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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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Mouthing for attention?

So, it's been nearly a week since we adopted Cash and I've started to notice he does the strangest thing. When he wants to play or when we start to play with him, he'll lose interest in his toys after a few minutes and turns to being more interested in mouthing our arms/legs. There has been absolutely no pressure to it and we have been trying to teach him no, but it seems like he has learned that's how to play. It's not just mouthing either, he'll flea-itch us... or that's the best way I can describe it. Little repeated nibbles. Only when he's playing or trying to get us to play though. I've been trying to redirect him onto toys but he's a bit stubborn about this.

Has anyone ever dealt with this? Is it actually just playing or something I need to be worried about?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 01:06 PM
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I, too, am waiting on comments in reply to your post. I am baffled.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 03:03 PM
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Yes most dog owners have been through this stage. Best thing to do is when they start mouthing get up leave the room. They will soon catch on that when they start to mouth the playing stops and it makes you leave. Good luck
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 03:04 PM
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I think they all do it, some more than others, just keep redirecting.
Though I have to admit that my boy (17months) still has the habit of needing to have a finger in his mouth to fall asleep
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 03:47 PM
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Zira loved to play the bity faced game with us. Never any pressure, just holding our hands and arms. She never once initiated this game except with me and my boyfriend. I have extremely thin skin and bleed easily, she never gave me so much as a scratch.
Mind you, at the time I didn't mind wrestling with my dogs and playing rough. Getting on the ground and getting body slammed and dober punched was all fun and games. I don't think I would enjoy this style of play with dogs anymore, unless it was a papillon. My GSD doesn't play rough with me anymore, she helps me up the stairs and such. Didn't miss a beat, really. Loves to chase a ball that one
My point is that there are different play styles for different people and dogs. If everyones having fun and the rules are clear and followed, no problem
Since you don't like the bitey faced game, keep throwing toys and redirecting to toys. If Cash is still playing games you don't like the game ends and walk away. He will get the idea that toys are more fun because the fun continues. Remember dogs explore the world with their mouths, its up to us to teach them where and when its appropriate

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 05:41 PM
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How old is the puppy? How old when taken from the litter? Do you EVER play hand games with the mouth or try to hold the mouth closed or push the puppy away with hands?

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WinterFyre View Post
So, it's been nearly a week since we adopted Cash and I've started to notice he does the strangest thing. When he wants to play or when we start to play with him, he'll lose interest in his toys after a few minutes and turns to being more interested in mouthing our arms/legs. There has been absolutely no pressure to it and we have been trying to teach him no, but it seems like he has learned that's how to play. It's not just mouthing either, he'll flea-itch us... or that's the best way I can describe it. Little repeated nibbles. Only when he's playing or trying to get us to play though. I've been trying to redirect him onto toys but he's a bit stubborn about this.

Has anyone ever dealt with this? Is it actually just playing or something I need to be worried about?
Mouthing for attention?
I take a completely different route, don't redirect much and never leave the room to ignore puppy.
- sounds like Cash is only soft biting which is very good
- he is not making your hand a pin cushion, which is also excellent to deal with

I don't worry about initial hand biting, its completely normal and gives one a chance to train soft bite/muzzle control starting from day1.
I approach puppy mouthing like a valuable learning experience, and treat as a very necessary opportunity. My puppy biting rules are:
- Mom is off limits to any/all mouthing...instead, Dad will fill the void/puppy mouthing need
- only Dads hands are allowable body parts, for teeth to touch
- no biting legs, feet, butt, arms, neck or face allowed

This Dad offers up his hand as the sacrificial lamb, while young pup is still little.
- grabbing their nose with my hand lightly & softly shake it, to initiate a playful reaction of open mouth
- use my thumb or index finger, placed behind the molar teeth deep in mouth
- pup bites down on its gums, and can't hurt my finger tip
- next I will grab K9 teeth (2 usually on the lower jaw) with my thumb and index finger looped together...pup twists & turns, and Dad lets go
- or put my fist in pups mouth momentarily, it can't close its jaws or exhibit much if any force

^^^^ All this is playful, and teaches the human owner holds some sort of magic powers, that later will NEVER be challenged.
Next I proof the forever soft bite & controlled jaw muzzles with tennis ball in the mouth play.
- I tease pup with touching tennis ball on the tip of its nose
- allowing it to bit the ball, and I am constantly rotating it between its teeth
- ball is directed in & out of its mouth while the back of my fingers come into contact with the sharp tips of the long K9 teeth
- this is when, pup has come to respect the owners hand, and relaxes its ball grip considerably to not hurt the hand that feeds it

Also play tug-of-war sometimes the same way, wind up the puppy in excited play.
- but if my finger(s) accidentally enters the mouth of teeth, softness in bite is shown...in a split second
Finally, I teach young pup to take a half exposed peanut or almond out of my lips, in a very soft and controlled manner.

Soft bite training, lasts the dogs life time / it starts when their babies.
I've made it work on low, medium & high prey drive pups / building trust & respect, way before they grow up and reach maturity with much strength.

------------Kelly & (Amy - RIP @ 11.7 y/o)

Last edited by Beaumont67; 02-13-2015 at 08:16 PM.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triciakoontz View Post
How old is the puppy? How old when taken from the litter? Do you EVER play hand games with the mouth or try to hold the mouth closed or push the puppy away with hands?
He's roughly a year old. We know very little of his history before November of last year when he was picked up as a stray. He's been bounced around shelters, foster homes and adopted and returned since then. We really don't play hand games with him and he seems to go more for our legs/ankles when we aren't playing. When we are playing with toys he quickly loses interest in them in favor of this mouthing.

