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Thread: Hard-mouthed lab puppy

  1. #1

    Question Hard-mouthed lab puppy

    Hello Friends:

    We have a young (10 week) lab pup. I have a feeling that he will be "hard-mouthed". I have introduced him to a grouse wing, and he will chomp down on it quite hard and not release. He will also "chomp" on the wing as he brings it back. Most of the time I have to pry his mouth open to get it out. He is a great retriever already, so I want to nip the hard mouth in the but, if possible. My last lab was very soft-mouthed from the start, so I never had to deal with it. He is also teething, so I know he will want to chew, but the behaviors he exhibits with the wing are chomping, not chewing in a teething sense.

    He also like to "shake" the things he chews on...

    Any help or references will be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2

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    Take away everything that is soft. For now that includes bird wings. Have him retrieving things that are hard. Kong toys or nylabone(buy small and go larger as he grows). Nothing that is soft and dangles out of his mouth. Don't get into chasing him with things in his mouth and don't pry things out either. Use a long lead. Grab the lead as he comes close to you and pull him alongside. Hold his head up and put him into a siting position. 90 % of the dogs out there will spit out what they have once they go into a sit position. When he does spit it out just hold his head up away from it with the leash so you can pick it up with no arguement.
    If he is still holding on to it after siting just have two of the same thing. Throw the other one out in front of him. He will spit out the one he has or will be more likely to let go because he will be focused on retrieving the other one.

  3. #3

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    He also is exhibiting behavior that he developed while dealing with litter mates. My guess is he was one of the larger pups and more outgoing. First into everything and strong willed to push the others away.
    Don't get trapped into his game. You want to develop his trust. So that he realizes that you aren't there to steal his prize. While retrieving use the long line as I mentioned and grab that instead of him or his collar. Follow the steps as I mentioned before. You could try some treat rewards as well just to get him working with you and to let go more easily. From experience though having two of each item works better. Being patient and fair at this time is important. He is bonding with you. The experiences he has during the next couple of weeks will affect him the rest of his life.

  4. #4
    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akgeoengineer View Post
    Hello Friends:

    We have a young (10 week) lab pup. I have a feeling that he will be "hard-mouthed". I have introduced him to a grouse wing, and he will chomp down on it quite hard and not release. He will also "chomp" on the wing as he brings it back. Most of the time I have to pry his mouth open to get it out. He is a great retriever already, so I want to nip the hard mouth in the but, if possible. My last lab was very soft-mouthed from the start, so I never had to deal with it. He is also teething, so I know he will want to chew, but the behaviors he exhibits with the wing are chomping, not chewing in a teething sense.

    He also like to "shake" the things he chews on...

    Any help or references will be greatly appreciated.
    I do not think this 'chomping' will necessarily lead to hard mouth. But I certainly wouldn't give him anymore wings for a while...

    I like to give puppys soft toys to retrieve...rolled up socks, plush toys...I have never had a pup become hard mouthed because of soft retrieve objects...One thing that is important to do, however, is to make sure that the plush toy is a 'mouthful'..This will encourage a good solid hold, as compared to something small that can be 'mouthed' easily....
    If you want to try dead mallards at this time, they are big enough that your youngster will have to 'work' pretty hard to get ahold of them....But since you know he likes birds, I wouldn't be in too big a hurry to get him going on them....maybe enough to get him livened up a bit.

    I have also found that my own pups generally disliked very hard toys/retrieve objects...this includes plastic bumpers, kongs, nylabones, avery bumpers, etc..however I do give them every opportunity to play with said items, as it is good for them to experience a variety of textures, shapes, etc....

    I do make use of paint rollers for my pups....they really seem to like them.

