Myth #1: Muzzled dogs are bad dogs.

Fact: Dogs may be muzzled for a variety of different reasons; none of which is because the dog is inherently bad. A muzzle may be used for situations beyond aggression and reactivity. Some dogs are known to eat things off the ground that they shouldn’t. The muzzle will protect his sensitive stomach or help prevent the risk of him ingesting a foreign body, which is a serious veterinary emergency. Some dogs also play too rough or play with dogs with thin skin, like greyhounds. The muzzle can protect those other dogs from accidental injuries. A muzzle may also be appropriate for a dog with a high prey drive. This saves the wildlife in the area! In some states and countries, there may also be a Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) that states that specific breeds and breed mixes must be muzzled in public.

Myth #2: Muzzled dogs are unhappy.

Fact: With proper training, a dog wearing a muzzle perceives the muzzle as an exciting tool that lets the dog do things she might not otherwise be able to do. Proper muzzle training includes a slow introduction to the muzzle with plenty of high value treats in order to create a positive conditioned emotional response (+CER). Tiny steps are taken following the introduction so that the dog may feel safe and learn to tolerate the muzzle before it is ever strapped on or used for an extended period of time. A properly muzzle trained dog will not try to remove the muzzle, nor will appear bothered by it in any way. The muzzle means freedom!

Myth #3: Only aggressive and reactive dogs should be muzzle trained.

Fact: In addition to the situations where a muzzle may be used listed in #1, muzzle training is also an important just in case skill that may prove to be valuable in the future. In the perfect storm of a situation, any terrified dog or dog in pain may bite. If a painful injury occurs, even the most tolerant dogs may snap at the veterinary office. In these instances, a muzzle will be necessary in order to protect both the veterinary workers and the dog. If the dog is already muzzle trained, this will be one less stressful aspect of the visit.


Myth #4: Muzzles need to be tightly fitted.

Fact: Tightly-fitted muzzles are only appropriate for very short periods of time, as they restrict the amount of air flow the dog will get. A properly-fitted muzzle will be basket style, large enough to allow panting, yawning, and drinking water. An easy way to measure how big the basket muzzle should be is to measure the circumference of the dog’s snout with a ball in his mouth.

Myth #5: It’s safe to let my dog run up to a muzzled dog.

Fact: Without asking, it’s impossible to know why a dog is wearing a muzzle. For this reason, a muzzled dog should always be provided plenty of space in order to avoid stressing the dog and her handler. Do not make assumptions, but instead offer a kind smile and a little extra room.


Muzzle Training with Chowder

by Lindsey Hazlett

Busy Dog Trainer



DIY Food Puzzle Toys

by Lindsey Hazlett


Whether it be full meals or just for treats, providing puzzle opportunities for your dog to complete keeps their mind occupied and their brain enriched, enabling them to use their instincts and feed their senses. There are dozens and dozens of food puzzles available for purchase, but there are also endless DIY on-a-whim options made from everyday items. Give one of these a try this week (and be sure to supervise)!



Toilet Paper Tubes

Collect all of your empty toilet paper rolls instead of just tossing them into the trash! There are several ways to turn these into a game. Depending on your dog’s familiarity with food puzzles, you can just set treats or kibble inside the tubes, and let your dog knock the food out. If they catch on quickly, put the toilet paper tubes upright in a small box, and place kibble in each one. This will challenge your dog to either stick his snout in each tube, or remove each one from the box in order to get a treat. For an expert level, or for the excitable destroyer, push in the ends of each tube, giving the dog an opportunity to rip open the tubes in order to find the food. 


Egg Carton

This is another easy idea for enrichment! Place a treat or piece of kibble into each divot of the carton. If your dog finds this too easy, you can place items on top of the divots so she must move each item before getting the food reward. As she gets the hang of the puzzle, you can also close the carton and allow her to either open it with her snout or tear it open. This is another great outlet for the destroyers! If you don’t eat eggs or don’t have a carton handy, substitute a muffin tin and place tennis balls on each space for added difficulty. 


Plastic Water Bottle

With this puzzle, place a handful of kibble or treats into an empty plastic water bottle. Leave the cap off and let your dog roll it around until all the treats fall out. Easy peasy fun with plenty of fun crinkling! 


Peanut Butter Jar

Have you gotten as much as you can from the jar? Let your pup get it ready for the recycling bin by letting him lick it clean. Added bonus if you toss in some treats or kibble to stick to the peanut butter on the sides! As with all enrichment, make sure to supervise, and consider taking this messy treat outdoors! 


Yogurt Cups

Similar to the peanut butter jar, these are ideal for the dogs with shorter snouts. For added difficulty, think about lining them up on a string, so they spin and rotate while your dog licks out the leftover goodies! 



Do you have a towel you’re about to throw in the wash? Take a moment to roll it up with some treats and give your dog a chance to dig, sniff, snuffle, and unroll it! The ways to wrap up the treats are endless! Switch it up each time! 



Cardboard Box

This one is a free-for-all! Toss in some treats, toys, bags, and anything else you can find. Let your dog go nuts with the box and snuffle out treats, remove items from the box, and perhaps even rip apart the box. For the star puzzlers, add smaller boxes within the box with treats in those as well! 




There are so many ways to let your dog play with an envelope and treats! For the novice, add a couple of treats to an envelope and place it, unsealed, on the floor. For the experienced puzzle-solver, seal the envelopes partially or fully and place them on the ground. For an Extreme Advanced Challenge, hole punch the top of a treat-stuffed sealed envelope, and line a few on a string. Suspend the stringed envelopes to make a mini clothesline! Your dog gets to tear the envelope off the string, rip the envelope open, and then sniff out and grab the treats! 



Paper Cups

Take a few identical cups and sit with them and your dog. Place a piece of kibble under one cup, and move them all around. Let your dog sniff out the cup with the treat underneath, and play again! This game provides an opportunity for you to participate in the food puzzle. 



The Lawn!

When the weather is nice, scatter some treats or kibble across the lawn. Provide time for your dog to search, sniff, and snuffle out the food while also enjoying some time outside. This is a great game for hounds and dogs who love to use their nose!