Beaumont67 - Thank you for your information but we'd rather not encourage him to put his mouth on anyone, even if it is just soft biting. Once we get him to a healthy weight and through his heartworm treatment we intend for him to start training as a potential therapy dog candidate and the idea of him learning it is ever acceptable to put his mouth on anyone is too much of a risk. None of us are willing to risk someone getting a pinch while playing (or an accidental break of skin) and have animal control called. We've already been warned that this area is quick to slap dangerous dog labels around.

I do feel like I was overworrying now that I'm re-reading this. The mouthing wasn't a concern so much as the flea-itch-chewing thing. I've never experienced a dog doing this so I was concerned it was some sort of control/dominance behavior.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 11:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WinterFyre View Post
He's roughly a year old. We know very little of his history before November of last year when he was picked up as a stray. He's been bounced around shelters, foster homes and adopted and returned since then. We really don't play hand games with him and he seems to go more for our legs/ankles when we aren't playing. When we are playing with toys he quickly loses interest in them in favor of this mouthing.

Beaumont67 - Thank you for your information but we'd rather not encourage him to put his mouth on anyone, even if it is just soft biting. Once we get him to a healthy weight and through his heartworm treatment we intend for him to start training as a potential therapy dog candidate and the idea of him learning it is ever acceptable to put his mouth on anyone is too much of a risk. None of us are willing to risk someone getting a pinch while playing (or an accidental break of skin) and have animal control called. We've already been warned that this area is quick to slap dangerous dog labels around.

I do feel like I was overworrying now that I'm re-reading this. The mouthing wasn't a concern so much as the flea-itch-chewing thing. I've never experienced a dog doing this so I was concerned it was some sort of control/dominance behavior.
WinterFyre - You took some of my points out of context, so be it !!

I wrote my perspective on mouthing, at the puppy age.
Thinking outside the box some & sharing my personal experience while having eliminated associated risks.
a) my dogs are personally trained to only mouth me alone...no one else
b) my dogs are trained to not break my skin or ever come close, as their leader / 100% guaranteed
c) our 2nd pup (former Amy) enjoyed many elderly patient visits in local hospital (dying ward) and interacting with seniors in nursing home
- as a certified therapy dog, she become the star Doberman and breed ambassador in the program, everyone loved her...she was always most sweet and very compassionate
- one guy (95 y/o) even stole cookies out of the kitchen for Amy...he would hand feed her, and she was extremely well mannered & loving to others

We all have goals for our dogs, and my methods have never jeopardized mine...that's the beauty of a dog forum...share what works & implement strategies based on your belief system and comfort level.

------------Kelly & (Amy - RIP @ 11.7 y/o)

Last edited by Beaumont67; 02-13-2015 at 11:52 PM.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beaumont67 View Post
WinterFyre - I wrote my perspective on mouthing, at the puppy age. You took some of my points out of context, so be it !!
Thinking outside the box some & sharing my personal experience while having eliminated associated risks.
a) my dogs are personally trained to only mouth me alone...no one else
b) my dogs are trained to not break my skin or ever come close, as their leader / 100% guaranteed
c) our 2nd pup (former Amy) enjoyed many elderly patient visits in local hospital (dying ward) and interacting with seniors in nursing home
- as a certified therapy dog, she become the star dog in the program, everyone loved her...she was most sweet and very compassionate
- one guy (95 y/o) even stole cookies out of the kitchen for Amy...he would hand feed her, and she was extremely well mannered & loving to others

We all have goals for our dogs, and my methods have never jeopardized mine...that's the beauty of a dog forum...share what works & implement strategies based on your belief system and comfort level.
I have no doubts that your methods work for you. I'm sure they do. They are just not methods I feel comfortable with in relation to the goals that I have. I do thank you for your time and effort in replying and it was very informative, but it's just not for me. You are speaking from a puppy age and Cash isn't a young puppy. If he was still in his formative age I might reconsider this, but at a year old I'm not confident he'd learn this very well.

I am sorry if my reply offended you in any way. I didn't mean to insinuate that your methods were incorrect. They're just not what I feel comfortable with.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-14-2015, 10:49 AM
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WinterFrye, I totally agree that the methods you are rejecting are not appropriate for your situation. Also admire that you have wonderful long term goals for this puppy. Teaching him how to appropriately use his mouth is a process with two parts IMO.

First, here are the things that you can do with your mouth. You can chew on these raw bones, you can tug with Me, you can chase and grab this flirt pole toy, you can chew on this hard rubber chew toy. Each of these activities has its own rules in my house. For example you can tug as long as your teeth don't touch my hands and you don't grab for the toy without permission. My permission is the cue, get it. There are lots of other rules that go with each of the appropriate mouth activities.

The second piece of mouth training is the things that are not allowed. Of course, these include mouth on the pants, mouth on the shoes, mouth on any part of my body. I generally use a loss of attention to teach a dog that mouthing is not appropriate. Redirection is often used but only after I've communicated that the mouthing on the body was not appropriate (I use a non-reward marker and turn away from the puppy or leave the room or put the puppy in a confined space.).

All of this involves many little steps in many different situations. I use a basic DOGGY ZEN process along with teaching incompatible behaviors to shape a dog so that it learns how to self control. This ties in directly with self-controlling the mouthing (along with jumping, barking and other self control behaviors).

Note that building interest in a toy as an alternative to putting a mouth on you is something you have to teach. If you want more details on my process just PM me. Here are some great resources on the things that you want to be teaching. Many of these are free online.

VIP: I think it's very important to Focus on the self-control and teaching alternative behaviors immediately. The reason for this is that you want to stop the situations where the puppy is practicing this behavior because practice makes perfect.

http://Www.pinterest.com/trishkoontz...reinforcement/

I also love doing therapy work with my Doberman. Glad to see that you were going to do that!

THE BOONDOGGLE

Last edited by triciakoontz; 02-14-2015 at 10:55 AM.
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