Rough mouthing is as a result of over-arousal

Published by Theo Stewart on

Over-arousal and raised stress levels exaggerate and intensify all reactive or uncontrolled behaviours.

Mina is easily aroused.

With Mina these behaviours include digging, jumping up, rough mouthing, grabbing and biting; She reacts fearfully to children, jumps on people they meet when out and so on.

The young dog can get cross if forcibly moved and, when her stress levels are raised, may object to people sitting where she likes to lie.

Stretching out – but not relaxed!

The rough mouthing they most want to change

The rough mouthing is definitely generated by excitement. Mina grabs and bites hands; she leaps up and grabs clothes. When particularly aroused, she may even growl as she does so.

Dealing with the behaviour head-on as people usually do is pointless. The behaviour itself isn’t the problem but a symptom of other things. Trying to stop rough mouthing may even make the behaviour worse.

We need to get to the cause and work on that primarily. We also need to use management to simply prevent Mina’s opportunity for rough mouthing and biting.

Mina is an eleven-month-old very typical looking Romanian rescue. She has been with her family for eight months now.

We went through her day, pinpointing all the opportunities for doing things more calmly. Family members coming home is an example and we looked at how best to handle this.

The day starts with an exciting encounter with their two cats. We discussed a different way to manage this.

Food for calm and for enrichment

We looked at how Mina’s food can be used to enrich her life and help to calm her.

People, other dogs, traffic and children easily arouse her on walks. Arousal causes rough mouthing.

They will work on things one at a time, giving her the space she needs. They will walk her when it’s quiet, taking her to the large park where she can unwind and run off-lead.

They made an interesting point when I suggested getting a sandpit to satisfy her need to use digging in order to de-stress. Like rough mouthing, digging helps her. They already had tried this but said she was so excited with it they thought it was causing the excitement. They worried it made her worse.

‘De-compressors’

If she’s left to do her own thing with no humans participating or stirring her up, that sandpit wildness will be her simply fulfilling her need to vent the build-up of excitement in her system.

No doubt she suddenly stops when she’s got rid of her excess adrenalin – and then will settle.

For no further rough mouthing Mina needs lots of things to chew and she needs calming walks where she can mostly mooch and do her own thing.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

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