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How to Get Your Dog Used to a Muzzle

Updated on September 28, 2010

I thanked the fact Petra was muzzle trained in my last trip to France where Rotties must wear muzzles in public places.

a farricelli
a farricelli

While muzzles are often associated with aggressive, nervous dogs, it never hurts to get your accustomed to wearing a muzzle since in some public areas muzzles may be mandatory. Also, sometimes dog are not completely comfortable during vet visits or may be in pain and in order to ensure the safety of all, wearing a muzzle may be a good choice. A muzzle does not necessarily have to be a bad thing in the eyes of a dog. If you introduce your dog to the muzzle properly he or she may even look forward to wearing it.

There are different types of muzzles and it is a good idea to shop around before buying the first muzzle you see. The two most common types of muzzles are basket muzzles and nylon muzzles. Basket muzzles are  a bit more bulkier but they offer the advantage of allowing the dog to breath well. This is a plus if your dog must wear a muzzle in the summer. However, with this type of muzzle your dog will not be able to drink or eat.. For this reason, basket muzzles are often used to prevent dogs from eating foreign matter.

Nylon muzzles, on the other hand are more comfortable to wear but the dog may not be capable of panting properly in those warm days or after exertion. Some dogs may still be able to lap up some water or take small treats with these muzzles. However, they may be dangerous to use if the dog is sick and must vomit.

How to Introduce a Muzzle to Your Dog

You want positive associations to happen so your dog starts to readily accept the muzzle. Expect the dog to fight at first. It takes some time to get used to the feel, but most when introduced properly will get a hang of it. It is good practice to apply the muzzle often so to keep the dog used to it. If you apply the muzzle only once in a blue moon, he or she may go back to basics and put up a fight. 

Start by choosing some of your dog's favorite treats. You do not want to use your dog's usual kibble. Look instead for something extra special like slices of hot dog, pieces of cooked steak or dry  liver.  Grab a piece of treat and hold it in the middle of the muzzle where the dog's  muzzle will be, so that  as you put it on, the dog will be lured to eat the treat.

Let the dog wear it for a few seconds. If the dog starts pawing at it, tell him ''no''. Take it off when the dog seems to have stopped fighting against it. If he doesn't stop, lure him to you with a treat, ask him to sit and give the treat and take it off. You do not want to take the muzzle off when the dog is attempting to take it off or he will think it comes off when he fights against it. Take it always off when the dog is calm.

Every day, place the muzzle with a treat as instructed and let him hold for longer amounts of time. If he continues to fight against it try to walk him on a leash so he is not able to paw at it or rub against furniture or other surfaces to take it off. With time, your dog shuold get more and more used to the muzzle. 

You know you have done progress when the dog comes to you upon seeing the muzzle. This is great. It means the dog has started associating the muzzle with good things and actually looks forward to wearing it. Not many dogs out there can be said to be so collaborative, congratulations!


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