Muzzles

Overview

Basket muzzles are tools designed to prevent a dog from making bite contact with a person or another animal, but have a variety of uses (preventing a dog from chewing the seat belt in your car during a drive, for example).  Unlike nylon or mesh muzzles that hold a dog’s mouth shut (and can be unsafe to use for more than a moment or two), basket style muzzles can be used for longer periods of time and your dog can even eat and drink through the muzzle, allow use during training sessions.

Types

3 brands of basket muzzle I use regularly with clients are:

  1. Baskerville Ultra by The Company of Animals.  This muzzle is amazingly open and easy to deliver treats through.  Follow the link in the title to watch an informational video.  These muzzles can be warmed in hot water and then adjusted/bent to better fit your particular dog.  These are great muzzles but are not always appropriate in a home with small children.  These are available on-line and some big box pet stores carry them (including some Chuck & Dons locations).
  2. Italian Basket Muzzle by Morrco.  These are my first choice for a basket muzzle that will be used in a home with children.  Morrco offers 10 different sizes and two choices of colors.  Morrco is also the resource I use most frequently for Brachycephalic dogs (those with extremely short muzzles) as the company also offers some specialty muzzles for those breeds.  I know of no local retailer selling these – ordering from Morrco is what I recommend.
  3. Guardian Gear plastic basket muzzle.  This product is similar in look and feel to the Italian Basket Muzzle by Morrco.  I’ve found it in the Twin Cities regularly stocked at Chuck & Don’s pet supply stores.  There are fewer sizes than the Morrco muzzles, and they are a bit less sturdy, but you do have the ability to try it on in the store to confirm a good fit before purchasing.

Additionally, The Muzzle Up! Project has some wonderful general information and resources on basket muzzles.

Fitting a Muzzle

A muzzle should fit snugly and not come off with pushing or pulling.  The neck strap for most muzzles sits high on your dog’s neck, just behind their ears, and should be tight enough to slip 1 finger underneath, but not more.  There should be a gap of about 1 centimeter (or between 1/4 and 1/2 inches) between your dog’s nose and the inside of the muzzle.  And a well-fit muzzle should not interfere with your dogs sight or eyes.

Getting Started

Like any other tool, it is important that you take care introducing it to your dog such that they learn to actively enjoy wearing a muzzle.  If you are using a muzzle as part of a plan to change aggressive behavior, this desensitization process is critical.  A dog who is already uncomfortable around people, for example, may become worse if they find the muzzle scary or uncomfortable.  The two videos below will walk you through the process of teaching your dog to wear a muzzle.  Make sure you also take a minute to read through this great blog post (or just watch the video at the end of her post) by Sonya Bevan: http://www.dogcharming.com.au/blog/the-saga-of-measuring-a-dog-for-a-muzzle-tolerating-vs-enjoying-handling.  The key with muzzle work is not how quickly you can get a muzzle onto your dog – but rather, can you get and keep your dog happy and comfortable throughout your training process.

Great video by Domesticated Manners – Chirag Patel does an amazing job at clarifying each and every step:

And Emily Larlham of Dogmantics always does a great job with her videos: