The Point Of Muzzles Is To Bring Us Closer, So Why Does It Create Distance?
During our live show last week Artem and I asked our viewers 3 questions, and that they please respond without thinking too hard:
1- What do you feel when you hear the word muzzle?
2- What do you feel when you see a muzzle?
3- How do you feel when you use a muzzle in private or in public?
A lot of the responses I was familiar with - I feel afraid, cautious, judged, sad, like I failed - but one response took me back and made me think more about my purpose when I'm using a muzzle. This response showed me the lack of knowledge we have as a society in the purpose of muzzles. She said she felt... alone.
In my mind the intention of a muzzle is not only safety, but to increase closeness. To increase socialization, not reduce it. So for someone to tell me they feel alone made me sad, frustrated, but always hopeful that we can educate people who want to learn.
Most of us want to include our dogs in our everyday life, not for them to sit at home alone. For us who want our dogs to have an inclusive existence, a muzzle is the most responsible way to start that process.
We can safely share experiences with our dogs. We can include them and not exclude them. These moments are when a muzzle shines as a tool for the owner and the dog so everyone stays relaxed and there is no need to say the dreaded "I'm so sorry." :(
Muzzles provide us the ability to educate our dog about what we like and dislike when we are close to what could be a dangerous situation. That's how they learn.
In part with a strategic behavior protocol, a muzzle is a tool that makes saying "I'm so sorry" something we don't have to deal with. Many times dealing with owners, and even myself, it's much more emotional to have to say "I'm sorry" than fear the unwanted comments from some uneducated stranger who has more interest in their preconceived notion than being a helpful supportive member of society. I've had to do both, and believe me the sleepless nights don't come from a stranger's words.
Please don't feel insecure if you need a muzzle. Use it. Ignore comments, suggestions, and unwanted opinions if you are faced with them. It's hard at first, but education always trumps ignorance.
Artem and I discussed this topic deeply in last week's live show because we are so passionate about it. Why we use muzzles, who they are for (this may surprise you), which muzzles we like for what, and how we use them daily as part of our behavior rehabilitation work.
Head Rubs and Belly Rubs
P.S. Gary and Artem Talk Dogs Live Playlist
P.S.S The video I referenced in the live show