Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

How to you teach a soft mouth?

Discussion in 'Gundogs & Gundog Training' started by WoodyGSP, May 5, 2010.


  1. WoodyGSP

    WoodyGSP PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    1
    As I said in the other thread, Woody destroyed his dummy I got him within a few days and he has also got through many tennis balls. He loves fetch but he would make a useless gundog:D. He just mouths them too much. He's got a squeeky ball at the moment that has certainly lasted the longest, but he's obviously still mouthing as I can hear it squeeking:rolleyes:
    So how do they teach gundogs not to mouth?
     
  2. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    21,573
    Likes Received:
    668
    I don't leave any training toys out for mine to just play with, they get left other bits out, old marrow bones, leather chews, kong toys, and they find sticks to chew on. They associate their training gear with getting serious, and are much more focussed when that comes out of the shed, once we're finished, all their training gear gets put away out of reach.

    A lot of people believe a soft/hard mouth is genetic, particularly gundog folk, and it's a big no no to have a dog with a hard mouth. Re-adjusting a retrieve item is ok, but juggling and clamping down on it isn't. I think it's partly genetic, but is also how you train them, so a bit of both.

    The way you take a retrieve off them either encourages them to hold on and clamp down, or whether to release gently. If you take the item gently, rather than holding on and pulling against them, then that encourages them to be softer. Tau will carry a raw egg off whole to eat it, or something like a tomato, or strawberry, without damaging it, and if I ask for it back, it is completely whole. Indie on the other hand just eats everything, and doesn't get to play with the canvas dummies as she just sticks her teeth in them!
     
  3. WoodyGSP

    WoodyGSP PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    1
    I don't let him play with his fetch toys at home, he just mouths them on his way back to me. He doesn't bring it to my hand when we're out, he drops it on the floor near me and waits. In the house he will bring the item to my hand. If he tries to tug with it, I let go, if he doesn't give, he doesn't play.
    he's only 8 months old so I wondered if he would get better as he gets older. His dad is/was a working dog so it is in his genes to some degree although I'd have to look into it further to find out if there's anymore.
    Would taking him to a gundog training club help or do they not do that sort of thing?
     
  4. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    21,573
    Likes Received:
    668
    A good gundog trainer would definitely be able to help you, both with one to one's and/or group training, and you may even decide to go for the Gundog Grade qualifications.

    With the dropping before he gets to you, I made the mistake with Tau, who wasn't a very 'driven' retriever, of pouncing on her for the dummy, because I was soooo desperate to get her to retrieve to hand. That had the effect of making her drop it before she got to me, who blames her, I wouldn't want to be pounced on by me! I took a step back with Tau, who is quite soft so easily discouraged. Wasn't bothered about actually taking what she brought back to me, but praised her just for coming back to me with it, starting off by getting down on the ground with her, so not leaning over at all, and eventually built up time with her just holding whatever it was, and eventually asking for it just holding out my hand and taking it gently. She absolutely loves retrieving stuff now, she's still a bit of a juggler, although I've seen much worse!
     
  5. GoldenShadow

    GoldenShadow PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2009
    Messages:
    17,493
    Likes Received:
    556
    I'm not sure, he may get better with age. Rupert destroys toys like anything but I can give him an egg to carry around or something soft and when he gives it back its perfect still, but he is quite rough with some things.

    I think for him its a matter of making it clear its not game, otherwise he will bugger off with it, whereas because we don't do much of it he seems to appreciate it more at the time, if that makes any sense..?

    I'm not too sure to be honest, but interested to hear views :)
     
  6. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    21,573
    Likes Received:
    668
    The theory is, with gundog training, you should only let them have one, out of every six or seven possible retrieves. So an awful lot of work consists of having them sitting steady, while you go out and pick things up, OR (not so easy) while another dog retrieves. So you shouldn't let them have retrieve, after retrieve, after retrieve. When they do get a retrieve, it has been worked for, and so it is *higher value*.

