Open Mouth Behavior – Success Strategies!

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Episode - 03 July 2019

Host: Barbara Heidenreich

​Open mouth can sometimes be tough to train! Often the most difficult challenge is getting the action started. Barbara goes over her favorite ways to start this behavior with wide variety of species. She also covers the methods she finds less successful and why. Also covered is the pesky problem of getting duration. And how the heck should you use a bridging stimulus for this behavior? To top it off, inserting a cue is also not straight forward, depending on how you built the behavior. It can get pretty confusing at times. Barbara brings you clarity. She wraps it up with some great tips you can try right away to help you start adding ​this behavior to your animal Training Toolbox.


Here are some video examples mentioned in this episode:

​It's easy to get this behavior started with prehensile lipped rhinos by showing food. The next step is to fade out food as a prompt and then transition to a hand and/or verbal cue.

​One strategy I have used to prompt the initial action of opening the mouth is to hold browse above the upper lip on giraffes. Notice how it causes this girl to open her mouth up just a tiny bit more. I then pop the food into her mouth. After a few reps, she was getting the idea that opening her mouth was the action that earned more browse. ~ Barbara


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