Training

//Training

Dog Greeting Etiquette

At a recent meet and greet, we had an incident that resulted from a face-to-face canine encounter. A man with a large, long-haired dog stopped by to look at the greyhounds and his dog met one of the greyhounds nose to nose. The greeting went from a sniff to a snap on the part of the greyhound. Fortunately, the other dog had long hair, the people reacted quickly, and there were no injuries. The other dog’s owner was not impressed with greyhounds after this encounter. The venue for this M&G was on a busy shopping street with narrow sidewalks and lots of people with dogs. The greyhounds are on very short leashes to prevent them from blocking the sidewalk. All of these factors contributed to this negative encounter.

A first-time face-to-face canine encounter is a potentially dangerous situation. Off lead, most dogs will immediately go to the other dog’s butt and sniff. If the smells and vibes are good, the dogs will eventually do a face-to-face greeting. When dogs are on leash, they can’t do what they would naturally do. They are controlled by their handlers and the leash adds to the tension. Last month, in George’s Training Tips, GFFL talked about proper greyhound meetings:

  1. Walk behind the other dog and let your dog sniff. Let the other dog go to your dog’s rear end and sniff. Take it slowly.
  2. Let the dogs stand or walk side-by-side for a few minutes.
  3. Take your cues from the dogs. When they’re calm, allow a face- to-face meeting.

For those that participate in meet and greets, play dates, or when you take your dog to places where they are likely to meet other dogs, play close attention to both dogs’ behavior in the greeting. If one dog is calm, but the other dog is tense or agitated, a perceived threatening movement could result in growling, showing teeth, or a bite – – – possibly even initiated by the dog that was initially calm. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable, remove him from the situation, walk around to calm him down, then try again. If your dog continues to be agitated or uncomfortable, leave the situation and try again another day.

If you’re concerned about a canine meeting, remain calm. All trainers will tell you that dogs can feel tension down the leash. If you’re tense, your dog will sense it and be on alert. If you can’t relax, leave the situation. If the dogs are okay with each other but the owners are tense, things could escalate because of the owners’ behaviors.

I’m constantly amazed by people who visit a meet and greet with their own dogs and plow into a group of strange dogs without a thought. Their actions tell me they are clueless about canine behavior. If that happens to you, take the high road and ask for a slower greeting just to be sure there are no problems.

When your dog behaves perfectly in a dog greeting, remember to give them lots of praise and loving for their good behavior.

February 17th, 2015|Training|

Please, No Retractable Leashes!

Retractable Leashes ……..……….…. Michele Czaja, with reference to Celebrating Greyhounds Magazine

IMG_3722If you are a GFFL adopter, you know that GFFL has a no-retractable-leash policy for greyhounds. Aside from offering little control over your dog, retractable leashes are dangerous for greyhounds. We have previously printed an article in the newsletter about greyhounds hanging themselves when they took off after something that caught their sight. Greyhounds have died or have been paralyzed as a result of running full tilt to the end of the retractable lead. The Spring 2009 issue of Celebrating Greyhounds magazine offered another take on the dangers of retractable leashes.

An experience dog owner was walking her golden retriever and her 18-month old greyhound in a park. The greyhound was on a retractable leash when the owner accidentally dropped the leash. The greyhound was spooked by the noise of the reel box and bolted. The reel box kept hitting the dog as he was running, resulting in further panic. When the owner finally caught the greyhound, he had a torn toe, a cut on his leg, and other bumps and bruises. The dog was in shock and was rushed to an emergency vet, followed by orthopedic surgeries. No doubt the owner spent several thousand dollars for the multiple surgeries required to repair the greyhound’s injuries.

In addition to the dangers, retractable leashes offer adopters very little control over their dogs. In an emergency, you cannot reel in the dog quickly enough to avoid a dangerous situation. Trying to grab the line to pull in the dog can result in serious injury to an adopter’s hand if the dog is pulling forward.

If you have a retractable leash, throw it out! Replace it with a good 4-to 6-foot lead. A 4- to 6-foot lead allows you to give your greyhound a leisurely walk, but enables you to easily rein in the greyhound when needed. A good leather lead will last forever – I still use the first leather leash I bought more than 30 years ago.

