From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully Dog in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog.
You will need to adhere to strict rules such as microchipping your dog and keeping it on a lead and muzzled when in public.
Getting an XL Bully dog accustomed to wearing a muzzle is a significant process, and it’s vital to introduce the muzzle slowly while creating positive associations for the dog. Hastening this introduction can lead to the dog experiencing stress or anxiety regarding the muzzle.
Fitting a Muzzle (Obtainable on line from the Company of Animals) www.companyofanimals.com
Step 1: Introduction
- To ensure your XL Bully dog can comfortably open its mouth while wearing a muzzle, it’s essential to create positive associations. Rushing this process can lead to frustration if your dog reacts negatively. To prevent this, follow these steps:
- Start by having your dog sit on a lead and collar, ensuring you have several enticing treats within reach.
- Gently place the muzzle on your dog’s snout without fastening it.
- Instantly reward your dog through the openings in the muzzle.
- Repeat this process five times until your dog immediately associates the muzzle with treats provided in rapid succession.
- Next, leave the muzzle on your dog for a few minutes, and then promptly remove it.
This initial impression is vital, as mistakes during this phase can significantly prolong the process.
Step 2: Repetition
Repeat the above process three times a day for about five to ten minutes per session. Continue this routine for three days, ensuring you fasten the muzzle each time.
Step 3: Gradual Progress
On the fourth day, attach the lead and secure the muzzle on your dog. Walk your dog a short distance inside your home or garden and reward your dog at regular intervals.
If your dog exhibits signs of panic, attempts to remove the muzzle, or engages in unusual behaviours like rubbing its head on the floor (which is normal during the adjustment phase), distract your dog with treats and use the lead to encourage it to sit.
Step 4: In-House Training
It’s beneficial to leave the muzzle on your dog indoors for about ten to fifteen minutes twice a day. As your dog becomes more accustomed to the muzzle without fuss, you’re making progress toward normalizing its use.
Step 5: Outdoor Use
Once you can walk your dog around your house or garden without any adverse reactions, your dog is ready for normal outdoor use with the muzzle.
Persistence is crucial, and it’s important not to give up or feel sorry for your dog during this process, as the law serves as a reminder of why you’re undertaking this effort. With patience and consistent positive reinforcement, most dogs will adapt to the muzzle and associate it with enjoyable experiences such as walks and treats.
Remember, the ultimate goal is to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety while wearing a muzzle. Take your time and follow this gradual approach. There’s no harm in stepping back a few stages if necessary. Different dogs may react differently, and it’s important to acknowledge that dogs may eventually become accustomed to wearing a muzzle but rarely enjoy it, much like you wouldn’t.
Colin Tennant MA Canine Behaviour & Psychology