Preparing with Pets: Muzzle Training for Emergencies

In my mind, basic obedience training is absolutely vital for dog owners.  Sit, down, stay, and the like are often taught to pets – but what about muzzle training?  Not many people train their dog to willingly accept wearing a muzzle.  That can mean that the first time an animal has to be muzzled for safety reasons, they panic.  Can you blame them?  I would certainly panic if someone wrapped something around my mouth and nose, holding my mouth closed and even slightly limiting my breathing!

Knowing this, and also knowing that muzzling an injured dog is vital for the protection of those humans transporting and/or providing emergency treatment, we made the decision to begin muzzle training Violet.  Now, to be VERY clear, Violet is not forced into the muzzle.  She is also not left muzzled for any longer than her desensitizing training takes place.  She is muzzled for training only, praised and handled calmly the entire time, and rewarded immediately after removal of the muzzle.  She is clearly uncomfortable with the muzzle on, but is willing to wear it for longer and longer (measured in seconds) each session.

I discussed my planned method of training with our veterinarian, who approved wholeheartedly and appreciated the effort.  If you consider muzzle training, please take the time to discuss it with your vet so they can make you aware of any concerns for your pet(s) based off of breed, such as length of snout and nose v. breathing concerns.  Lastly, NEVER leave your dog muzzled at length in hot weather.  Panting is their natural method of cooling themselves and you risk creating dangerous overheating if leaving them muzzled inappropriately.

That said, here’s how I began muzzle training our dog: Continue reading