    Juli
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  5. #5

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    Hmmm. I'll have to debate with you Juli. LOL
    I'd like to know more about this dogs prey drive on his retrieving. How does he react with other items. Use what he likes that he doesn't head shake with.
    From what I've seen. Dogs that head shake and possessive have a strong prey drive. As seen how this pup reacts with the bird wing. With these type of dogs you could throw out an anvil and they will try to bring it back to you. So I imagine that this dog will have no problem picking up paint rollers, kong, nylabone and etc. Yes, some pups will be less enthusiastic about retrieving the more solid toys because they are teething. But those pups with high drive will do so and not care. Thus teaching them psychologically(because they are teething) to be more ginger on picking items up.
    I would use frozen pigeons only for right now. Just big enough for the pup to pickup but not allowing them to chew. Again.. use two of them as I mentioned before.
    I am guessing that this dog is high prey drive. So using a full size duck will encourage hard mouth. He will be so determined to claim it that he will force his mouth around it. Biting hard into it to get a better grip. I would wait to introduce large birds later when the dog can handle them easier. Maybe even force fetched before doing so.
    Some pups we need to build up prey drive or use different things to trigger it. Others have too much and we have to control their prey drive in a constructive manner.

  6. #6
    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    well, I can only go on what my own experiences have been...

    wings, unless otherwise attached to a bumper or paint roller, have always been crunched on by my pups. If I use wings, they are attached to a bumper with zip ties...

    I have had dogs and currently have a dog that absolutely LOVES to headshake toys - mostly his jolly ball...sometimes it looks quite painful as he hits himself with it over and over again, and bangs it on the ground...quite comical really...have never seen this transfer over to birds... he and my previous 3 chessies, and 4 retriever mixes all had soft toys up until they were about 3-4 months old..and they even found the 'squeaky' in them to be very fun...However, I have yet to have ever had an issue with hard mouth or chomping... Dayzee would suffocate her birds, but never break bones...all the others brought me back live birds. Hitch brings back live birds w/no problem at all....These are my own experiences....

    I can't find it now, but I have a picture of a 9 week old chessie pup carrying an adult drake mallard. It is a pretty neat picture....a pigeon is also a great choice as a puppy 'introduction' bird....but might be harder to come by right now, than a duck...

    Juli
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  7. #7

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    Thanks for the rebutle. Yet another good point of view. I guess in my case I'm more apt to make abrupt changes in my training to get the result I am looking for. Don't want a client to ask me why their prize pup is doing that. So inevitably I deny things to occur that a pup will do at their own home. I have a set schedule I try to stay on with each dog. So time is something I wish I had more of. Owners want to see results and for their dogs knowledge to grow in leaps and bounds.

    Jolly balls. Oh yeah, the dogs here love them as well. They are definitely lab tested here. Lol. And by chessies and goldens. Don't want to leave anybody out. Sometimes a young dog will get there head stuck in one of the holes. They are walking around in the yard like a deep sea scuba diver with the big helmet.

  8. #8

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    Imo...I have never really used wings.

    I usually used hard, knobby bumpers and frozen birds.

    Don't chase your pup with a bumper or any "training" tool.

    Never had a problem with hard mouth yet.

  9. #9

    Default Thank you

    Thanks for the info. I think I will take the soft toys away. I follow what you are saying, wetland retriever, he has the drive. He will occasionally slam into the wall after nabbing something tossed for him. His mother did the same thing when we were picking up the pup. So I think you are saying the wing is not needed to get the "birdiness" into him.

    He also does the "head shake" quite a bit. Especially if one of the kids are on the other end of the item. (I discourage this, but it is impossible to prevent)

    I do use a knobby bumper, but it has a band of "scent holder" nylon cloth around the middle. It fits him well, and I use the routine of having him sit and wait while I throw, and retrieve on command. So that he will distinguish actual retrieving from the "play" retireving he does with the kids. I guess he is a house dog first...

    Is there not any training activities one can do with pups to discourage the hard mouth? Any magic water, special device?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by akgeoengineer View Post
    Is there not any training activities one can do with pups to discourage the hard mouth? Any magic water, special device?
    Well....No !! Just lots of patience. Being able to prevent activities that will lead to bad habits. I'm not saying I don't let puppies be puppies, but when I start to see things that he or she is doing that I wouldn't let an adult dog do. Well I will start distracting the puppy away from that item or activity and get them busy doing something else.

    Continue using those retrieving toys that he doesn't head shake with. I would imagine it will be toys of a more solid nature. Being more solid he will learn on his own on how to handle his mouth. It's just a matter of time and things will improve as he starts to mature and come out of the puppy phase.
    If I'm guessing this dogs personality right. I bet you he is chomping on your hands as well when you try to pet him? Aren't puppy teeth fun !! OUCH !!

