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Puppy- Hard mouth? #7769281 03/12/20 03:33 AM
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Looking for insights from people that have trained dogs more regularly and recently than myself. I haven’t trained a dog in 14 years, and my previous dog didn’t have this issue. Internet searches come up with many different results, so trying to see if there is a consensus.

I rescued a lab puppy the first week of February. We think she is 5-6 mo the old now, but not entirely sure since she was found as a stray. But she seems full lab in looks, behavior, and sweetness.

I’ve been working with her and she now sits and stays on command unless she gets distracted- but she’s doing a ton better than 3 weeks ago. We work on this specifically during 2-3 10 minute sessions a day in the garage with no distractions, and obviously enforce it throughout the day.

She has a strong drive to fetch and has a good nose. I have been primarily playing fetch/training her with a training bumper duck, and she fetches it and brings it back as well as I could expect for her excitement. She doesn’t chew or bite it, and has a pretty soft mouth with it. 50% of the time she drops it before getting all the way back to me within 10 ft) and sits and waits again, but 50% of the times will bring it all the way and hold it until I tell her to drop it. I’m confident in time she will get better with that.

My concern is I tried introducing her to a wing, and she fetches it with extreme enthusiasm but on the way back is chomping on it hard and trying to eat it. And she doesn’t want to bring it back to me unless I have a treat in my hand, or I have her on a long lead and pull her back to me.. So I’ve stopped using a wing until I know better how to correct this behavior. When I try to just hand her the wing, she won’t take it from me without a lot of coaxing. So this is only a behavior during fetch it seems. Given my goal is for her to hunt birds with me, I don’t want this to become routine.

So my main question: is this chomping on wings going to turn into hard mouth and should I be concerned, or is it just excited puppy behavior because it’s new and tastes good? Any recommendations on how to fix the behavior at this age, or should I wait to see if she grows out of it? Should I wait longer to introduce her to wings and continue reinforcing fetch and the other commands? Am I introducing too many new things at once in too short a time frame?

Thanks.

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Last edited by Duck Buster; 03/12/20 03:44 AM.
Re: Puppy- Hard mouth? [Re: Duck Buster] #7769537 03/12/20 02:27 PM
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Totally normal for a birdy dog. Don't make too much of it and just let the pup be a pup and play with the wing. Take it nice and slow and always end on a positive note. You'll have plenty of time to get the kinks worked out later down the road with collar conditioning and force fetch.

Sounds like you have a birdy dog that enjoys retrieving. That's the base needed to build a nice retriever. Slow down and be consistent, don't try to jump around to this and that. You need to check a training flow chart (Mike Lardy) and just work on basic obedience for now and make retrieving a fun thing, not a training thing.

I always like to get young pups on some live quail after they're gunfire conditioned and let them run wild flushing birds and getting some easy retrieves. You can do this after you've been training for a while to break up the routine and give the pup something different and rewarding for them.


Last edited by huck18; 03/12/20 02:28 PM.
Re: Puppy- Hard mouth? [Re: Duck Buster] #7769546 03/12/20 02:34 PM
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Go to big birds like a duck that fill the mouth up and see if that encourages better bird handling habits.


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Re: Puppy- Hard mouth? [Re: Duck Buster] #7769577 03/12/20 03:01 PM
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Frozen birds worked for me. Let then thaw a little.

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Quail hunting is like walking into, and out of a beautiful painting all day long. Gene Hill


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Re: Puppy- Hard mouth? [Re: bill oxner] #7769615 03/12/20 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by bill oxner
Frozen birds worked for me. Let then thaw a little.

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This too frozen ducks/pheasant work good. I just don't like the first few times they interact with a bird for it to be frozen.

Re: Puppy- Hard mouth? [Re: Duck Buster] #7770201 03/13/20 12:04 AM
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Thanks for the advice. I have a handful of wings someone sent me, so I may let her get some of it out of her system and get used to wings in her mouth and keep it fun.

Re: Puppy- Hard mouth? [Re: Duck Buster] #7770226 03/13/20 12:22 AM
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I dont use anything but bumpers until the pup is done with double T. So far they have all retrieved every type of bird thrown/shot for them, including chuckkers, pidgeons, pheasants... Keep it simple early and teach them what you want/expect.
Robby

Re: Puppy- Hard mouth? [Re: Duck Buster] #7773749 03/16/20 12:57 PM
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I'm in the not to worry, for now, camp, its just excited puppy behavior. I haven't trained a ton of dogs, but all of mine has been suburb/house dogs, so playing tug of war with an old towel is just too tempting, fun and a good way to wear them down on rainy or lazy days. I'm not recommending that but my point is many say that will make them hard mouthed, and I bet they are right in a lot of cases and I've worried about it. But none of my dogs in the past have ever turned out hard mouthed. It's kind of like the old debate on letting dogs eat the guts and such when you are cleaning birds. Some say that will make them eat birds they retrieve. They are probably right too in some cases, but I've never seen it. Dog are kinda smart and in my experience know the difference. Back to the original example, towels are fair game for chewing, tearing up, and tug of war. Nothing else is. Dummies or any look alike is not left out, they can't chew on those. They get those have a purpose, its to fetch and bring back. They get it. Best of luck to ya!


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Re: Puppy- Hard mouth? [Re: mickeyhft] #7774142 03/16/20 07:47 PM
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Update:

I figured out I just have to play with her with 2 wings. While she fetches the first one, she is too excited to come back to the second to chew up and chomp on the one she has. One wing and she want to keep it and eat it. Back to soft mouthed carrying, and excitement the entire time when I have 2 wings. As she gets older I will wean her from the 2 wings to just 1. Staying creative leads to success.

Originally Posted by mickeyhft
I'm in the not to worry, for now, camp, its just excited puppy behavior. I haven't trained a ton of dogs, but all of mine has been suburb/house dogs, so playing tug of war with an old towel is just too tempting, fun and a good way to wear them down on rainy or lazy days. I'm not recommending that but my point is many say that will make them hard mouthed, and I bet they are right in a lot of cases and I've worried about it. But none of my dogs in the past have ever turned out hard mouthed. It's kind of like the old debate on letting dogs eat the guts and such when you are cleaning birds. Some say that will make them eat birds they retrieve. They are probably right too in some cases, but I've never seen it. Dog are kinda smart and in my experience know the difference. Back to the original example, towels are fair game for chewing, tearing up, and tug of war. Nothing else is. Dummies or any look alike is not left out, they can't chew on those. They get those have a purpose, its to fetch and bring back. They get it. Best of luck to ya!


Yea, I've never allowed tug of war between me and my past dogs. With anything, although it is tempting. She currently plays tug of war with the dog toys with our small dog..hopefully it doesn't become an issue while hunting, but that's the only way the 2 dogs play, and its only in the house in the evenings. So I'm letting it slide.

Re: Puppy- Hard mouth? [Re: Duck Buster] #7781224 03/22/20 04:06 PM
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try tying the wing to a brush to see what happens. I trained a dog to retrieve a scrub brush and she would retrieve birds that fell out of the nest without harming them. try to find a brush with natural bristles. Also, try tying the wing to a dummy.


Also, keep your sessions short. On a natural retrieve you want to quit with the dog wanting to work more. This builds enthusiasm and keeps the dog from getting bored and wanting to "change the game" to something like keep away or worse.

Finally, I wanted my dog to readily handle large birds like ducks and geese, so I made her a dummy out of a tenth of ol inner tube sewn inside the leg of an old pair of jeans. That dog hunted in Mexico with high limits and multiple hunters and would regularly retrieve more than 25 big ducks a hunt. I think her record was 50.

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