Muzzles: An emotionally Charged Tool
Over the last few years I have experienced a profound love of muzzles. What has not surprised me (unfortunately) is that people still lack the awareness of the benefits of muzzles, even in 2017. Lack of knowledge in these situations makes courageous people's jobs harder, which in my mind isn't fair. I'll elaborate.
A flat tire. Fact. Not a feeling.
They accidentally put tomatoes on your salad. That's a fact. Not a feeling.
Dog with a muzzle on... IS A FACT. Not a feeling.
Recently a friend of a friend had a dog who went to the dog park for the first time. They loaded their recently adopted dog, who has been nothing but an angel for the first month, in their 4Runner and they were off. The dog never did anything wrong the whole first month, but for complete safety the owners muzzled their dog before entering a neighborhood dog park. How many people would do that? Bravo! Well, you would think.
These poor owners were yelled at, bullied, labeled, and offered terrible advice by other dog park patrons, all because they brought in a friendly dog who was at that moment the least dangerous dog in the park. Being safe and being considerate were actually penalized. I wondered if any of those people at the park took the time to see how the dog felt during the encounter, or was the presence of the muzzle such an emotional trigger people weren't able to stay present?
Now, if these owners didn't have an educated support system they may have felt insecure about what happened. They could have easily taken their dog somewhere, ditched the muzzle because they were coerced into doing so, and could have put their dog into a situation that caused a real problem. Fortunately, these owners didn't let the dog park folks get to them, and communicated their situation to an educated support system.
It sounds ridiculous, but these are the stories I hear all the time, sometimes while people are crying.
A muzzle on a dog isn't a feeling... it's a fact. There aren't inherent feeling or emotions attached to a muzzle unless you have had a previous experience or a fear of what may happen in the future. A lack of knowledge. That's the one thing the companies don't write on the packaging or website. The role of the humans!
So who is right? The dog is. That's why it's so important to educate ourselves about what is best for them in a way they understand.
As owners. trainers, or Grandma walking down the street, we have to understand the impact we can have on each other. We should not be stunting other's growth with a comment from our own insecurities. We should be motivated by their willingness to be vulnerable and create a safe positive experience for accepting responsibility for their role.
In this video I share how I want to help empower people who would benefit from muzzles, but are intimated by society's stigma.
I'll discuss my views on muzzles, how to size them, which ones I like for what, and some experiences I've had over the years.
If this is a topic you are struggling with, send me an email and if I can help I will - or I can point you in the right direction.
My one piece of unsolicited advice:
Don't let other people's fears of the unknown or unwillingness to get educated have anything to do with controlling your actions. Those people don't share Sunday mornings on the couch with you. Your dog does. Care about your dog's opinion of you and focus on what they need. You are responsible for their protection and direction.
Head Rubs and Belly Scratches