Things to Look for in a Muzzle for a German Shepherd
When you’re looking for the best muzzle for a German Shepherd, you should keep the following in mind to help you make the best choice:
There are lots of different muzzle types, so it’s important you consider what’s best for your needs. For example, if your dog is reactive or a bite risk, a basket muzzle may be the best option. As they sound, basket muzzles create a sturdy basket over your dog’s nose and mouth, allowing your dog to pant, drink, and eat but preventing biting. They tend to be the most durable and are comfortable for your dog.
Fabric muzzles may be more suitable if your dog is less reactive or for more occasional use. They’re softer, may be more comfortable for your dog, and are sometimes more affordable. However, some fabric muzzles often hold your dog’s mouth closed, so can only be used for short periods of time.
It’s crucial that the muzzle fits correctly to ensure your dog can’t take it off and it does its job properly. The correct fit will also ensure your dog is comfortable. Take your time to check the size guide along with the reviews, and measure your dog carefully.
A muzzle made from high quality materials is much more likely to be effective and to stand up to wear. It’s also likely to more comfortable for your pooch.
Comfort for Your Dog
The right fit as well as high quality materials will help your dog to be comfortable while they’re wearing the muzzle. You can also look for additional features such as breathability, and whether the muzzle allows your pup to pant and drink. Take your time to train your dog to wear the muzzle to ensure they’re comfortable and not stressed.
Durability and Strength
Of course, you want the muzzle you choose to be durable and strong. This becomes even more important with powerful breeds like the German Shepherd, especially if you’re going to be using the muzzle regularly. High-quality, durable materials are key here.
When You Might Need to Use a Muzzle
Nobody enjoys muzzling a dog, but sometimes it’s needed to keep your dog, you, and possibly others around you safe. There are lots of reasons a dog might need to wear a muzzle including:
- Bite risk: If your dog is reactive or is prone to biting, you may need to muzzle them to keep everyone safe while you work on changing the behaviour through training.
- Times of stress: If your dog gets particularly stressed during grooming or when they’re going to the vets for example, a muzzle can be useful to eliminate the risk of biting.
- In an emergency: Even the gentlest of dogs can bite when they’re in pain, so you might need to use a muzzle if your pup gets hurt.
- Breed specific legislation: Depending on where you live, some dog breeds may need to wear a muzzle in public by law.
When You Shouldn’t Use a Muzzle
It’s important to remember that a muzzle doesn’t solve any behavior problem, but it can be useful tool when needed. The American Kennel Club explains that you shouldn’t use a muzzle for: “for barking, chewing, or other ongoing behavioral problems.”
If your dog struggles with behavioral issues, it’s best to pair the muzzle with ongoing training to resolve the problem. If you’re struggling to train your dog on your own, you can seek help from a professional trainer if your resources allow.
Tips for Using a Muzzle
As we mentioned, it’s really important that you train your dog and get them used to wearing the muzzle, so that they don’t feel stressed. You need to show your furbaby that the muzzle is safe and a positive thing to wear, rather than something negative.
There are lots of ways you can get your dog used to the muzzle, but here are a few tips to get you started:
- Show your dog the muzzle and allow them to sniff it
- Touch your pup’s nose with the muzzle, then give them a treat. Repeat this process a few times.
- Gently put the muzzle over your dog’s nose without fastening it. Use a positive soothing voice and feed them a treat through the muzzle (or as soon as you take it off depending on the muzzle type). Take it off straight away, then repeat a few times. This helps to build the positive association. Once your dog is comfortable with this step you can move on.
- Put the muzzle on your dog and fasten it, again using a calm soothing voice. Give them a treat through the muzzle. Take it off straight away. Repeat until your dog seems comfortable.
- Gradually build up to your dog wearing the muzzle for a minute, then a few minutes, and so on.
- Any time your dog is wearing the muzzle give them plenty of treats and praise.
- When you feel they’re ready, you can put the muzzle on to take them outside for a walk.
- Always keep things positive and reinforce this with lots of treats and fun activities while they’re wearing the muzzle.
- When they’re ready, you can practice using the muzzle in any situation it might be needed, such as at the vets or while being groomed.
Be patient while you’re getting your dog used to the muzzle and if they’re struggling, go back a step and repeat until they’re ready to move forward. Never use a muzzle to punish your dog or with any negativity: it’s crucial they understand it’s a safe and positive thing.
German Shepherd Muzzle FAQs
Do German Shepherds need muzzles?
Not all German Shepherds need to wear a muzzle, but some may need to in specific circumstances. You know what’s best for you dog and if you’re in doubt, seek professional guidance.
Do muzzles make dogs more aggressive?
If used correctly with the positive reinforcement we mentioned, no muzzles don’t make dogs more aggressive.
If your dog needs to wear a muzzle for safety, it’s important they’re comfortable and at ease. Choosing the right muzzle can help to keep everyone safe, while keeping your pup happy and healthy.
Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT, (2021), “Dog Muzzles: When, Why, and How to Correctly Use Them”. American Kennel Club.