Dear Critter Corner: We just had a visit with our vet and they recommended that we should muzzle train our dog.  I am not sure where to start or how to do this, do you have any suggestions?

It is great to be proactive when working with our dogs and potential problem areas.  I would first find out why your pup needed the muzzle in the visit, there may be handling or fear issues that you may want to address in addition to the muzzle training.

There are great tutorials you can find on the internet to help guide you through the process but here is a basic outline on what the process should look like.  You will want to use a basket style muzzle and take your time as this is something we want your dog to enjoy, not dreed or fight you on.

Start with showing your dog the muzzle and following that with a treat, repeat several times until you see your dog get excited about seeing the muzzle in anticipation of the treat.  Now try placing a treat in the muzzle and see if your dog will attempt to take it out, repeat until they are eagerly grabbing the treat out.  Now you can try to place the treat from the front of the muzzle through so that your dog’s nose will go all the way into the muzzle to get to the treat, hold on to the treat for a second or two to prolong the amount of time your dog’s nose is in there.  Once your dog is comfortable here you can add a cue and encourage them to keep their nose in for a moment.  When they are comfortable, you will work to add bringing the straps up and holding before moving on to actually clasping.  Continue to build on your dog’s ability to feel comfortable with the muzzle on for periods at a time and making a fun game for them.

If you would like help to address this or other behavior issues, please reach out to our Behavior Department to schedule a 1:1 Consultation at training@phs-spca.org.

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