Muzzle training.

Calhoun (2)

Muzzle training.

Of course there are hounds who have absolutely no problem to run with a muzzle but regularly you see hounds who try during a coursing or when they come to the finish, trying to get rid of their muzzles. These hounds are therefore not trained in wearing the muzzle. This is not only annoying, especially if the hound stops during a coursing to try this but also animal unfriendly. It irritates the hound and he wants to get rid of it. With a little training you can avoid this behaviour and it is more enjoyable for every party.


It is very important that you have the right size muzzle for your hound. Make sure there are no abrasive edges, pinching straps or protruding metal points. There are different types of muzzles on the market, but please choose one where the hound can open his mouth very far. If the muzzle is good, not too small or too large, your hound will have to get used to it in the beginning, but at some point he will no longer notice that he is wearing it.


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To let your hound get used to a muzzle, we make a game of it. The Hound learns step by step to get used to his muzzle and experience that it gets acquainted with it and the wearing of it gives him goodies and fine courses.


Step 1 Grab the muzzle and show it to your hound. Act like it is a giant interesting object. As soon as the hound smells it, you reward him: “good boy, nice, that’s your muzzle!” Then put the muzzle away again.


Step 2 Show the muzzle after a while again and see if the hound wants to touch the muzzle with its nose. Often he will automatically sniff it. “Well, that’s your muzzle!” Give him something that he really likes as a reward. Make a nice exercise here: touching the muzzle with your nose delivers something delicious.


Step 3 Now hold the muzzle just in front of the hound so that he can stick his nose in it, just a little bit when playing the touch game. You may help a little by gently sliding the muzzle a very small (!) piece over the bridge of the nose. “Wow, that’s great, what a handsome hound, your muzzle!”


Step 4 Now we make the muzzle-game slightly more difficult. Not touching but only your nose in the muzzle will deliver another reward. Quiet, first a few millimetres, then a few centimetres. The real enthusiasts will soon see it: The deeper I put my nose in the muzzle, the bigger my reward will be!


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Step 5 Now hold the muzzle four inches in front of the hound’s nose and invite him to stick his nose in. “Super, handsome hound, that’s your muzzle!” Increase the distance so that the hound can “run” in its muzzle from across the room, so to speak.


Tip Practice attaching and detaching the muzzle “dry” first, so that you know how it opens and closes and you do not have to mess around while putting it on the hounds head.


Step 6 Is this all going well? Now the hound must learn not only to stick its nose in the muzzle, but to hold it there for a while. A few seconds to start. He does not get the treat after he has pulled his nose out of the muzzle, but while his nose is still in the muzzle: so you give something small and tasty through the openings of the muzzle. As a result, the hound immediately gets used to the “tight feeling” of the muzzle on its muzzle. 


Step 7 Does the hound stand or sit quietly for a few seconds when you hold the muzzle while keeping its nose inserted? Then we go a step further. Now fasten the straps of the muzzle for a moment. Reward the hound calmly but enthusiastically, give him a pat or tickle, put some treats through the opening again and then slowly detach the muzzle again.


Step 8 Goes the attaching and detaching properly? Then build slowly out the time that the hound wears his muzzle really. Prevent him from hitting with his legs in an attempt to get the muzzle off, reward him when he’s quietly sitting or standing with it. Instruct the people in his environment how to react to the hound when he wears his muzzle. Not “ah, poor boy”, but “good boy, what do you look so cute, sweet and handsome!”


Step 9 Now it’s time for action: a little walk with the muzzle on it. The hound is of course very handsome and well-behaved. And occasionally give the hound a treat through the muzzle while walking. Build this up slowly, walk a little longer and in between taking the muzzle off and on again. But only reward when the muzzle is on! Ultimately, the hound can have its muzzle on for an entire walk without any problems. If this is the case, you no longer have to worry that problems will arise during the racing.

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As soon as you take off the muzzle, the rewards and attention stops. Do not show any relief at the end of the exercise either. Having the muzzle should be fun, not the detract!

Do not do all the steps at one day, but every day one and start with the step before or if the hound really does not want, with a few steps back. Make sure it is nice game!

Have fun practicing!

Beware! Disadvantage of muzzles is that, however good the straps and closures are made, the hound can almost always eventually get it off. Do never leave a hound with a muzzle on, alone. Chances are that he will claw, stick with his nails or legs behind a strap and panic. In addition, depending on the model, a hound with a muzzle can hardly eat, drink, pant or vomit.