Muzzles are a seriously undervalued tool in the arsenal of your dogs equipment.
So often though, I see muzzles that might be problematic. I see muzzles that don’t fit that well, or may be inappropriate for the breed, or even unsafe.
So I wanted to get a nice, deep dive into how a muzzle should fit on a dog. Because goodness only knows it’s not a thing your dog will naturally desire to wear – but it’s incredibly useful for those slightly less than certain situations where you just want a little backup security.
What Is A Muzzle?
A muzzle is a device that extends around your dogs nose and mouth, rendering them unable to use their mouth inappropriately. Often they’re made of durable materials, hard plastic, biothane, leather, even vinyl and of course metal.
Some muzzles, for the brachycephalic breeds (flat faced breeds, such as the pug or the boxer) can get mesh-faced muzzles too. This allows the dogs owner to feel secure with their dog around others, whether that’s at a vets or whilst they’re training their dog through reactivity.
Why Do Dogs Wear A Muzzle?
Dogs wear muzzles for all sorts of reasons, but most of them are for the dogs own protection. Whether that’s protection from making a mistake such as nipping the vet in fear, or from eating something toxic that they find on the street. There are lots of reasons that a responsible dog parent or guardian.
When To Use A Muzzle
✅ Legal reasons
✅ Safeguard in stressful situations, such as vet visits
When Not To Use A Muzzle
6 Ways To See If Your Dogs Muzzle Fits Correctly
Remember, different places construct muzzles for different reasons, for example, an agitation muzzle might fit a lot tighter. As will an emergency muzzle – but a ‘normal’ muzzle, one that is used for training and everyday wear, is something that must be properly fitted. This is how to achieve that with some super cute pictures to help you decide!
Can You Fit Two fingers Beneath The Muzzle?
Being able to fit two fingers between your dogs chin and their muzzle means that there should be adequate space for them to open and close their mouth and that the muzzle isn’t too tight. A dogs jaw pivots from way back in their cheek, so this will allow you to ensure it’s about right in terms of fit!
Can They Hold A Tennis Ball In Their Mouth While Wearing A Muzzle?
This is a pretty rudimentary thing, and not a measurement that holds any real value (per se) as it’s not an exercise they’ll ever have to do. But it is indicative that your dog has enough to room to find the muzzle comfortable
Can They Pant?
Heat is something that we can’t control in a lot of environments, and given that our dogs have limited ways of getting rid of heat and cooling down, it’s really important that we do not limit their ability to pant, and to get rid of that heat when necessary.
This ability means that your dog will be comfortable and happy in this for a longer period of time than alternatives.
Can They Take Treats?
If training is to occur, (given that toys are not something we can use as a reward when your dog is wearing a muzzle) then we must be able to provide treats through the muzzle to create reward and to craft positive associations with things (incredibly important if your dog is reactive!)
Can They Drink?
Similarly to the ability to pant, our dogs need to be able to drink whilst wearing a muzzle, it means that they can wear the muzzle for longer and that we are not creating a limited resource. Water not only allows for hydration (obviously!) but helps them balance their warmth too and helps prevent over heating.
Can They Vomit?
This one is often the single most underestimated in terms of importance.
A muzzle that doesn’t allow your dog to vomit, is a muzzle that can kill your dog.
It’s not a case of ‘oh that’s so unlikely’ it’s a case of ‘just in case’ because I don’t want to run the risk that my reflexes will definitely be fast enough to get to my dog before they actually choke on their own vomit – do you?
Muzzles Are A Good Thing
Remember that muzzling your dog is never a bad thing, a muzzled dog isn’t a sign of a bad dog, it’s the sign of a responsible owner.
Remember, sometimes different companies dit their muzzles in a different way. You’re always allowed to send things back and say they don’t fit as you need them to.
If you need more help with your dogs equipment, then make sure to head to our Gear section! Where you can find loads of product reviews and valuable information about all sorts of dog gear.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!