Are Dog Muzzles a Good Idea?

Are Dog Muzzles a Good Idea?

by / Wednesday, 07 September 2022 / Published in Dog Bites
A black dog wears an orange muzzle.

Dog muzzles can be a bit controversial among dog owners and the general public. Many people see a muzzled dog and will automatically assume it’s an aggressive/dangerous animal. Others see muzzles as being a cruel way of controlling the dog’s behavior. But in reality, muzzles can be a very useful tool in certain situations and aren’t uncomfortable if they fit well. 

When Should You Consider a Dog Muzzle?

It’s very important to understand that dog muzzles are something that should only be used in temporary, short-term situations, not to address larger problems like excessive barking, be used as a punishment, or be used while the dog is unsupervised. 

Just as is the case for humans, there can be certain situations that make dogs feel anxious, unsafe, and uncomfortable. For dogs, this commonly includes things like vet visits and trips to the groomer. Sometimes, dogs can be stressed out by those situations in general or just in more specific aspects of those situations. For example, a dog might be fine with the general handling they get during a routine checkup at the vet, but get anxious over claw trimming in particular at the groomer’s. In those cases, a muzzle can help protect anyone who works with a dog during those stressful situations. However, if wearing a muzzle worsens a dog’s anxiety, it’s generally recommended to not use the muzzle. 

Muzzles can also be helpful in the event of an emergency. Generally speaking, being injured is a situation that can increase the chances of a dog lashing out and attacking someone, even at someone the dog knows very well. If a dog is injured and needs to get emergency veterinary care, a muzzle can help protect yourself, the vet, and any assistants who work with the dog. It can also help protect you or your family as you take them to get care. 

If a dog has a history of biting, muzzles can be a means of protecting those who come near the dog. However, it’s important to understand that muzzles are not a method of behavior modification. They should only be used as a temporary means of protecting others while you work with a trainer or animal behaviorist to find a long-term solution to the dog’s tendency to bite. 

What to Look for in a Muzzle

If a muzzle seems like a good option for your dog, remember that there are many different types of muzzles on the market and it’s important to find one that suits your needs. 

Occlusion muzzles are made of soft nylon and are best for very brief amounts of time, such as trips to the vet or while being groomed, since they restrict the dog’s ability to pant or drink. Wire basket muzzles are what people often think of when they think of muzzles; they’re the type of muzzles used for training police and guard dogs. You can also find plastic basket muzzles. Both wire basket and plastic basket muzzles help protect against bites while allowing the dog some room to pant, drink water, or be given treats during training. Just be aware that plastic basket muzzles are less durable than wire basket muzzles and dogs can have a harder time drinking water while wearing one. Wire basket muzzles in general can also potentially get caught in gaps in chain link fences and other small spaces. 

It’s also important to make sure the muzzle fits the dog comfortably. A muzzle that’s too tight can be uncomfortable for the dog, but one that’s too loose can be easy for the dog to get out of. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s sizing guides for more details on fitting it for your dog.

Contact a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer

Dog owners have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect others from being injured by their pet. In the state of Michigan, there is a strict liability law which holds dog owners liable for injuries caused by their dog even if the dog doesn’t have a history of aggressive behavior. 

If you’ve been injured in a dog attack, don’t hesitate to contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer experienced in handling dog bite cases in the state of Michigan who can help answer your questions and understand your legal options. Contact us today to get started.

Image: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

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