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Thread: mouthy adult dog

  1. #1

    Default mouthy adult dog

    Hi
    I am just wondering if there is a connection between giving training treats from your hand and the dog being mouthy. What is the correct way to give treats to discourage the dog from being mouthy? By mouthy I mean nuzzling at your hand looking for a treat or licking or always checking out hands in case there is a treat hidden there.
    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Is your dog a Labrador? I just know a few labs that do that. :-)

    You could start dropping the treats on the floor instead. But he'd probably still check your hand.

    You could do this exercise to teach him that nuzzling your hands won't get him anything. Just clench a treat in your fist and hold it out to him. Completely ignore his attempts to get it out. As soon as he stops trying, give him a treat with your other hand. It's a great way to teach self control.

  3. #3

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    Thankyou. She is not a labrador, just a mutt. She has always been mouthy.
    I don't want to throw them on the ground for the exercise I am working on at the moment which is the drop on recall. She does drop but I want her to do it faster so I am rewarding her when she drops, and I don't want her to get up because I then walk backwards and call her to finish it off.
    Giving the treat from the other hand is worth trying but it would still be a hand.
    Has anyone else found that dogs treated from a hand are mouthy?

  4. #4
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    I use a lot of treats in training but I taught them that they only get the treat after I have marked the behaviour. I usually do this initially with a clicker and then my voice. This seems to have avoided them being mouthy. If I have a treat in my hand they will automatically try perform a behaviour to get me to mark and then treat. They would never dream of making a direct move on my hand.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalacreek View Post
    I use a lot of treats in training but I taught them that they only get the treat after I have marked the behaviour. I usually do this initially with a clicker and then my voice. This seems to have avoided them being mouthy. If I have a treat in my hand they will automatically try perform a behaviour to get me to mark and then treat. They would never dream of making a direct move on my hand.
    Thanks Kalacreek

    I do not use a clicker. I just mark the behaviour with my voice as a conditioned reinforcer. The treat soon follows. The dog knows that the treat is not far away no matter what reinforcer is used, and that treat comes from my hand, so once she knows she has done the right thing by my voice marker she looks to my hand for what she wants. In her eyes hands hold treats, and she loves treats.

    I wonder if I did use a clicker whether she might be less mouthy because it might delay the treat reinforcement. You are using clicker, voice, and treat. I am only using voice and treat. Perhaps if I did not use treats so often, only sometimes to maintain my voice as the secondary reinforcer she would not look for her treat so much.

    Perhaps some dogs are just inclined to be more mouthy than others. Perhaps that's just the way they are.

  6. #6
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    I have cattle dogs who would be very mouthy about treats given half the chance, they are super food pigs. However even they do not try and mouth my hand. I make it chrystal clear to my dogs that any mouthiness does not result in a treat. I spend a lot of time teaching them the marking reinforcing chain so it is very clear mark then treat. However I dont mind if once marked they look to my hand for a treat as long as there is no touching untill I release the treat.
    They are conditioned into knowing that they have to do a behaviour I want before they get a treat. They will freestyle with different behaviours if they know I have treats and I havent asked them for anything specific. So they wont go straight for the treat without first offering a behaviour. I also have a phrase "all done" when we are finished training and no more treats will be forthcoming. They understand that and they go into a different not looking for treats mode.



    I only use the clicker for certain things as I mainly do agility and prefer using my voice which is more practical. I use either my voice or the clicker generally not both at the same time.
    I also play a game where I hold treats in my hands and hold my arms away from my body. I then click when the dog focuses its attention on me rather than the treat.

    You dont need to accept mouthiness form any dog regardless of their natural inclination. A dog will do what it can get a way with generally. I would also tell my dogs no if I had to and make it clear that mouthing my hands for treats is not acceptable. When giving treats as a group. I line them all up in a sit and they each receive a treat one at a time. Any pushiness or mouthiness results in me waiting for them all to sit and wait their turn. If a dog has had good foundation work it becomes very easy to communicate what you want from them. They are primed to learn.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 10-13-2013 at 12:51 PM.

  7. #7
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    To prevent the staring at my hand, I also sometimes wear a treat bag and have the pouch part near my back where the dog can't see it. Or at home I put it on the bench, behind my back. Unless I'm luring, I try not to have treats in my hand when I give a cue.

    You can use a voice maker in exactly the same way as a clicker, provided that you always use the same sound and intonation and don't use it for anything else.

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    I think dogs get mouthy if you reward them for it. Being able to see or sniff the treat is rewarding - not quite as rewarding as getting to eat it but the next best thing.

    If I'm having problems with my dog trying to steal treats - I play the game Beloz described - ie treat in hand - dog gets reward for "ignoring" it. It gets called "its yer choice" in the training I follow. You can look up examples on you tube.

    You can vary things by putting the treats in a container and going to the container after telling the dog "yes" or "good dog" - vary where the container is - use it for "distraction proofing" ie dog has to do what you ask without being distracted by the container.

    Start close up and make it easy for the dog to get right.

    My hardest problem with the drop on recall - is getting distance - she likes to drop within treat handing distance. So if the treats are coming from the box over there, that kind of defeats that purpose for her. And I have to stop rewarding the late drops. And the slow drops. Reward the fast drops - "in position" ie place the treat low so the dog doesn't have to move out of the drop to get it, and is closer to getting it - by being in the drop.

    I do some where the dog starts in a sit or stand, and I'm at an out of reach distance - and then I ask for drop-sit-drop-stand-pretty (beg) etc. so she gets nothing for coming towards me and somewhere in the chain - ie if she's particularily quick about it - she gets a treat. And some play.

    Remember to treat and play immediately after the dog gets it right. Don't try to get a do over to see if the dog remembers. Or the dog will think they didn't do it quite right and try something different.

  9. #9
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    I will try toss the treat between my dog's feet for a drop at distance. Try, because that's when it sucks to have such bad aim. Some days I'm better than others...

  10. #10

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    Hi
    Thank you all for your replies. The problem is not my dog's drop on recall. She is very good at it. I have made her drops faster by rewarding the drop with a voice marker the moment she drops and then going out to her and giving her a treat. Then the point of the exercise is not her coming to me but her dropping. I only mentioned the drop on recall because Beloz suggested dropping the treats on the ground instead of them coming from my hand and I said it wasn't practicable.
    (By the way I am lousy at throwing anything. The first time I threw a dumbbell it hit me on the head.)

    She is also good at changes of position from a distance because I taught her by leaving her on a step which discouraged her from creeping forward.

    My opening post was asking whether dogs in general, away from training, are more mouthy when they expect a treat from a hand, meaning not only my hand but visitors' hands, more so than dogs who do not expect hands to give them treats.
    I was also wondering about how to treat. I read somewhere that you hold out your hand with a closed fist and only let the dog have the treat when it has stopped nuzzling for it, and then you turn your hand over and give it from your palm. I think Beloz's idea about then giving it from your other hand is interesting and worth a try.

    My dog was mouthy when I first got her at five months of age. It is something I have never really got on top of. When I first started heeling off lead I used to walk with a straight arm and she would follow my hand. These days I fold my arm and it works just as well because she looks up at my hand. In hindsight perhaps I shouldn't have done it that way. She is now almost six and I have retired from trialling, so it's not really important. I just train for fun and to stop her getting bored because she is a very clever little girl.

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