Using a Dog Muzzle to Stop Chewing

A dog muzzle can be a useful tool in preventing chewing around your home. However, there are many disadvantages to using a muzzle in this way, including the dangers it presents to your dog.

Effective Use of Muzzles

Muzzles are most commonly used to prevent dogs from biting, especially during situations where they must be handled such as at the vet. There are several different types of muzzles, and all of the prevent your dog from being able to use their mouth as a weapon.

The most common type of muzzle is the cloth muzzle used at the vet's office, which prevents your dog from opening his mouth. There are also leather and basket muzzles, which allow your dog to open his mouth and even take treats but prevent him from making contact with anything not inside his muzzle.

If your dog is chewing on items in your home or himself, this might be a good short-term solution, such as in the car when he can't be properly supervised. It would also be useful if your dog is doing harm to himself through incessant chewing.

Disadvantages of Muzzle Use

Cloth muzzles prevent dogs from using their mouths at all. Thus, they can't drink or pant when these are on. Because of this, cloth muzzles cannot be worn during exercise or for long periods of time. Basket muzzles do allow panting and even some drinking, but they still should not be left on for extended periods of time. Regardless, you should never leave a muzzle on a dog unsupervised.

If left alone, most dogs will be able to get out of a muzzle. Once they figure out how to do this, it's easier subsequent tries, and it will be difficult to muzzle your dog in an emergency if necessary.

Muzzles cannot be used as a substitute for training. Using a muzzle to prevent chewing isn't solving the problem or teaching your dog what you want him to do.

Training Leave It

Instead of using a muzzle all the time, teach your dog how to leave certain objects alone and reserve the muzzle for times when it is really necessary, such as when driving. To do this, get a handful of treats or kibble. Give several to your dog, saying "take it" before each.

Then, close your fist and say "leave it." Leave your fist right by your dog's nose and ignore all sniffing, pawing, licking and barking. Wait for your dog to move away from your fist and look at you. When he does, praise him and give him the treat. Practice this until your dog won't try to steal a treat sitting in your open palm.

Next, put the treat on the floor, say "leave it" and cover it with your foot. When he looks at you, reward him with a treat from your hand, not on the floor. When he gets the hang of it, practice with people food, toys and other objects your dog steals.

Don't leave him unsupervised with objects on which he may chew and then practice the leave it with those objects. This will help him learn not to chew so the muzzle will eventually be unnecessary.