How To Improve Bite/Grip? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
New Member
Zaxx's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Ohio
Posts: 23
How To Improve Bite/Grip?

I am hoping to get some advice on how to improve my GSD's bite or grip during tug.

I'm trying to get Axl to be more interested in playing tug, and when he does all his bite/grip is with his front teeth. I'd like to get him to bite with his middle or back teeth. He needs to get a firmer hold on the tug because it comes loose during play.

I'm not going to be training for IPO/ScH, (I don't think he's geared for that type of work) but would like to use the tug as a reward during training, and to improve the "out" command.

I have examined his teeth and jaws and do not see any bleeding, swelling or redness so i don't think that its a medical issue.

Right now I am using a rope tug, and an orange canvas tug I got at Menards. The Canvas tug is a little too big around, but he does get a little more "aggressive" in his play with that. He love his tennis balls, but even with those he bites with the very front teeth, and I have to cut a slit in them so he can chomp on them easier (LOL).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Zaxx is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 08:39 PM
Crowned Member
onyx'girl's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Location: SW, MI
Posts: 27,280
Hold the toy still when the dog grips it so the dog will 'counter'(bite deeper). Reward when the dog counters.
The toys you are using may be hard for the dog to actually grip...I would get a ball on string, a two handle synthetic tug, or even a chuckit soft Frisbee to tug with.
If your dog is deferring to you in the game, it isn't about the grip but about the game. Make him fight you for it by teasing him up, once he wins fight and try to get him to to counter. Let him win, or if his grip is weak, take it away and tease him up some more.

Make sure teething isn't playing into it. I don't know the age of your dog.

Kept by
Gambit zu Treuen Handen

Guinness auf der Marquis...Karlo son!

Always in my heart
Karlo aka Gideon vom Wildhaus
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
onyx'girl is offline  
post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
New Member
Zaxx's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Ohio
Posts: 23
Thanks you. I should have added that Axl is 6.5 months old.
Zaxx is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 09:11 PM
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 106
Dog canines are designed for holding and pulling, the back teeth are for biting through that what slips from them. If a wolf would only nip on a bison's neck - the bison will escape. The rope is sufficiently strong and doesn't break, it doesn't escape from the mouth, it is simply comfortable for your dog to hold it with canines only. Make it uncomfortable for him to hold by using a different object. Use your old jeans, wash them to remove your smell, cut off one flare and stuff with the rest of fabric tiring the ends, and tie it to your rope at one end. Do not provide him with the toy, let him catch it in the air. Soon he will see that just nipping at it is not good enough.
WembleyDogsUK is offline  
post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 10:44 PM
Elite Member
Heartandsoul's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,801
This is what I did to improve my boys grip. He is a front teeth grabber also:

When he grabbed his ball, I immediately pulled down to the ground which would cause him to regrip with the back teeth. This worked but it was a pain to constantly bend down.

So I tried stepping into him when he gripped and continued to step in and not tug. This also caused him to regrip. Once he does that, the fight is on! Lol. He still goes for the front teeth grip but all I have to say is "better bite"

When he grips with his front only it was a really boring tug session. No fight just him backing up and pulling. When he does the better bite man o man. To really rev him up , I pull him into me and get all lovey dove, kissing his head and scratching his chest stuff that normally calms him down actually gets his goat. He gets the whale eyes and does the head shake.He he.

Anyway, since you are doing this just for fun as am I, I figured I would offer what worked for me.

The pulling the ball to the ground tactic is something I saw from a link on this forum or it was an actual post here a few years ago. The pushing the ball into him tactic was my own problem solving thinking for my boy.

Playing tug is so much fun so have a blast with it.

"If you can't see his soul when you look in his eyes, then you need a seeing-eye dog"
Heartandsoul is offline  
post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 10:30 AM
Senior Member
girardid's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Chicago
Posts: 344
A deep grip and countering is somewhat genetic so dont be discouraged if he never get an ipo like super hard grip. That being said there are definitely ways to improve it. If he is still teething give him a break until his teeth are all in that way he will not hurt himself biting to hard and there will never be any pain associated with the the tug game and biting with the back teeth.

