I’m really not a fan of dog muzzles. Most muzzles make your dog look like a vicious dangerous killer (visions of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs dance in my head). But I am open minded enough that if the situation warrants a muzzle a muzzle will be used. I consider a muzzle to be a temporary measure in situations when it’s necessary to help avoid injury to humans or other animals and correctly muzzled there is no pain or injury to the muzzle-ee.
Some dogs don’t take kindly to being poked with a needle at the vet’s office and may react badly by biting for example and there are other non-emergency situations where the brief use of a muzzle would be appropriate. But the point of this article is to talk about muzzling your dog in an emergency situation.
Think again people and remember that any dog no matter what their overall temperament is, has the ability (and sometimes the right!) to bite under certain circumstances. At the top of the list is an injured dog or a dog in pain and I don’t care who you are to the dog, this is a dog you should never trust to not bite. For a dog in pain (and likely scared, too!) growling, lashing out and/or biting is normal behavior which should be expected and this includes the dog’s human(s). It doesn’t make your dog mean, aggressive or vicious it makes him a dog behaving like a dog protecting himself. A dog will always revert to it’s instincts when he feels the situation warrants it and protecting himself from what he feels may be harm or more pain is one heckuva strong instinct. You must remember to be safe in these situations and never think for one minute that your own dog would never bite you when under stress of any kind.
I recall when Riley had one of his FHO surgeries and I took him back to the vet for a checkup. The vet tech came out to help me get him out of the car and when he reached in to pick him up Riley growled a warning at him. I wasn’t expecting this (at all!) because Riley has always been a perfect gentleman at the vet no matter what they did with him. I had forgotten to bring the muzzle with me so the tech went back inside and came out with a nylon leash which I then used to muzzle Riley so the tech could get him out of the car safely. Here is a link to a video which shows you how simple it is to makeshift a muzzle if you don’t have a real muzzle handy.
I’m not fond of the actual nylon muzzle in the video, some dogs are strong enough to get out of them and although velcro is pretty darn strong if you don’t have it fastened just right … well, you get the picture. Riley has managed to wiggle out of one of these muzzles so I don’t trust them to do the job if I ever need to muzzle a dog.
Don’t wait until you need a muzzle to learn how to do it or get your dog used to it. In an emergency situation a dog not trained to a muzzle may see this unknown thing coming at him and lash out from fear. My suggestion is to get a nylon leash like the one in the video (one that’s suitable for your dog’s size) and practice muzzling with your dog. This way if the need arises he knows what it is, it’s not likely to scare him and he should be more cooperative. Once you’ve worked with your dog to the point that you’ve got the feeling he “gets it” I would recommend a refresher practice a few times a year just to keep your dog familiar and yourself in practice on making the muzzle.
I keep an extra leash in my car and in the house so I’m fairly certain I’m prepared to make a muzzle should I ever need to. Since my dogs walk on nylon leashes I can make a muzzle from their own leash as well, I don’t carry an extra leash with me.
WARNING! Do not use a flexi-leash (retractable leash) as a muzzle. Retractable leashes are dangerous to begin with and I discourage their use for any reason. Here are 10 Reasons to Never Use a Retractable Leash and another article on Retractable Dog Leash Dangers.
Does anyone have a story to tell about how a makeshift leash helped them with their dog in an emergency situation?
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