Party Hat Education!
When dealing with dogs with behavioral concerns, we utilize muzzles, or as we call them "party hats" often. Many people have an unfortunate stigma associated with the use of muzzles when training or handling dogs, and we hope to help educate people about how useful and lifesaving this tool can be! Feel free to contact us at any time if you have any questions we do not answer with the information below!
When do we use muzzles?
We have found muzzles to be useful in a large number of situations. Many dogs may only show aggression in certain situations, whereas others have the potential to be unpredictable. We are able to use muzzles to help keep us, other animals, volunteers, and members of the public safe while we either train a dog to work through their behavioral issues, or manage a dog's behavior in their daily lives.
Some dogs only require their muzzle be on while they are in a situation that predictably makes them more likely to be defensive or aggressive. For example, a dog may be wonderful with people and other animals but very anxious when having their nails clipped or when being examined by the vet. In situations like this, having a dog used to wearing a muzzle can calm down everyone's anxiety throughout the situation. It allows the veterinary staff to feel safer and take their time to help the dog feel more comfortable. Other instances when we use muzzles are when doing introductions with dogs who are selective about their other dog friends, or when introducing a fearful dog to a new person for the first time.
Some dogs in our sanctuary sanctuary program have shown aggression in the past, so these dogs are muzzled whenever they are around staff members, and they are never exposed to volunteers or other members of the public. They may be wonderful dogs 90% of the time, however having the dog muzzled keeps everyone safe for the 10% of the time they may behave aggressively.
What kind of muzzles do we use?
We use a few different types of muzzles, but all are basket muzzles. Basket muzzles allow dogs to be able to do everything they would normally be able to do without a muzzle, except bite. Dogs are able to eat, drink, pant, bark, growl, sleep, etc. in these muzzles without feeling limited. For the dog, there is not much difference in learning how to be comfortable in a head halter as in one of these basket muzzles. Depending on the nose structure of the dog we may go with an Italian basket muzzle, a Baskerville muzzle, or a custom metal muzzle. All that really matters is that the dog is unrestricted from normal movements, comfortable, and unable to bite.
Pike wearing his baby blue Baskerville muzzle.
Merc wearing his custom made metal muzzle.
Our executive director and founding board member's pack includes 5 dogs, 3 of which regularly wear muzzles. Buck (the dog in front is wearing his Italian basket muzzle).