    As an example, I will sit Tau up, throw dummies/balls around her, pick them all myself, heel her up, send her for a blind. By the time she gets sent for the blind, she really wants the retrieve, and that's what you want to build in, an enthusiasm to get the retrieve and get it right.
     
  7. shamykebab

    shamykebab PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,909
    Likes Received:
    255
    Er, I'd take that sqeaky ball away from him asap! Squeaking imitates the sound of trapped prey, so it drives your dog's instinct to bite down i.e. mouth the toy. Squeaky toys are a big 'no-no' in the gundog world! :)
     
  8. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    21,573
    Likes Received:
    668
    Completely missed the squeaky ball comment, hazards of posting inbetween other chores. But yes, definitely, squeaky balls/toys aren't a good retrieve or play object, not necessarily *just* because of the squeak they emit, but because they encourage a dog to clamp down to emit a squeak, if that makes sense?

    Have you got various shapes/textures/sizes of dummies/retrieve items?
     
  9. lifeizsweet

    lifeizsweet PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Messages:
    10,843
    Likes Received:
    96
    We used an egg to teach Brams (we have chickens, he now goes and collects the eggs in the morning - always keeps one back for himself though!) OH did it, not sure how will ask.

    Sorry for the useless post. Agree on the get squeaky comments.
     
  10. shamykebab

    shamykebab PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,909
    Likes Received:
    255
    I wouldn't try a raw egg with a dog unless he has a reliable soft mouth. My black dog has been able to carry eggs around since before she was 6 months old, my yellow dog (9 months) is a LOT more exciteable so I haven't trusted her with one yet, even though I know she has a soft mouth.

    The danger is that if the egg breaks (even if it's not the dog's fault), the dog realises something delicious comes out of it...so they'll bite down on eggs for ever more! You just end up exacerbating the problem.

    Have you tried clicker training the 'hold'?
     
  11. WoodyGSP

    WoodyGSP PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks, I did wonder about the squeek. I shall take the squeek out of it. It does the OHs head in anyway:D I really want do do gundog training with him now as he has a high prey drive- birds mainly, and I was hoping it would help keep it under control. Trouble is I also want to do ringcraft and KC Good Citizen and I don't really know which to start with or whether they will contradict each other.
     
  12. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    21,573
    Likes Received:
    668
    Gundog training teaches basic obedience, so it shouldn't conflict ;)

    Have a look on a forum called shooting community, there are a many experienced hpr owners on there, who will be able to help you.
     
  13. Luvdogs

    Luvdogs PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,791
    Likes Received:
    36
    We are just about to start Gundog training, we also go to ringcraft/shows etc...I know Archie will really benefit from using his working head....he has got it, it just needs to be moulded :D
     
  14. WoodyGSP

    WoodyGSP PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    1
    I've got a few numbers to ring tomorrow, trouble is theres just nothing local:( My main issues are recall and pulling on the lead. His recall isn't as bad as his pulling, he'll come back but not right to me, I think because he doesn't want to go on the lead. So would it be a bad idea to start GD training with his recall like this and likewise for ringcraft training/pulling? Or would they help with those issues? If not I think I'll do the KC GCS first then when I've sorted those issues out I'll start the RC and GD training together.
     
  15. Luvdogs

    Luvdogs PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,791
    Likes Received:
    36
    We are going to have one to one lessons, Archie is 19months, and his recall isn't as reliable as it once was! :rolleyes: so hopefully we can work on this.
    Have you looked on the Gundogclub website? it is very helpful and they cover lot's of different areas.
    How old is Woody?
    :)
     
  16. WoodyGSP

    WoodyGSP PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    1
    Yes I've looked at the Gundog club. It looks good, but its a bit more than I wanted to spend. I'm looking for something a bit more flexible rather than a set course. I think I will probably end up going with Worcs Gundog Society even though its not as close as I would have liked.
    Woody is 8 months.
     