Now that you’ve thrown out your retractable leash (AND you can read on if you’ve never had a retractable leash), we always need to be attentive to our greyhound’s behavior while on a walk. Dogs out on a walk are highly stimulated by new sights, new smells, and movement. A greyhound living with cats, small dogs, or a greyhound with regularly met animal friends, views those animals as part of their pack. Cats and dogs met on a walk are not part of the greyhound’s pack and may be viewed as “prey”. It is important to watch for animals or for a change in the dog’s behavior – my greyhounds usually alert me to an animal off in the distance long before I’ve seen it by pricking their ears, an unwavering stare, or a rigid stance. If your dog sees something or exhibits alert behavior, it’s time to rein in your greyhound to a short lead – 12 inches. If the greyhound is overly attentive or shows fear or aggression, cross the street or reverse your direction. Taking a new path or direction will break your greyhound’s attention and will enable you both to resume a pleasant walk.

Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society. If your greyhound tangles with another pet, you could be sued and held responsible for veterinarian and other costs – – – even if you and your greyhound were not at fault. If your greyhound kills or injures a small animal on its own property, even if your dog was on leash, the dog may be impounded, labeled as a vicious dog, and euthanized. Animal control laws and owner liability differs from county to county. A quick web search of your county’s Animal Control or Health Department website will inform you about the laws and responsibilities of pet ownership.

Enjoy your walks with greyhounds – with the right equipment and attentiveness that your greyhound deserves!

February 17th, 2015|Training|

People Empowerment

People Empowerment Program (…or how to teach your dog to love, honor and obey you!)

Many dogs think their position is up at the top of the pack…as the leader. When that pack is a human family, this is not good. In order to elevate your own status and lower the dog’s, the dog must learn to respect and obey you. You don’t have to be physically strong to accomplish this. Instead, you control the dog’s life by his access to resources…the important stuff of life. The following are suggestions to help you adjust your dog’s rank in your “pack.” For major problems consider using all of them, for more minor problems you can pick and choose or vary the areas you control. Attention Your most important tool. Dogs need to interact with the rest of their “pack.” Every time you touch your dog, you are reinforcing the behavior that is happening at that moment – whether that’s whining, barking or shaking from fear. Use your praise wisely! Do not pet, stroke or touch your dog unless he does something to deserve it – like sit, down, etc. And ask him to sit each time he wishes some attention – make him earn your praise. Your dog should allow you to groom him at your will. Often dogs who seem to like attention actually only like it when THEY want it. Make it pleasant, but do brush him, check his teeth, trim his nails and generally manipulate him to your satisfaction, not his.

Food

He needs to know who is doing all the hunting in this family! Feed him twice a day, and have him watch while you put the food into his bowl. If he has growled when someone goes near his food, hand feed him at least the first few handfuls. Occasionally, prepare his bowl of food, then wait until you have eaten something (or appeared to) before you feed him. Or prepare his food and hand feed him something much better while he’s eating.

Territory

Control your environment – the yard, house and deck area. If your dog spends his days barking at people walking by the yard or at dogs on the ground below “his” deck, you’ll never stop bad behavior. You have to control the territory – keep him inside during the day, or build a solid fence that he cannot see through. • Attach a leash to your dog’s flat or leather collar (not to a “choke” chain), and have him drag it around the house. This gives him a sense of your control…and it gives you an invaluable tool when your dog misbehaves. Without going near the dog, you can grab or step on the leash quickly, saying “NO” at the same time. The length of the leash can vary with the dog’s problem….dogs that run away need a long (10 foot) light nylon leash; dogs that jump up on people or objects can use a shorter leash. You can do the same thing outside, but use a 15 to 30 foot leash. • Another indoor controller is a “tie-down.” Attach a 36 inch chain to the wall, using an eyebolt and latch. Bicycle chain is a good choice, because it usually is covered in rubber and won’t damage items. Attach the other end to the dog. Place it in a well-used area, like a kitchen or family room, and put a comfortable blanket or pillow on the floor for the dog to lie on. This is where he gets to munch on a “chewy”. He can’t interact with you, but you can with him. It takes control away from the dog….but does not replace it with anything bad (if the dog begins to get possessive of his “place,” move it every couple of days – or eliminate it and arrange for professional help). Only use tie-downs when you are home, and please don’t tie your dog outside. That actually creates aggression and never solves problems. • Restrict his access to doorways and thresholds and don’t allow him to precede you into or out of a room whenever he wants to, that’s an alpha behavior. Whoever controls the doorway controls the territory. Teach him “wait” to stop at doorways and “move” when he’s lying at the threshold. You don’t have to go through every doorway first (what a pain that would be!), but you should make sure he obeys your strictures to stop.

