Home » Clicker Training Community Blog » Training Tips

Teach Your Dog to Love a Muzzle!

Filed in - Training Tips - Dogs

Muzzle merit

Even if your dog is the nicest, sweetest dog in the world, there may be a day when you wish your dog were muzzled-trained—and then it might be too late. Why not make wearing a muzzle fun for your dog, just in case you ever need one?

Basket muzzles make it easier to deliver food. They also allow for many different handling situations, situations that can help dogs tolerate someone's hands around and near their faces, heads, and ears. This is a bonus for puppy handling!

Steps toward good muzzle training

First, find treats that you can push through the holes of the muzzle. Squeeze cheese, cream cheese, and peanut butter work well and are high-value. Anything your dog loves will work if you can get the treat through the muzzle holes.

Start with just showing your dog the muzzle from a short distance, and then click. Deliver the treat from your hand at this point.

If your dog is curious about the muzzle, have him target to it, and then drop the treats in the basket. Take your time if your dog is apprehensive.

Begin to work the muzzle closer to your dog, staying at each distance for 5-10 clicks/treats. Be sure to take breaks in between training sessions.

Once you are to the point where you can have the muzzle near your dog's face, begin to feed your dog in the muzzle.

Putting treats that your dog can lick in the end of the muzzle lets you begin the strap work.

Each time the reinforcement is gone (eaten), pull the muzzle off. Your dog will want to shove his face back into the muzzle for the next treat. Before long, your dog will wag his tail and run to get his face in the muzzle!

KPA Training Tips of the Day are brought to you by Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partners. You can find more articles, ideas, and inspiration to help you train better and enjoy a lifelong bond with your dog on our website.

About the author
User picture

Nan Arthur, KPA CTP, KPA Faculty, CDBC, CPDT-KSA, has been involved in the behavior and training of dogs for more than 18 years, and is a longtime member of APDT. She owns Nan Arthur's Whole Dog Training, providing private training and group classes throughout San Diego County.