How To Fit a Dog Muzzle

Written by Lucy Marcham, Academy Trainer

When choosing a muzzle for your dog, it is essential to pick the correct size. A muzzle that is too small, won’t allow dogs to pant, eat or drink properly. Muzzles that are too large are likely to fall off and ultimately not work properly.


How do I fit the muzzle correctly?

To get the correct fit:

• It must be close to the end of their nose but not touching it. There should be a two-finger gap between the end of the dog’s nose and the muzzle.

• You should be able to fit your finger width between the dog’s eye and the start of the muzzle, this will ensure it won’t rub against their eye.

• The dog must be able to open its mouth to pant, otherwise, you run the risk of the dog overheating while wearing it. Some dogs have a very large natural pant, so the muzzle must allow this action comfortably. This may make the muzzle look ‘too big’ when the dog isn’t panting but it is vital not to downsize. You need roughly 2-3 vertical fingers between your dogs chin and the muzzle.

• The top of the muzzle must be lying flush with the top of the dog’s nose. To keep it secure and to reduce friction or rubbing. It can be trial and error to find a muzzle that fits your dog as all dogs are different. Some muzzle brands can be moulded to the shape of the dog’s face, so you will be able to change the shape slightly.


Muzzle Training

Some dogs accept muzzles quicker than others, so you should allow at least 2 weeks to train your pet properly to wear one.

• Start with holding the muzzle in front of the dog and hold a tasty treat at the end, so the dog must put their nose in to get the treat out. Repeat this step until the dog is happily putting its nose in, then you can start adding a cue word such as ‘muzzle’, so the dog will put its nose in without the treat as a lure.

• Once the dog understands the cue word, start waiting 5 seconds before giving the dog the treat and build up the time the dog keeps its nose in before rewarding.

• Once comfortable with nose in muzzle, start to do up the strap behind the dog’s head, remember to reduce the time the dog waits before being rewarded and the muzzle removed. As the dog gets used to it, start to build the time up.

• Once happily wearing the muzzle with the strap done up for a minute, we can encourage the dog to move around the home and garden while wearing. Remember to build up the time slowly.

• Now we are ready to try out on walks. For the first time, only make the dog wear the muzzle for a few minutes before removing it and carrying on with the rest of the walk.

• In time, the dog should be very happy wearing the muzzle and will soon learn that muzzle = walkies and become excited when you pick it up.

Try going back a step if your dog becomes uncomfortable, and work on the dog being happy before trying again.

If muzzle wearing is not introduced gradually and you don’t allow your dog to get used to it, the dog will be upset at wearing it. They will also likely try to remove it, and run and hide when it is picked up.

We want the dog to have a positive relationship with muzzle wearing so that having it on is simply part of their routine or lifestyle.

Remember muzzles are a positive tool and a sign of responsible dog ownership.

Head over to your local Pets Corner store for more fitting advice from our Academy Trained staff. 

For more information about muzzle wearing, read our Muzzle Guide.