Teaching Bailey to hold
Day one - I set up a canvas chair next to the porch post brought Bailey (80 pound shelter Lab?) over to the post and cinched his buckle collar to the post with the leash. His head was just at chest height. I was trying to avoid any back strain on me and put him in a position that he had no leverage over me. First I tried prying his mouth open with my gloved hands and had to give up the gloves. I need my bare hands to roll his gums over his teeth. He is very strong and fought my attempts. I kept at it, forcing his head up, slipping my thumb and forefinger just behind his canines knowing that he could easily crunch my hand. I found a slight release of his jaw “Good boy” let it close and stroked his head. I tried again and he clamped down hard. Finally, he relaxed again and I opened his mouth about half way. “Good Boy” unhooked him and put him in his kennel. The next day we did the same thing with a bit more ease and less time.
On day three, I was easily able to open his mouth and slipped in a 1” dowel which he crunched a 1/4 inch dent with his molars. I moved the dowel just behind his canines, held his muzzle shut until he stopped pushing the dowel with his tongue repeating “Hold”. The second he stopped fighting it, I slowly released his muzzle, “ Hold Good Hold” “Drop”. I remember seeing Jim Dobbs of TriTronics fame do this at a seminar. Jim was calm, collected not hurting the dog in any way as he progressed to a steady hold. Unlike the pro trainers who had taught me ten years before. They had used force and pain to break a dog down and submit.
Day four was much the same but Bailey readily accepted the dowel instantly. He refused on the second try and we repeated the hold routine. With the 6th try I got a steady hold, stroked his muzzle for a little longer and gave him the drop command and quit for the day. He doesn’t seem upset by any of this now. Jim Dobbs uses a gloved hand insterted in the dogs mouth to but I'm afraid to do that with the type of grip this dog has. Better the dowel than my fingers.