A woman is putting on a muzzle on a dog.

A Muzzle for Your Emotional Support Dog: When Is It Needed and How to Use It

5 min read
If you are legally qualified for having an emotional support dog, there might be times when you need to muzzle your dog out in public. This is only fair as these dogs are often allowed in places that dogs do not normally visit, such as college dorms or the plane cabin. In such circumstances, not everyone will appreciate or understand your need for an emotional support dog in a place designated for humans only. Some people may even get scared, so if your dog has a muzzle on, this will help alleviate their anxiety and make for a pleasant experience for everyone, including your dog.

Keep reading to learn when your dog needs a muzzle and how to use it properly.

Emotional Support Dogs have teeth!

A white dog is showing its teeth.
It may happen that a dog may be a cause of a problem and not its solver.

Since dogs are quite sensitive animals, you have to be sure that your dog behaves properly and will not cause any problems for other pet owners or just people around. We also have to consider situations (though they are rare) when emotional support dogs do not behave to well and create problems instead of solving them. Take the case when Delta Airlines was sued after such a dog bit one of their passengers. This case was followed closely by the world’s media and highlighted the potential dangers of dogs traveling within the cabin on flights. NBC News covered the story and said that according to reports, the attack was so severe that the man who was bitten suffered "extensive facial damage" to his nose and mouth.

The reality is that we never know when a pet may be spooked, turn on someone, or bite. With emotional support dogs, it becomes an even bigger issue for all the reasons mentioned already. Therefore, muzzles might become more common, due to the growing trend of people keeping these dogs and the greater accessibility these dogs have.

Isn't it cruel to have my dog in a muzzle?

Multiple researches on muzzle training for dogs say that muzzles themselves are not cruel, but they may cause welfare problems if they are not used properly. For instance, certain flat-nosed breeds will require a muzzle that allows them to pant freely. Likewise, if you live in a hot climate, your dog will also need to pant more, so bear this in mind when choosing a muzzle.

What type of muzzle should I choose for my ESA?

There are many different muzzles on the market, so you’ll want to make sure the one you choose is suitable for your dog. The best thing is to research the types of muzzles that are on the market and speak with a certified dog trainer or your veterinarian. You’ll want your dog to be comfortable, so the muzzle will need to fit their size and shape of face. Don’t be tempted by a designer muzzle that looks really cool but will be uncomfortable for your dog.

The last thing you’ll want is to buy the wrong type of muzzle, leading to your dog needing the emotional support itself, as he’s traumatized by the whole experience. If you’re looking for recommendations, then consider the plastic basket muzzle as it allows your dog to pant and drink, and can be worn for long periods.

How can I help my dog to get used to the muzzle?

Two hands are putting a muzzle on a dog.
You should find a muzzle that doesn't cause any discomfort for your dog.

You do not think that your dog friend will gladly agree to wear a muzzle, do you?

However, when there is a necessity, you might need advice as to how to help your pet get used to a muzzle, so here it is.

Begin at home by letting your dog wear the muzzle for short periods around the home. If your dog feels not that comfy with it, just try to use a combination of these steps:

  • Let your dog sniff the muzzle
  • Touch their nose with the muzzle
  • Hold the muzzle with one hand and a treat with the other hand, so your dog needs to put their nose inside the muzzle to get the treat
  • Gently slip the muzzle onto their nose and give them a treat

Once you’re sure your dog is comfortable with the muzzle, then you can venture out on walks, again keeping it short and sweet and building up the length of time they are out with the muzzle on.

If your dog normally interacts with others when out on walks and enjoys playing with other pets in the park, you can still allow these moments – just be vigilant. Remember that when your dog is wearing the muzzle, should another dog attack them, they cannot defend themselves. So, watch the body language of other dogs around and be prepared for every eventuality. It’s not that you want to be paranoid, and if you yourself have anxiety issues, the last thing you need is to be anxious about your dog who is supposed to be helping you. It is really a case of taking it one step at a time and being a responsible pet owner. You’re both adjusting to change, so go easy on yourselves.

Be considerate of others

Two women are walking a dog with a muzzle.
It's good to create a safe environment not only for you but for people around you.

Having a licensed emotional support dog is wonderful and the quality of life they can bring cannot be measured. Enjoy them; just be considerate of others by making sure they have their muzzle on when in public places. It may not be the case that every time you go out, your dog has to be muzzled; but as we see an increase in these types of dogs, society may see stricter guidelines enforced. Even without these guidelines, prevention is always better than cure.

Emotional support dogs are becoming an everyday part of the lives of many pet owners. Enjoy your canine friend but be sure to think about other people and their pets when you both go out in public. Therefore, muzzling your dog would be a smart decision to prevent any problems with other pet owners. After all, pets are family for many of us.

by GetESA

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Pet Care