In Praise of the Much Maligned Muzzle

by Stef Brandon

This muzzle is shown with the stool cup. It goes inside the large muzzle, outside on the small ones. Marcia Herman

My vet and his staff have always been helpful with greyhound adoption. Occasionally, I bring a few greyhounds available for  adoption to Cromwell Kennels where they stay until I can place  them. As I unload my car, the staff there ─ all dog  professionals ─ often say, “Oh it’s too bad they have to wear those awful muzzles. They make the dogs look so mean.” Even  professionals in the field are occasionally unaware how friendly a muzzle can be.

For greyhounds, the muzzle is part of their gear. They wear them as easily as we wear eye glasses or hard hats. The open, plastic, basket muzzle is comfortable and safe for your dog even for fairly long periods of time. The plastic is lightweight and does not rust, unlike those older, nasty, wire muzzles you  sometimes see on racing greyhounds. Its design allows the dog to  breathe and to drink easily. Should the dog become ill while wearing the plastic basket muzzle, it even permits the dog to vomit without choking, something many other muzzles don’t allow.

No dog should wear a muzzle 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and no dog should wear a muzzle when a snout or other head irritation is present. However, using the basket muzzle with your dog can  solve many day-to-day problems.

When you are introducing your greyhound to new animals or small children, it’s safer for your  pet to wear its muzzle until you see how things go. Should your  dog get a hot spot or other wound or cut, the muzzle can keep the dog from irritating the sore spot by licking and biting. Ever used those awkward Elizabethan collars? The muzzle is a great  improvement on them. On a trip to the vet’s, it’s not a bad idea  to muzzle your greyhound. The tension in the vet’s waiting room  does not always bring out the best in pets, and none of us wants  our mighty greyhound in a scrap with someone else’s kitty or  miniature Schnauzer.

When your greyhound exercises with his buddies, all the canines should be muzzled. Even friendly play can get aggressive. My husband and I always muzzle our five when they are in the yard. While they can usually be contained inside  the house, they can lose control and hurt one another in the yard in a frenzy chasing after squirrels and birds.

And the muzzle is a great training tool. When our dogs steal  something they are not supposed to have, we muzzle them for a short period. Or if they are snarling and snapping at one  another, again the muzzle. A greyhound owner friend of mine says that putting the muzzle on her bitch Tansy gives the dog  “something to think about.” In training, the muzzle helps to  show who’s boss.  In fact, my husband and I joke about marketing the plastic basket  muzzle to fit many breeds; we can’t imagine why everyone does not  appreciate its usefulness. If you’d like to get a plastic, basket muzzles you can contact the National Greyhound  Assn., Greyhound supplies, PO Box 543, Abilene Kansas 67410  (phone: 913-263-4660). Ask for the All Weather Plastic Kennel. They will ship your muzzle UPS. I think you’ll find it a handy training tool. Almost every adoptyed greyhound comes with a martingale collar, leash — and the very useful muzzle.

CG F 96

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