  11. #11
    Member Skookumchuck's Avatar
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    I'm not a pro by any means, but what seemed to work for me was to teach my pup "hold" right away once she lost all her puppy teeth

    Start by firmly holding the dog, and shove your hand in its mouth and repeat "hold". They will resist at first, just be firm and command them to hold. They will eventually give up and just hold your hand gently in their mouth. Say "drop" and take your hand away. After a number of 10 minute sessions, do the same with a bumper or whatever your training them with. If they munch down give a stern "no biting" or similar command. Once they get the basic idea, start throwing it, reinforcing the "hold" and "no biting" commands. I didn't start a full on force-fetching until she was about a year old. Worked for me...my lab has never chewed up a duck...YMMV

    I'd ditch the soft and sqeeky toys asap and expose him to gunfire as early as you can...I fired a .22 round every time I fed my girl until it didn't bother her anymore.

    Above all else, at 10 weeks the biggest goal is to form a good working bond with your dog. I wouldn't sweat it too much yet.
    Nice Marmot.

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    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    IMO, hardmouth is inherited....and more likely to be present in a very anxious, excitable dog.....

    I also think that 10 weeks is waaay to young to decide a pup is going to be hardmouthed. The pup is being a pup - all pups I've seen eventually crunch wings, if given the opportunity...(if you witnessed or know of hardmouth issues with sire and dam, then I might think about preventing such habits, otherwise, I'd not worry about it)

    giving a pup a 'mouthful' of bumper or ? will prevent chomping...small items (like wings) encourage the dog to play with/mouth the item. Don't forget that pups use their mouths to explore their environment, much the same way a human baby does....A young pup learns self confidence when he learns he can 'catch' and drag around a great big stuffed bear

    There is a great puppy training video by Jackie Mertens and one comment she makes is that by exposing a pup to a wide variety of objects, you are decreasing the liklihood they will have issues with retrieving many different kinds of bumpers/dokkens/birds when they are older.....

    So.....to each his own...
    My pups (up to about 16 weeks of age) will continue to have soft/plush toys, squeaky toys, hard toys, as retrieve objects. I want them used to as many different types of objects as possible. I have yet to see proof that exposing young pups to such objects cause hardmouth.

    Juli
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    He doesn't like sound hard-mouthed to me, but rather being a puppy -- especially if his teeth are bothering him. IMO hard-mouth is not inherited, but more often caused by humans. When retrieving I get down on the pup's level, lots of praise when they come to you, and do not take the object away from the pup immediately. Let them hold it for a bit before even trying to take the bumper, wing, etc. -- even if they've got a vice grip hold on it. With your hand under their chin, you can use the thumb to put a little pressure on the lip near the back of the mouth, pressing against the teeth. It that doesn't work, you can also try putting your hand under his chest & lifting his front end off the floor/ground. A lot of pups tend to release that hold when you lift them. Lots of praise when he releases/gives up the object. Never, ever yank things out of a pup's mouth -- or dangle the object in front of their nose after removing it, enticing them to jump for/latch onto it. Have seen a lot of folks over the years who would help their pup more by calming themselves down, especially with a hard driving, excitable pup.

    Best of Luck!!

    Karen

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    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Karen,

    I don't necessarily think that being hard-mouthed is 'directly' inherited, and in that respect would like to add more to my above statement...But I have seen the issue more in dogs that are prone to be extremely hyper/anxious/nervous or having a lot of excess energy...and thus, if a parent exhibits such tendencies, I'd be watchful of a pup with the same type of temperment....

    just a thought.

    Juli
    Taxidermy IS art!
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    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

  15. #15

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    Articles from my own training library.
    info on training pups and a perspective from the author on inherited vs trained traits.
    http://www.fetchpup.com/training/behavior.php
    http://www.fetchpup.com/training/fundamentals.php

    Milner certainly explains a split in desired traits. I'm bringing this up because a lot of folks don't understand the differences from one litter to the next. Nor pay attention to natural inherited traits vs trained traits. Training certainly can cover up and fix the undesired traits. But as Milner describes....those traits are still being passed along to the next generation whether it's a MH or an FC.

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