Perhaps I'm getting the wrong idea but are you muzzling your dog because you are concerned about him biting but have no history to suggest that? Sorry, but that's what I'm getting.
Or has he actually bitten or showed evidence that he might?
You mention socializing - how old is he? Is he a rescue and new to your household?
Just wondering if a muzzle is the way to go since, as you say yourself, they have negative connotations.
More background please?