By Amber Quann, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA
Owner, Summit Dog Training
Do you use a muzzle with your dog to make sure that your dog is safe & comfortable while going out in public places? While this isn’t something that every dog needs, for some dogs that are working through various challenges (including reactivity to any type of trigger, the inclination to eat anything and everything from the ground, polite greetings with friendly strangers, etc. etc.), a properly fitted and conditioned muzzle can provide peace of mind for both you and your dog.
However, if you do use a muzzle with your dog, or have ever considered using one, I’m sure you have encountered the fact that not everyone is so understanding and tolerant of a muzzled dog out in a public place. Whether it is the whispers of “that dog will bite you”, the quickly shielded children, or the antagonistic “You shouldn’t be here if your dog isn’t nice” approach, the stigma of wearing a muzzle can be alienating and frustrating.
It doesn’t have to be this way though! If we use the time we are out in public with a muzzled dog as an opportunity for spreading awareness and positive education about muzzles & dogs, it would go a long way! Obviously this isn’t something that every dog is equipped to do, depending on the level they are working at in their behavior modification process. But if those of us who can spend the extra brain power to spread positive information about muzzle wearing for dogs do so, all muzzled dogs would reap the benefit!
To get this process started, we’ve created this handout designed to help you and your dog navigate those tricky social situations with greater ease. You could have some printed for handing out to those who ask (or comment) about your muzzle-wearing pup, or even disseminate this info to family & friends before a get together where they will be around your dog. While it doesn’t have all of the answers for your individual dog’s needs, it can help start the conversation and promote a better understanding about muzzles and dogs.
You can download a printable PDF version of this file here if you would like to have a copy to send or print ahead of your next outdoor adventure.
Please let us know what you think! If you would like one of these handouts more customized to the specific situation with your dog, let us know and we’re happy to help!
Amber Quann, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, is the owner and head trainer of Summit Dog Training in Fort Collins. Amber grew up competing in various dog sports, including rally, agility, obedience and conformation. Her Australian Shepherd, Roo, is her constant companion and adventuring partner; together, they enjoy hiking, backpacking, walks in the park, and, recently, working on dog parkour titles!