Monday, September 14, 2009

When a Dog's Jaw Locks on a Toy -- Or Worse!

Did you know that the pressure applied by the mouth of the average
dog is 150-200 pounds per square inch, and that 450 pounds 
of pressure is applied by some dog's mouth's? I didn't. Until yesterday.
  It was a normal morning at the park, and I was using my fetch-it to throw tennis ball bombs for my black lab/Sheppard mix, Chloe. She's usually single-minded and reliable during our game, and always manages to drop the ball between my legs without my having to touch the slobbery, icky black (was yellow) ball. And then she saw it: a bright orange training toy that another dog owner was using with her puppy 200 yards across the field from us. Apparently it called out to her, because he suddenly fled like a rocket in the direction of the toy, leaving me and my dumb fetch-it game behind.
Within seconds her jaws had locked on the poor puppy owner's training toy, and she was proudly prancing around with it. The puppy owner wasn't amused (the puppy was, though). When I finally caught up to them, the puppy owner was sternly yelling "Drop it," Chloe was running in large circles showing off with the toy, and I was standing still, calling Chloe, knowing that chasing her would be futile and embarrassing as well. I knew that once Chloe's jaw locked on something, we had a problem.
Many dog owners can probably relate. When a commanding "Drop it" alone doesn't work, then what?
  Well, there's the "trading technique," which works with many dogs, but not all. And not Chloe. Basically, you "trade" something with the dog; while saying "Drop it,'' you show him a nice, smelly piece of hot dog, or liver, or rawhide, and usually he'll drop the item he's been holding and take the treat instead. With some consistent practice, variety of treats, and lots of praise, eventually your dog will drop anything -- from a stranger's training toy to the neighbor's cat -- with a simple "Drop it." Theoretically, anyway.
Other methods? Well, sometimes your dog may have clenched onto something more than a toy -- such as a dangerous bone, another animal, or a human -- and there's no time for games. Dousing the dog with water, using a hose, a bucket, or even a bottle, often works to loosen their grip. But not always. I've heard stories of owners having to shoot the hose into their dog's mouth before he finally let go.
You could also try pinching the dog's snout, basically forcing him to hold his breath until he drops the object and can breathe again. It works sometimes. Again, not always.
Some pit bull owners carry around something called a "break stick" in case they need it to pry open their dog's jaws after it clamps down on an object, animal, or human being. Pit bull education websites recommend that owners carry a break stick in case their dog gets into a fight. I suppose a crow bar, hammer, or even a long screwdriver might work too in a dire situation.
Another method, which I've actually had to use while breaking up a major dog fight, is to jam a finger in the attacking dog's anus. Yes, it's gross, but it worked to unlock the large dog's jaws from the neck of the smaller dog, probably saving the smaller's dog's life. You do what you have to do. Ideally, of course, the "Drop it" trade game is the best and most reliable way to train a dog to let go of objects. But it does take practice. And patience. And time. And most of all, a bag of smelly, sticky, slimy, and delicious dog treats.

With Chloe? Well, the puppy's owner finally got fed up, left her training toy with us, and went home. (Yes, it was embarrassing.) I had given up too. I disappointingly walked toward my truck, angrily telling Chloe and my other dog, Lolly, that their playtime was over. When I got there, I turned around, and there was Chloe next to me, looking up with her huge brown eyes, panting heartily with her long tongue at rest. The training toy had been dropped at my feet.

Author-Janet Simmons Hayes

1 comment:

harrit said...

dog care training

This is the first time I’ve read about this. I keep learning new things everyday!