I would never recommend just sticking a muzzle on a dog without training the dog to associate wearing the muzzle with positive associations (see video). However, in veterinary practice we frequently see scared animals that need urgent treatment, with no option but to muzzle.
So which one should you use?
Occlusion muzzles are designed for very short-term use (60 seconds), but what procedure is going to take less than one minute to complete in a frightened dog? These types of muzzles prevent dogs from panting and opening their mouth, which is likely to cause panic in an already stressed dog. This is majorly compromising patient welfare and the dog may show increased fear-aggressive behaviour when next in the veterinary practice.
Baskerville Ultra muzzle are designed to be worn long-term. Dogs can eat, drink, and be exercised wearing them, whilst preventing them from biting. This means dogs will not hyperventilate, making them less likely to panic. These muzzles are perfect for muzzle training compared to the original Baskerville muzzles as they are difficult to get treats through.
Why is it important to muzzle train?
Ideally, muzzle training should be conducted at a puppy class to ensure that dogs have positive associations and enjoy wearing muzzles from a young age. If a dog has made the choice to put their nose into a muzzle, they are more likely to feel in control and in happier headspace. In practice, dogs that enjoy wearing muzzles will be in a better emotional state, and procedures are likely to go much faster.
Dogs that already have negative associations with muzzles may require longer desensitisation and counterconditioning sessions to change their perspective of the muzzle.
Remember, muzzles are a great tool in veterinary practice. Muzzle trained dogs will anticipate good things when they wear a muzzle; consequently, building positive associations with their vets.
Instead of increasing fear and anxiety in dogs, muzzles should be used to instill a feeling of comfort and relaxation in patients.