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Muzzle Training Your Dog: When, Why, and How to Use Them

In the past, muzzles were most often associated with aggression. For many owners, this negative association can make muzzling a dog unsettling. Owners do not want people to think their dog is mean, dangerous, or untrained. The reality is that there are many different scenarios’s where muzzles are necessary for our dogs; muzzles are not just for aggression.

Dog muzzles may look scary and controversial, but most canine experts agree that at one point or another there will probably be a situation when an owner needs to use a muzzle, for the safety of the dog, a person, or both.

If or when these scenarios arise, it is very helpful if your dog perceives the muzzle as a positive experience. Quite often the dog’s first encounter with a muzzle is in a stressful situation. This could be at the vet when the dog has sustained a painful injury, or when the dog may become reactive or difficult to handle out of fear, or panic. A muzzle may also be necessary for some dogs during grooming or due to breed specific legislation. Therefore, even if you never have to rely on one, it’s a good idea to understand why, when, and how you should use a muzzle.

Teaching your dog to wear a muzzle isn’t as tough as it seems, but you need to practice patience and consistency and work to make your pup associate it with positive things. Use whatever reward system your pet responds to the most, whether this is treats, a toy, affection or a clicker.

The first step is choosing the appropriate muzzle for your dog, and making sure to get the correct size. There are generally two different types of muzzles: mesh/cloth muzzles (image at beginning of blog), or basket/baskerville muzzles (image below).

Mesh/cloth muzzles are generally the best type to use for muzzle-training purposes as they are soft/flexible, and have a large opening at the end for the dog’s nose. This makes treat-reward training quick and easy. The downfall with these muzzles is that, if fitted properly, they do now allow the dog to open their mouth to pant, and the dog still has the ability to bite with its front teeth. These muzzles should never be used during extensive exercise, or for extended periods of time.

Basket/Baskerville muzzles are generally the best type to use for long term. Its’ open basket weave allows the dog to breathe freely, and drink water, while still being fully enclosed to prevent any chance of biting. These muzzles are usually not as suitable for initial muzzle-training because it can be difficult to feed treats through the smaller holes, and some dogs may find them more intimidating.

The next step is to encourage your dog to accept the muzzle willingly. The key with muzzle training is to go slow and never force the muzzle on your dog. Work at your dogs’ pace to encourage and reward them for showing interest in the muzzle, slowly encouraging your dog to get closer to the muzzle, and eventually put their nose into the muzzle on their own.

Muzzle training, just like any other training, should be fun and relaxed! Take your time, be consistent, and make it a positive experience for both you and your dog!

Written by: Jessica McKay, RVT

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Get a Cupcake and Support BC Animals in Need During Treat Week (Feb 24 - Mar 1, 2020)

Van Isle Veterinary Hospital is super excited to be hosting our 4th annual cupcake day fundraiser! BCSPCA celebrates “Treat Week” across the Province from Feb 24th – March 1st 2020 where business, pet owners and animal lovers can bake up a storm and sell treats with the proceeds going to BC animals in need.

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Last updated: March 30, 2021

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we are pleased to advise that effective May 25, 2020 the restrictions on veterinary practices have been lifted. Based on these changes, below are some important updates to our operating policies.

1. WE CAN NOW SEE ALL CASES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

As you can imagine, we have a significant backlog of surgeries and wellness/vaccine exams to catch up on and we will be working hard over the next several weeks to do just that. We want to thank everyone in advance for your patience while we work through this. Although restrictions have been lifted, our health and safety protocols have not. It is important we continue to follow the guidelines set out by Worksafe BC and social distance our large team as much as possible. This means although we can offer these elective services, we are doing much fewer during the day then we were pre-COVID.

2. SAFETY MEASURES TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE

We are very excited to welcome you back into our lobby! We have put some important safety measures in place to help keep our clients and our team safe.

3. ONLINE ORDERS

The use of our online store for easy ordering, payment and delivery of our pet's food, flea and tick medications. Orders over $100 can be delivered to your home for free! CLICK HERE

4. OPERATING HOURS

During the first 8 weeks of COVID, we were operating as a 24-hour facility to better serve our community and to maintain social distancing within our team. However, as the COVID-19 situation changes, so do we!

Our team of doctors felt it was important to get back to performing your pet's much needed regular services. In order to do so safely, we had to once again change the way we do business. 

As such, effective October 6, 2020, we will no longer be available for after-hours, on call services between midnight and 7:00 am. After-hours emergency care will be referred to Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital between the hours of midnight - 7:00 am. They can be reached at 250-933-0913.

We will continue to be available until midnight for your call-in, after hours needs.

Our regular hours of operation remain the same:

Monday - Friday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm

Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- Your dedicated team at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital