Monthly Behavioural Tip – Muzzles

Muzzles seem to have a bad reputation, labelling the dog wearing it as being mean, dangerous or untrained. The reality however, is that many dogs do not cope well being around strangers and are not going to show their ‘best selves’ in those situations.

Muzzles have a lot of positive reasons for use, however, people often avoid using them as they believe the muzzle will hurt their dog. This is usually due to the way their dog acts when wearing one. Yes, dog’s often do not like having a muzzle on, because they associate wearing one with the negative reason why it is being used. For example a vet examining a painful area or groomer clipping nails. They can also be uncomfortable due to being an incorrect style and/or size.

When the correct muzzle is chosen, is fitted correctly and your dog associates its use with something positive, they will tolerate it well, just like a wearing a harness or a coat. A muzzle should allow your dog to pant easily, eat treats through it, and drink water.

A muzzle is not only a safety tool that prevents bites, but also helps while you are working on changing your dog’s behaviour in certain circumstances. Such as deterring people approaching your dog if he/she is reactive, stressed or anxious when strangers come close. Stopping your dog from destroying and/or eating everything in their environment. A preventative measure while on a walk or when visiting properties where bait or other toxins or chemicals might be present.

Next time you see a dog wearing a muzzle be respectful to the dog and offer a smile to the owner. They are being a responsible dog owner who is trying to help their dog and keep everyone safe.


Veterinary Nurse Kirstie Hancock is qualified in animal behaviour with her Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services through the Delta Society. She has lots of great tips and ideas when it comes to misbehaving pets. Keep an eye out for her monthly tips on our Facebook page. Also check out her own business Facebook page - Positive Paws.