Australian Shepherds have a great temperament – usually they are friendly to humans and animals, are very attached to their owners and easy to train. Due to their activity and willingness to work, Australian Shepherds can participate in various dog sports competitions, and often become service dogs. Of course, it is the duty of each owner to take care of the socialization and training of his dog. However, if your dog is not used to be in a public places and he is less socialized, sometimes you might need to use a muzzle.
Do Australian Shepherds need to use a muzzle? In general, Australian Shepherd doesn‘t need to wear a muzzle. However, if you are not sure how your Aussie may react in a new situation, it might be necessary to use a muzzle sometimes. For example, it could be public place, such as the park, dog events, during a grooming or vet appointment. Or even if you want to visit your friends and you don‘t know how your Aussie will react to new people.
Why Australian Shepherds Generally Don‘t Need Muzzles?
Australian Shepherd is considered one of the world‘s smartest dogs. They are easily trained, does not tend to be aggressive, unless this is an exceptional case, as each dog is individual. If you start training him from an early age, that it is not good to bite your fingers or anything else, even if he bites during some play time and it doesn‘t hurt, sooner or later Aussie will understand that aggressive behavior gets negative response from his owner or any family member. So, muzzle should be used in extreme rarely cases, when you‘re going to completely new place and you‘re not sure how your pet will react.
When Your Aussie Might Need a Muzzle?
However, there could be some situations when when to use a muzzle would be really good decision even for the most obedient Australian Shepherd. Here are several possible situations:
- Emergency situations: if your dog got into an accident and he is injured, there could be a risk of him biting because of pain or fear. In this case, to use a muzzle would be safer not only for you, but also for people around, if you will go to a doctor or specialist.
- Going to visit a veterinarian: Australian Shepherds just like any other breed may be afraid of visit the vet. If you‘re not sure how your dog reacts to new person touching him or doing some vet procedures, it might be a good idea to use a muzzle. Just make sure to put it off when you‘re out of the appointment, so in future there would be no fear for the dog.
- During grooming sessions: it might be a good idea to use a muzzle during grooming session. Each dog is individual, if you don‘t know how your Aussie will react during hair-cutting, nail trimming or any other procedure – put on a muzzle, so you and the groomer could feel more comfortably. And don‘t forget to put it off as soon as it‘s done.
- Due to legal reasons: in some places, it may be the law to muzzle your dog if you want to enter a park, outdoor area or any public place. So make sure you follow the rules, even if you trust your dog.
When You Should Not Use a Muzzle?
Muzzle should not be used as a long-term solution. For example, if your dog keeps barking or doing any other inappropriate behavior, muzzle will not help to solve the problem and more likely increase his anxiety. For this kind of situations try to use simple games or training. Also, muzzle should not be used during his play-time or when he is alone, cause it can restrict his ability to drink water.
How to Choose a Muzzle For Australian Shepherd?
Choosing a muzle for a dog is not that difficult, but you need to know what species they are, for what purpose they are used and so on. The dog will be comfortable when he will be able to freely use his nostrils and put out his tongue. This way your Aussie cools down. If the muzzle presses too hard on the dog‘s nostrils, a heat stroke may occur during how day or training.
Metal muzzles are not very comfortable, especially if they rests heavily on the dog‘s chin when he opens it‘s mouth. Such muzzles can severely rub off your dog‘s chin. A proper muzzle does not get stuck in the eyes and does not press the nose. It is necessary to pay attention how it attaches itself.
Many of them have a belt that fastens with a plastic clasp or buckle behind the ears. However, it is not good to leave the dog alone with such a muzzle, as he can easily take it off with this paws. Therefore, it is better to choose a muzzle with an adjustable forehead strap that wraps around the dog‘s head well and holds firmly. When choosing a muzzle, try to choose one that is simple and easily adjustable.
Mesh leather and plastic muzzles – fits perfectly if you have a calm and quiet dog. Muzzles made of plastic are lightweight and comfortable. However, plastic may crack from simple kick or cold during winter.
Leather muzzles are more expensive, but they are more durable and last longer. Muzzle made of thin leather strips look nice and solid.
Mesh metal muzzles – in summer, during some hot day, dog can use reticulated metal muzzle. However, when the temperature is below zero, it is not advisable to wear them, as the dog‘s teeth or tongue may stick to the metal. Even metal constructions with a leather lining inside will not avoid this problem.
Introducing Your Australian Shepherd to a Muzzle
Muzzle is a tool that not every dog gets used to quickly. It becomes extremely difficult to use for a dog, if at some point muzzle has caused a negative experience. So, you should never attempt to do it when you‘re in a rush. If you put the muzzle on, using power and being angry, it could frighten your dog and muzzle will associate him with stress and fear. It is the best to start training your puppy to use a muzzle from an early age.
Before going for a walk, show the muzzle to your dog, let him sniff it and when you find comfortable moment, put it on his mouth and fasten the leash. If you see that dog doesn‘t want it or tries to break it, give him some time and never use your power or anger. Try to walk for a couple minutes, praise an play with him. Then try to give him some bite of food, if it‘s possible, try to pass it through the muzzle and slowly put it on. After 5 minutes remove the muzzle, praise him and give some food. If your dog never used muzzle before and you‘re trying to teach him, repeat this exercise 3-4 times per day.
Most dogs don‘t like to wear muzzles and Australian Shepherd is no exception. And it is completely understandable as it limits their functions and annoys them. So muzzle should be used only as a temporary solution during some exceptional situation. It is always better to start training your dog from a puppy age. This way, they will gradually get used to the muzzle and when you really need to put it on, there will be no problems.