How to properly Muzzle Train an Aggressive or Reactive Dog?
Question 1: Is your dog is food motivated?
Yes – find a great treat – such as Plato’s Made with Duck or Tucker’s Chicken Jerky or something super high value to her.
No – find a great treat and withhold food for a day or so before starting and feed 1/2 meals, not full meals (no free feeding during this time)
Introducing the muzzle – the muzzle needs to appear in everyday life. If your dog likes car rides than the muzzle needs to be in the car during the car rides. If your dog likes to play then have the muzzle out when your throwing the toy. During this period you also need to have the muzzle present around the food bowl and have it spring “magic” treats. Use the great treat and put the muzzle on the ground, drop a treat or some food into it, wait for your pup to go snag the treat/food, wait 5-10 minutes and put another treat in the muzzle.
Tip: the more you can work this step throughout the entire day the faster your dog will be interested in the muzzle! So if everyone can do it to help you, you will get this done faster.
When to proceed to Step 2 (DO NOT RUSH STEP 1)
When your dog is comfortable with the muzzle around and is actively pushing at the muzzle to see if it has a treat or some of his food inside you may proceed to step 2.
Desensitizing to the muzzle – Once your dog is actively interested in the muzzle, pick it up and start giving attention or treats when the muzzle touches his/her body. Make this a big old game, you want your dog to “want” to play with you when the muzzle is present and actively in play. As you progress through this step you need the muzzle to touch every part of the body especially the nose/face/head.
When to proceed to Step 3
When your dog is actively engaged and doesn’t mind the muzzle touching his body – watch his posture and engagement level closely to make sure their is no negative reaction.
Step 3 –
Teaching the muzzle command – The next step is actively teaching your dog to put his/her own nose into the muzzle. To do this, go back to 1/2 sized meals and break out those fantastic treats you found. Take the treat and put it at the edge of the muzzle, holding it on the inside with your fingers. Say “muzzle” and praise when your dog puts his mouth into the muzzle for the treat. Work this in 5 minute sessions – 3-4 times a day. DO NOT TRY TO TIGHTEN THE MUZZLE … All we are working on is teaching the action of the “muzzle” command. As you progress through this command you want to be able to say “muzzle” have your dog place his nose in the muzzle, then go in and give the treat as his/her nose remains in the muzzle. You are still giving the treat through the front gap of the muzzle. Do not remove the muzzle to give the treat.
When to proceed to Step 4
When your dog actively places his/her nose into the muzzle on command and keeps it in there while you give the treat.
Tightening the muzzle and extending wear time – Say “muzzle”, give a treat, then tighten the muzzle appropriately and give more treats (1 or 2), then remove the muzzle. Repeat this process for a day or two.
Next – start by increasing wear time by seconds, not minutes. Once the muzzle is tightened, give a treat, wait three seconds, give another treat. Take the muzzle off. Repeat this process giving a treat every three to five seconds until your dog is wearing the muzzle for about a minute. Many dogs will try to scrape the muzzle off, DO NOT CORRECT THIS BEHAVIOR … instead try to re-engage your dog into the game of wearing the muzzle.
Third – after you have a minute of wear time, start giving treats only every 15-20 seconds an extend wear time to 3-5 minutes. Then give treats every minute and extend wear time to 15-20 minutes.
After you are at 15-20 minutes of wear time without your dog trying to get it off you have successfully muzzle trained your dog 🙂
If you don’t have a muzzle we recommend the Baskerville Muzzle’s, there is an example at the link….
This may not be the right size, they have many, but you can find the right size on Amazon/Amazon prime for less than $40, most around $20.
Please view our Before and After videos of the Aggressive dogs that we have worked with. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDeyq9f3vBs&list=PLuVmbfjlkcML_iWgVaxu_tlB0OeioJOSk
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