Why is your dog hard mouthed?

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Why is your dog hard mouthed?

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sun Oct 28, 2018 12:13 am

Dogs have what are called “predatory motor patterns”. These are innate behaviors that are present at different levels in different dogs. They’re inherited but can be influenced by breeding and nurturing. It’s how sled dogs, retrievers, livestock-guardian dogs, etc. all were selected for having higher or lower levels of these motor patterns.

A motor pattern would look like : orient>eye-stalk>chase>grab-bite>kill-bite>dissect>consume.

So, for example, a border collie should have an exaggerated “eye-stalk” motor pattern and pointers a high level “stalk” but depressed grab-bite- kill pattern. If there’s an exaggerated “grab-bite” and “kill-bite” in same retriever breed then they may well be hard mouthed.

Often, the sequence is wired together and if the sequence isn’t followed then things get interrupted. Newborn calves survive with cheetahs alongside because the calves can’t run and, absence a run, there is no kill. Livestock-guarding dogs will guard and not eat a dead calf for weeks it but will quickly consume it if it is cut open (the dissect pattern didn’t get expressed).

In some retriever breeds the predatory motor patterns seem to be directed towards non-edible objects like canvas dummies, suggesting that for those breeds at least they’re more socially motivated activities rather than kill/consume hard-wired ones. Maybe that’s why some dogs love to chase a shot bird but aren’t interested in retrieving it. Maybe why my PP won't do 50 reps for dummies like my labrador will.

Also, to make it more complicated these patterns seem to need an environmental influence at certain ages in order to be expressed to their fullest and some patterns need practicing either as training or play. I'm thinking we present a bird to our dogs at a young age for reasons other than to make ourselves feel good. My wife doesn't want her farm dog (WPG) to end up craving birds like my other ones do - so, if the dog doesn't get introduced to retrieving and chasing then he'll probably end up with depressed levels of chase>grab-bite, etc. We'll see.

I paraphrased this from a great book, “Dogs” by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger. Highly recommended. It helped me understand the origin of our dogs from wolves, how we’ve developed very specialized and extremely athletic dogs as well as some of the differences in my own dogs as to why they do this or won’t do that.
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Re: Why is your dog hard mouthed?

Postby Doc E » Sun Oct 28, 2018 10:09 am

Excellent !

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Re: Why is your dog hard mouthed?

Postby flitecontrol » Sun Oct 28, 2018 12:08 pm

Then wouldn't it be logical to assume that if one member of a particular breed is hard mouthed, they would all be, which we all know isn't true.
I've had several really good dogs, but none were perfect. Neither am I, so keep that in mind!
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Re: Why is your dog hard mouthed?

Postby JONOV » Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:00 pm

flitecontrol wrote:Then wouldn't it be logical to assume that if one member of a particular breed is hard mouthed, they would all be, which we all know isn't true.

Not necessarily...as I read it, it’s more of a predisposition to a behavior pattern that may emerge. So a German breed traditionally expected to take out predators might have be predisposed to it. Or not.

My thing about hardmouth is that I think be people throw the term out Willynilly. In also wonder how many cases are actually man Made.
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Re: Why is your dog hard mouthed?

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:10 pm

Excellent point Jonov. In my experience there are two important things: 1) Very very few dog's are hard mouthed. Most people don't even know what a hard mouth dog is. 2) Nearly all hard mouth is man made, in one way or another. Mostly by permissiveness.

A true hard mout dog can not be cured, only partially controlled.

One of the oddest of the mouth issues is "clamming" or we used to call it "freezing". The dog clamps down on a bird and you can't even pry his jaws open. When I was still a pro my vets in Idaho and I were working on a theory on this. I told them that when it happened the dog's would look glassy eyed and look like they wanted to give up the bird but were unable to. We started working with glucose prior to a trial, thinking that the dog may have been experiencing low glucose levels. Unfortunately, this was when I was retiring as a pro and we never finished the experiment. This was with one dog that had made a run for national derby champion (he had 36 points) when I pulled him for freezing. I think it still may be a valid assumption depending on the animal.

The most detestable of them all is the ahole that puts his paws on the bird and tears it apart, glaring at you all the while. Grrrrr.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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