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Q: I'm seeing more suggestions that dogs should learn to wear muzzles. My dog is friendly, so what's the benefit of a muzzle?

A: We are among those who believe that every dog should be familiar with wearing a muzzle — even if they are the sweetest, best-behaved dogs in the world. There are a lot of good reasons why a dog might need to wear a muzzle.

  1. A muzzle keeps everyone safe. Let's say that your dog has been hit by a car and you need to get it to the ER right away. Dogs in pain are likely to snap or bite. Putting a muzzle on them before you try to move them protects you during that process and protects veterinary staff at the hospital.

2. In case of a natural disaster that requires you to leave your home and seek public shelter your dog might have to be muzzled. Your dog might be friendly, but if you have to stay in a crowded shelter with other people and dogs, the shelter may require that all dogs be muzzled to prevent any injuries from dog fights.

3. Some dogs can't resist eating things they find on the ground, from toxic toadstools to dead animals. Wearing a muzzle helps to prevent tummy upset, poisoning and blockages.

4. It's easier to manage these situations if your dog is already familiar with wearing a muzzle.

5. It's not difficult to teach dogs to wear them. Encourage them to stick their head in the muzzle by smearing it with something tasty like peanut butter or squeeze cheese. Once they are comfortable putting their head inside it and being rewarded for doing so, you can practice buckling it and then letting your dog wear it.

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