The Stigma attached to muzzles and dogs who wear them




If you have ever worn a muzzle on your dog, you have probably noticed the looks you can receive from passerby as you walk along, or have heard the snide remarks hidden behind the hands of the person walking an out of control beast or rather, being drug by the dog, or noticed how they glare at you like you’re some cruel monster abusing your dog.

It amazes me how the human brain can work sometimes. For instance, logically, you would think a person would feel much safer approaching a dog with a muzzle on, than a strange dog that does not. I mean think about it, at least the dog with the muzzle CANNOT bite you..where as the other dog, who knows?

It saddens me to think that there are truly responsible dog owners out there, who would be much better served by having a muzzle on their dog, who refuse to do so, and thereby may be putting society as well as their beloved friend at risk, out of fear of being judged for it. I myself have been guilty of this. Often times over the past few months I’ve found myself thinking it might be a good idea to get a muzzle for Luke, but kept turning away from the idea because of the stigma, almost buying into it myself. “Oh I can’’s cruel. It looks barbaric, people will think he’s nasty”, etc.

I have since woken up. And realized that there is nothing more loving or responsible, than knowing your dog, their limitations, their quirks, understanding the public and their inability at times to make rational say, ASKING before running up to your dog to manhandle them? Somehow that seems like such a foreign idea to some people these days 🙂 I realized, that my dog is telling me, he is not comfortable with strangers man handling him. He doesn’t like children, and he doesn’t want them rushing at his face, hurling themselves on his back and body like he’s a wooden horse. And as such, that someday, he might not just stand there and growl, he may actually snap and bite. I know that about him, so it is only right and responsible for me knowing that, to make outings with him as safe as can be. So I will be getting a muzzle for Luke.

Is he vicious? NO. This dog has been socialized to the point of insanity since the day I got him at nine weeks. He’s like me I guess. I can take you or leave you, if you’re human lol. I don’t want strangers mauling all over me either. And you know, if you keep disrespecting me and my space? I just might bite you too. Rather than keep going on the way I am now, always hoping I’ll have time to tell people BEFORE they rush us not to do so, praying he won’t snap this time…I will make sure that nothing CAN happen.

It seems as if the general public has this idea in their head that we Great Dane owners are somehow obligated to let them maul our dogs. Yes, we get it. He’s huge. You haven’t seen them often or at all before. But at least have the common courtesy to respect me when I say “please don’t do that”, and to respect HIM by not rushing at him like a crack head. Because you can damn well bet that if he did snap, he’d pay the price for it, and that I won’t stand for.

We dane owners do not owe the public our dogs. They are not circus freaks. They are not toys for your children. Many people out there walking Great Danes are owners of new rescues, or fearful danes who really aren’t comfortable around new humans yet. Some never are comfortable. Just because they’re huge, and Scooby Doo was a cute and snuggly, does not mean all danes are, and you might just be setting up an innocent animal for failure by not respecting that fact.

A properly fitted muzzle is neither cruel nor barbaric. It is not a sign that you have failed as a trainer of your dog. It is not a sign that your dog is nasty or a man eater. There are many reasons one might wish to use a muzzle. If only more people would do so, we might see a huge reduction of dog attacks on both other animals as well as humans. At the end of the day, it’s more cruel to set a dog up for possible failure, set them up to be labelled a vicious dog when they bite someone, than it is to prevent such a thing from ever happening.

Fearful dogs are the number one candidates in my opinion for a muzzle. Every one who knows anything about dog behavior will tell you, a fearful dog is an unpredictable dog. You never know what is going to trigger or when that trigger will occur.(You can only micro manage the world around you to prevent it so much before something at some time happens to set them off) Not only does having the muzzle on help YOU feel more confident and at ease, it helps the dog because they no longer have to deal with YOUR fear right along with their own. If you’re walking down the street and you know there is no POSSIBLE way your dog can harm another dog or person, even accidentally, then you are going to be walking with much more confidence and more relaxed at the other end of that leash. This transfers to your dog…making your outings that much more enjoyable for both of you.

Bottom line? If you feel that a muzzle is the right answer for your dog, let NO ONE tell you otherwise. Don’t be guilt tripped or criticized out of doing what you feel is safer for YOUR dog. Don’t feel as if you have to prove something to the world by forcing your dog into situations they cannot handle, just so you can say “I fixed him I’m the great dog trainer who turned my dog hating dog into a dog lover, or a dog who hates kids into a daycare stalker” Because when you do that, it’s not just the public you are risking to prove that point…it’s your best friend.






4 thoughts on “The Stigma attached to muzzles and dogs who wear them

  1. I walk my boy with a halti, I am lucky enough to have quite a few danes in my neighbourhood though and Ozzy really has no interest in people who come up to him. He is more like ” Yeah, ok I’m big…we were WALKING here…!” It’s the bulldogges that get more attention in my case. I have also been lucky enough to have had any person wishing to pet my dogs ask 1st. With my pup, if there is 1-3 kids I will stop & let them pet her. I always tell the kids…let her smell you 1st…palm up. Palm up is how treats are given. After the kids have allowed her to smell, I pet her head while they pet her body. If there is a larger group of kids/people…I just say “not today” and keep walkin at our reg pace. If they are offended…2f*inbad.

  2. That stinks that there is such a stigma with the muzzle, but glad you have decided to do so anyway, in Luke’s best interest. I agree about people approaching strange dogs without asking – I can’t count the amount of times people run up to my dogs, and I have to hold a hand up to stop them. Meadow is just plain terrified and I don’t want people adding to her hand shyness, and I do think Leah has the potential to fear bite. I don’t use a muzzle personally, but I am very cautious about where I bring Leah because of it.

    That said, even my friendly Lab, Toby, has been misjudged just for wearing a Gentle Leader head collar, which is also often mistaken for a muzzle. I know many people won’t use this beneficial device because of this, and many therapy dog groups do not allow the tool, just on that basis – but wouldn’t it be better to educate people on all these tools, and the reasons for the usages, rather than just not use things that can potentially help dogs with a variety of issues?

  3. Thank you for this posting. That is exactly how I feel when I walk my “little man” Bentley with his muzzle on. (Actually, it’s the same fabulous one in the picture) I joke with people, and call him “Bentley Lector”…but I know that he can’t do anything that would get him in trouble and it does provide me with confidence that I know he picks up on. I also use it in off leash situations, where he is out of my reach. He can’t get possessive of toys or use his mouth inappropriately. But he can still romp. I wish others would consider using them. I like to think that sharing with other people helps educate them.


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