Video: How to muzzle train your dog

There’s no reason your dog can’t be comfortable when wearing their muzzle. Let’s take a look at the best ways to get your dog muzzle-ready, happy and cooperative.

Finding the best dog muzzle

There’s lots to take into account when finding the best dog muzzle: do you want a small dog muzzle, or is your dog a large breed that may need something stronger? You might be torn between soft muzzles and hard muzzles. The best thing to do when looking to get a muzzle for your dog is to have a chat with your vet – they’ll understand your dog, their reasons for needing a muzzle and will be able to alter their recommendations based on this.

I have a dog muzzle, how do I train my dog to wear it?

Much like crate training a puppy or teaching a kitten to use the toilet, the best muzzle training technique is to get your dog used to their new accessory slowly, and in stages.

Use food

Use a tasty treat like peanut butter (assuring it’s free of xylitol of course!) and put it at the end of the muzzle on the inside. Feed it to your dog, but don’t attach the muzzle just yet. Once you’ve done this a few times, they’ll form a positive association with their muzzle.

Baby steps

Once your dog is used to voluntarily popping their nose into the muzzle – they don’t jerk away from it or regard it with fear – hold the straps around the back of the head for a second. Feed your dog a treat through the muzzle and then take it off. Build up the length of time spend holding the straps, feeding treats into the muzzle as you hold them. You want to form a strong association that the muzzle = delivery of tasty things. Then you can fasten it, feed a treat and immediately remove it.

Gradually build up the length of time your dog is wearing their muzzle, starting with just a few seconds. Make sure it isn’t so tight that it’ll hurt, but also not so loose that it will fall off when your dog moves around. Keep your dog distracted when wearing the muzzle – do some training with them, rewarding them all the while. Take it off before they start to paw or rub at it. If this happens, just distract them with some training and then take it off. Make a note not to leave it on so long the next time.

Practice makes perfect

Based on your dog’s progress, begin to leave their muzzle on them for longer periods. Try not to do this in a linear way, instead, apply your dog’s muzzle at random – for different lengths of time, in different places and at different parts of the day. This will help them to accept and understand that the muzzle just comes and goes, and that it’s nothing to be feared. Never just strap a muzzle onto your dog and force them to accept it – this can cause distress and injury.

Need more help with dog muzzle training?

Because your dog might need a muzzle for a number of reasons, and no two cases are ever the same, it’s always best to chat with your vet if you need more help with muzzle training. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.