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Dog Muzzles: When To Use Them and How

Why exactly do dogs need muzzles sometimes? It’s not for reasons most people would assume like these dogs are aggressive or untrained. It usually gets a bad rep that tends to intimidate people. The truth is, there are many reasons why dogs wear muzzles, which depend on the situation and the place they’re in. Part of that includes the pet owner’s responsibility of keeping the dog and the people around them safe. 

Especially since it is required in Singapore’s law that certain breeds of dogs are required to wear muzzles when in public places. Those breeds include: Bull Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd Dog (and related breeds), Rottweiler, Mastiffs including the Bull Mastiff, Cane Corso, Dogue De Bordeaux, and any cross combination of the breeds aforementioned. 

If you are interested to know more about dog muzzles in Singapore, their functions, types, and how to properly use them on your dog, read on further!

Introduction to Dog Muzzles

Dog muzzles are used to prevent any bites or snarling from dogs that are in vulnerable situations, most especially those who are in pain, afraid, or defensive. It can be applied to any dog breed, size, and age – whether they’ve displayed aggressive behaviour or not. Having a dog wear a muzzle can let the owner gauge and see how they respond to their surroundings and different situations (mostly during potentially problematic situations). It helps control their behaviour around people, kids, and other dogs and curbs the instinct to destroy or eat items in the household. It also helps the dog roam around freely and play with other dogs safely, without any risk. 

Dog muzzles are not bad for them, but they can be cruel and harmful to your dog if they are used inappropriately. They are not used to punish your dog and should not be used for long periods of time. If your dog has not worn one before, it’s best to introduce it to them slowly and properly. Usually, the earlier they get acquainted with it, the better. 

How to Use Dog Muzzles & When to Use Them

If you plan to use a dog muzzle on your pet for the first time, the best approach is to desensitize them to it. This means you have to expose them to dog muzzles and let them get used to it over time, so they can be comfortable with it. When introducing the muzzle to your dog, be calm and do not inflict any fear to it. Instead, show it to them slowly, and let them see and sniff it to familiarize them with it before putting it away. Repeat many times and let them have a positive association with the muzzle.

Next, place the muzzle opening in front of their face and let them grab the treat inside the muzzle. Repeat this and gradually put the treat further inside the muzzle until their snout is inside it, for them to get the treat. Slip it in and do not fasten it just yet, then if the dog is still calm, take the muzzle out, and reward them afterward. Do not force it when they are fussing or pawing at the muzzle. It’s important to let the entire experience be pleasant and comfortable for you and your dog. 

Lastly, it’s important to not let dogs wear muzzles for long periods of time and unsupervised. Some dog muzzles can be restricting and may inhibit dog movement such as panting, drinking, and eating. Do not use it on your dog when they display normal behaviour such as chewing or barking – it is only used as a temporary and short-term solution. If you see them display behavioural issues, you might use one to consider training them or consult with the veterinarian for the best ways to address these problems. 

The only times dog muzzle must be used is during the following situations:

  • During an Emergency

When a dog feels afraid, threatened, or pushed to their limits, they have the instinct to lash out as a way to defend themselves, especially if they are injured or in pain. Keeping a muzzle on them during these times will keep you and other people safe.

  • During Training

This is especially applicable to those dogs who are undergoing behavioural modification training. It is important to not use this as punishment and to not let it stay on for too long. 

  • As required by the law

Some places have it by law to require putting on muzzle for certain breeds of dogs while in public. As mentioned before, Singapore strictly implements this legislation to pet owners. 

  • Dog has a history of biting or risk of biting

The biting can be triggered by what a dog feels during a specific situation. For example, if the dog has a tendency to bite and feels threatened while visiting the vet, temporarily putting on a muzzle can help. This is also a sign to consider behavioural training to help avoid this kind of response. 

  • During grooming

If dogs are not desensitized to grooming, chances are that they will not tolerate any kind of grooming done to them. Using a muzzle while they are groomed helps groomers to get the job done, but also helps train them to get used to the treatment.

Types of Muzzles

Dog muzzles come in different sizes available for any dog breed. There are two types of dog muzzles that are commonly used:

  • Basket Muzzle

Shaped like a basket, these muzzles are usually made of leather, wire, plastic, or silicone. It goes over the snout and then fastened around the head and neck. They may not look great as they usually look like a cage around the mouth, but they are actually built to let the dog have the freedom to pant properly, open its mouth, and drink or eat. It also sometimes comes with side slits to help them breathe easier and lets owners feed them bigger treats!

  • Soft-Type or Sleeve-Type Muzzle

These muzzles are usually made with nylon, leather, or mesh. It encircles the base of the dog’s snout, and then fasted around the head and/or neck. Usually, this option is less comfortable since it restricts the dog’s mouth movements like opening, panting, or drinking. They are usually used during grooming sessions or vet visits, and should only be used for a few minutes or shorter periods of time. It’s not recommended to be used while in public. However, these can be adjusted accordingly, to let your dogs drink or eat temporarily, before fastening it back. 

Conclusion

 Dog muzzles usually have a bad reputation, but they are not used as punishment or to intimidate anyone, contrary to what most people believe. Rather, they are used to control a dog’s behaviours during specific situations or to abide by the law as required. Any pet owners can use them for all dogs and it’s best to let them familiarise and get accustomed to it. In doing so, the whole experience can be comfortable and positive for you and your dog. Avoid leaving it on your dog for long periods and without supervision. 

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