Sleeping Arrangements

High places are often seen as desirable to dogs and so are places where guardians rest. Keep your dog off your bed, couches and chairs. If you must have him on the bed, then make SURE he gets off cheerfully every time you ask. If he has EVER growled at you from a piece of furniture, he should be banished from all of them.  Crate or confine your dog at night, and when he cannot be watched. He doesn’t need run of the house any more than a 2 year old child does! Every once in a while, move his bed or actually sit in it…just to make sure it is really yours.

Toys and Play

Pick up all the dog’s toys and put them where he cannot get to them. Allow him to have one, two or more at a time, and when he’s finished with them, put them back. No tug of war games, no rough-housing unless you win. Don’t let him play “keep-away” with your objects, unless you can retrieve them easily (the indoor leash comes in very handy here!) Make sure he gets enough exercise – for big dogs, three miles a day is reasonable. Smaller dogs need less. Exercised dogs get into less trouble. Dogs are naturally most active in the morning and evening hours, and can learn to sleep through the day – which is handy for working guardians.  Play lots of ball, any retrieving game if he’ll do it. Make obedience work fun. Praise any good behavior, using your voice and petting. Don’t reinforce bad behavior at all.

General

Try not to lose your temper with your dog. You need to be in control (or at least appear to be!) • Hold at least two obedience sessions every day. Each session should be approximately 5-10 minutes, and should end on a successful note, even if you have to backtrack to make the dog complete an exercise well. If your dog has not gone to a class, take him. If your dog is trained well enough, have him hold a “down” position for 15 to 30 minutes per day. Though this seems like a great deal of work, most of these techniques can be worked into a normal day and become routine. It’s our experience that most dogs adjust nicely after a time and learn to be polite, well-behaved members of their family.

From The Marin Humane Society

February 17th, 2015|Training|

SOCIALIZING YOUR ADOPTED GREYHOUND…………….………..MARIAN POTT

Reprinted from the Fall 2006 Greyhound Friends for Life Newsletter

So you’ve welcomed your new greyhound into your home.  Ideally, you know something about how your ex-racer fared through the testing process following his track life when he became a part of the adoption program.  You may already know he may not do well with c-a-t-s, or small children and maybe you were even cautioned about his attention to small dogs.  Perhaps your home was dog-less before he joined your family, or maybe he’s coming into another greyhound home or a “dog” home with no other greyhounds.  Whatever the scenario, it is now up to you to continue the socialization into your hound’s new world.

Whether your dog is a single or now lives in a multiple dog household, he should be looked at as an individual canine with an emerging personality.  I say emerging because as many of us already know, an adopted dog begins a sort of transformation from the track to your home which over a period of weeks and months allows this dog to form canine to human bonds.  This process may include novelties such as tennis balls, squeaky toys, stairs, children, other pets, road trips, and a soft bed in or outside of a crate.

Living in a world of non-greyhounds, regardless of whether you have others or not, is also a new experience for many of our fast friends.  As a dog trainer of all breeds, including dozens of greyhounds, people often ask me about the best ways to socialize a new dog with other dogs outside of the dog’s own home pack, if there is one.  The question of dog parks often becomes a part of the conversation.  I, and most other trainers agree, believe that dog parks are best suited for already socialized dogs.  This does not mean you take your newly adopted dog and turn him loose in an enclosed park to see how he fares.  The running factor alone is enough to bring out chase aggression in other dogs, and even so-called “play” mouthing could send your tight-skinned hound to the vet for a suture job.  Your dog might also prove to be the aggressor, or at the very least, his curiosity towards that cute, little white dog might leave you anxious and perplexed as to what to do next.

Generally, my advice towards new adopters is to start in the dog’s home environment; that is, to take Swift for a neighborhood walk, without the company of other household dogs.  By focusing your attention on Swift, you’ll see his initial reactions towards kids, bikes, men, women, cars, other objects, perhaps even c-a-t-s.  Swift will begin forming his own opinions and learn about his new environment without initially feeding off the other dogs’ reactions; however, if Swift is shy or timid, taking him out with his more confident housemates and/or a friend or neighbor’s dog might prove extremely beneficial from the start.

Dog on dog socialization should also include obedience training in a group class or with a private trainer.  Either way, be sure to ask whether the trainer is greyhound-savvy, otherwise you may want to keep looking for other options.  Although many greyhounds can be taught to sit, it isn’t essential, especially at the beginning of your dog’s new life.  But I have had people tell me the trainer of their group class didn’t quite get that, nor did they always understand the prey drive of a keen sighthound.

