Mouthing The Dumbbell
From Marilyn Fender, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
With a dog that mouths the dumbbell (or dummy or whatever you happen to be using for retrieving), there are a couple of things you can do to cure this behavior. First, review the "hold" command. Start with a short hold and praise (verbally) for holding steady and not mouthing... first periods should be very short. Over a period of a couple of weeks increase this behavior of steady non-mouthing behavior until you are able to do it for 10-15 minutes or better as you walk around the block or wherever. In the process..anytime you see any mouthing, stop and repeat the hold command which the dog should now recognize as hold still -- based on the earlier practice above. Have him do this hold all sorts of times and places...for instance, put him on a long sit while you're running back and forth in the house doing chores. After a few weeks, you should have a dog that will happily hold the object (whichever one you chose to use...dumbell, dummy, etc.) steady and for as long as you want. When kept positive, it is a very pleasant process and the dog's attitude will remain up and hopefully, the tail wagging throughout.
From Jenna Bullis, (email@example.com)
Go back and teach the dog to "hold it". With him at your side, tell him 'take it' (or whatever your retrieve command is) and hand him the dumbell. Step in front of him, and when he starts to mouth, use both hands, one underneath the lower jaw, one over the top of the muzzle, and kind of squeeze him mouth together, repeating the command "hold it". You can also use just one hand to tap him under the jaw, if that works for him. From this point you can use a flexi to get further away, and can flip the leash under his chin as a correction. Try to keep this positive, by starting with short periods of time required to "hold it" and lots of rewarding.
From Lois Cutler, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
One thing that can really help is switching from a wooden dumbell to a plastic (and heavier) dumbell. Also try having the dog sit by you, fetching it from your hand, and having him hold it (correcting if he starts mouthing). This is great to play when the ads come up on TV!