Feeding in position

At this stage, your dog should be enthusiastically nosing or closely investigating the muzzle. 

If your dog is showing any signs of avoidance at this stage, go back to creating a positive association and increase the value of your food. 

Cup the muzzle in your hand and fill it with about ten (10) pieces of food. 

We are going to start “feeding in position” so now your dog will learn that having their nose IN the muzzle is when all the good stuff happens. 

Watch how in this video, I present the muzzle to Salinger and leave it up to him to put his nose in. I never want to put the muzzle on his face – I want him choosing to put his nose in. Allowing dogs to make this choice will decrease stress and give them the sense of freedom and control over their environment, making for a more pleasant (and fast) training experience. 

I hold it at nose level and wait for him to go in to grab the food. 

Before he has consumed ALL the food, I sweep the muzzle away. I want there to be at least ONE piece of food remaining in the muzzle. I refill the muzzle and repeat. 

I am choosing when the muzzle comes off and this will eventually teach him that it’s his choice to put it on and my choice when it comes off. 

I love how enthusiastic he is about it – he’s practically mugging me for the muzzle. This is a luxury problem! 

Now is the time to teach our dogs that putting their nose in the muzzle without a food lure is the Best. Idea. Ever. 

I present the muzzle at nose level (no food in the muzzle) and wait for him to engage with it. The moment he does, I mark and happy-talk and grab some food. 

Your dog might pull their nose out of the muzzle at that moment and that’s okay. The muzzle stays put and I simply feed in position, meaning I present the food in the little feeding hole in the muzzle. The dog will then put their nose back into the muzzle to get the paycheque. 

Over time, they start to conserve energy and reduce the number of steps to get the food and they leave their face in the muzzle until the food arrives. 

I remove the muzzle for a moment and re-present, repeating the exercise until I can see that my dog “gets it”.