Can You Use a Dog Muzzle for Barking Dogs? (Please don’t — here’s why…)

alternative to dog muzzle for barking

We’re going to be right up front with you about how we feel about using muzzles to stop dogs from barking. Muzzles have one primary purpose: To stop dogs from biting people, other dogs, and other animals. We do not recommend using muzzles to stop a dog from barking.

If you have problems with a barking dog, you will find many other more humane and effective ways to train your dog to know when it is OK to bark and when he needs to be quiet. In fact, we recommend you start by reading about our train, treat, repeat approach to teaching dogs how to obey.

Many times when dog owners resort to muzzles to silence barking dogs, we find that the problem is with the human, not the canine. To train a dog to learn the difference between good and bad behaviors, the keys are consistency, patience, repetition and combining all of that with the right dog training tools.

That said, we are not 100% anti-muzzle. We are pro-proper use of a muzzle. In short, we recommend using muzzles:

  • To stop dogs that nip or bite at people and other animals, especially while you train them to modify this behavior
  • To temporarily quiet or calm a dog that aggressively barks at your visitors or guests, again especially if you use it in conjunction with behavior modification
  • If the muzzle properly fits and allows the dog to drink water, pant, and eat; more on this below

Are There Different Types of Muzzles?

Yes, you will find a variety of muzzles in your pet supply stores. Consult with your vet about a muzzle and which might be the appropriate type for your pet. It is vital to your dog’s well-being and health that the muzzle you select is well-fitting and permits your dog to pant easily, take treats, and drink water.

Basket muzzles

This type of muzzle resembles a basket and is typically made from plastic, wire, or leather. Unlike other kinds of muzzles, this style allows your dog to continue to open and close his mouth, so make sure it is the right muzzle for what you need.

Mesh muzzles

Made from strong breathable mesh, this type of muzzle is softer and not as prominent as other muzzle styles. Owners and trainers of short-snout breeds often choose a mesh muzzle for dogs that can’t fit a traditional muzzle.

Soft muzzles

Although this muzzle type is made from soft material like nylon, it requires a tight fit and can inhibit your dog’s ability to pant, eat and drink. Look for a soft muzzle that protects your dog’s health and allows her to pant and drink water.

Breed-specific muzzles

Whether your dog is a greyhound, mastiff, or pug, muzzle manufacturers offer breed-specific muzzles that can provide a better fit for your dog, are minimally restrictive, and protect him from overheating.

What Are Dog Muzzles Best Used For?

We subscribe to the ASPCA’s position on training aids and methods for dogs, which is using “… humane training (that) does not inflict unnecessary distress or discomfort on the pet. Humane training makes primary use of lures and rewards such as food, petting and play.”

Muzzles are best suited for short-term solutions to protect you, your family and visitors from aggressive dogs that bite and nip. Use the muzzle while you are working on behavior modification with our train, treat, repeat methodology.

The dog routinely displays aggressive behavior

If your dog has a history of aggression toward other canines or people, a properly fitted muzzle can reduce risk and make certain situations, such as walking in the park and entertaining guests, more comfortable. However, we recommend pairing the muzzle with training, treating, and repeating your dog to behave the way you want him to. And never leave a muzzle on a dog longer than your veterinarian recommends.

A trip to the vet or groomer causes a dog to freakout

A visit to the vet or groomer can throw the most well-behaved dog into a frenzy and bite those trying to help him. If your dog is known to display this out-of-character behavior in these scary or distressing situations, a muzzle can eliminate risk while allowing the pet care professionals to do their job.

Traveling via public transportation in foreign countries

When traveling on public transportation in countries like Germany, France, Greece, and Ireland, you will be required to muzzle your dog. Before you plan any overseas or out of the country travel, check the requirements not only for the destination but also the United States’ requirements for animals entering the country. You can start with the CDC’s guide to traveling with pets.

It’s the law (breed-specific legislation)

Some states and locales have specific breed legislation that mandates the use of a muzzle while the dog is in public places. For more information regarding the laws in each state, visit BLScensus.com.

Muzzle or Bark Collar — Which is Better?

If you’re having issues with your dog constantly barking, never look to a muzzle as a solution. The purpose of a muzzle is to prevent a dog from biting; they are not intended, nor are they useful as anti-bark training tools. Bark collars on the other hand, may be a successful tool to get a dog to stop barking, although these devices have their pros and cons, which you can read about in our guide to bark collars.

With advancements in technology, today’s bark collars come in various styles; static (shock), vibrationspray (citronella or lemon scent), and ultrasonic. When your dog barks, the collar emits an unpleasant stimulus that causes your dog to pause his barking. This moment allows you to reinforce your dog’s quiet behavior with a verbal command followed by a reward, like his favorite treat. When used with positive reinforcement, a bark collar can be effective at correcting your dog’s unwanted behavior — barking.

With a muzzle, there is no stimulus-command-reward opportunity.

How Can I Get My Dog to Stop Barking?

You can do several things to help your dog stop barking:

  • Ensure he gets plenty of physical and mental exercise.
  • Never yell at him when he’s barking.
  • Be consistent in your training. Always offer a reward and praise.
  • Practice patience.
  • Read our guide to dog barking.

In addition to bark collars, you will find humane alternatives to muzzles, including our own ultrasonic training tool, The BarxBuddy. This is a hand-held device that is easy and safe to use. Your dog doesn’t need to wear a collar or other equipment, and it can be used up to 40-60 feet. The BarxBuddy puts the control in your hands without making your dog uncomfortable. You determine when to quickly press the button so the device can emit a high-frequency sound only animals can hear that will stop your dog from barking. When he quiets down, address him with a verbal cue like “quiet” and offer a reward.

Are Dog Muzzles Bad for Dogs?

A muzzle can protect your dog, other canines, or people when you use it correctly. However, they come with some warnings:

  • Muzzles are designed and intended for short periods. Depending on the outdoor temperature and your dog’s activity level, that might be as short as 15 minutes, but no more than an hour. Check with your vet.
  • An ill-fitting muzzle can induce chafing, overheating, or cause your dog to develop a negative association with the device.
  • You must monitor your dog’s breathing any time he is muzzled. Any sign of distress, remove the muzzle.
  • A dog should drink .5 to 1 ounce of water per day per pound of body weight; the muzzle should not get in the way of your dog’s ability to drink water.

For More Advice on Dog Training

Learn more about the BarxBuddy ultrasonic training tool, which is designed to help you stop unwanted behaviors from your dog using a humane, safe and effective training device.

Explore our dog blog and learn more about training, grooming and other pet-related topics, and browse our shop, which contains innovative pet products hand-selected by our team.