At the end of training, dog will place his nose in the muzzle, wait for the straps to be fastened, and wear it happily for a 20-minute activity like a walk or playgroup.
Select a basket muzzle that fits the dog comfortably without compressing the dog’s muzzle or touching his eyes.
TREATS TO USE:
Steps 1-4: Easy Cheese in a can or other soft treats dispensed from a tube; or long thin treats that can be fed through the muzzle.
Steps 5 on: peanut butter, cream cheese, wet dog or cat food that the dog will be able to lick through the muzzle while you work with the straps.
Avoid moving the muzzle toward the dog at any time during this training. The goal is to end the interaction with the muzzle while the dog is still having fun, before he wants to back away.
During all steps, it is critical that the dog is comfortable with the muzzle. If the dog shows signs of fear or discomfort, back up to an easier step.
At each step, give the cue (present the muzzle). If the dog performs the desired behavior, reward with a treat. If the dog walks away or appears uncomfortable, immediately back up to an easier step.
Work in sets of 10 tries.
If the dog gets it right 10 times out of 10, move to next step.
If the dog gets it right 9 times out of 10, repeat the current step.
If the dog gets it right 8 times or fewer out of 10, drop to the previous step.
During steps 1-4, move the muzzle away from the dog as he finishes the treats. (See video below.)
THE TRAINING PLAN:
Prep for steps 5-8:
Coat the inside of the muzzle with a soft gooey treat like peanut butter or cream cheese. Because you need both hands to handle the muzzle straps during these steps, and the muzzle doesn’t have much surface area to hold treats, it is helpful to smear the gooey treat on something that the muzzle can be placed on. This can be a bowl or toy held between your knees or feet, or attached to a wall. Or, a helper can feed treats while you work with the muzzle straps.
If at any point the dog tries to back out of the muzzle before you’ve finished manipulating the straps, remove the straps immediately.
If at any point the dog is vigorously pawing or scratching at the muzzle, remove the muzzle and drop back to the previous step. A dog can injure his face attempting to remove the muzzle.