Now that you know why you may need a muzzle for your dog at some point and how to choose the right type, how do you train your dog to accept a muzzle?
You really don’t want to have to introduce your dog to a muzzle when he absolutely needs to have one, such as in an injury situation. If he is in pain and is fearful, trying to get a muzzle on him will be next to impossible. Even if you do manage to get it on him, he will likely associate the muzzle with a stressful circumstance from that time forward, making training him to accept it very difficult to do.
Ideally, you want to introduce the muzzle to your dog when everything is well and he is calm, using a gradual step-by-step procedure. This will make the process painless and enjoyable for both your dog and for you!
Over a period of several days, here’s what we did—using small, soft treats, and making sure he was comfortable with each step before going on to the next.
Have a good supply of small treats on hand. Make sure your dog is relaxed and not under any stress before you begin training.
The first step is just to allow your dog to sniff the muzzle. Then give him a treat. Repeat this step a few times.
Next, take the muzzle and touch his nose with it. Then treat him. Repeat this a few times until he shows positive interest in the muzzle.
Now very gently slip the muzzle over his nose and treat him. Immediately take off the muzzle. Repeat this step a few times.
Next put the muzzle on your dog and fasten the buckle. Treat him. Then immediately remove the muzzle. Repeat this step a few times.
Put the muzzle on your dog and buckle it. Then count to five slowly. Treat your dog and remove the muzzle.
Now each time you put on the muzzle, start to gradually increase the time you leave the muzzle on before you take it off. Hold his collar so he won’t step away and treat him.
If your dog is very skittish around the muzzle you may have to spread these steps out over several days. Some dogs may be able to be trained in less than a day. However long muzzle training takes, it’s well worth your time!