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  • Muzzle Training Fail: any Tips?

    Posted by Rene & Jim on January 15, 2022 at 10:55 AM

    We’ve been muzzle training our 1 y/o Mal to get him acclimated to the device. He needs to see a vet soon and didn’t do great last time around.

    On day one I moved too soon and he got mad. Next day I resumed training and this is what happened.

    Peanut butter swiped on the inside worked well for several mini-sessions throughout the next 3 days. Then he had enough. He was doing well licking the PB, so I gently put the top strap over his head. That’s when he let loose and tried to bite me through the muzzle. I immediately dropped it and walked away.

    At what point is it best to resume training, and how can we do it but still protect ourselves during the process?

    Thanks for any insight!

    Rene & Jim replied 8 months, 1 week ago 5 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • Gene

    January 15, 2022 at 2:11 PM

    So for now the muzzle will become his shadow. When he eats the muzzle will be next to his bowl. When you are petting with your hand then switch to petting with the muzzle. For treats he has to go into the muzzle to get them. If he sleeps in a crate the muzzle is on top of the crate. I have had situations where it took 2/3 days to get the muzzle on a dog, not the whole day maybe half hour 45 minutes, because I had to do something. The first day I really wasn’t trying to get the muzzle on just introducing it. Same situation had to have muzzle on to go to the vet.

    Try chicken, cheese, he may have been licking because he was nervous. Look at his eyes you can tell when he is comfortable.

  • Gene

    January 15, 2022 at 2:16 PM

    Get him as comfortable as possible. After tonight and tomorrow day I would try again at night, You have to keep it up.

  • Ed (RoninDog)

    January 15, 2022 at 8:05 PM

    I would get a new vet.

  • Riggan

    January 16, 2022 at 8:46 AM

    It sounds like there are several levels of issues here, with the muzzle being only one of them. If you are worried that your dog will bite you, then that is a relationship issue that needs to be addressed completely separately from the muzzle training. A professional trainer experienced in working with aggressive (or fearful) dogs will probably be needed. (I just looked back at some of the other posts and realized that you only recently got this dog as a rescue. It sounds like he has had a very traumatic life so far, with every reason to fear people and vets. Be patient and take your time with him. Bless you for giving him a loving home as you try to work through his issues.)

    As for the muzzle training, the key is going slowly. I spent a long time making sure that Lance was comfortably putting his nose all the way into the muzzle and then keeping it there before I ever considered clipping one of the straps. I then got him used to hearing the click of the snap without even having the muzzle on him. Next step, I started clipping the muzzle strap around his neck but without having the muzzle actually on him. Then I started putting the muzzle on him and holding the strap in place but not actually fastening it. As you can see, everything was done in very tiny increments. The speed at which I could progress from one to the other depended on his response. It is also important to approach this with a “fun” attitude. If you are fearful working on it, the dog will pick this up very quickly and react accordingly. So, your first step is overcoming that obstacle. Each step is accompanied by lots of praise and high value treats. Some of the specifics will vary depending on the type of muzzle you are using, so assess your own situation and find ways to take it in tiny, slow steps.

    I have no idea whether your current vet did anything inappropriate or not. If you want to look for a vet who is used to working with fearful dogs, there is a great program started by Dr. Marty Becker called “Fear Free.” They train vets (and other animal professionals) on how to deal with fearful animals. You can find a Fear Free vet or clinic by doing a search on their website: They also have resources for pet owners on dealing with fear issues.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  • Rene & Jim

    January 16, 2022 at 2:56 PM

    Thank you so much for these great ideas. Yes, he is new and there’s a lot going on here with this dog. He is showing some behaviors that point to fear aggression and resource guarding. We are working with his rescue to address them.

    I appreciate the encouragement and detailed steps to continue with the muzzle training. First step: overcoming that fear he will actually make contact. Will give it a go.

  • Lily

    January 17, 2022 at 7:12 PM


    I work with shelter and rescue dogs and had just recently completed muzzle training with two of our aggressive dogs in our rescue.

    One of them is more leery than the other, so you would have to go at the dog’s pace as well. I use a video link by Mike Shikashio, (aggressive dogs specialist) and it took us at least 2 months to finally get one of the two dogs wearing the muzzle fully strapped. Of course, we are doing the training about 3-4 times a week, not daily since we run on volunteer help. Not days…. Very little baby steps.

    Here is the video, I hope it helps.

    Good luck and thank you for rescuing the Mal! Bless your heart!

    • Rene & Jim

      January 19, 2022 at 10:57 AM

      Thank you so much Lily! It’s good to know that you are using these techniques at the shelter. SUPER helpful. We will give them a go. Keep up the great work you do!👏