Teenage fun ! Mouthing when excited on lead.

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Antoinette's picture
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Snoopy is now 11months and he has started to test us a little bit. Mostly its under control but he has started mouthing again when walking. It starts when we begin to come home from our walk. He will begin to chew the lead then start to try and mouth me. Normally I stop wait untill he behaves then go again however its not working as well now and the last few days he has added a growl when doing it. I can still get him under control and get him in a sit then wait till he behaves but its not stopping the behaviour. At training they tell me to ignore it but it doesnt work as hes a big big strong dog so me just standing there while he tugs the lead isnt doing anything but pulling my arm out and making him think its a game. When he mucks up at home its easy to sort out as I give him time out which is putting him on the deck for a short periord - like 30 seconds - really short then I open the door back up make him wait till I tell him to come in then let him back in, He had started to try to bite out feet last week and I only had to do this twice and he pulled his head in and behaved himself but Im not really sure how to deal with the mouthing when out and on a lead. I dont run with him as this gets him far to excited and then he really plays up. Does anybody have any ideas or what worked with your dogs.

jeshykai's picture
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In my general experience, mouthing of the lead is a show of excitement.   How do you walk Snoopy?  Do you use a soft collar, a choke, a gentle-leader?  Do you give corrections physically or verbally?

I tend to not ignore behavior either because I find when I ignore it in a dog like Steve, he just keeps going.  Everything is a correction.  Everything is a test!  They're funny that way.

I will say that if Steve was doing this behavior, I'd give him a sharp correction with his prong collar (it is what I use to walk him) and I'd wait until he sat himself and then we'd walk on.  If he went for it again, a quick snap correction, wait, then walk on.  Eventually he'd forget about the leash and whatever excitement it created in him.

If you don't like to use the correction method in that way, you have to find a way to break his focus on the leash.  You could try giving him a toy near the end of his walk to hold in his mouth.  Steve's older brother usually picks up a stick to drag home because he's silly and just wants to bring something back with him.  It doesn't have to be a bad thing, I guess, is what I'm trying to say.

For the feet biting, I'd put him on his side and make him stay on his side until you think he's calmed down and then let him up.  In this case, I don't think a time out would be proving you're the boss and you don't treat the boss that way.


Hope that helps, though I'm sure other people will chime in with other good advice too.

GingerGunlock's picture
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I agree that with big smart dogs like our Dobermans, ignoring a behavior doesn't typically work.  With Elka, anyway, ignoring a behavior is equivalent to permission, and she would have swiftly become a monster if I let some things go.

I know Elka freaks the hell out if you put her on her side or back and expect to hold her there.  It takes every thought out of her mind but "OMG WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHYYYY?", and that sort of thing tends not to be recommended by anybody, as it's a good way to get bitten.

 

If Snoopy bites the leash, I would remove the leash from his mouth, and have him sit, as you say, and then continue the walk with the leash too short for him to get at, i.e. put the collar up behind his ears and wrap the leash around your hand, and then walk him for a short distance with your arm extended, like he's a show dog who needs to keep his head up.  If you're using a flat collar, it won't stay behind his ears, and it won't choke him, but he still won't like this change of events.

 

For foot biting, I would revisit bite inhibition.  The second he goes for you, scream like he's killing you, and remove yourself from an area where he can interact with you for a short period of time. If he's biting at your feet while out walking, I'd suggest working on a "leave it" style command, as screaming in the streets with your Doberman is not typically a good plan. 

blue4's picture
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Screaming with a dobie...I chuckle.

I find Reesie LOVES to play tug with his leash.  I think sometimes he just hasn't played tug enough and he's not ready for a walk.  I take him off and go play tug.  Sometimes I just want to walk and I give him the correction Jes was talking about.  I noticed the last couple of days that he's taken advantage of me and tried the leash-tug thing anyway b/c I was talking on the phone and didn't correct him three days ago. One time he gets away with it and now it's test, test.

So reading this motivates me to get back out there tomorrow and get control again! 

jeshykai's picture
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Like everything, there are individual styles to training.  Its your choice on the philosophy that works for you.  Its always been my philosophy to take everything in and decide what works best for the individual dog.  For those who don't know my background, I have worked with animals for 8+ years as a vet tech and I have had numerous seminars on dog behavior and training.  It doesn't mean I know everything, of course, but I try not to make statements that would put you or your dog at risk.

