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This blog was originally started as a thread on the forum pages of an animal rescue site. Now it's here!

The articles you find in here are purely for entertainment (yours and mine) and (with one or two exceptions) are all tongue-in-cheek chronicles of the World (my bit, anyway) as I see it.
No disrespect is intended towards anyone unless I make a mistake and make it too obvious.

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Friday, 14 September 2012

Sym: Discipline

If you have ever observed a female dog with her pups, then you will have noticed just how tolerant they can be when the little buggers get too boisterous.

But there are boundaries.

And when those boundaries are crossed, the mother uses teeth and paws to instil discipline and restore a modicum of order.

When Sym was a youngster, which I suppose for a dog, is anything up to two years old, he was a little terror. His herding instincts came through at an early age and the member of our family became his flock.

Walking through the living room, kitchen or hallway became a major challenge.

Sym would follow in a low Border Collie crouch, waiting for any deviance to the route that he thought you should take. A nip to the heels or calf would be the reward for any attempt at deviation.

And during play, his razor sharp puppy teeth would often be employed as a tool to gain the upper hand.

Julie, Christopher and Gabriele would often fall victim to those teeth ... but I was never, ever nipped or bitten.

But I did bite!

Puppies, when they are trying to assert themselves, will often do that mouthing thing, where they face each other with open jaws and try to get as much of the other pup’s head in their mouth as possible.

Some experts say they are trying to assert themselves over their siblings and establish dominance.
I don’t know if they are right, but this form of ‘play’ certainly established me as Sym’s boss.

We would engage in mouthing games when he was only a few months old. I would never bite him unless he bit me first. If he over stepped the mark, I would bite him!

When I say ‘bite’, I mean ‘hold’.

I would just take a chunk of him in my mouth and hold on so that he wouldn’t move. There was no reason for pressure.

And it worked perfectly!

Just as he would heed a warning nip from his mother, he heeded me.

The only drawback with this method of discipline was the mouthful of fur I would always end up with.

I would not recommend ‘mouthing’ to anyone as an aid to bringing up and training a puppy, but I believe that it helped to bring us closer together and aided the bonding process. It taught us respect for one another ... in a doggy sort of way.

We would continue the ‘mouthing’ for many years. It became a game that I firmly believe he looked forward to and it would always end in a play fight followed by licks and hugs.

Generally, mouthing would occur as follows;

We would go nose to nose.

Sym would turn his head to the side, look at me out of the corner of his eye, and open his mouth and growl.

I would open my mouth and growl back at him.

He would lunge at me but stop short of biting.

I would then do the same thing to him.

At that point, with both of us open mouthed and growling, a nasal pushing and shoving match would ensue for one or two minutes before Sym would throw himself onto his back.

At this point the play fight would begin.

There would be more growling, some leaping and thrashing about, then a licks and cuddles.

And there would be a lot of tail wagging! Afterwards he would take up his usual upside down position on my lap and sleep.


  1. I so love this post. I mouthed my "chi" during her puppy-ness. She learned not to bite hard and how to just have "face-play". My great Vet is all for it. It also allows Casey to know Us by our mouth smells...You should be a trainer you have so many great things to tell and; remind us 4 legged fur people of. Thank You from a fan in Alabama. PS I also mouthed her feet after a bath. Helps with nail clips ...

    1. I reckon every serious dog lover has done something similar at some time.

  2. Quite touching, but I'm cringing at the thought of a mouthful of fur.

    1. You ain't lived if'n you ain't had no mouth full o'fur!


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