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ABOUT GREYHOUNDS
Questions & Answers
 
Please note: We are not experts, far from it, but over the years we have gained knowledge of Greyhounds which we think may be of help to others rehoming their new Greyhound. This page contains a sample of the information from my book 'Caring for my Rescued Greyhound'. When I mention him I also mean her.


We've had our dog since a pup and thought his training went well but he's now 12 months old and slipped into some ways we are not happy about, why is this when we did so much training with him when he was young?

Our greyhound walks really nicely on the lead but when a vehicle approaches he pulls and tries to do a 'U' turn and can be quite difficult to hold.

We live in the countryside and often walk our dog off the lead but she gets very excited and wants to chase anything she sees - cats, sheep, deer, cattle and cars. How can I stop her doing this?

Our lurcher was a stray and her history is unknown, but she loves looking for things to chase, and running after rabbits (and a cat, once or twice) so I have to be very careful with her. I bought a book which it said that if you don't allow a lurcher to chase anything it will become unhappy, and it's possible to just train it to chase rabbits. I read your comments (re LEAVE -training) and wonder what your thoughts are on this?

My lurcher is very sweet natured, gentle and friendly, but has this habit of sometimes stopping dead when on the lead, usually when she is about to come in the front gate on the way back from a walk, but also sometimes at other times -( ie she seems to be saying" I want to go this way, not that" and then she digs her heels in). I've tried coaxing her on with titibits, which works to an extent, but may be reinforcing the bad habit, but it's impossible to pull her on or get her moving, and if I just wait, she sometimes lies down!


Our greyhound doesn't like wearing a coat and as soon as we put it on her she starts jumping about, and not at all happy, so we have to take it off. We have started putting a small towel on her back
when she's walking about the house, but she still doesn't like that either.


How can I teach my Greyhound to come back to me when she is off the lead?

Why does our Greyhound sometimes back away and growl at people wanting to stroke him.

How can I stop my dog from barking at passing dogs?


How can we stop our greyhound being so grumpy? When he is disturbed from his sleep at night  he gets up and growls and snaps and bears his teeth. Otherwise he's fine.

Our Greyhound is really friendly but will insist on jumping up to greet people and their clothes often get dirty as a result. How can we discourage this?

I have just had my dog neutered - Why does he still react to a bitch in season?

I have just had my dog neutered - Why does he try to ride other dogs?


The following information should be used as a guide only because situations and dogs vary. However, we are including them because we find they work for us and our Greyhounds.

A water sprayer, which is basically a plastic flower sprayer filled with cold water can be used to control a number of common problems. Don't use it on the fine spray but the sharpest one. However, we emphasize it should be used with care and NOT used to tease or turned into a game otherwise it produces the adverse affect.

When trying to resolve problems be very careful to praise the good behaviour and not the behaviour you are trying to resolve because with dogs there is a very fine line between the two. It can often be difficult to differentiate between the two whilst the problem is occurring so after each event review what happened. Go over it stage by stage to see how your dog AND you reacted to ensure you did what you were suppose to do and praised him correctly. It is natural behaviour for a human to comfort a child if the child is anyway unsure of a situation such as going to the dentist but with a dog the same behaviour can often have the opposite effect and confirm their need to be frightened so if he is unsure at the vet ignore his behaviour and act as if going to there is a normal and everyday thing to do. He will see you are not concerned so he will come to think then why should he be. Likewise, if your dog runs off and doesn't come back immediately the temptation is to reprimand him when he comes back for the running off, however, the dog will see it that you are reprimanding him for coming back and not the running off so he will think twice about coming back to you the next time. There is a very fine line between the two.


We've had our dog since a pup and thought his training went well but he's now 12 months old and slipped into some ways we are not happy about, why is this when we did so much training with him when he was young?

Like children pups develop through stages towards adulthood. A puppy can be trained and will do very well until about 9 to 12 months old when they go through adolescence. Suddenly, like our teenagers they go through that rebellious teenage stage when they try to push the boundaries as far as they can and suddenly all the good you've taught seems to go out the window. This is where he is at present and you need to teach him YOU are the pack leader and he does what YOU want him to do and NOT what he wants to do so you need to take a step back and re-iterate the training you did with him as a puppy to help him through this stage.

