Sharing Positive Muzzle Training Tips with Milo’s Family

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 18, 2019

For this Lawrence Kansas dog training session we do some positive muzzle training and share other dog behavior tips to help 8 year-old mixed breed Milo and his family.

Milo is a special case as he lives with one of my best friends from high school. Seeing his guardian at a class reunion, he mentioned Milo’s issues and I said id love to help.

Milo’s main issue, is after a bad experience, he learned to nip and bite people when they pet him in a way or times he doesn’t like. Inconsistent dog behavior problems are some of the most difficult to solve as its hard to pin down the root cause.

I spent the weekend offering dog behavior tips and suggestions on how to establish a healthy leader follower dynamic, pointing out things that may be confusing the dog, and how to reward him for desired behaviors. Flipping the leader follower dynamic may be the most important as I witnessed Milo offering many protective or guarding behaviors. Helping the humans act like leaders, at least from Milo’s perspective, can help eliminate his thinking that he needs to be the guard dog.

I shared a few exercises like hand targeting, how to teach a dog to focus, the leave it exercise and some creative ways of exercising a dog. Exercising Milo before people come over can do wonders.

I also suggested they use some of the tricks we use for Behavior Adjustment Training like leaving shredded cheese on the grass of areas he walks to stimulate some sniffing; a normal, stimulating and calming dog behavior that Milo does not engage in due to a medical issue with his nose. Id like to see the family do this daily for a week or two and see if we can get Milo back to sniffing around on walks.

Before my visit, I had asked his guardian if they had ever thought about using a muzzle and when she said they do when they can trick him into wearing it, I knew some dog muzzle training was in order. You can learn how to help a dog like wearing a muzzle by watching the free dog training video below.

If the guardians follow these steps to creating a positive association with the muzzle, they will be able to use this tool in situations where the chance of a bite go up like visits to the vet.

However, if you are ever using a muzzle, it needs to be a part of a rehabilitation plan that reduces or eliminates the dog’s reason for acting out. Exclusively putting a muzzle on a dog when its going to be in stressful situations is irresponsible, dangerous and can create bad situations for the dog. My friend’s family wasn’t doing that, but sadly I have seen this happen with many clients so please think about that if you are considering using a muzzle for your dog.

The problem with not working on the dog’s fear or disagreements first is the dog starts to associate the muzzle with something scary or bad is about to happen. This is very common. That’s why I recommended the family plan some trips to the vet, when the vet office is closed. At first to simply go there and have good things happen. Standing outside the office giving treats for sits and downs at the door can help make that a positive, happy place.

In future visits, the family should come when the office is about to close or during lunch when it’s slow. The visit would consist of people who work at the vet office simply giving Milo treats for sits and downs. After a few visits like this, they can go there for a visit with a much better result.

Since we covered so much and I don’t get to Lawrence often, we recored a super long Roadmap to Success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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