienced trainer to help you with a training plan and a behavior modification, and make sure that the trainer is trusted and has no history using harsh training methods.

Don’t forget what a muzzle can only prevent your dog from being able to bite and that a dog can still cause injury wearing a muzzle.

The muzzle should NOT be used for things like stopping your dog from:

  • Barking
  • Chewing
  • Eating things

The same applies to puppies who are learning by biting.

Dogs use their mouth to explore the world around them, and if you have a problem with barking and your dog reacting to strange sounds and strangers, maybe a dog isn’t for you.

On the other hand, if you know that you want a dog and you know what dogs need to do to be dogs, but your dog still shows signs of heavily barking, chewing or any other excessive behavior, that you should work with a trainer for tips on how to deal with those issues.

Things to remember when using a muzzle:

Using a muzzle is easy, but there are still some things that you should think about. Below you may find fast tips on how to find the best muzzle and more.

Always purchase the right size and style muzzle for your dog. The muzzle should be well-fitted and comfortable for your dog.

The muzzle should still provide enough space for panting and ideally for drinking water and eating treats.

Always create a positive association with your dog to their muzzle. Go slow, use treats to reward him, and always introduce a muzzle in a fun way.

Mesh muzzles should be used only in the case of an emergency or extremely short periods of time, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

These muzzles prevent panting and can cause a dog to overheat especially in stressful situations.

Always use a muzzle in combination with training.

Remember: muzzles aren’t a replacement for addressing the issues your dog is having. Find an experienced trainer and work closely with to help your dog.

Steps to Muzzle Condition your dog:

You will need treats, and you will need to have the best one on hand, including cooked chicken, hot dogs, etc., to give to your dog. Put a muzzle away and stop giving treats.

  • Continue showing your dog the muzzle and treat your dog when he sees the muzzle. Your goal here is to make muzzle look good.
  • Put a few treats inside the muzzle, or even better spread some peanut butter inside the muzzle and let your dog lick it out of the muzzle. When your dog eats it, place more peanut butter, and repeat.
  • Add verbal clues like ‘muzzle’ before your dog puts his nose in the muzzle to eat the treats.
  • As your dog is licking the muzzle clean, gently secure the strap for a brief moment and then remove the strap.
  • With time, leave the straps secured for longer. You can start with 15 seconds and graduate to 30 seconds, then 1 minute, 3 minutes and etc.
  • Don’t forget to keep sessions initially short. Multiple and short sessions each day is ideal but gradually increase the time.


There Is No Stigma In Being A Responsible Dog-owner

Having a dog with a muzzle on doesn’t make you a bad dog owner. This means only that you are a responsible dog owner.

There is no need to be ashamed of this if you know that’s a must for a good reason.

As long as you don’t use a muzzle as a shortcut to training it’s ok for your dog to wear a muzzle. Muzzles shouldn’t be used to curb barking or left on unsupervised dogs.

Muzzling your dog should be an option if you are frequently hiking, and especially if you are hiking through an unknown area. It would be best if you always thought about safety first.