August/WK2 2016/Blog – Muzzle Work (2 of 4)

Last week we described multiple muzzles on the market. When it came down to proper fit, utilization in training, static settings, price and safety, the original agitation/RAM Muzzle is the muzzle of choice.

This week’s discussion topic: Why the muzzle is a key piece of equipment here at Canine Tactical – Proper fit  – Safety checks.

Key piece of equipment – The muzzle should be a neutral piece of equipment for the canine.  When a muzzle is put on you don’t want it to indicate to the canine that a reaction such as a search or an attack will follow for obvious reasons. To avoid or elimnate this, when I first introduce the  muzzle to a canine I will have the canine in a muzzle for approximately 14 days. The canine may at first try to take the muzzle off, this is expected.  I hear excuses from handlers all the    time saying, “My dog really doesn’t like it on.”  This tells me this stage has been skipped.  Again, I can’t stress enough the key, first and foremost, for a canine to begin accepting the muzzle is proper fit.  And,  for a muzzle to become a neutral piece of equipment for a canine is repetition i.e.. wearing a muzzle for 14 days.  Their water bowl needs to be deep enough so the canine can submerge the bottom half of the muzzle in the bowl to drink and the canine is hand fed through the larger holes in the muzzle.  Obedience training begins during this time, as well as socializing the canine with other canines.

When I test potential working canines I muzzle test before I test with a suit.  When I do this, most vendors/breeders always say, “The dog isn’t trained in a muzzle”. I don’t expect canines to be trained or do well in a muzzle initially.  I evaluate the canine’s reaction or drive in a muzzle without a sleeve or suit in the mix. Is the canine focused on me, engaging, avoiding me, just staring at me or freaking out trying to remove the muzzle with its paws with no focus on the decoy/human?  What I don’t want to see is the canine go into equipment mode. In a couple weeks I will show a video which will explain this in detail.

Proper fit –  The canine’s nose should be no less than one inch from the end of the muzzle.  This space allows for clear breathing, drinking, eating and prevents injury during training.  If the nose is too close to the end of the muzzle it will cause injury during any training involving impact. If the nose is more than an inch away from the end of the muzzle, the muzzle is too loose.  A canine can work its way out of it or it could come off during training.  Not a good situation for a decoy/helper.

Safety checks – Every time a muzzle is put on your canine for routine vet visits, social situations, static environment or training, a proper fit/safety check is important for your canine. I require each trainee to conduct a safety check for proper fit when a muzzle is first put on, each trainee then checks another handler’s canine as well. One last check is conducted by me before a training evolution begins.  If a canine responds to safety checks by growling or thrashes around an obedience issue may need to be addressed.  However, it’s not uncommon to see handlers or even some trainers who cause the growling and thrashing by purposely provoking the canine.  Any trainer or handler who does this at any time for any reason or a handler who allows anyone to do this to their canine has no respect for the canine, no respect for the canine’s role in a team and no respect for this field of work.

Next Blog Topic:  Muzzle Training

Joshua Morton

“Helping You Rise to the Occasion”

You may also like