Muzzle that pooch! Rock that muzzle like a pro
There's little that delights us more here at Downstay than a happy dog owner out and about with their happy pooch. Especially when that pooch is wearing a big ol' basket muzzle.
When we see muzzled dogs, we see an owner who is honest with themselves about their dog's needs. We see somebody who cares deeply about their dog and wants everyone to be able to have a good time. We see a dog being set up for success and not for tragedy.
There are 2 kinds of muzzles: basket muzzles and groomer's muzzles. In this post we are endorsing basket muzzles for everyday wear because your dog can still pant, eat, and drink. The protective part is a wire or plastic cage around the mouth. In contrast, a groomer's muzzle is usually soft fabric or silicone and prevents bites by holding the jaws closed. For long term use, a groomer's muzzle is not appropriate because it prevents normal panting and drinking. And it will really bum your dog out that he can't have any treats while wearing it:(.
Here at Downstay, my helper border collie Ted wears a Baskerville size 3 muzzle. Although the brand name isn't fun and friendly, Teddy is. Of course, part of Teddy's job is showing clients' dogs that wearing a muzzle means snacks, attention, and happy times, but your dog doesn't have to bite to benefit from muzzle training too.
People in the veterinary field trust and respect owners who bring in muzzled dogs. Not because of their enhanced safety. Most vets have their own muzzles that they will use on your dog anyway if they're feeling uncomfortable. What did you think was happening when they take Fido "in the back" to draw blood or clip toenails? It ain't just cookies, friends. The thing is that a muzzle is a often an indicator of a responsible owner with realistic expectations and reliable reporting--a vital piece of the diagnostic puzzle, since pets can't speak for themselves.
But muzzles aren't just for aggressive dogs! They're also for dogs who might just be "grabby" (we know of one golden retriever who was obsessed with nipping at loose clothes and long hair for a super fun game of surprise tug), dogs who eat poop/rocks/trash/everything, dogs who have been known to kill chickens or squirrels, dogs who would like to eat a porcupine, etc. And P.S., dogs never learn not to mess with porcupines so don't get your hopes up.
Muzzles are also an alternative to Elizabethan collars that many dogs prefer. Elizabethan collars are the "cones of shame" that your vet might give you to prevent your dog's excessive licking or pulling at bandages or other wound dressings. The collar isn't aren't cruel, despite what your dog might try to tell you, but every dog I've encountered would rather wear a muzzle. Keep in mind that very determined dogs may still find a way to engage in problematic licking despite the muzzle (as they will also with an Elizabethan collar), so watch for this.
There was a meme on social media a few years ago about tying a yellow ribbon on your dog's leash or collar if he or she needs a little more space. It didn't catch on. But you know what sends a clearer signal? Muzzles! From the oldest granny to the 3-year old in the green frog rainboots, everyone knows that muzzles mean "hey, don't just walk up and stick your face in my face like a dum-dum". Sure, people with kids and other dogs will cross the street to stay away from little Hannibal, but isn't that the idea?
The final reason to use a muzzle is perhaps my favorite of all. Sometimes you have to leave your dog somewhere where you are concerned he might get bothered or teased, or worse, stolen. For example, what puppy owner hasn't heard "OMG he's so cute I just want to steal him!!!!" Yikes, people, get a hold of yourself. But when poochie is waiting for you in the car with the windows rolled down wearing his muzzle, I promise that nobody will give him any trouble.
But there's a stigma, you say! People will look at me and my dog and scowl! They will say stupid, mean things and make me feel feelings!
They might. But to have a dog is to accept that some people are going to judge and hate you for all kinds of reasons. But they're not going to be dealing with whatever consequences you're trying to prevent. Don't have a car accident because somebody disapproved of how you were driving.
Do you muzzle your dog? What do you think of people who do? Can you think of any other reasons to muzzle? Tell us in the comments.