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Thread: Hard Mouth

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Default Hard Mouth

    Im new obviously by the limited posts so a little background first. I don't have the time nor money (unfortunately) at this point to be doing any trials or tests so my primary desire is to have a good upland meat dog. Im not into duck/goose hunting simply for lack of opportunity not desire to try it out.

    I have purchased and watched/read Graham's books and dvds. We got to and through hold. I could get Gunner to sit and hold as long as I want, walking hold, have him sit in one spot and walk like 20-30yds away have him hold then come without any problems. Tried to continue FF and got stuck, as most newbies doing by themselves do I assume. He is absolutely crazy about bumpers and birds so I never had a problem with him reaching for a bumper. I would hold the bumper in front of his face and say fetch and apply pressure but as soon as I said fetch he was already going for the bumper the second I said fetch. Thus I got stuck and didn't know where to go from there. I don't know anyone training dogs close to me so its hard for me to get help.

    Now to my question. Gunner has an extremely hard mouth when it comes to birds. I am able to occasionally shoot some pigeons in my backyard with the ole trusty pellet gun and use those for training but not on a consistent basis. I have also taken him quail hunting a couple times. If I am not right next to him when he retrieves the bird he pretty much destroys it bringing it back to me. I can get him to sit and hold the bird without any problems. However if I get him to try and move with or fetch the bird its pretty much dinner time for him. I have tried slapping him under the mouth, saying no etc without any avail.

    What can I do to stop this? Is it a simple matter of him getting so excited to see birds? I have heard wrapping wire or barbed wire around the bird can help but I wasn't sure if thats the best remedy to teach him not to eat the birds.

    Its really frustrating to me when he does it but I know its something that I am not doing right and not really his fault. Hopefully that is enough information to give an idea of my problem. Sorry for it being so long and I appreciate all the help.

    Josh

  2. #2
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    Im not sure about the program that you are using but the trainer that showed me how to ff my ylf told me to start the hold process with a thick leather glove on (i used a welding glove out of self defense) and then you can sort of guage the amount of pressure the dog exerts on the hand. however my dog didnt have a hard mouth from the start so im not sure how to remedy this through ff. though I have heard of people using frozen bird, their thought was that the dog would bite into the frozen bird and it would hurt their teeth much like you or I biting a popsicle. I have also heard of wrapping the birds in screen. not sure if this is any help and im sure you will get a few responses from folks who know more than I do.
    jim.
    Maybe for the fetch part you should use a dowl rod since it is an unfirmiliar object maybe the dog wont just be lunging to get it in his mouth. just a thought.

  3. #3
    Senior Member gdgnyc's Avatar
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    I trained 2 dogs to the conditioned retrieve as outlined in Robert Milner's book Retriever Training for the Duck Hunter. This was quite a while ago but it was great. It is supposed to prevent hard mouth. Maybe you should look into this. I followed the program exactly as described.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sissi's Avatar
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    Well I would go back to the force fetch point.
    And I would start to practise hold with things he would love to eat (like sausages ) I would just practise hold. If you are able to have him hold a sausage without eating it, than let him heel with the sausage. When he is able to hold a sausage and walk with it without chewing or eating it, IMO he should get better with birds.
    But you have to be consistent with it.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Bruce MacPherson's Avatar
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    How old is your dog? Do you use an e-collar? Does he mangle the bird while bringing it back or does he not come back or come back reluctantly with the bird?
    "The longer you let a dog go in the wrong direction the more they think they are going in the right direction" Don Remien.

  6. #6
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    Bruce,

    He is about 20 mths (I know getting old for training) and no collar. He will come back with the bird but be munching on the way back. Thanks to everyone else with the info so far I will give some of that a try and see what happens.

  7. #7
    Senior Member metalone67's Avatar
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    FF is to produce proper holding. I would go back to that. Try using a dowel rod with wood pins in it this should help with pressure.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Fowl Play WA's Avatar
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    Well, this is like a re-occuring nightmare for me! I also have a Gunner, who was extremely hardmouthed too. Here's what we did. NO BIRDS at all for a while. I would do a medium toss with a 3" bumper and send him. As he was coming back, if he started to roll the bumper even a smidge, I'd repeat the "HERE" command and nick him on a low setting. I'm talking 15-20 minutes a day for a month while my trainer was out of state. The same boring exercise over and over really made a difference. Now he will start to bite hard from time to time on pigeons, but a "HEEL" or "HERE" command with a medium nick reminds him that he can't do that.

    For your sake, I hope your Gunner is nothing like mine. I lost lots of sleep, and lots of "things" to that little jerk.
    Joni
    I don't wear black because it makes me look slim, I wear black because it hides the dog hair.

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    Thanks for the help everyone. So far I got a couple nods for using a dowel rod instead of a dummy (especially like the idea of the wood pins). I will try to give that a shot in FF after I do some refresher hold work.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Bryan McCulloch's Avatar
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    If I may offer a couple suggestions,(Very limited,experience)but I have one that has had mouth issues.I would not use pigeons,or quail.Pigeons amplified my dogs mouthing.I started using heeling stick corrections for mouthing after getting the Farmer/ Aycock dvd and it helped with my blockhead.Lots of repetition on hold,walking hold.I had to beat on him for awhile and not so much now.He cleaned up a lot,but it is something I have to be aware of every day,and I have to maintain a high standard constantly,and most likely will for the rest of his working days.

    Hope you make progress Regards,

    Bryan.

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