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 using a dog muzzle for barking dogs. 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.

Alternatives to Dog Muzzles

To train or stop a barking dog, you need to train the dog, not muzzle them. Get to the source of the barking. Muzzling a dog to stop them from barking is inhumane and traumatic for the animal. You  will find humane and effective ways to train your dog so it learns when it is OK to bark and when it needs to be quiet. In fact, we recommend you start by reading about our train, treat, repeat approach to teaching dogs how to obey.

training a dog is your best alternative to muzzles

Alternatives to muzzle for dog

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)

close up of a dog face labrador puppy

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.

Adjustable strap muzzle

More like a dog mouth guard to stop barking, this style is less a mouth cover and more like an adjustable strap that wraps around your dog’s snout to fasten it closed. This type of muzzle, if it is too tight, prevents panting, drinking, and licking — not recommended.

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.

dog playing with a toy

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 dog muzzle is to prevent 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), vibration, spray (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.

If I Can’t Use a Dog Muzzle for Barking, 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.
ultrasonic trainer for dog barking
An ultrasonic training device interrupts a dog’s barking, so you can issue a correction to train your dog to stop barking on command.

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 Muzzles Bad for Dogs? Are Dog Muzzles Cruel?

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.

FAQs About Dog Muzzles

Are muzzles humane? Are dog muzzles inhumane?

Muzzles are considered to be inhumane when they do not allow a dog to eat or easily drink water. Muzzles can be inhumane when they are used as bark control and when they are left on for long periods of time. Muzzles are not intended to be used for punishments.

Are dog muzzles safe?

Safe dog muzzles allow a dog to drink water and breathe easily. They can also be safely used for short periods of time, especially on puppies and dogs that have not been properly socialized (to prevent nipping and biting).

Are dog muzzles bad?

By now you know our stance on dog muzzles: They are OK to be used for short periods of time when socializing a dog or when teaching a puppy or dog to stop biting.

Does a muzzle stop a dog from biting?

Yes, most muzzles will stop a dog from biting. Please make sure your dog’s muzzle is properly fitted so your dog can breathe easily and drink water. Do not leave it on longer than your veterinarian or the muzzle’s manufacturer recommends.

How long can you keep a muzzle on a dog?

Follow your veterinarian’s or the muzzle’s manufacturer’s advice for length of time your dog can wear its muzzle. Your dog should wear its muzzle while you are training it not to bite or nip at other animals and people. They can keep them on during a trip to the dog park, as long as they are able to easily drink water. Do not let your dog sleep with its muzzle on, unless it is a danger to your household.

Do dog muzzles work?

All dog training tools are effective as the trainers make them. In other words, if you muzzle a dog without reason, without training, and without rewards for good behavior, then your muzzle training efforts might not work well. Any dog training device or technique requires consistency, clear commands and rewards, and patience. Dog muzzles can work for protecting people and animals from a dog that likes to bite; however, we do not recommend them for a long0term solution.  See our train, treat, repeat method for dog training.

Can a dog howl with a muzzle on? Can a dog still bark when a muzzle on?

Yes, they can, which is another reason we recommend finding an alternative to a muzzle for your dog, which we you’ll find if you scroll up on this post.

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.