  17. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    21,573
    Likes Received:
    668
    A lot of what is put about recall relates to the fun ending, and often advises several recalls, popping on and off during lead, to try and ensure dogs don't think the fun ends with a lead going on. However, and, I hate to admit it, because I NEVER enjoyed heelwork training initially, but LOVE it now, it really can be fun. So, putting a lead on for my two girls, actually means we're going to do something great.

    A left over from working trials training for me, is getting the girls to hold the end of their lead in their mouth, but they only get to do it, if they're paying attention, and walking nicely to heel, and I make it a game, pretending to try and get the lead back from them.

    Where I walk both my two regularly, there are sheep and lambs in fields adjacent, and at open gateways, I always pop them back on lead, just in case one of the more adventurous lambs is sticking it's head through the gate, as has been known. I hardly have to ask them to come and stick their head in the slip leads, I just have to hold the slip leads each side and they pretty much stick their heads in, because then we can have a game.

    I've learnt to always look at a situation as a training opportunity, and try and view things from a different angle.
     
    Luvdogs likes this.
  18. mum2three

    mum2three PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    Just reminded me about a time a couple of months back when I tried something I heard re: teaching retrieve with your pup. It was something like throwing the toy while your dog sits and waits, then go after it with him and see who gets it first, making sure he didn't always win. When I won my dog walked off in disgust and wouldn't play again:lol:. I must have got the instructions a bit wrong, but I didn't try that again.

    My dog only has one chew toy at home now (he destoryed everything, including several blankets) and we only buy him hard things (still chewing blankets). He's got his dummies for his training with dad and hard balls for fun fetch games . I'm thinking of buying some fun things to play around with at home (not for chewing though) but not sure what to get. I've heard its not a good idea to buy them sqeakies and I'm not to play tug. We play hide and go find with his chew bone at the moment which he loves (not to keen on letting go though). His fav game is stealing our shoes or my sons toy cars and legging it. Sometimes he will drop when we tell him other times he tries to have a chew first. Can't see him being a good gun dog at the mo but mabye he just need a lot more effort from me, I do give up on things very easy.
     
    #18 mum2three, Aug 3, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2010
  19. WoodyGSP

    WoodyGSP PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    1
    :lol: Woody's only got one toy for home too and that is a black kong. Its the only thing he hasn't destroyed.
     
  20. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    21,573
    Likes Received:
    668
    The idea behind that game is that when they win, you make a big fuss about them winning and let them keep the toy, don't just take it straight off them, but let them do a victory parade and shove it at you, my Indie will even shove it in my face as if to say nah, nah, nah, nah, nah!!! What you're supposed to do as well, is hook a finger under their collar, hold them back, create tension, I'm gonna get it, I'm gonna get it, release them and do the best drama act about not quite getting there. Really encourage your dog to want to *win*.

    The only secret with retrieving is to build up a *drive*, and a lot of that, I think, is down to handling. Some dogs will naturally retrieve, they want to, but the handler is the one who harnesses any ability they've got, and builds on that with training. Whenever they bring anything to you, even if it's a manky dead thing, you have to accept it like it's the best thing ever, and whenever you have a ball or dummy, take it off them as though it's worth something, don't just mug them then chuck it away, build it all up for them. The better the retrieve is to them, the more times they want to do it, and it builds up a good retrieve back to you to do it again.

    Tau had very little desire to retrieve anything as a pup, and now, I can't hold her back sometimes, in fact she is in desperate need of some steadiness training, but due in season is a bit giddy in any case.

    Playing tuggy doesn't necessarily give them a hard mouth, done in the right way. I still use Tau's lead as a retrieve article, and play tuggy with her when she's on lead, pretending that she's *won* the lead handle, and keeping my finger hooked in under the lead as she's carrying it. It's not about trying to wear her down tugging as hard as I can, it's small tugs, downwards, trying to trick her, so keeping her focussed on having a nice hold.

    I've got a few different dummies, different shapes and textures for them to hold different things in their mouths. But anything can be used to retrieve, Tau's favourite toy used to be an old leather rigger glove, half chewed, I've still got it somewhere, she goes batty whenever I get that out! Or should I say *battier*, lol!
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice