If you need to manage your dog’s behavior in a humane and effective way, a muzzle may be an ideal solution. Muzzles allow you to train your dog effectively while keeping the animal and people around him safe. In order to use a muzzle, however, you need to train your dog to wear one. Fortunately, this isn’t as tough as it sounds.
What You’ll Need
Before you can begin muzzle training your dog, you’ll need a few supplies. These include treats, a muzzle and a clicker. There are many muzzles available at pet supply stores and online. The muzzle should fit snugly over the dog’s nose and mouth without being overly restrictive. It should clip snugly behind the ears without you having to tug on it to make it fit. The dog should still be able to breathe normally and open their mouth slightly while wearing the muzzle. Don’t begin training until you’re sure the muzzle is the right fit.
Training the Dog to the Muzzle
For the first few days of training, don’t put the muzzle on the dog. Simply show the dog the muzzle, allow him to sniff it and then click the clicker and give them a treat. This teaches the dog to associate the muzzle with the click and a food reward and helps mitigate any fear the dog may have.
As the dog becomes more comfortable with the muzzle, begin slipping it over their nose without fastening it in the back. Wait until they are comfortable and relaxed, then take the muzzle off, click the clicker and provide a treat. Repeat this for a matter of days.
Once your dog is used to wearing the unfastened muzzle, begin to clip the muzzle behind the dog’s ears. Keep the initial sessions short (no more than a minute or two) and provide a click and a food reward as soon as you remove the muzzle.
Over the next several days, increase the time that the dog wears the muzzle during each session. Remember never to take the muzzle off when the dog is pulling at it or seems anxious, as this will only breed bad behavior. Only take the muzzle off when the dog is calm and relaxed.
Throughout your muzzle training, ensure that you are offering plenty of positive reinforcement and food rewards, as this will help the dog adjust quickly and easily to the muzzle. Once your dog is wearing the muzzle for extended periods of time, you can use it as a tool to enhance your other training pursuits. Muzzles are especially effective for situations that involve a good deal of stimulus, like socialization and obedience classes. Having a dog that is comfortable wearing a muzzle makes training much easier for the dog and the person alike.
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