If you are reading this right now, you might think muzzles are only for “bad dogs.” Dogs that are aggressive, dangerous or mean.
(Courtesy of TheLabradorSite.com)
- Veterinarians might have to muzzle your dog if he is seriously injured. When our greyhound broke his leg at home, my instinct was to grab his basket muzzle, put it on him, and then evaluate the situation. When a dog is in excruciating pain (such as a broken leg), their instinct is to prevent more pain. Even the best behaved dogs that would never otherwise bite their owners have bitten owners, passer bys and veterinarians - all of which were trying to help the dog. You can’t help your dog if you are also going to the ER for a significant dog bite, so put the muzzle on Sparky first and then assess the situation.
- Dogs that eat EVERYTHING. If you have a dog who has had to go to the veterinarian more than once this summer for parasites because your dog eats everything on walks, a muzzle might be a great option for preventing illness and more vet bills. This also applies to labradors who eat rocks, poop (coprophagia) or other forms ofpica.
- Local evacuations: With more and more natural disasters nationally, the chances of evacuation due to natural disaster are (sadly) increasing. Many people do not want to leave their pets behind in case of emergency, and many choose to ignore evacuation requests because of their pets. Don’t risk your life, or your pets life. Many evacuation sites will allow you to bring your pet IF it’s in a crate and muzzled. When a dog is stressed out, the likelihood of a bite increases so for everyone's protection, your pets need to be muzzled and / or crated. If you haven’t started crate training, here is a great place to start.
- Reactive Dogs: There are aggressive dogs (dogs that for a variety of reasons charge and bite) and there arereactive dogs. Dogs like my former dog, Sadie, who had a large personal space bubble and was perfectly fine as long as no other dog came into her space. If they did, then she would react by lunging, barking, and loudly express her displeasure at the intruder. It’s an even harder situation when the dog coming into her space is a “friendly” dog who “just wants to say hi.” Sorry, this might be unpopular, but as the owner of a reactive dog (like thousands of you in cities) your dog’s friendliness has absolutely nothing to do with my dog’s comfort. Your dog’s “good intentions” is not permission to come into any dog’s space. Full stop. This is why leash laws exist - it’s not just for the safety of your dog, but for the dogs that are uncomfortable their surroundings. If you do not have the ability to call your dog from any distraction (including other dogs) your dog should be leashed until trained. With that said, as an added bonus, a dog like Sadie could have worn a muzzle - which would have been a visual cue to the FDO (friendly dog’s owner) that this dog should not have her space infringed upon. Sometimes a little extra security goes a long, long way.
- If you are in a busy environment and other people ignore pleas to not get in your dog's face. If you are someone who says “yes, I know he’s cute, and he likes people but I think he’s overwhelmed now,” a muzzle is a good visual marker for people to give a little bit of space so this dog can take a quick break.
- Bully Breeds: If you own a bully breed, or a banned breed (there are 75 of them in the USA - is your dog on this list?), a muzzle might be a necessary evil for you to keep your dog. In some cases, you can only walk your banned breed down the street of your neighborhood, regardless of temperament, with a muzzle. If you think breed bans are just for ‘pit bulls’ and other bully breeds, then you’re in for a surprise because in some cases, Chihuahuas, American Eskimo Dogs and Golden Retrievers are on the list. If you are the owner of these dogs in a locale that bans these breeds, you are now going to start feeling the heat in the way that bully breed owners have been for decades. It’s time to stop BSL (breed specific legislation) and instead employ individual risk assessment per individual dogs.
For more information about this particular piece, visit RedStarCafe
Melissa McCue-McGrath, CPDT-KA