Anyone have any articles/readings/advice regarding how to teach a Soft-Mouth?
No clue...but I'd be curious myself. My yellow boy (rescued when he was 1 yr.) has a VERY soft mouth. He carries he tennis ball so gently right in the front on this mouth, and takes food like an angel. Perhaps if you asked in the training section, more people could help.
Brenda from Connecticut
Angus is better now, at 17 months old, but he would take things from your hand like a tiger when he was a puppy. We just held the item he wanted out of his reach and repeated "GENTLE...GEN-TLE" as we inched it closer. He didn't get the item until he did it softly...we'd pull it right back if he was comming too fast or was snapping at it. He knows "gentle" very well now. I'm not certain I am explaining it right, but you get the idea.
I suppose you mean taking food from your hand without biting hand? ? I have that problem with Bruno; if he is grabbing too fast, I tap his nose with my finger pull back then try again. Once he got the idea that he can't bite hand, I keep the food inside my hand when I give it to him, then slowly let the food slide out and he will put his tongue in there to get it out.
If he is biting too hard as he is trying to play with you, you need to teach that skin in mouth is always bad. I never had that problem with my dogs, but I know how bad it can be because nephew's lab bit HARD in rambunctious play. He was in an excited play mode and could not be calmed down to listen to commands. He grew out of it as he got older.
Are we talking the taking of treats or the retrieving of birds?
If it's treats, I'll be watching this thread. :P Shelby does not have a soft mouth for taking treats AT ALL. She does understand the word "EASY" but we still have to say it every single time (*sigh*) Her best buddy has the softest mouth ever when it comes to this. He is so gentle. I would also say that he's not as food obsessed as Shelby is (clearly, she is underfed! ) One thing I've read is to never drop treats from up above and let them catch them in their mouth as it encourages the "snapping" of treats (I'm not talking aggressively snapping, just the hard catch). We have done this with Shelby, but it was when she was older. Shelby is pretty good with me, because she knows I don't give the treat unless she is easy. She's not so good with others. :P
theo was a notorious "shark" when taking treats. we used the following to teach him how to take treats softly and not snap at them. we put a treat in our hand, close-fisted, and along with the command "gentle", we present it to him to take. the close-fist encourages him to use his tongue/lips to get the treat and we do not let him have it until he takes it softly, no teeth or snapping involved. the minute we feel teeth or he trys to snap at it, we close our fist again, use our correction word/sound and have him try again. it's worked really well, he's pretty good these days and of course he still needs a refresher correction every now and again
If this is about treats, then I can try to explain what I've always done with my dogs. To initially teach them to take it gently, I always used soft treats, something nibble-able, like cheese or rollover.
Hold the treat like you would a pencil, but guard the entire body of the treat in your cupped palm. Only allow a small portion of it to show from between your fingers, and present that small guarded portion to the pup/dog, saying Gentle or soft, whatever command you are going to use.
If the dog tries to take the whole treat, he's going to get your whole hand, at which point you can say NO or Ach ach or whatever correction, followed by gentle.
Pretty quickly the dog will be gently nibbling the cheese from between your fingers, followed by whatever treat you present next.
As someone earlier stated, DO NOT drop the treats from up high to the dog unless you want to create yourself a snapping turtle.
Me, Abzilla and the Helomonster.
Emilu takes things very nicely (we even pass treats from mouth to mouth because she can't catch worth a darn), but I am training Skippy and he does NOT take things gently. He gets excited and gets snappy with treats. I overcome it by actually putting my fingers with the treat right in his mouth, which makes him more careful, but you also have to say gentle just about each time. He is a GREAT catcher, but tossing too many treats makes him more snappy as he catches them. So you think he'd be great at catching treats that I spit from my mouth , but NO, he is too excited and snaps at them, misses , then goes searching for them. It scares me to death to try to do the mouth to mouth thing, because he is snapping away, and while he would never, ever hurt me on purpose, I can see him getting my face with his big ole teeth. So I am putting my hand on the top of his nose, and even gently holding his jaw with my other hand as we exchange treats. This is more to get him to calm down and notice what he is doing more than anything. Whatever you do, do grab your hand away - it just makes them more grabby and quick.