Hard-mouth AFTER Trained

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Hard-mouth AFTER Trained

Post by Featherfinder » Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:50 am

So admittedly, I ask this question especially but not only of our friends across the pond (Trekmoor/Polmaise et al) because they sometimes have some alternative processes that intrigue/further expand my knowledge base.
What do you do for a dog that is completely finished as defined by steady to wing, shot, fall, handles, and retrieves gently to hand reliably.
The dog returns to the owner with a clear understanding of how to protect their investment in said dog. I further demonstrate and provide a written list of "Dos and Don'ts". Finally, the dog returns to his/her owner.
Next spring the owner calls to say, "___ has become hard mouthed! What can we do?"
Finding a new owner is NOT an option. :lol:
Now as I see it, in Britain "rough" shooting is not as prevalent as driven shoots, generally. I presume that in a driven shooting setting it is rare to have high birds that are shot unusually close to the guns.
Locally, some rough shooting gunners are so bird-killing-driven that they either shoot far too soon OR shoot their semis (3rd shot) at multiple birds from a covey OR simply are not great shots and cripple an unusual number of birds. In-any-case, hard mouth can develop, post-training.
And so, I'm curious. What would your fix be, please? Keep in mind that the dog MUST return to it's owner. :(
For me, the fix has never been a cookie-cutter system and, can take a LONG time to resolve. Sadly, it doesn't take a long time to undo the resolve (one hunting season) because training the owner can be even more challenging.
I'm looking for a new/innovative/tried-and-true/tested/abstract or whatever you want to call it process/philosophy/observation....whatever?
Thank you ALL.

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Re: Hard-mouth AFTER Trained

Post by Trekmoor » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:38 am

Did the dog's owner give you any clue as to what caused the first known instance of hard mouth ? Without that knowledge we are all just guessing and could prescribe the wrong treatment …..if there is one !

Personally, I have never known a truly hard mouthed dog that was successfully and permanently trained to be soft mouthed. In Britain hard mouth is all too common among the versatile breeds....the hunt-point-retrievers. I have a theory ….and it is just a theory.....that quite often it is the trainer that "trains" the dog to be hardmouthed .

Quite simple things like trying to get a faster return during retrieves , or trying to get a "good delivery/ present" can make some dogs anxious and when they are anxious they may clamp down or at least tighten their grip.

Hot favourite is the so called "present" ….the kind where the dog returns then sits in front of the trainer holding the bumper or bird. Many dogs are a bit anxious about this final (and unnecessary) part of retrieves so, to begin with, they slow as they approach the trainer with the retrieve item. The trainer gets exasperated by this and tries to hurry the dog up. The dog detects the annoyance in the trainers voice and perhaps becomes anxious …. and clamps down …...another hard mouthed dog has been created !

I believe pups are born with a highly varying degree of hard mouth already installed. That's the "nature" taken care of. The nurture matters too however. It is possible to create hard mouth in some dogs but some gamebirds ….like old, long spurred pheasants can also nudge a previously soft mouthed dog towards hard mouth.

Dogs learn by experience and they know dead birds cause fewer problems so- o- o !
I have had labs, cocker spaniels, springer spaniels, brittanies and GSP's as my own dogs and none of them was hard mouthed. Was this down to luck ? I don't think so. I have owned one GSP bitch that became hard mouthed at about 7 - 8 years old. She just got fed up with being spiked by pheasant runners and was experienced enough to know ….and apply.....the cure for that ! :roll:

A hot favourite cause of hard mouth is when two or more dogs go for the same bird ! If you see your pals dogs going after a shot bird, get your dog into heel at once ! As an old Scots gamekeeper and "A" panel field trial judge once told me - - - " Twa dugs and yin bird makes nuffin but soup !" It's a good reason for training a gundog to be steady to shot and fall of game.

Bill T.

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Re: Hard-mouth AFTER Trained

Post by cjhills » Wed Apr 29, 2020 8:29 am

What do you call hard mouth? Chewing the bird, Mouthing, just clomping down hard, not wanting to give up the bird or actually eating the bird? Somehow the dog got the wrong message. You need to know how it started.
I do agree with T that the presentation can cause anxiety in some dogs. I like the dog to come to me put the bird in my hand and go on his way. Sitting in front of me, going to heel or anything else is a trick pony and a waste of time ion a hunting dog.
Basically, without a cause you can't find a cure. Somewhere he got the wrong signal.....Cj

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Re: Hard-mouth AFTER Trained

Post by gonehuntin' » Wed Apr 29, 2020 9:42 am

CJ is on the right track. Most hard mouth is ill perceived or man made.

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Re: Hard-mouth AFTER Trained

Post by DonF » Wed Apr 29, 2020 11:21 am

I have an idea most hard mouth is man made. When we teach retrieving we throw a soft object and to often people pry to pull it out of the dog's mouth. Take a lesson from force training. Don't start with a soft object Delmar Smith suggest's starting with a hard wood dowel! As I recall he moves to a frozen bird next and then a fresh killed bird. The soft bird that might get chomped is the last object to train with. Next removing the bird from the dog's mouth, try to pull it out and the dog bits down, boy that taste good! Well avoid that. When the dog come's in do not attempt to remove the bird, ask for it. If your right handed, get down with your right knee on the ground and left knee up. You will create a pocket there to pull the dog into, pull it in. Right hand over the back and pull gently, left hand under the chin and get the bottom of the collar with your thumb. Next, stroke the dog several time's along it's side, with your arm over the dog. After several time start one last time. Stroke and at the end of this stroke hook under the dogs back leg flap with two middle finger's and start to lift. It will annoy about 99% of the dog's and they will turn to remove the irritant. To dog it they have to let go of the bird! Your hand under the neck goes directly to the bird and immediately on getting the bird you straighten out the finger's of the left hand and drop the flap. It is creditably easy and someone watching and not knowing what your doing will think it's magic. Oh, I forgot. Just as you lift the flap give the release command, I use "leave it". There's no fighting the dog's mouth at all, just a simple "leave it" and it's done! attempting to pry the dog's mouth open or opening it with a thumb encourage's retaliation from the dog at the mouth, exactly where you don't want it. Unbelievably simple system that vary rarely fails and if it does it have nothing to do with the mouth! Delmar said, "never let your wife or your dog tell you no"!

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Re: Hard-mouth AFTER Trained

Post by polmaise » Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:21 pm

Yea, well there is tools available , they don't fit all .
Easier without a fix for sure. Even then it is a band aid.
Hey' Crackerd' ..you remember that ...... with the balloon inside the partridge ? ..what a dog she turned out ! delivered a 'raw egg' as sweet as a cherry ,and even when a 'Pillowcase' on a chukar had caused it .,,,said the breeder../lol Trainer . ! Not for the faint' hearted neither? .
Sure you guys on here will give the very best of advice and help to the poster ...on line :D

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