If you don't re-iterate your training he will have pushed his boundaries to a point he won't know where he stands and then problems can be set for life if you are not careful. Imagine the scenario – you drive along a road each morning to work which has a 30mph speed limit. If you drive fewer than 30 you won't get into trouble but if you go over that speed you stand the chance of getting caught and reprimanded because you have broken the rule. Say the speed limit on the road varies daily and is 30 one day, 40 another and 20 another but you don't know what the speed is and on which day so you drive at the speed you think you can get away with because you don't know the boundary at which point you will be reprimanded so you take chances and go as fast as you dare. The same is for a dog who isn't constantly being trained and given guidance - you can never give your dog too much training - thus the very old saying ‘a trained dog is a happy dog' because it knows your boundaries and because he want to please he will be content because he knows the rules beyond which he will be reprimanded, which he won't want.

Our greyhound walks really nicely on the lead but when a vehicle approaches he pulls and tries to do a 'U' turn and can be quite difficult to hold.
Your greyhound may have lived on a farm, on a quiet allotment or in a racing kennel where he was exercised on fields and never walked where there was traffic so it's alien to him. He may also have been involved in an incident where a vehicle may have gone too close to him and frightened him so now all traffic frightens him. When you walk him in an area where there is traffic walk him close to you but not so close that he can't move his head. When he's walking nicely by your side tell him he's a good boy, occasionally stroke his head and say softly 'quiet, there's a good lad, quiet'. When a vehicle approaches either from the front or from behind don't say anything, slow your walking down so when the vehicle gets to the point he's distressed you are standing still and holding the lead firmly but not too restrictive. Say nothing, act calm as if what you are doing is perfectly normal, don't react to his 'jumpy' behaviour and give him time to stand and watch the vehicle pass. A few seconds after its' gone start walking again and call his name to follow you. If he ignores you give his lead a gently pull towards you and call his name again until he is back level with you and you can start walking normally again. When he is walking calmly by your side casually stroke his head and say 'quiet, there's a good lad, quiet'.
You will probably notice he can accept traffic coming towards him much earlier than traffic coming from behind. He will reach a point where instead of stopping and doing a 'U' turn to look at the traffic from behind it will change to stopping and looking over his shoulder, then walking forward and looking over his shoulder, to continue walking and looking up at it as it passes and finally, to walking and ignoring it - be patient, it won't happen over night and might take weeks or months but if you act normal to the traffic the vibes you give off will pass over to him. In acting perfectly normal and saying nothing to him when the vehicle is causing him distress he will begin to think - 'if he's (she's) not bothered about it then why do I have to be'. If you show distress, panic or a reaction other than being calm and acting normal then you will reinforce his belief that he has something to fear. By stroking him on his head and talking to him when he is quietly walking by your side you are rewarding him for his quiet behaviour and by ignoring his panic attack as the vehicle is passing you are reassuring him there is no need to fear.

We live in the countryside and often walk our dog off the lead but she gets very excited and wants to chase anything she sees - cats, sheep, deer, cattle and cars. How can I stop her doing this?
I know its lovely to see them running off the lead and having fun but a dog off the lead is NOT under the control of it's owner. She's been given the chance and she's overstepped the mark so now she has to be on the lead at all times during her re-training and until she EARNS her freedom to run again. She has to learn that being off the lead is associated with good behaviour and doing what YOU want her to do and not her right to do what she wants to do. Keep her on a close lead at all times and use the command ‘leave' at every appropriate opportunity to curb her need to chase. Don't allow her to have eye contact with what she wants to chase so in addition to saying leave to her change the angle that you are walking her so she has her side or back to what she wants to chase. This may mean your walks are a bit unusual to begin with but you want to distract her attention and avoid eye to eye contact with what she wants to chase. If you are concerned she's not getting enough exercise ‘power walk' with her– it's good for you and it allows her to walk faster than just a normal walk. Also as you speed up and slow down to take a breath she will do the same thus making her become more in tune with what you are doing because you will find she ‘paces' you.

