One of the most serious things we can encounter when training dogs in bite work is breaking a tooth or teeth. A dog’s teeth are strong however we are asking our dogs to do more with them than what is natural. I know that wild species of canines (foxes, wolves, coyotes) break their teeth often and there is no remedy for them except lots of pain because the tooth will not come back nor grow again. The best case they can hope for is that time will deaden the nerves deep at the roots. More often this is not the case.
Breaking a tooth during training
Let’s talk about what causes the tooth to break during training. Believe it or not it isn’t that we are too rough or the equipment is too tough. Like so many things it goes back to the basics in training. Starting when a puppy has baby teeth is almost essential to turn out a good dog for bite work of any kind. But how we start and the pace at which the puppy is allowed to progresse is the key. Show me a photo of someone picking up a puppy from the floor as he hangs on to a sleeve or whatever and I’ll show you somebody who has no clue how to train a dog properly. Developing a full mouth bite is a must and it’s done through building proper drive.
When you start developing a puppy to grip with his back teeth it’s harder than it looks. Getting one to bite something with his front teeth is easy. You can get almost any puppy of any breed to bite a sock and pull on it but just look at his teeth and see which ones are biting down. It will be the front teeth including the all important canines 100% of the time. Now, breaking a more fragile and not life changing puppy tooth isn’t as big of a deal in the end. But, breaking an adult dog’s teeth is a big deal. If it can be repaired the cost is usually $1,000 to $2,000 per tooth. The solution is a cap on the tooth with titanium. This technique works well most of the time but I’ll take natural teeth over this any day. However, I’ll take the titanium cap over the broken tooth since he needs all of his teeth working as they are his weapons.
When it comes to dog who does real bite work things can get rough and these dogs are trained to be rough, tough biting machines. A KNPV dog hits like an 80 pound missle with his mouth wide open and a mistake on his part can mean an instant broken tooth. For a quick fix the vet can give the dog some injections into the gums which will deaden the nerves and cause him no pain until a final repair is made. However, make sure your vet knows the dentistry side of his business because most vets simply do not do much work on teeth and they don’t know much.