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How to EASILY introduce the Muzzle (aka Schnozzle) or other tools, right at home, to your pup!

So you would like to introduce your little Fluffy, Toby, or Woofers to a new “tool” to help calm them?

Kudos to you, Pet Parent,  for taking action to support your darling little dog and his/her light and sound sensitivity (or other) issues!   Having been a part of the Rescue movement for nearly forty years, I can tell you that MANY pet “behaviour”  issues are directly parallel in treatment to the same issues in children.  When wonderful pet parents like you are willing to view the behaviour issues through this lens, (for example, labelling ADHD, ADD, etc, lol)  applying multiple levels of treatment becomes so effective!  

While verbal logic is less available to we pet parents, the GREAT NEWS is that same strategies of slow introductions, repetition, desensitization, associating new things with positive reinforcement such as food/treats, absolutely works. 

These particular strategies are SUPER effective with slowly introducing “tools” such as goggles, muzzles, Thundershirts, booties, etcetera.   There are TONS of instructions on the “University of Google”, lol, both written and video, but this is the short version.

This particular process combines several strategies including: desensitization with positive reinforcement and FUN!  The Pet Parent must be thinking of ALL THREE of these when moving forward, excruciatingly slowly towards success!  This strategy has had 100% success, and is similar to what is used to train FERAL and WILD animals to accept these same kinds of tools so that veterinarians can safely examine them, so I KNOW that YOU can certainly do this at home 🙂   

We DO recommend you set up the VIDEO function on your phone (at a distance) to record these sessions so other family members can observe your success and what it takes to be successful introducing your pup to these tools.  It’s also a great Pat-On-The-Back for YOU, as a Pet Parent! YOU will be so PROUD of both yourself AND your pup when you have invested your time and expertise here.  AND this strengthens the bonds of trust and love between you and your pet, too, so HAVE FUN!

1.  Make sure pup is a BIT HUNGRY before starting.  Have pup in a different room before starting,

2. Place  new “tool” on floor in a QUIET part of the home where pup has a long history of ALWAYS FEELING SAFE and comfortable and receiving treats.

3. Place TREATS In and Around the new tool.

4. Allow pup into room where tool & treats are located.  Allow pup to discover/sniff/explore tool and eat the treats.  This MUST be a NO STRESS, no excitement experience.

5.  As long as pup is NOT stressed, add a few more treats inside the tool and state the NAME that you want associated with the tool in the future. (pick a FUN name that YOU can associate with something FUN and POSITIVE.  For example, instead of MUZZLE you could choose: SCHNOZZLE  or YUMMERS, etc.  ) 

6.  After 60 seconds, pickup tool and put it away.  

7. Repeat three times a day.

8.  WHen pup is comfortable with the tool, hold it in your hand, place treat in tool and allow pup to eat treat from the tool.  Do this for a couple days WITHOUT putting tool ON the pup.

9.  Once pup consistently associates the WORD for the tool (for example SCHNOZZLE) with treats and is looking for the tool, place the tool ON the dog for TWO SECONDS while giving treats.  REMOVE before stress.

10.  Do this for several sessions. As long as pup is comfortable, increase the time the tool is attached to pup by a second or two. DO NOT MOVE TOO FAST. Better this process should take a long time than frighten or stress the pup!!!

11.  If pup is stressed or frightened for ANY REASON, you must go BACKWARD TWO FULL STEPS – not just one.  For example, if you had been able to place tool on head and strap it on for five seconds (BUT pup is now rolling the whites of eyes, crying, running, barking, etc,)  skip the rest of the sessions for at least 24 hours and restart  24-48 hours later with the tool ON THE GROUND BY ITSELF. 

You will want to repeat this AT MINIMUM, THREE TIMES a day, no more than 2-3 minutes at a time. You could, for example, do it during TV commercials! The key is short sessions, FUN sessions, LOTS of sessions that are consistent and that BOTH of you ENJOY!

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