Muzzle training is a fundamental responsibility for all dog owners. Put simply, it is the process of training your dog to willingly accept a muzzle which limits their ability to bite. There are a number of times when this may be necessary such as in certain public spaces, or when at the vet. Muzzling is a very basic, but effective safety mechanism which can benefit dogs, people, and other animals around them. It is relatively easy to train, and important enough that time should be invested in the process.
Muzzle training is best done when a dog is young, and relatively willing to adapt to new experiences. While a muzzle an unnatural restraint and can initially make dogs panic, owners must persist. Well-designed muzzles will never restrict a dog’s ability to breathe or pant, and should fit comfortably without excessive tightness.
Before even attempting to fit a muzzle, we first recommend owners build a positive association with it as an object. This may be achieved my showing a dog the muzzle you intend to use on it, marking its recognition and acknowledgement with a clicker device, and immediately rewarding the dog with a high-value treat or toy. Slowly but surely, this associative training will pay off and your dog should become happy to wear a muzzle and cooperate when it is being fitted. This is not a process to be rushed, and in our experience, works without requiring external assistance from a trainer or behaviourist for almost all dogs.
How much exercise dogs need is a hotly contested subject, especially with working breeds. We are often asked how much exercise our dogs need, usually by prospective first-time owners, or individuals and families who have never had a working dog before. Speaking in very broad terms, our advice would be…