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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Getting reliable training in the last three months has been terrible. In between club politics and the weather (there has been ice on our training field for the last 3 weeks, so no practice), so I've been to Bob's club twice. Anyways, it seems Zoso is not biting as hard as he probably could. I wondered about this and noticed that after most sessions, even with a soft tug, there might be a little drop of blood or three on the tug. He gets ester C supplements 1-2 times a week, fish oil and vitamin E supplements every day, and he's on the raw diet (mostly chicken quarters, pork necks, sardines, raw eggs, etc). I only started playing tug with him at 16 months and he is 24 months now. Any ideas on why he might have a soft mouth? Is this something that will improve at all? Should I have him checked out for dental issues?
 

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Connie Sutherland said:
Maren Bell Jones said:
... Should I have him checked out for dental issues?
Yes, because of the blood. JMO.
He might have a splinter of something between a tooth and the gum, too..... not necessarily dental, but gum-related.

Can you run your own finger around the gum line (gently) feeling for anything that shouldn't be there?

I've found while using the finger-brush that if you let the mouth stay mainly closed as you do this, the dog tolerates it much better. The inside of the teeth is more of a visual thing and might be harder.

But it can't hurt to do a prelim yourself (if possible), since the dog will probably allow you much more relaxed access. :wink:
 

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I'd definately have him checked out. It could be as simple as something caught in the gums (splinter, piece of jute, etc, or it could be a bad tooth.
 

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It's not unusual for a dog who hasn't done bitework in awhile to bleed a little the first few times (think of someone flossing who doesn't do it on a regular basis) but it would be worth having him looked at because of the loss of bite pressure. That indicates some sort of pain or ?? Do you play tug with him on a regular basis at home, or is the work on the field the only time he plays?

If he's playing tug on a regular basis, and you are still seeing blood, then I'd definitely get him checked out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Even when he started last April or so, it was like that. Our former TD thought he was maybe favoring his molars or something because it seemed like he was balancing the tug a bit odd. His grip is better now, but I still see some occasion blood on the tug when we play tug in the living room or the front yard several times a week. Yet another reason I should get another pup to do Schutzhund with and just stick with agility for Zoso. I think he'd enjoy agility a lot more anyways. At any rate, I am bringing in one of my other dogs for a check up and blood panel tomorrow morning, so I'll ask the vet about it. So Kadi...do you have that litter planned to be ready by May or so? :D
 

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Maren Bell Jones said:
Even when he started last April or so, it was like that. Our former TD thought he was maybe favoring his molars or something because it seemed like he was balancing the tug a bit odd.

So Kadi...do you have that litter planned to be ready by May or so? :D
I'd definitely have him checked out, possibly even do a quick xray. i had a friend years ago who was having grip problems with his dog. They worked on it and worked on it, and finally he gave up. Xrayed the dog one day for some reason, and discovered he'd fractured his jaw at some point. Not saying that's what happened with yours, but sometimes weird things do happen.

Right now I just have "planned pups" no actual pups in the works. Chaos should be in heat in about a month, which means pups born beginning May and ready beginning July. Assuming she is on schedule with her heat, which may or may not be the case. Darn girls are so reliable :roll:
 

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More than likely from your past posts, this is not the problem. Oh sure, that would be great and all, but the dog is laxking confidence. he is not sure that he is supposed to get and KEEP this object.

Find a different helper, or backtie the dog and play with a tug on a long line.

One of the reasons I absolutly despise Sch is the helpers wether they tell you or not, try and impress the dog. Since at no point in what you have said so far do I think your dog has any real strength, you can POSSIBLY compete withhim if you build his confidence up. Being able to take things out of his mouth shows you quite simply, that he sees you or anyone else as being in charge and he gives it up to them.

Basically your dog needs a lot more building. Whatever you are doing now is not working. I have heard of these dogs being refered to as heartbreakers, cuase they come and go as to wether or not they will work. Inconsistancy is a bad sign. You will find that most of the dogs like this pretty much remain at this level, and frustrate the crap out of you.

Get a pup from Kadi, and all will be better. :D



 

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Maren...often it's not about confidence... some dogs just don't bite hard in "play", because of bite inhibition somewhere down the line, or genetics. If there's nothing wrong with his mouth, the following has helped me with a few dogs...but you won't get past their basic genetics: there are HARD biters, and there are NOT SO HARD BITERS.

1 - Back tie (6 - 10 ft) the dog with a shock absorber mechanism ( two bicycle tubes, bungees, springs, etc) on a harness.
2 - Make up a leather tug 3 inches in diameter by 2 ft long, and attach it to a sturdy 10 ft line.
3 - Make sure your dog cannot puncture the leather, nor catch his teeth on your setup.
4 - Frustrate the dog a bit, feed the tug and in a smooth and firm manner (NOT JERK), pull the tug through his teeth.
5 - Simply pull the tug through his teeth, walk away and leave the dog ALONE for 10 minutes. 3 times max per session. If the dog's pressure improves even a bit, release the tug and PRAISE.
6 - If in the 3 times there's no change in pressure, simply put the dog in his crate and go home. Try again the next day. Don't be talking to your dog while you're putting him away. Ignore him as much as you can.
7 - If the dog's pressure improves, start PROGRESSIVELY and PATIENTLY asking for more and more pressure before you release the tug and PRAISE.
8 - After a while, when you see your dog's pressure at a decent level, put the behavior "on cue", ie. say a word IMMEDIATELY BEFORE the dog bites the tug, so he can begin to associate the "word - bite - pressure - tug release - praise" sequence.

If you're patient, you may find your dog's pressure increase significantly.

All that said, you first need to find out - at a minimum - where your dog is bleeding from.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Jeff for giving some constructive advice (and Andres too!). I'll give it a try. I think when he and I started out last year, I knew a decent amount about behavior modification but pretty much nothing about drive training or how to tailor it to a particular dog. I think I was instructed too often to out him and so I just went along with it. Because he had no foundation for tug work when he was a puppy, he probably figured out it was kinda fun, but he wasn't sure why he was being hauled off the ground by the collar to out the toy or tug so often. So he's still not 100% sure in his mind that tugging is a good thing or a reward enough for him because there's been too much pressure put on him from the beginning for him to have much fun with it. I'll do more back to square one work with him. And PM Kadi about her planned litter as this will be my last reasonably free summer to take a puppy...ever? My interview for vet school should be in 2 weeks. Eeek!

Edit: forgot to add...my vet couldn't see him this morning with my other dog but I'll try to get something scheduled. I was just playing with him in the living room and saw another drop of blood on the tug. Here's a picture of the suspect bad gums:

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