Mouthing The Family

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by siberianjack, Jun 18, 2015.

  1. siberianjack Active Member

    Hey all,
    my Husky pooch is a little over a year old now, and he is still mouthing.
    I managed to teach him not to mouth me, but when I tell my family members to do what I ask them to do in order to stop him, they don't listen--I generally get an answer along the lines of, "Well it's not that easy to remember," or "I kept doing it!!!(though in reality they did it only once or twice) But it doesn't work!!"

    If I say anything against that they get frustrated so it's left for me to stop him from biting them. Does anyone have any ideas what I can do? At this point I think I tried just about anything.
    running_dog likes this.

  2. running_dog Honored Member

    Usually training families is much harder than training dogs :rolleyes:. I don't have a whole lot of time at the moment so maybe you could tell me a little more before I try to make suggestions - otherwise I will probably end up typing lots of things that you have already tried.

    How did you teach him not to mouth you?

    What ideas have you already tried with your family? (and with the dog of course :LOL:)

    What kind of situations does he start mouthing in?
  3. siberianjack Active Member

    I actually just had my sister tell me to shut up because it's 'my dog'. So yes, I agree that it is much easier to teach dogs than people ;)

    The way I taught him not to mouth me, is that whenever he would do it, I would say 'hey', ignore him if he whined or howled and reward as soon as he calmed down. If he did it again, I would hold him by the collar(no pulling or choking, just holding) and making him sit or lie down and let him calm down, then reward and go back to our playing or whatever we were doing at the time. Within a couple of weeks, he stopped mouthing me.

    With my family....well, I told them to do the same. It started out with soft mouthing, to which they would say 'It doesn't bother me,' which resulted in many many lectures from me, so eventually the mouthing got worse since they allowed him to do it anyway, so they did what I asked maybe once or twice, then decided that it didn't work, and started getting frustrated, so they stopped doing it. I kept telling them to do it, but the responses were, "But it doesn't work!" or "I'm not going to ignore if he bites me!(like I said, I ignored his whines, not his biting! another thing they don't seem to understand no matter how many times I repeat)"

    So in that case I decided to try other things, I thought that maybe if I asked them to do something else then they'd get it and it would work, but no... Time out is not even an option anymore, because for the first few seconds he scratched the door and howled to let him out, which they did(! showing him that scratching and howling does indeed help him get the attention !) because the noise gave them headaches or they just didn't like the howling.

    Another thing that I worked super hard on with him that worked perfectly but stopped being so perfect recently was commanding once only, I would say "sit" and he would sit, I would say "stay" and he would stay, but they started yelling at him uncontrollably whenever he got close to them or even touched them with his nose, and whenever I see or hear that he is mouthing them all I can hear is "Bobbi! Stop! Stay! Sit! Stay, wait, no-- sit! Go lie down, Bobbi down, sit" all one after the other. So it went from me saying "sit" and him sitting to me saying "sit", and if he didn't sit, me tapping his rear to reinforce the one-time commanding. So that's another reason why he doesn't listen to them, because it's always a chain of commands one after the other sometimes not even giving him the time to do the first one.

    And of course there's the fact that they reinforce the bad behavior on him.....Once he starts mouthing, it's yelling, ouches, chains of random commands, and then they grab him by the cheeks, look him straight in the eye and go, all playfully, in a motherly-type voice: "don't do it again, or else i'll bite you back, don't do it again, okay? okay? good dog, don't do it again, OUCH BOBBI SIT, STAY. stay, don't do it again, *dog is still mouthing* good boy!"

    This is my sister and my mom's boyfriend's attitudes to this, my mom doesn't agree with my training methods altogether, she believes I should let the dog mouth because he is playing, and that he should be allowed to play if he wants to. Thing is I want to volunteer to therapy work with this dog as soon as I turn 18, and I don't want to let him go to kids and playfully mouth the kid and the kid, workers or mother getting scared or injured. /:

    There's a looot of ranting you can see I am very passionate about keeping my pooch safe toward others. Especially since he is a Husky and here many people are scared of them. I don't want a scenario where a stranger that passes us on our walk tenses up because they're scared of huskies, and Bobbi senses it and jumps at them with mouthing. He doesn't do it, but this can shape itself into anything.

    As for situations, he does it when he wants attention or when he gets excited. For example when I get back home, we welcome each other and he jumps and gives me kisses and is very happy and gentle with me, but as soon as he comes up to any of them, he grabs their arm.
    running_dog likes this.
  4. southerngirl Honored Member

    I have a situation that is a little similar to yours when it comes for family. My dog Piper had a major jumping problem. I would tell everyone what to do, it's what I did to get her to not jump on me. The would try once or twice than give up. Or they would shout down, off, sit... umm hello no one ever taught her down or off. Anyway what I did was took them out of the equation they, were not going to help train her. Every time someone came over I had her get a toy or if she was about to jump, redirecting her. Maybe you could do the same. Whenever she starts moving someone pick up a toy and throw it for her or redirect her to a game of tug. Hope I was a little help if not someone else may have some ideas.
    running_dog likes this.
  5. running_dog Honored Member

    LOL at your description of what happens:
    I can so see that happening and have seen that happen with dogs... the happening isn't funny but the way your words capture it so perfectly is :LOL:.

    I think Danielle's suggestion of redirecting Bobbi onto a toy or a game of tug is really excellent. Gus was quite mouthy and what worked was getting him to pick up and hold a toy when he was excited, because he likes to chase toys and play tug this became an invitation for a game so it was very self rewarding for him (and for the people he approached). Part of the problem you have currently is that neither Bobbi nor your family are being given a rewarding alternative so all the incentive is for him to go on mouthing.

    Apart from trying the redirecting you can also work with him on leash with your friends - with him excited, and you in control, if he mouths them you walk away, if he turns to you to grab his toy instead you can stay and play. Work with people you meet in the street, with him calm you can reward him for closed mouth greetings. If you have a local pet shop and they allow dogs explain what you are doing and work with them too. If you can get him to generalise good behaviour to everyone who is not family you probably won't have a problem in the wider context. Dogs can apply different standards to different contexts (and different people).

    Also work on impulse control. Chances are Bobbi knows he shouldn't mouth your family but he can't/doesn't control the impulse. Strengthen his basic impulse control in other contexts and you should find this impacting on his mouthing too.

    It is often lonely and almost always difficult working within a family which does not share your views of dog training and I think a lot of us are in that situation one way or another. Sometimes you have to pick your battles to win the war, even if you win the argument you can still lose because arguing never changed anyone's mind that I know of and it risks destroying the human relationships we have with our families.

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