How NOT to be an Alligator

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JCleve86
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How NOT to be an Alligator

Postby JCleve86 » Thu Oct 04, 2007 7:35 pm

Okay, I have basic ideas of training down, but we just can't seem to nip this one in the bud. Toby has a hard mouth...a VERY hard mouth. His former home, as best as we can figure, never taught him anything. I mean, nothing...among that nothing, he's not learned how to take a treat without taking fingers with it. :po:

We've made *some* progress by me just saying "AH!" and pulling the treat back until he doesn't alligator snap for it, but even so, he's still not even remotely close to being gentle about it. Upon my trainer's suggestion we've made it a command, so now I say "EASY" instead of "AH" but still...not a lotta progress. Plus, he's just learning all kinds of new things, so having to EASY seven hundred times makes timing for rewarding the behaviors he IS doing right really difficult.

I've tried bopping him on the nose when he does make contact with skin, which seems to work, but I'd like to not have to smack my dog around. lol On our walk yesterday, he broke skin and I got a nice infection on the cuticle of my thumb...THANKS Toby. So, needless to say, any suggestions would be simply wonderful.

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Postby concreterose » Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:10 pm

Have you tried only giving him treats with a closed fist? Hold the treat in the hole that your thumb and index finger make when you close it. He should have to work to get the treat. He will eventually start mouthing you to get it, and that is when you can use your 'gentle' or 'easy' command when he starts to mouth you.

When I first started training Vicki as a pup (she had a VERY hard mouth) and also with Solomon when I first got him (alligator mouth too), I did not start doing training with them with food until I taught them to take food gently...the FIRST thing I trained them to do was to take treats nicely. Getting bit with sharp puppy teeth one time was enough for me. When I got Sol, I didn't want to go down that road again and get bit with big adult boy dog teeth LOL

So I would make that the training for now. Have some sessions where the ONLY skill you are teaching him to do is take food gently. If he is very food driven, he will catch on quickly, and it shouldn't take long at all.

If he is nipping you while he is taking treats while you walk him, even after you work with him on taking them nicely. Do not give him treats while he is in motion...he is probably adrenalized, and what is the first thing dogs do when they become full of adrenaline? Stop, get him centered and calm, and do not give him food until he shows you he can take it without using teeth.

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Postby skam705 » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:19 pm

Milo used to be like this, and I'm sure you've gone through this already, but I found that just saying "easy" or "nice" and not giving her the treat (ie. pull it away if she goes for it too fast/hard) until she takes it nice. I would sometimes have to repeat this six or seven times with the same treat, but four of five times of doing this seems to have completely 'cured' her of her alligator syndrome.

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Postby someday » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:43 pm

My foster Brownie is an alligator and I give treats in the palm of my hand, with my fingers flat out, and tell him "nice". He has to pick it off my hand, so no more alligator. I find pulling it away will just make him frustrated and want to snap it up more.

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Postby rednoseErnie » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:58 pm

Ernie is not bad about this, unless hes really amped up. But I wanted to teach him a command for when I want him to be extra careful. I sort of taught him "gentle", by holding his toy with my hand around it, leaving only a small space to grab. I say "gentle" and then "good gentle" if he carefully grabs the toy without getting my hand with his teeth.

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Postby Ursa Arctos » Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:48 pm

rednoseErnie wrote:Ernie is not bad about this, unless hes really amped up. But I wanted to teach him a command for when I want him to be extra careful. I sort of taught him "gentle", by holding his toy with my hand around it, leaving only a small space to grab. I say "gentle" and then "good gentle" if he carefully grabs the toy without getting my hand with his teeth.


That's almost exactly what I have done with Oliver, and past dogs. It works really well. I always tell dogs "gentle" before giving them a treat, just out of habit!

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Postby Gatorpit » Fri Oct 05, 2007 7:39 am

Give him the treat on a spoon (or a fork) but a spoon won't jab his mouth. They don't get anything when they chomp the spoon, and have to learn to take it gently from the tip.

That's how I trained all my dogs not to chomp or grab.

It's the over simplified way, I'm sure other ways in conjunction work just as well, but this always worked quickly for me.

