We need to stop stigmatizing the use of dog muzzles. From my initial online research, it seems only the U.S. has this stigma about muzzles. Muzzle use is much more common in Europe and Canada, where there are stricter requirements for dogs in public. But a U.S. citizen sees a muzzled dog and immediately thinks something like “Dangerous dog”. I see a muzzle and think, “Responsible, knowledgeable owner”.
Muzzles prevent dogs from biting people, dogs and other animals. Dog-muzzle-store writes, “Whether walking your dog on crowded streets, visiting the vet, or seeing the groomer, there are times when it pays to safely and compassionately use a dog muzzle. Putting a dog muzzle on your dog signals to passersby, and dog care professionals, that you are watching out for their safety. They'll feel more secure, and so will you. But remember that a dog muzzle is a short-term tool, and is not to be used for extended periods.” Basket muzzles can also deter a dog from chewing and eating unwanted items such as feces, rocks and sticks.
There is a growing problem here in the U.S. with untrained dogs becoming aggressive. When a dog starts showing signs of aggression, too many owners simply keep them away from other dogs/people. Often, they foolishly think keeping them locked in a fenced yard will be enough. This typically WORSENS the problem. The dog eventually escapes, injures someone and is put down by court order. Wouldn’t it have been better to muzzle and train the dog properly?
It’s a good idea to muzzle dogs that nip/bite during play. This is especially true for retired racers/coursers like Greyhounds and Whippets. Any dog can get overstimulated and start nipping/biting. Herding breeds – Corgi’s, Australian Shephards - seem more prone to this. Instead of avoiding the dog park, use an appropriate basket muzzle until your dog is trustworthy. Instead of feeling embarrassed, focus on your dog’s enjoyment and show off what an enlightened owner you are. After all, this isn’t about you.
I have heard some people claim that muzzles are cruel. I see no sense in this feeling. OK, muzzles usually don’t look very nice. But an appropriate muzzle is comfortable for the dog. Most dogs will need to be desensitized to wearing it. But, again, when done properly the dog should have no anxiety about it. It is much crueler to stress your dog by denying him social opportunities and not provide proper training.
There are quite a number of styles to consider, all for different situations. For short-term use, vets and groomers typically use soft muzzles that keep the mouth completely closed. Dogs being trained may require a basket style that allows panting and water-drinking. Note that head halter collars, such as Halti’s and Gentle Leader’s, do NOT prevent a dog from biting.
A muzzle is not something you want to blindly purchase, just slap on your dog and leave it at that. If you want to learn more, a good place to start is your vet and local trainers.