What's Wrong With A Muzzle?
In certain circumstances, there’s nothing wrong with a muzzle. A muzzle is used by vets when they suspect that a procedure will agitate the dog so much that she’ll bite. A muzzle can also be used for a dog with aggression issues when she’s out for a walk.
So the muzzle is a useful tool under certain circumstances, but you should note that there are two types of muzzle - the cloth muzzle and the bucket muzzle - and which to use all depends on the situation.
The Cloth Muzzle
A cloth muzzle is only to be used for very short periods of time, and only under supervision.
Cloth muzzles close a dog’s mouth almost completely, so are NEVER an option while exercising your dog. Your dog won’t be able to adequately pant with a cloth muzzle on, and not being able to pant to cool down is potentially deadly for your dog.
Sometimes you’ll be called upon to do a something regularly to your dog that she really hates. That something might aim to help her (like putting ointment on an injury), and or is just one of those things that has to be done (like clipping her nails). It might freak her out to the point where she’ll snap, especially if it's painful - for example, in the case of the ointment, you might have to apply it to an area that's tender or sore. In such situations it’s best to pop a cloth muzzle onto your dog so that you don’t get bitten.
(A side note regarding nail-clipping: learn to clip your dog's nails PROPERLY so that you don't hurt her - cutting the nail too short will cut the quick of the nail, which is the equivalent of chopping off the tip of your finger. Yes: ouch.).
Remember to reward your dog with a treat before the cloth muzzle goes on, take the muzzle off immediately after doing the unpleasant task, and reward your dog with a treat as soon as the cloth muzzle comes off - maybe even go out for a walk so that the whole business of the muzzle is forgotten.
The Bucket Muzzle
A bucket muzzle can be used for longer spells, but still only under supervision. Because a bucket muzzle allows the dog to pant, it CAN be used on a dog who's exercising.
I’ve heard some people say that they prefer the cloth muzzle when out and about because the cloth muzzle "looks less aggressive” and is less invasive to the dog. I’m not even sure what the first point is supposed to mean (how can a muzzle look aggressive...a muzzle is an inanimate object?), but the second point is not the case at all. A cloth muzzle almost fully shuts a dog’s mouth, so she’s unable to pant or drink or take a treat; while a bucket muzzle allows the dog to do all of the above, yet still prevents her from biting. In other words, a bucket muzzle interferes less with the dog's actions than the cloth muzzle does.
An Idiot Wants A Muzzle
Someone told me that because his dog had killed a mouse he wanted to muzzle the dog all day long, including while the dog was alone in the yard.
First, no matter how reprehensible you find it, a dog making a kill is a natural behaviour, so there was no reason to overreact as though the conduct was so abnormal that it had to be stopped. And second (and more important for the wellbeing of the dog) you should never, ever put a muzzle on a dog and leave her alone.
If a dog is left alone with a cloth muzzle on and starts to panic, she won’t be able to pant (panicked dogs can get very hot and need to pant to lose some of the heat). This, as I already stated, is a potentially deadly circumstance for your dog.
If a dog is left alone with a bucket muzzle on and starts to panic, the problem of overheating from not being able to pant is not an issue. But, in a frantic bid to get the muzzle off, your dog could hurt herself - for example, by getting a nail caught in the wire of the muzzle while trying to paw it off. A ripped nail doesn't just create a bloody mess, it's also extremely painful for your dog.
Always keep in mind that both cloth muzzles and bucket muzzles are for relatively short periods, and only to be used while you’re close by - that is, when you're right there with your dog, supervising carefully.
SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!
Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.
Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.
Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.
Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.
Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.
If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.
All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.