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Postby BrokenAquarian » Fri Oct 05, 2007 4:54 pm

I've always used the closed fist method with my dogs and it works like a charm, it teaches them without you or them being hurt - there's no punishment so it's a positive learning experience :)

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Postby JCleve86 » Mon Oct 08, 2007 7:12 pm

Well, we've tried a combo of isolated anti-alligator training sessions and holding the treat more firmly in my hand vs with the fingers (which at first I thought was absolutely ridonkulous...I'm thinking...okay he's eating my finger tips, I don't particularly want to offer my entire hand. lol )

I've been doing a quick five minute "easy" training session prior to walks to get the idea in his head, and than hold the treat inside my hand offering only a small piece of it and while he's still not exactly gentle persay, he's also not breaking skin or even really hurting anymore. He's still making contact with his teeth but it's much more gentle than it was. So...progress.

Thanks all!

imperiumx1st

Postby imperiumx1st » Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:36 pm

use chopsticks lol :))

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Postby skada21 » Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:13 pm

When we first got the puppies, we were holding the treat in in our fingertips, but with the back of the hand facing the dog. That way, if he tries to snap you can just curl your wrist toward yourself, and when he's nice you can give him the treat. It worked really well, but my kids weren't too snappy either...

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Postby JCleve86 » Fri Nov 02, 2007 1:12 am

imperiumx1st wrote:use chopsticks lol :))


Funny you should say that...he had a bout of diarhhea a few weeks ago and I had to put him on bland diet...I gave him baby food meats mixed with rice, and of course mixed it with a wooden spoon...I went to let him lick the extra goo off the spoon, and not only did he NOT lick it, but he quickly chomped a friggin hole right in the middle of it. :po: lol

That aside, he's made great progress...we've continued to do short "easy" sessions and now I can hand feed him chips and he gently nibbles them right out of my fingertips...and I still have all my fingers too!

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Postby luvnstuff » Fri Nov 02, 2007 6:24 am

concreterose wrote:Have you tried only giving him treats with a closed fist? Hold the treat in the hole that your thumb and index finger make when you close it. He should have to work to get the treat. He will eventually start mouthing you to get it, and that is when you can use your 'gentle' or 'easy' command when he starts to mouth you.

When I first started training Vicki as a pup (she had a VERY hard mouth) and also with Solomon when I first got him (alligator mouth too), I did not start doing training with them with food until I taught them to take food gently...the FIRST thing I trained them to do was to take treats nicely. Getting bit with sharp puppy teeth one time was enough for me. When I got Sol, I didn't want to go down that road again and get bit with big adult boy dog teeth LOL

So I would make that the training for now. Have some sessions where the ONLY skill you are teaching him to do is take food gently. If he is very food driven, he will catch on quickly, and it shouldn't take long at all.

If he is nipping you while he is taking treats while you walk him, even after you work with him on taking them nicely. Do not give him treats while he is in motion...he is probably adrenalized, and what is the first thing dogs do when they become full of adrenaline? Stop, get him centered and calm, and do not give him food until he shows you he can take it without using teeth.
]

Yup..this is alot of what I use too.

I hold the treat in my closed fist , say "leave it" and maybe one "sit"
the dog has to sit..and be calm to get the treat.
At first they punch your hand with their nose, paw at you, some yap and bark, my terrier pounds his paws on the ground (what a nut) but I just hold my hand closed..finally they just relax..and I open my hand, if they charge with their teeth..WHOP, hand closes.
you can also say the "Easy" etc..
But dont give in until they are CALM , and looking to you or at least not being a butt head.

And agree with C.Rose on the adreline.. when walking make the dog stop, SIT and same thing with the closed fist.
They will get it that they have to BEHAVE to get treat.
:thumbsup:

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Postby Maryellen » Fri Nov 02, 2007 7:11 am

jesse still to this day sometimes forgets and becomes an alligator.. not taking it nicely = no treat. period..

i used the closed fist with her too, after almost losing a few fingers when she was little.. with some dogs it takes longer then others, dont forget you are now fixing all his bad behaviors he has been allowed to do over many years, so it will take alot longer to train him out of it..

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Postby JCleve86 » Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:32 am

Maryellen wrote:dont forget you are now fixing all his bad behaviors he has been allowed to do over many years, so it will take alot longer to train him out of it..


Exactly. And unfortunately in Toby's case, I'm relatively certain he never learned ANY behaviors at all. He's still learning how to be a DOG really. He's only fairly recently grasped the concept of a toy.


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