Starting today teach her the ‘leave' command using my notes.  Basically, use a biscuit or treat and a plant spray full of cold water set to a fast jet NOT to a spray. Facing her have the spray in one hand, put a treat on the floor using the other one.  She will want to dive for the treat so cover it with your hand, spray her sharply in the face with the water spray and say ‘leave' in a deep growly tone at the SAME time.  Under NO circumstances must she EVER pick it up.  After she's been sprayed and you uncover the treat she will try again so repeat the scenario again and again until upon the word 'leave' she stands back looking at the treat, standing still away from you or better still leaving the room completely.  At this point you can pick up the treat call her to you and give it to her.

The leave command is used for ‘don't you dare touch that no matter how much you want to – so don't even think about it'.  Use it when she sees a cat, rabbit, cattle, sheep, horses, trains, vehicles and bikes – to begin with you will probably be saying the word ‘leave' more than any other one but we regard it as being the most important first command to teach them.  To begin with take the water spray out with you on walks so you can use the word leave and spray her in the face at the same time so she associates the two together.  Be vigilant, be her eyes and watch to see what she is going to watch so the moment you see her looking at something you don't want her to touch you can tell her to leave.  With perseverance and consistency she will very, very quickly upon hearing the word give you a look from the corner of her eye and make it very apparent she's not looking at the target but looking elsewhere as soon as you say or are about to say the word leave.

Can I please stress that children must NEVER use the water spray on a dog or even tease them with it otherwise a very good training aid will be of no use and will make the dog's training harder to accomplish.

Our Lurcher was a stray and her history is unknown, but she loves looking for things to chase, and running after rabbits (and a cat, once or twice) so I have to be very careful with her. I bought a book which it said that if you don't allow a Lurcher to chase anything it will become unhappy, and it's possible to just train it to chase rabbits. I read your comments (re LEAVE -training) and wonder what your thoughts are on this?
As you know we are not experts but been involved with a number of dogs over the years and really think the comment that if you don't let your Lurcher chase anything she will be unhappy is questionable and personally I think rubbish. The reason she is 'keen' on looking for something to chase maybe because she was a stray, you don't know her history so you don't know her past or how long she was a stray so she's had to fend for herself and no wonder she's looking to chase anything that is edible and moves. Bless her!

Yes use the command 'leave' in conjunction with the cold water spray EVERY time she shows the signs she wants to chase something. Remember the word 'leave' means "you do NOT touch that NO matter how much you want to". Watch for the warning signs that she's seen something - usually they stand very still with their ears in the air - it's a two/three second warning you have before they go for it so when it happens or you see something she wants to chase bring her in so she is on a very short lead at about arms length giving you maximum control over her but not too close that you are practically strangling her as that will make matters worse. Tell her to 'leave' and squirt her in the face at the same time then turn her around so she is facing away from what she wants to chase and allow her no eye contact with it whatsoever. Use yourself as a barrier if need be and force walk her in the opposite direction, even if it's only round in a circle continuing to say the word 'leave' and squirting her until she calms down and shows signs of loosing interest. At the point she has lost interest you must say 'quiet, good girl' in a low soft calming voice, stroke her on the head and then praise her for being good. What you are doing is reprimanding her for her chase behaviour and praising her for her quiet and calm behaviour. Depending upon her nature she may pick it up fairly quickly what pleases you and what doesn't but persist with it and be consistent and you WILL win. After all you want to take her for enjoyable walks not frustrating ones and in time she will do.

