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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19590
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My almost 7 yr old Labrador has always been a licky dog,

Resolved Question:

My almost 7 yr old Labrador has always been a 'licky' dog, and a mouther, usually very gently. She has recently begun to mouth at ours, and our visitors clothes! Obviously this is getting worse and is unacceptable behaviour. This morning she went to say hello to my sister when she arrived, licking her hand & gently mouthing as usual. She then followed my sister into the house and mouthed at the back of her trousers - this time though she accidentally nipped! Please can you give me some ideas as to how to stop this behaviour. I don't want her licking or mouthing at all. It has to stop, but I'm not sure how to go about it. Anna. Said Labrador has just marked my adult daughters hand with her tooth whilst mouthing!

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Anna,

My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
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In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
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I know the mouthing is unacceptable so needs to stop. Have you ever discouraged the mouthing?
Do you know what age the pup was taken away from his mother?
What have you tried to stop the behavior?
What kind of obedience training has she had?
Do you take her for walks?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Jane,


Maisie was taken from her mum at just 6 weeks. I have had her since then.


i have tried and tried to dissuade her from licking and mouthing. Keeping my hands and face out of reach. Firmly telling her 'NO', even turning my back on her.


maisie and I did the full Kennel Club Dog Training scheme. She earned her certificates in puppy foundation, bronze, silver and gold. She is generally very well behaved and a joy to be with.


yes we enjoy walks with our other Labrador too - Trudi has just turned 3.


the two of them enjoy chasing balls and playing with doggie friends on a big field and hill, in a local park. Other favourite walks are through local woods where they enjoy running through the trees and jumping in and out of the stream. We are lucky enough to be just 15 mins from fab beaches. Maisie loves running along the beach, digging large sandy holes, swimming and surfing! She is a joy to watch swimming out and watching for the good waves before turning to surf back in.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Anna,

Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. Her behavior is probably rooted in puppyhood and the result of her being taken away from her mother too early. Those last couple of weeks are when dogs learn not to nip and bite too hard and that mouthing isn't seen as acceptable behavior. The dam would have corrected her behavior and she would have been less likely to continue it.

Many dogs taken from their mothers too early tend to lick and even suckle on people and their clothing and some even have a favorite stuffed animal that they use for this behavior. If she isn't a 'stuffed animal' type dog, you might encourage her to use a specific one for that behavior rather than people.

I recommend keeping a leash on her at all times and letting her drag it. It doesn't have to be long, just a leash you can grab. You would accomplish this by reprimanding the licking and mouthing by giving a short tug to get her attention and a firm low toned "NO". Then give her the stuffed animal. Often this will get them to transfer that urge to the stuffed animal which would be better than licking and mouthing the humans.

Additionally you could just give the reprimand each time and wait for the moment she doesn't lick or mouth when she would normally do so and then reward her with special high value treats traditionally hot dog slices or liver slivers. Dogs love to work for these treats. They have proven to work well for training purposes.

Mouthing is a form of dominance in many cases. They will start with mouthing and if they get away with that behavior it will escalate until a dog is actually starting to reprimand humans with the mouthing or even a quick nip. For instance if the human is doing something the dog doesn't want them to do, they might grab the human and if the human continues to do something they don't want them to do. So this might be a contributing factor.

To help stop that type of behavior, you would need to step up the obedience work again to at least 15 minutes a day. Just practice the commands she already knows for a set period of time each and every day. It helps put the humans in the top spot and make her more submissive.

Now often a dog is mouthing the hands, arms and feet. There is a method for stubborn biters but it should be used as a last resort. You can stop mouthing and biting hard by going the opposite direction. Instead of taking your hand out of her mouth, put it further in the mouth. DO NOT do this meanly (not that you would). Do not do it quickly or shove it in too far, just move it further in enough that it makes her uncomfortable so that she pulls her mouth away from your hand. SHe will learn that putting her mouth on your hand results in the hand going further in and possibly triggering a gag reflex which she will not find pleasant. I'v found that this methods works on the most stubborn puppies.

I haven't met a dog yet that didn't respond to this especially when coupled with reprimands in the form of NO, substitution of another object and obedience work. I'm confident these will help.
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I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Will give these things a try and get back to you. Can't try leaving Maisie on a lead as Trudi would try to lead her around. I'd also be worried that she'd get caught by it


Anna

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Anna,

If you were not around, she wouldn't have it on. She would only need to have it on when there was a chance she would display the behavior. You would be watching and could be sure it did not get caught on anything. You could try a harness on her and attach a little short 12 inch hand leash to it. It wouldn't be long enough for Trudi to pull her around with I would imagine.

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