Muzzles and E-Collars
Even the calmest, most dog-savvy groomers can occasionally face a problem client. Muzzles can prevent you from receiving a nasty bite. Some dogs are fearful, and they try to defend themselves by biting when they feel cornered.
If you are unsure if a dog will bite, simply use a muzzle to protect yourself. Muzzles come in several varieties. Some are leather and others have a plastic basket to hold the mouth. Many are nylon and have an open end for the nose so the dog can breathe easily. Some have a mesh end so the dog can breathe easily, but you are protected from the dog's front teeth just in case he manages to get his mouth open a bit. The most important thing is to get a muzzle that fits properly.
Any dog can bite. Many times, it's the very smallest dogs that resort to using their teeth on you. Smaller dogs leave smaller wounds, but larger dogs leave potentially more serious wounds.
The muzzle must cover the dog's entire muzzle without allowing the dog to open her mouth. You should adjust it very snugly so the dog can't pull it off, and use it only when you need it. Basket-type muzzles allow a little more room for opening the mouth, and the basket makes a protective barrier between you and the dog's teeth. If the dog is struggling to remove the muzzle, try to redirect his attention.
If the dog fights you when you try to muzzle her, try coming up from behind her. Stand behind the dog and hold the muzzle in front of her neck, then pull the muzzle over her snout and fasten it behind her ears. It's harder for a dog to shake off the muzzle if you are pulling her head up and back with it.
A long strip of gauze or pantyhose will work as a muzzle in a pinch. With this method, you take the strip of fabric in the middle, place it on top of the dog's muzzle, wrap it underneath the chin, cross it, and bring it back up over the muzzle again. Repeat the sequence and tie it snugly behind the dog's ears.
You must remain calm and not use the muzzle as a punishment; it's simply a tool to keep you safe. Most dogs will calm down once they have a muzzle on. It can be a psychological tool to calm them. Once they figure out that it will not come off, they usually submit to it and you can then finish the job you need to do.
Air muzzles are great for cats or snub-nosed dogs such as Pugs or Shih-Tzus. Air muzzles are round, plastic bubbles that snap around the head of the animal and encase the head. The animal can see out of the top of it, but the bottom is opaque plastic so he can't see what's below him; usually, if an animal can't see what you are doing, he isn't as tempted to snap at you. There is an opening in the front of it for air. Your pet looks sort of like an astronaut; these muzzles really look far out, but they are very effective. In fact, with its unique design, veterinarians can use the air muzzle with an adapter to give nebulizer-type breathing treatments.
Elizabethan collars, more commonly known as E-collars, are collars that form a large cone to prevent a dog from licking or chewing stitches.
If your dog has ever had stitches that bothered her, your vet may have sent her home with one of these cones. It does look funny, but the E-collar can be an effective tool to protect your hands from bites while grooming, and it doesn't restrict the dog's muzzle.
These collars also come in handy for preventing a bite from an aggressive dog, as long as your hands are behind it. It makes a shield between your hands and the dog's teeth. It is not as restricting as a muzzle, but it's still very effective.
E-collars are also useful for grooming cats that bite. Cats are very quick with a bite, striking like a snake. Having an E-collar between you and their teeth provides protection without a lot of restriction.