Anyway, on the putting your dog on the side and getting bit.  If Steve freaked out on me for putting him on his side, I'd do it more until he didn't care.  Many people may not know, but when your dog is at the vets the side is the best way to hold your dog for his/her safety for many procedures.  As I had to struggle every day with restraining dogs, I always wished that owners would work on this position so the dogs know it is not a traumatic, submissive, position.  I always condition all the dogs I own to lay on their sides and "hold it" until released.  This way, if they need to get an ultrasound, blooddrawn, urine, etc, they are in the best place to succeed and not injure themselves or the vets for the procedure.

I also force my dogs to do many things they may not at first like or understand.  Poking at them, pulling them, touching their feet, laying on top them, staring in their faces, kissing them, etc.  I do every thing I think a stranger, a child, or a baby might do.  This way my dogs will best be able to handle things when I have a baby.  This is why Steve was comfortable yesterday with strange children grabbing on him and laying on him.  He looked up at me with a, "this is nothing" face.

Again, this is ALL personal preference.  I just like to set my dogs up to succeed in every situation they may end up in.  Every dog I have ever trained has done fine at the vets, is fine with strangers and children.  I think that it shows that my style works - at least for me and my family I train for.

Best of luck!  In the end, its you on the other end of the screen working with your dog and you will find a way to communicate what you want of them.  ;)

Chipindob's picture
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Soph is mouthy too, not on lead but just when we want to pet her. She is 15 weeks today, I can see no new teeth coming in, I thought she'd be teething by now. We've tried all sorts of things about the mouthing, the only thing she responds to is a spray bottle. I don't think the Martingale is going to work for her either, she pulls way too hard! So good to be back with y'all! Soph & Ang

GingerGunlock's picture
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I can screw around with Elka a good deal...tail grabbing, feet lifting, looking in the mouth, pulling on her tongue, pulling on her ears, etc.  We intend to have kids eventually, and that kind of thing was important (along with having her meet lots of kids. One of my coworkers has a couple young-uns, and one of our friends, and an elementary school is two blocks away).  She will put up with any amount of manhandling, and the only thing she does to indicate she doesn't like it is she will move that body part away, slowly.

 

Putting a dog on the side for the vet makes sense, though, and I didn't think of it in that context.  I think we'll begin working on that.  She'll go on her side on her own often enough, but in a pinch, it would be good to have that as a proofed behavior.  I apologize, but I'm unable to think of it as a calming one, necessarily.

Antoinette's picture
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Thanks all for the replies . Heres an update to how hes going . I decided to start running with him which is when he is at his absolute worst.I  even look like Im going to run and hes jumping for the lead which then leads to my arm.

But its been for the best as I had to take a NO tolerance with him . I firstly started out taking a small water gun and squirting him each time he did it. Well after 100metres he was pretty wet but he did settle down and stop mouthing . The next time I went for a run he started again so out came the gun-it worked for the first 10mins  but I think it started to become a game as he starts opening his mouth to catch the water- probably thirsty from running but now he has turned my punishment into a reward.Arrrgh smart  dog.  SO  hes getting worse and worse at which point I did what the trainer said to try. I grabbed his nose with both hands and gave it a small squeeze while telling him NO and I was really angry as I was over this and figured I had to mean business or we were not going to get anywhere. I only had to do this three times and then he was the perfect angel. I think there is alot to be said for drawing the line with what is acceptable and whats not , once he knew I was really mad and wasnt going to muck around any more he behaved himself pretty quickly. Fingers crossed we have overcome the mouthing issue when out and about.

laith's picture
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Running is hard for me as well. He tends to jump for my arm (play). But after a lap he gets the idea. 

Maybe you should just start with the basics again. If Laith pulls or if he doesn't have his attention on me I stop walking. He usually automatically sits and if he doesn't I take a step back. He knows I will walk back home & put him in the crate for a nap if he keeps playing games. 

It may not be the right training thing to say- but I think there will always be a pull when they are excited. At the beginning of any walk Laith tends to be a spaz. He calms down after a few corrections and a little energy out. 

I didn't have a issue with biting the lead or me but I have had issues with walking on a lead. But to cut the bull in my story I did 2 things... 1. walked faster, then slower, then faster, etc. so he didn't know what was coming. 2. associated the correction with a word "nah". Eventually when I said "nah" he would stop trying to get ahead of me.