snapping jaws

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jerial13's picture
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When we have been gone for a while or if we have a guest that hasn't been by for a while Shelbi snaps her jaws.  NEVER at anyone or toward anyone.  She simply flips her head around and snap's her jaws, of course while wiggling her entire body, as if to let us know how happy she is to see us.

Is this really what she is doing or is this a behavior I should be concerned with, please let me stress that she is NEVER directing this movement toward anyone EVER.

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

You might want to work on her a bit if you can isolate that habit. You obviously don't want to disrupt her joy at seeing her people. Regular visitors are also considerered her people. Some may take it wrong.

I once had a dog that would smile by raising her upper lip in front. Some thought she was snarling, but her ears were up not flat against her head and her tail was wagging. She was exuding happiness her way. Never could break her of that, so I just had to educate the people.

glengate's picture
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I think it's a stress release response like spinning.  I think we've talked about it on this board before.  I produced a puppy that had the exact same behaviour, and it was never a harmful action, just something he did in certain situations.   It wasn't anything that concerned me.

JL Mead's picture
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Last July I got Sidney from Dobe Rescue in Lake Placid, Fla. He was supposed to be cat friendly as I have two elderly cats. He is cat aggressive, so my cats are confined to the master bedroom. They are declawed and do not mind living there. However, this is not my major problem. For the last two months Sidney has developed the habit of snapping his jaws. It terrifies my daughter in-law and she will not bring the baby into my house anymore. Now Sidney is a very sweet dog and loves all people and kids. His jaw snapping is not a mean thing and I don't think he would ever bite anyone. How can I train Sidney to stop this behavior? My other problem is Sidney will not come to me if he gets outside of the fenced yard. He thinks it is a game and I just have to calmly walk after him and he will eventually let me walk up to him and snap the leash on. Chasing him doesn't work. He is 20 months old now and has boundless energy for the game of chase. I have worked with him on the "come"command and he just doesn't seem to get it. He is not very food motivated, but turkey hot dogs seem to work somewhat. I have a summer home in the Carolina mountains and Sidney has to be trained to come to me by April. My property is not fenced and if I let him out I am afraid I will never see him again. He is a great dog and I would hate to take him back to the rescue. Any suggestions would be most helpful. I have had three other Dobermans in my life. Moxie I got as a puppy  and I had her for eight years. The second dog, Cooper, was a two year old rescue dog. He was playing in the yard one day and came into the kitchen and just suddenly died. His heart had failed. He was only six years old. Tristen was a three old rescue dog from the local SPCA. My son was the staff Vet there at the time and Tristen was surrendered as his owners were expecting a new baby. Tristen had a steel plate in his leg as the result of being hit by a car. The shelter's policy was dogs with a medical condition would have to be euthanized so I decided to save the dog. He bit me and growled at my grand daughter and had to ultimately be put down. I did not have a dog for six years or so until Sidney came along. I love Dobermans and have so many great Dobe memories and stories. 

Lori's picture
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In my expirience with any dog if they were never allowed off leash when they were young and taught then they will tend to play the 'catch me if you can' game.  Some breeds much worse than others, of course but if you never had your freedom you don't want to easily give it up hence the running away from you rather than to you. It's really more of a game to them, they are playing.  Work with him on a 100ft lead somewhere in the open so you can control him but can also teach him to listen to you. 

 

Honestly unless he completely bolts and won't stop I wouldn't worry about him in the moutains.  Most dogs when left out in the wide open will run off and when they realize you aren't running after then you just ruined their game.  They will tend to stay closer if you aren't chasing them.  There's nothign worse than watching someone chase their dog down the street - all you are doing in their mind is playnig with them and chasing them further from home.  Nothing gets Rocky running to you faster than to turn your back and act like you are walking away from him. 

 

Put him on a long lead and work with him on 'come'  Try it from 10 ft, then 15', etc...when you are confident that he will always listen then attempt to take him off leash but be sure before you do it. 

 

As for the jaw snapping, there are some things you just can't train....if he's not being agressive what is he hurting?   your daughter in law needs educated and trained....Sign him for a training class of some kind and take her with you.  And if nothing else just accept that she won't ever like or tolerate your dog. 

jerial13's picture
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JL Mead

Shelbi is now almost 13 months old and is still snapping.  I can not speak for your dog but when Shelbi shows this behavior it is never in an aggressive manner just a I am happy to see you and you are my friend manner.  I believe that your daughter-in-law is over reacting a little.  I will say though that for a person that has not been around the breed or even this particular dog for an extended period of time they would be a little taken back.  Truthfully you have this huge mouth coming toward you with all of those really sharp teeth and they are snapping together. 

 

I bet if you just spoke wth her and let her spend more time with your Sidney she would understand better, unless she is afraid of dogs to begin with.  I know I did not give you any real answers just my personal thoughts.

Jeri

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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Skye also plays the catch me if you can game, but only if I allow it. The ok to play this game is me saying "chase". She becomes this puppy tornado of energy and runs her butt off until I call for her. I still dont trust her in an unfenced yard, but her recall is really good. She also does the jaw snapping thing, but most of the people in my life have dogs or have enough experience with them to realize when they see it that its not an aggressive act... she's just uber excited.

laith's picture
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My puppy does the jaw snap. It is never aggressive. He always does it in 2 situations normally. When he wants to play (he snaps his jaw and then jumps/runs) and when I give a command he doesn't want to do. Example, I say "No, leave it." He will snap his jaw while looking directly at me and then leave it and walk away. 

I hear it is normal for some dobermans. It's a form of speaking. As long as he/she is doing what you ask, I wouldn't worry too much. Just tell visitors and they should understand. Everyone he does it in front of laughs now and calls him snapping turtle. :)

jerial13's picture
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I ask Shelbi all the time "Did you just snap your jaws at me?" she looks at me cocks her head sideways and runs off to do a lap around the kitchen, or to do a 360 spin.  I find it rather amusing, because it is like she is trying to talk to you the best way she knows how.

Jeri

laith's picture
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Jeri, I think that as well. If you don't respond, he will bark. Smarter than we think, those rascals! :)

rgreen4's picture
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JL Mead - when Sidney runs off, just turn your back and ignore him. They can't stand being ignored. Just like when you are in the house and they are asleep. When you phone rings and you start taking they are right in front of you wanting to know why you are not paying attention to them.

It is tough, but maybe you can set the stage by in the house, turn your back on him. When he comes around to be in front of you, give him a great deal of loving. Then when you are outside, do the same thing. They love the attention. It may take a bit of work, but you will get there.

jeshykai's picture
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It might help if your daughter-in-law reads this thread and the other people's responses about the jaw-snap.

I've had dogs in the past do it and it is just that they get so excited... it has to come out somehow!

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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sometimes when skye is snapping, she lets out a little squeek, almost like a yorkie pup.

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

Hmmm, I posted a message last night that is not here.

Dogs have such a keen sense of smell and use their mouths to suck up smells that are overly exciting. When the nose catches a whiff of something they will continue to sniff, when the smell is new or very interesting they will open their mouth to absorb more of the scent, when it is very very exciting they can and will snap at the air in order to gulp a lot of the scent to assess it and process the individual ingredients of that scent, in the process the jaws will snap together - it's like someone gulping their food down so as not to miss any. If you can picture someone who loves different types of chocolate having someone take a variety box of them and toss them in the air the person would be running around flapping their jaws together trying to catch that good stuff before it hits the floor or is gone. Same with the dog - they smell the smells and to catch as much of it before it dissipates in the air it jaws the air to gulp it in. The fact that it happens when a person that hasn't visited in awhile comes for a visit shows that the dog is very excited to see this person again and wants to sense and smell everywhere that person has been since their last visit. I would consider it natural behavior but it could wear down the teeth over time so watch that part of it.