My Lurcher is very sweet natured, gentle and friendly, but has this habit of sometimes stopping dead when on the lead, usually when she is about to come in the front gate on the way back from a walk, but also sometimes at other times -( ie she seems to be saying" I want to go this way, not that" and then she digs her heels in). I've tried coaxing her on with tit bits, which works to an extent, but may be reinforcing the bad habit, but it's impossible to pull her on or get her moving, and if I just wait, she sometimes lies down!
She probably does this when she is being asked to do something she isn't sure of. Perhaps in the past she has been cornered or had an experience in an enclosed area and the memory is still too fresh so she thinks you are going to do the same. She hasn't been with you long enough to realize that you are not and that she is going through that gate into her home or 'kennel' - it will come in time but she needs time and reassurance.

When a Greyhound or Lurcher digs it's heals in it's almost impossible to move them and pulling on the lead makes matters worse because the instinct makes them pull against what is pulling them. They may also shake their head and shake it out of its collar leaving you with a loose dog.

We find if they dig their heals in because they don't want to go somewhere we show no frustration or fear, lighten our attitude, act normal and walk her back in the opposite direction, round in a circle and back in through the gate again. She will think she is moving away, relax and if you do it at a fast walk, momentum will get her through the gate before she realizes and you praise her profusely or, if she only gets part way through before she digs her heals in then by wrapping your arm around her back end you should be able to pull her forward sufficient to get her through (we've had to do this with Lester) then keep things light and praise her once she is in the garden. Keep the whole thing light, act normal and almost make it into a game so she gets a praise and a cuddle at the end.

Another way is to use a drinks can or plastic bottle containing some pebbles or gravel. When she reaches the point she won't go through the gate throw the can or bottle behind her (making sure you don't hit her). The noise of it hitting the pavement will startle her making her move out of the way towards safety - you, and you can ensure she comes to you because she is on the lead anyway and you can guide her towards you. Upon her reaching you praise her for coming to you, ignore the can or bottle and walk on as if nothing has happened. When she is inside the house nip back out and pick up the can or bottle to use again.

Our Greyhound doesn't like wearing a coat and as soon as we put it on her she starts jumping about until we have to take it off. We have started putting a small towel on her back when she's walking about the house, but she still doesn't like that either.
It may be she's never worn a coat before so doesn't know what it is and by putting a coat on she thinks you are going to hurt her. It may represent a nasty experience or a previous owner. It could be the Velcro fastening - it could be anything.

Make light of it all and act as if it's normal that she wears a coat. Turn her coat into a happy experience.

Leave the coat where she can see it so it becomes part of her normal way of life and if it has a Velcro fastening do it up and undo it a few times each day so she gets used to the noise - It may not be the coat but the noise of the Velcro fastening. If it is the coat use little pieces of chicken, ham or cheese (not doggy treats as they are given as normal for other things). Show her the coat and give her some chicken and praise her so she associates the coat with getting a treat and praise. Put the coat over her head so its dangling round her neck and for the second BEFORE she jumps about give her a bit of chicken and praise her. This will not only help to take her mind of what she's trying to do to the coat and it's focusing her thoughts on what you are doing and that you are doing something nice - you are giving her some chicken and a praise. It will make her stop and think about what is going on. Greyhounds are very clever and it won't take her long to realize the coat means chicken and a praise which is good.

A couple of minutes later do it again until she comes to realize that having the coat round her neck means she gets a treat and praise. Slowly progress to laying the coat over her back and giving her chicken for letting it stay there moving onto fastening it. All the time you are dealing with her be happy, joyful, smile and higher the tone of your voice.

Be very careful at the beginning because there is a very grey area where if you are not careful you could be rewarding her for not wanting the coat on. At the beginning you may only have seconds to give her the chicken and praise her before she tries to shake it off. Don't give her anything once she starts to do this otherwise she may read it as you are rewarding her for shaking it off.

If there are two of you and you can get the coat tied on her before she goes out do it just before she goes out and walk her outside at a fast walk so she has to concentrate on walking and not shaking her body to remove the coat. Treat the walk as normal and ignore her attempts at removing the coat but the MOMENT she stops trying to shake it off praise her. This way you are IGNORING her bad behaviour and REWARDING her for being good. She will soon pick up what you are trying to do.

How can I teach my Greyhound to come back to me when she is off the lead?
When she's off the lead you have no control over her. If she sees something she wants to chase she will be off and no amount of calling will bring her back because they focus 100% on the chase.

