I have decided to embark on an adventure with Zukini. Our wonderful teacher and trainer sent me an article on working with reactive dogs. It was very informative and helpful, and caused me to start thinking about having a muzzle for Zuke. I will confess that I had some internal resistance to this idea, even though I was the one that thought of it. I chose to work through some of the labels and opinions I had of muzzles and their use, because I didn’t want my emotional state to be anything other than calm and confident as I worked toward creating a safe way for my dog to be able to have more adventures safely.
Through talking with some trusted people, I started to find that the angst and sadness I had about muzzles dissipated. I came across some videos on muzzle training, and by the time I sat down to order a muzzle on line, I was actually looking forward to it’s arrival. (We are calling it a party mask! My sister calls it that, I can’t take the credit.)
It finally came! (Amazon and their two day shipping still seemed like it was a long time to wait.) I opened the box, took out the muzzle, and thought I might have ordered the wrong size. I knew this was a gamble ordering it on-line, but the stores around here didn’t have the particular type I was looking for in stock. Thank goodness I had watched those videos, because without that, I may have very well just tried to shove it on my dog’s face to see if I should keep it or return it. I had figured as long as I could start the process, eventually I would be able to tell if it was the right size or not. Zuke is a challenging dog to fit with accessories. Even if I take measurements, he doesn’t quite line up to the status quo. (In so many ways.)
I got the muzzle out, and opened it up. It’s made out of rubber, and it doesn’t have a very formed shape at this point. Especially not after being shoved in a package and a box for shipping. As I had been instructed by both videos and experts, I rubbed some peanut butter on the inside of it, and lowered it down to let Zuke lick it off the inside of the muzzle.
He was not near as excited as I thought he would be to put his face in that thing. Of course, I hadn’t really stopped to consider that the dogs in the videos probably didn’t have the background with muzzles that mine did. I had heard from the rescue that he had needed to be muzzled, but as of yet, I didn’t really stop to think what that experience had been like for my little brown dog. He let me know in no uncertain terms that he was not nearly as excited about this adventure as I was. I could see him just wilt in his body and the trepidation in his eyes.
I simply let him lick the peanut butter off the party mask, and then put it away. I slowed everything way down to match where Zukini was, not getting swept up in where I wanted him, or us, to be. Thank goodness that the horses have introduced me to this concept. In this case, I was able to gracefully notice the disparity and start from where we actually were, not where my excitement had taken me. On with our adventure…..together…….from the appropriate starting place.