We receive this question a lot when it comes to the best dog training practices. The answer is yes, but we call it muzzle conditioning.
What is Muzzle Conditioning?
We recommend muzzle conditioning for all dogs and all owners. It is something that we should talk about more with our clients and the public at large. When properly placed on a dog, the basket muzzle makes it impossible for that dog to bite. That is the biggest reason I recommend it to all my clients. Not only for clients with dogs who have bitten but also for puppies and dogs who have not or would not bite. NOTE: I do not use the muzzle to stop puppy biting with puppies. Puppy biting is natural, and we can use different skill sets to manage puppy biting.
In my experience, muzzle conditioning teaches a dog to enjoy wearing a muzzle. We know muzzles are uncomfortable, and dogs do not naturally understand a muzzle. However, once a dog wears a muzzle, it learns it can not bite. All dogs know that their bite is their strongest defensive measure. Dogs are not predisposed to muzzle up; they are intelligent and would never volunteer to give up their strongest defensive effort. When we teach a dog to enjoy muzzling up, we also teach the dog to trust us.
Muzzle conditioning is a teaching moment for both dog and owner. Not only are we teaching our pups to enjoy muzzling up, but we are also teaching ourselves how to bring joy to the dog during a naturally unpleasant activity. To bring joy to something that is not naturally joyful requires a deep understanding by the one providing the joy. All owners should understand their dogs that well.
What are the Benefits of Muzzle Conditioning?
There are many situations where a muzzle is useful. When a dog is injured, or in pain, they are more likely to bite whomever is administering care. Some dogs rely on biting more than any other social skill. In some cases, teaching those dogs to use other social cues is greatly aided by our ability to remove biting as an option for the dog. By doing this, we can show the dog that they can successfully navigate a situation they would usually navigate by biting.
Muzzles help us to create associations in stressful situations. Take the time to condition the dog to be excited about the muzzle at first, then allow them to wear it enough so that they calm down. When the dog associates being calm with being muzzled, we can use the muzzle to cause calm behavior from our dogs.
Finally, when done correctly, muzzle conditioning can be a bonding activity between the dog and its owner. It can be done with short, fun sessions. So if an owner has a short amount of time to interact with their dog, they can use muzzle conditioning to engage the dog, teach the dog to trust them to a greater extent and develop a deep bond with the dog. In doing so, you are multi-tasking at an advanced level, killing four big birds with one stone.
So watch “The Story of Itty-Bit’s Muzzle” on our youtube channel, buy a muzzle, and get to work. You will enjoy the benefits of the training, and that will help you to Enjoy Your Dog!!!