Whilst she is new to you keep her on the lead and using a long rope teach her recall, rewarding her with treats (we use Maltesers as they can't resist them, once they learn how to hold them between their back teeth and bite!).

When she comes back to you on demand using the rope take her into a small enclosed area with no other dogs around such as a tennis court or small field where she can't get out and use the same technique off the rope until she comes back to you each time. Remember if she doesn't come back straight away but comes back in the end you MUST praise her. If you reprimand her for not coming back straight away when she gets to you, you are in her eyes reprimanding her for coming back - she has forgotten the not coming back bit so the next time you want her back she won't come to you because she will think she will be reprimanded. If you take a friend you can stand a distance apart and keep calling her each other, each person praising her and giving her a treat when she reaches them.

Why does our Greyhound sometimes back away and growl at people wanting to stroke him?
Greyhounds as with other rescued animals inevitably have a past we know nothing or little about and many have been hit or abused, which can cause them to be very wary of their surroundings. When you meet a friend your dog can tell by your tone of voice, body language and perspiration that this person is a friend, likewise, someone you don't like. When you meet people who fall between these two categories your dog may find it hard, especially if he's been hurt in the past, to read from your body language whether the person is a friend or not. This, along with the way the person approaches him will initiate him to be friendly, back away or growl.
Watch your dog - who does he do it to and how do they approach him? Does he do it to just men, people in overalls, wax jackets and caps or people of a certain build? Do these people try to pat him on the head or stroke him without speaking to him? Is their approach fast or slow? Are they smiling? Is the person carrying anything?
When someone approaches your Greyhound and wants to stroke him ask them to do it a certain way and explain he may have been hit in the past and is now wary - you may be surprised how many people don't know how to approach a strange dog and why the dog reacts to them the way they do when all they want to do is stroke it.
A hand going palm down, whether fast or slow towards the dog's head is regarded as an aggressive gesture and for all the dog knows he's going to be hit again so he backs away or growls. Ask people to talk to him and show him the back of their hand first, which is a passive gesture. Hold the back of the hand limply in front of his nose so he can smell the scent. After he has been given time to do this move the back of the hand against the side of his head and begin to stroke it, then, still keeping it close to the head, slowly turn the hand and stroke the top of the head. In approaching your dog this way he is given time to assess the situation and realize he needn't be quite so wary and, as time goes by, will be able to accept that people approaching him will not hurt him when you are around.

How can I stop my dog from barking at passing dogs?
Dogs bark at passing dogs for various reasons - they might want to play or they might be frightened of the other dog. Basically, they are saying 'hey keep away from me I'm a viscious dog' but really he's saying 'I'm frightened of you so keep away from me' - its' all talk. If this is the case, then we have to show him this is not the time to play nor is there any need to be frightened.

We are assuming your dog is on the lead, so when you approach another dog and barking begins you must act indifferent to show the dog there is no need to be frightened. As you approach the dog keep yours close to you but at a distance from the other dog (dogs, like people, have their own private space and if they feel the other dog is going to invade it they will bark to keep them back). Keep him under control on the lead but not so tight that he can't move his head because he needs to show the other dog his body language. If you hold a dog's collar too tight in a situation like this it's similar to you holding someone's head tight with your hand over their mouth and expecting them to act normal - they can't. Give your dog a little space, keep calm, spray him in the face with cold water from the water spray and say 'No' at the same time. Say it quietly yet firmly. You must stay calm, ignore other people around you, concentrate on your dog and keep spraying him and saying 'No' till he stops barking. As soon as he stops stroke him on the head and say the word 'quiet' over and over again whilst he is quiet. When he barks again squirt him in the face with water saying the word 'No' at the same time until he stops. When he stops, stroke him and say 'quiet'. By this time the other dog will probably have passed and you can carry on with your walk. If your dog tries to follow the other dog, you turn and start walking backwards calling your dog to you whilst walking backwards and use the 'watch me' command to distract him (see basic commands). If you do this each time he barks at other dogs he will soon associate the water spray with 'No' as being inappropriate and the stroking with the word 'quiet' as being correct. We are aiming to teach him there is no need to bark and if he does, then the word 'quiet' will quiet him.