For starters buy a real tug toy i recommend maybe an 8 to 12 inch long one with 2 handles on eon each side. ones that look like this

Put him on a back tie and tease him with it wait for him to really want the tug then when he is pulling and barking let him get a bite. If he bites deep you have already solved your problem if not see if you can yank it out with one quick motion. If you can tease him with it again and present the bite praise for a counter and rip it out if his bite is weak. he will learn a strong deep bite means we get to play and a weak shallow bite means i lose the toy. Keep this toy away from him and dont use anything else for tug. this way he will want it more when you play with him. dont worry about teaching an out because it is conflicting. Just learn how to really play with him and just take the tug when he drops it or loses his grip towards the end of your session and then put it away. make sure to tease him and not give him a bite right before you put it away

When he is biting correctly and has a good grip you can teach the out. His drive might also increase with age since he is only 6 months
girardid is offline  
post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 02:46 PM
Crowned Member
Baillif's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Southern California
Posts: 3,920
It's very genetic. So much so that I will not get a puppy that doesn't display the gripping behavior naturally. It can be conditioned but it is the work of an experienced person and it is very hard to find people that have it down to an art. Someone describing the process to you would never be able to sufficiently covey the information you need. Takes lots of practice.

It def sounds like some of you who replied have the right idea though. Hard to emulate without coaching and practice though.

Last edited by Baillif; 07-14-2016 at 02:48 PM.
Baillif is offline  
post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 05:42 PM
Elite Member
Muskeg's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Mountains
Posts: 1,745
I was going to say, tug vigorously, then hold the tug still and allow a regrip. With my young dogs that always got me a full grip and then I'd make the game real fun, out them, and immediately allow a full bite again. Could be mostly genetic, I don't know as I've only personally trained genetically related dogs in tug work.

Get a quality tug. I like the long tube one with no handle for the younger guys. Gives you room for mistakes, and no distracting handles.

One more thing to add is that it helps build drive for tug by keeping sessions really short, like a few minutes and keeping them really busy, no down time. Then put the toy away, and don't bring it out for anything but focused tug work. Use a ball or Frisbee for stuff like fetch and keep that tug for training reward. My dog will sit and look at the place I keep her tug for hours. That kind of drive for tug translates into full grips if they have the genetics for it.
Muskeg is offline  
post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
New Member
Zaxx's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Ohio
Posts: 23
I really appreciate all the advice I'm getting here, great ideas that I had not thought of. Thank you.

I do understand that genetics play a huge a role in this. I don't expect him to hit like a gator, I don't think he's geared that way. I'm just trying to get a good round of tug out of him.
Zaxx is offline  
post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 08:28 PM
Elite Member
Muskeg's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Mountains
Posts: 1,745
Good outlook! Grips are genetic, but they mostly matter for sport. You can do a lot to make your dog love to tug, and improve his grips.

Some dogs have better grips or show more interest in different types of tugs. There are jute tugs, soft fleece tugs, big wide bite pillows and small narrow tugs- even bite rags. Try to find a tug that your dog really likes the feel of biting, that will help.

One trick I like that works for me to build good grips and drive for the tug is using a long line. I'll get a good game of tug going and make sure I've got a nice full grip from the dog, and then let her have it. Then, keeping her moving the whole time, I'll run her in a circle around me on the long line- the dog will be proud, tail up, happy body language- because she "won" the toy. After a few circles, I'll call in her, and play tug again. I find this makes the dog feel more secure and get a good understanding of the game of tug, while not having an opportunity to run off with the tug toy and just hang out possessing it by herself. Also, it builds engagement with me as the handler and stresses the fact that playing tug with me is the best prize.

Hope some of this helps!
Muskeg is offline  
Sponsored Links

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the German Shepherd Dog Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome