Dog muzzles are gadgets that you can use to temporarily manage excessive barking, chewing, or even biting in dogs. These contraptions are generally made of safe materials and come in various sizes. However, it is very crucial to choose the right muzzle as there can be numerous implications in its use. For starters, severely restricting the movement of your dog’s mouth can prevent it from drinking, eating, and panting, the latter of which is very important in canine thermoregulation. As such, we’re presenting these 9 best dog muzzles for your perusal in the hope that you’d be able to choose one that is more to your liking. However, we do recommend reading the rest of this article as we’ve prepared something very special for you and your pet.
Dog Muzzle Buying Guide
Picking the right muzzle for your pooch entails quite a few considerations. First and foremost, you need to have a very clear idea of the indications for the use of such type of canine restraints. Understand that under no circumstances is the facial restraint to be used as a long-term solution to a canine behavioral issue such as barking or chewing or even aggression. There are many reasons why these behaviors occur. Muzzles may only prevent barking, chewing, and aggression, but it doesn’t solve the reason why dogs are having these behaviors in the first place. Towards the long term, dogs that are put into this kind of restraint will recognize that they are being punished for something. This is no way to treat man’s best friend.
In buying a dog muzzle it is important to look at the following.
There are different types of canine muzzles, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.
- Basket – This type of canine muzzle is typically constructed either of sturdy plastic or pet safe wire. From the name itself, it forms a basket weave pattern that allows pooches to have ample ventilation on their muzzles. There are types that allow for sufficient movement of the dog’s mouth, allowing it to pant, but not necessarily to drink or eat. There are also basket types that allow for greater freedom of movement, enabling your pooch to drink, eat, and pant, but not necessarily to bark. Wire baskets are preferred for larger dogs as well as doggies that have the tendency to bite. Plastic baskets are best reserved for smaller breeds.
- Nylon sleeve or wrap – As the name implies, this type of muzzle is more like a straightjacket that is wrapped around the canine’s mouth to restrict any form of movement. Nylon strips are wrapped around the back of the doggie’s head to secure the restraint. There are also products that make use of other materials such as mesh or leather instead of nylon. The important thing to remember is that this type of doggie facial restraint really prevents any form of movement on your pooch’s mouth. It will not be able to pant which is technically a canine’s way of dissipating heat from inside its body and is equivalent to human sweating. It also cannot eat or drink. As such, if you do decide to get this for your pet, make sure never to leave it alone and to use it only for very brief periods.
The size of the muzzle matters as this is equated to security and safety for your pooch. We will have a separate discussion about this especially on how to measure the correct size of muzzle for your pet.
Choose the Best Size for Your Dog
In choosing a muzzle for your pet it is important to get the correct size, otherwise you will be presented with a host of problems that may make your life and that of your dog even more miserable. Here is how you can choose the best size for your dog.
- Measure the length of your dog’s muzzle from the tip of its nose all the way towards its head, about half an inch or so from its eyes.
- Measure the circumference of the terminal end near the eyes. Remember to position your tape measure about half an inch from your pooch’s eyes and wrap it all the way around its muzzle.
You will use these two measurements to determine the correct size of your pooch’s restraint. You can choose to add about half an inch or so in your measurements but make sure that it will not be too loose or else you risk the muzzle easily getting off. A good rule of thumb for basket types of restraint is to add 2 inches to the circumference if you have small to medium sized breeds and 3 inches for large dogs.
How to Safely Use Dog Muzzles
It is understandable that many people are quite apprehensive when it comes to putting muzzles onto their pet dogs. It can be downright unsettling. There will be questions related to the pooch’s safety and comfort. Will it still be able to breathe? Can it still eat or drink? Can your dog still pant? For many of us, it simply is inhumane to put these on our dogs for it does conjure images of Hannibal Lecter or other famous fictional criminals and villains that have worn a muzzle either to silence them or as part of their signature costume.
The thing is that there are quite a number of safety issues that need to be answered every time you put on these dog silencing contraptions on your pet. Now, if you are really going to use this type of restraint on your dog, then it is critically important that you know when you can use it and when you are not supposed to put it on your dog. This provides the very foundation for the safe use of dog muzzles. So, when can you put it on your dog?
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- In an emergency
If your dog is injured there’s an increased risk of biting because of the severe pain that it is experiencing. A seriously agitated or even a fearful pooch can also snap without warning. And if you have kids in the vicinity, chances are they might be on the receiving end of a vicious dog biting incident. Sadly, many dogs are inadvertently punished because their human masters simply failed to recognize the relationship between pain and behavior.
Let us put it this way, if you are in pain, you cannot think straight. You can be extremely cranky, curse, hurl invectives or even objects, or display any other ‘unusually aggressive’ behavior. Pain floods the system with a lot of stress hormones that translate into negative energies. These energies are channeled through a variety of means. You cry, moan, bang your head, hit the wall with your fist, or even go into a fit. The point is that if we are overly stressed out or anxious, the level of aggressive tendencies substantially grows.
Remember Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief wherein anger follows denial before bargaining and depression set in? While dogs don’t necessarily show ‘denial’, ‘bargaining’, and ‘acceptance’, they do present with anger and depression. Regrettably, anger always precedes depression. So, a dog in pain or a highly anxious pooch has the tendency to grow angrier (translated as more aggressive) where it can snap and bite anyone who may be well within striking distance. In such cases, whether you consider it inhumane or not, a dog muzzle may have to be used.
Alternatively, you can place your pooch inside its crate so that it will not be a danger to itself or to anyone else in your home.
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- There is increased risk of biting secondary to a volatile situation
There are dogs that have grown to be very aggressive through the years. This is definitely regardless of whether they are in pain or not. The point is that you know the behavior of your canine friend. If you think that it is too aggressive and that there is a great chance it will bite someone especially when presented with a situation that can trigger its violent behavior, then putting it in its cage or crate is ideal. However, since exercise is still pretty much an important part of a dog’s wellbeing, then you need to put a muzzle onto your dog whenever you have to let it out of its crate. Remember, the use of the muzzle is only temporary to protect your dog, you, other people, and other dogs whenever your pooch is out of its kennel.
- Required by law
In 1998, a controversial law in the Irish Statute Book was published requiring owners of the following dog breeds to put muzzles on their canines whenever they are in public spaces.
- American pit bull terrier
- Bull mastiff
- Doberman pinscher
- English bull terries
- German shepherd
- Japanese akita
- Japanese tosa
- Rhodesian ridgeback
- Staffordshire bull terrier
In the US, similar laws were implemented in a variety of states, carrying a penalty ranging from a few hundred dollar fine to a few thousand dollars. In the Miami-Dade area, individuals are forbidden from owning or keeping a pit bull unless the dog has been pre-registered before 1989. In Denver, pit bull owners are required to have at least 100,000 USD in liability insurance as well as post appropriate signage in their property the warning “PIT BULL DOG”. So, you might want to check the breed-specific laws that may be in effect in your community as these often require the wearing of muzzles whenever your dog is in a public area.
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- During grooming sessions if the dog has not been desensitized
If you have an adult dog, it should already be accustomed to being groomed by a professional. This typically starts at puppyhood. If not, then it may need some form of restraint such as a muzzle to help protect the canine groomer. This is especially true if the groomer is not recognized by your pooch.
When should you not use it?
- To manage ongoing behavioral problems like chewing and barking
Ongoing behavioral issues such as excessive barking and chewing are best managed through other means, often requiring behavior modification and consistent training. The reason for the behavior should thus, be determined so that appropriate measures can be explored. For instance, it is a well-established fact that one of the reasons why dogs bark is due to separation anxiety although attention-seeking, boredom, territoriality, and alarm sounding can all be valid reasons as well. These reasons should be explored further and attempts be made to address the real issue. Muzzles are designed for temporary use only, often in very short periods of time. Remember that these can inhibit a dog’s ability to drink, pant, and eat.
- As a form of punishment
Muzzles should never ever be used to punish a canine pet. This will only make your pooch more anxious and more fearful. As much as possible, the undesirable behavior should be addressed appropriately.
Knowing when and when not to use a dog muzzle is critical to ensuring the safety of everyone concerned, including you and your dog. Once you determine that it is in the best interest of everyone that your dog wears a muzzle, then you have to observe these safety tips.
- Teach your pooch to be comfortable with the muzzle.
This is the very essence of canine training. Anything that you put on your pooch you will have to train it so that it will be more comfortable with the gadget. To do this, you’ll need tons of patience and plenty of rewards. The idea is to make your doggie feel that it is okay for it to wear the contraption. It needs to feel relaxed while wearing it. Also, you will need your pet not to struggle to get the muzzle off its face.
- Use only an appropriately-sized restraint.
Too large a restraint and you defeat the purpose of the gadget. Too tight and you restrict joint mobility and efficient blood circulation. If your dog will only wear the muzzle for a few minutes, then choosing a restraint that allows it to pant should be considered. The point is that the muzzle should be safely secured without necessarily restricting blood circulation or causing discomfort for your dog.
- Remember to use the muzzle as a temporary solution to canine behavioral issues.
We already explained above that ongoing behavioral issues should be addressed and managed using more appropriate methods. Muzzles will not fix aggression, destructive chewing, inter-dog aggression, or even excessive barking. These behavioral issues have deeply-rooted causes that need to be identified and addressed appropriately. Using muzzles will only ‘dampen’ these symptoms but not fix the real problem.
- Don’t leave your muzzled pooch unattended.
Don’t exercise blind faith on muzzles. Regardless of how secure these restraints are made, you will never know how your pooch can instantly turn into a Houdini. Moreover, your pooch might scratch and injure itself in an attempt to get the restraint off of its head. And since you’re not there to supervise it, then a minor injury can easily turn for the worse. If you really cannot supervise your pooch, it’s better to put it in its kennel or dog crate.
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Can Dogs Bark with a Muzzle On?
A straightforward answer to this question is a pretty simple ‘No’. The reason is pretty obvious. Since a dog’s bark is almost always equated with human speech, the frequency and intensity of the vocalization is thus, still dependent on the vibrations of the vocal cords. This organ located at the junction of the throat and the trachea is comprised of muscles that vibrate when sound waves are sent from the lungs in an outward motion. It doesn’t end there though, since the tone and pitch of the bark will have to be adjusted by the muscles of the throat. Technically, a dog’s bark requires the mouth to be fully open to force the air and the vocalization out. If the mouth is not full open, then all you will hear is a grumbling sound emitted by your dog.
Going to the use of muzzles, since the device restricts the opening of the mouth, then no bark is produced. Even a basket type of muzzle which typically allows pooches to still pant, drink, and eat, will still be quite restrictive of full mouth opening that dogs will hardly be able to bark at all. This is the reason why many folks consider dog muzzles as effective anti-bark devices since they suppress the natural process of producing a distinctive sound we know as a canine bark. Of course, your pooch can still whine or cry since the vocal chords will still be vibrating and the laryngeal muscles contracting. But to produce a loud sound would be next to impossible.
Dog muzzles, similar to shock collars, are dog gadgets that are quite controversial. While they may prevent barking, biting, and chewing, they don’t necessarily address the main issue behind these behaviors. As such, while our 9 best dog muzzles can provide you with a good starter lineup, we still recommend talking with your vet to determine the root cause of your canine behavioral concerns.
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