I have just had my dog neutered - Why does he still react to a bitch in season?
After your dog has been neutered it can take up to three or four months (sometimes less, sometimes longer) for his testosterone hormone level to drop to the point whereby he stops being interested in other bitches. At the beginning, don't leave him around a bitch in season as it can frustrate him because his head will tell him to do it but his body won't be able to, which can distress him.

I have just had my dog neutered - Why does he try to ride other dogs?
When a dog is first neutered his hormone balance is upset and for a few days some become confused with dogs they meet who are already neutered. Some find it difficult to determine whether a neutered dog is male or female so they try to 'ride' them to the other dog's disgust. When his hormone balance settles down this will stop.

How can we stop our greyhound being so grumpy? When he is disturbed from his sleep at night  he gets up and growls and snaps and bears his teeth. Otherwise he's fine.
Is there any reason why you need to wake him in the night? When your dog goes to his bed it's because he wants peace and quiet or it's night time so he sleeps.  Dogs have heavy and light sleep patterns the same as humans do and he, like you and I are grumpy if suddenly woken from asleep.  The reaction he is giving you is a natural one, the same way you might snap and grumble at your partner if he woke you up in the middle of the night.
There is an old saying ‘let sleeping dogs lie' but if you do have to wake him in the night do it gradually.  Firstly put the light on and allow him to hear you walking around as you are getting yourself sorted out, put a radio on, quietly talk to him all the time so if he is in a deep sleep he has time to come out of it naturally and by the time you go over to him he is beginning to wake up and knows it's you.  We do this when we are going away on holiday and have to get up at a funny time to set off.
We get onto the floor and say goodnight to each dog in their bed in turn before we go to bed, give them a stroke and a cuddle before saying goodnight.  If we go to bed before 11.30 pm Bobby is fine but if we stay up later and say goodnight to him after 11.30 pm he often gives a low grumble because he is tired and wants to sleep.  Bobby is 9½ and he's been doing it as long as I can remember.  If he does grumble I usually sit up and say in a deep growly voice, but not loud ‘oy that's me you're talking to, you don't do that, I've only come to say goodnight' then I bend down and give him another stroke and say goodnight, which he allows me to do.  In doing this he knows that although he is the ‘alpha' among dogs I am the ‘alpha' or the one in charge overall.  If Bobby were to snap or bear his teeth as yours does then I would do all the above but approach him with a water spray bottle, the type you use for spraying house plants.  It's not cruel so fill it with cold water and set the spray to a jet.  When he growls or snarls spray him in the face and at the same time say ‘NO'.  He will soon learn that a snarl gets him water in the face but a nice greeting gets him a cuddle.  Usually, after a couple of sprays or so the site of the spray bottle is enough to stop them doing what they are about to do.  However, I reiterate 'let sleeping dogs lie' so it's best to leave him to sleep in peace if at all possible.

Our Greyhound is really friendly but will insist on jumping up to greet people and their clothes often get dirty as a result. How can we discourage this?
Many people think it very amusing to be welcomed by a dog jumping up at you especially a puppy but not so pleased when the puppy is grown up and covers you and your friends with dirty foot prints or knocks you over. You can discourage this – when the dog jumps up, take a front foot in each hand, look the dog in the face showing no sign of pleasure, gently squeeze the dog's feet to give discomfort but not so hard as to hurt him and slowly push the dog away from you until he has all four feet back on the ground. As you are pushing the dog's feet away from you say firmly, but not loudly, the word ‘OFF'. The whole procedure should be done calmly, showing no signs you are pleased to see him and slowly so he doesn't loose his balance and fall over.
Greyhounds are quick to learn and will soon work out that if he jumps up at you his feet are going to be squeezed and he will not get the greeting he wants but if he greets you without jumping up you give him a warm welcome.



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