Unlike most lure coursing and racing clubs, muzzles are generally optional at the BSFA. We do not make muzzles compulsory as some dogs are not happy running with a muzzle on and/or some owners object to it. Most dogs forget they are wearing a muzzle once they see the lure moving and there is no sign that it in anyway impedes their performance.
Times when a dog will be expected to run with a muzzle on are:
- if one of the owners of dogs running in a pair requests that both dogs run in muzzles
- if a dog is known to be aggressive on the field
- if a dog regularly holds up the competition, either by catching and shredding the lure, or by grabbing the lure and pulling the line off a pulley. This can mean a no-course is called.
Whilst wearing a muzzle doesn't entirely prevent a dog from being able to grab hold of the lure, it makes it a lot harder and it tends to discourage the dog from trying.
In addition to the above considerations, some owners prefer their dog to wear a muzzle when lure coursing because if a dog grabs the lure and rolls with it, they can become tangled in the line which can cause injury.
There are a couple of things that owners can do to help prevent a problem. The first is to walk over to the finishing point as soon as the dogs have been slipped, so that they are on hand to catch the dogs before they can grab the lure. The other is to train dogs at home to drop an item on command, so that they will leave the lure when told.
Even if you do not intend to muzzle your dog for lure coursing, it is useful to teach them to accept a muzzle and get used to wearing one. If this is done gently for short periods with plenty of treats, giving them time to get used to it, then it need never be a problem.
Many racing and sporting clubs have compulsory muzzling and so you may not have a choice if you wish to compete elsewhere. As already mentioned, there are circumstances where we might request it, and times in life away from the sporting field when it may become necessary for any number of reasons.
We do have a small stock of muzzles that can be borrowed at meetings if one is needed and there are recommended online retailers in the links section who supply muzzles that will be long enough for sighthound noses.
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