If you’ve done your “homework” with Swift for a few weeks or months, then perhaps you are ready to visit the nearby dog park.  Dog parks can enhance your dog’s life and social skills.  They can also help with the training.  I advise adopters to take Swift for a training walk on the outside of the park, alternating working on his attention, heeling, and other new skills while also letting him absorb the goings-on inside the park, watching, taking it all in, sniffing.  Many dog parks also have a small dog area and this is an ideal way to gauge Swift’s reaction to watching the smaller dogs move around and interact with each other.  When I do take my own hounds into a dog park, I have already assessed the other types of dogs already there, playing style, breed types (for instance, herding breeds can be mouthier or more assertive as they “herd-play”), and I don’t necessarily take the leashes off until I see how the others will meet and also how attentive their owners are.  On occasion, I have left dog parks when play was too aggressive and owners did little to monitor their dogs’ behavior.  Fortunately, many parks are large enough to allow for different play areas.  Most dogs fare better with more space and no leashes.  Leashes can certainly accentuate dog aggression but are a necessary part of our dogs’ lives.

If your hound seems too keen with his scrutiny of the other dogs, especially the smaller variety, entering the dog park is not a good idea.  This may be the time to enlist the aid of a private trainer to further assess your dog and help you continue his training and socialization.  Hooking up with other greyhound people or more experienced dog owners may further help you and your dog.  Greyhounds make great companions for us humans and most can learn to live happily in a multiple dog environment while others may very well be suited for solitude.

Marian Pott is the owner/operator of Miramar Dog Training and lives in Half Moon Bay, California.  She shares her home with two greyhounds and two German Shepherds, one cat who would prefer a zero dog household, and three other humans (husband, daughter, son).  Questions about this article may be addressed to:  miramark9@comcast.net; or call 650-712-1192.

Editors Note:  Every year, GFFL receives calls from adopters whose greyhounds have been attacked at a dog park. In every case, the owner of the attacking dog has magically disappeared or has given a phony name and telephone number, leaving the adopter to pay for expensive veterinary bills.  As the article states, dog parks can be a good place for socializing your greyhound. However, checking for aggressive dogs or aggressive play before entering the park and maintaining unwavering vigilance while at the park is critical for keeping your greyhound safe. 

March 21st, 2014|Training|

I’m Riding in Your Car

Okay, when I asked the GFFL Board for information that they wanted to include in the next newsletter and they gave me this story idea, I thought, “Oops, I’m VERY guilty!” Just because dogs like hanging their heads out of car windows, does that mean we should let them?

Just because dogs like hanging their heads out of car windows, does that mean we should let them?

Dogs love sticking their heads out of the window when riding in the car. I had a greyhound girl who loved to stick her head out of the sunroof – imagine how that looked to the cars we passed. I admit, I let my dogs hang their heads out of the window, but only at low speeds – because I hate driving with windows open when driving at high speeds. Even at low speeds, your dog’s head and eyes are a target for bugs, small rocks, pieces of debris on the roadway, and dust. Small flying rocks cause significant damage to your windshield, even driving at slower speeds. Small rocks scratch and chip your car’s body. Think about what a rock could do to your dog’s eye, nose, ears, or face. Dogs’ ears are also at risk when they hang their heads out of car windows. Constant ear flapping can cause ear flaps to swell. Scar tissue can form in the soft tissue of the ears as a result of flying debris or flapping, which can result in permanent ear problems.

If your dog has allergies, he is more exposed dust and pollen rushing into his face, which can aggravate his condition.

A greyhound can jump out of a car if the windows are mostly or fully opened (it has happened!). If the dog is leashed or unleashed and jumps out of the window of a moving car, well, you all can imagine that tragedy.

When your greyhound is in the car, it’s best to limit open windows to 3-4 inches, max. And, as we enjoy some cool but sunny spring days, do not leave your greyhound in the car, even for a few minutes. The car’s inside temperature can rise quickly and become unsafe for dogs and kids. If you’re running errands, leave your dog at home and not in your parked car.

After writing this article and on my way home from a recent GFFL Meet and Greet, I cracked the back windows about two inches. The air blew in and my greyhound, George, had his nose at the window, enjoying the smells and rushing air. I kept him safe and he had a good time – a window win!

February 6th, 2014|Training|