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Prey Drive


Guest jaycee73
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Guest jaycee73

Hi All,

 

I'm fostering a stray greyhound. He's 5-6, and a big boy - looks very well muscled so I think he's fairly recent off the track. The adoption agency has no idea where he came from.

 

At any rate, his prey drive is such that he is on constant alert for small animals outdoors, and I cannot take his attention away. He will make every effort to get away if he sees something (anything) - even from quite a distance. Imagine an 85lb salmon on the end of a line and you get the idea. Lots of barking, jumping, twisting, writhing, and no chance of taking his attention away from what he is focused on until its out of sight for a good few minutes. Even then - next time we're at the same spot, he remembers something was there and goes looking for it.

 

I'm rather weary knowing that every time I go out, this is going to happen two or three times at the least. Anyone here have to deal with a dog like this? Any help?

 

Thanks in advance,

Judd

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I adopted my JJ back in June just weeks after he left the track. He has a very strong prey drive. Squirrels, cats, small dogs, and even the random blowing leaf! He is not quite as fixated as your guy, but he will spin and bark. I have been using a harness and collar at the same time if I think we may cross paths with critters. Can't give you a long term perspective on it, though!! Good luck!

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Robin, EZ (Tribal Track), JJ (What a Story), Dustin (E's Full House) and our beautiful Jack (Mana Black Jack) and Lily (Chip's Little Miss Lily) both at the Bridge
The WFUBCC honors our beautiful friends at the bridge. Godspeed sweet angels.

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Adjust the martingale every time you go out. Give him only 12 - 16 inches of leash. Walk with purpose and rather quickly. You're out for a walk, not a sniff. Keep moving. I've heard someone else on this forum say that they walk with a clicker in their leashless hand. Click when something gets his attention for longer than you'd like. You can do this. He'll soon understand that when he's attached to a leash, he's not dashing anywhere. My girl figured this out in 3 walks. They were 3 difficult walks, in all honesty, with pulling and tugging - but she got the picture. You can make him a great leash walker. What an amazing gift to give him. Good luck.

http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g240/mtbucket/siggies/Everyday-2.jpgJane - forever servant to the whims and wishes of Maggie (L's Magnolia of JCKC) and Sam the mutt pup.[/b]

She's classy, sassy and a bit smart assy.

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Guest TeddysMom

I feel your apprehension about walking this boy. My Spencer is very cat and squirel alert, if he sees either of these, the walk is basicly over. I have to drag him back to the house because he will not forget and get on with the walk. I've tried food and even good stinky things won't break the spell. I walk him with a collar and harness connected by a caribiner(sp?) Sometimes I am lucky and neither cats or squirels will show themselves, then he loves his walk. Good luck with your new foster and post if you find something that works.

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Hi and welcome!

 

I'm sorry you're having some problems with this big guy. I know it can be hard to walk a high prey grey, and hopefully someone will chime in soon who's dealt with this personaly.

 

My only thoughts would be to make sure you have a secure hold on him, as he's so focused when he sees a small furry. Maybe walk him with a harness AND a martigale - at least you will have two points of contact intead of one. Not everyone likes the head halter option, but it also might give you some better control. If he's at all food motivated, you need to really up the ante as far as treat value to get him to pay attention. Something really really stinky and smelly and yummy - stinky cheese or liverwurst - something that can distract his attention. It may not exist for your guy, but it's worth a try. Make sure you are super vigilant when out with him and try and anticipate problems so you can distract him before he gets all worked up.

 

Good luck.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Guest krystolla

It's a long shot, but is there any other way you can exercise this guy before you walk him? Maybe if he's even the least bit tired he might be easier to handle.

 

Though I guess if you had a fenced area to run this guy around you wouldn't be stressing about the walks. :(

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Can you read his tattoo's to try and find out some history on him?

 

Do you have to walk him. He might be one that does not walk well on a lead. Does better off in his own yard.

Edited by Tallgreydogmom

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Then God sent the Greyhound to live among man and remember. And when the Day comes,

God will call the Greyhound to give Testament, and God will pass judgment on man.

(Persian Proverb)

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Guest jaycee73

Hi All,

 

He's on a gentle leader. Although I don't know how gentle it really is. Its been sewn back together because he chews at it when he's writhing around. He's already managed to back out of a martingale. If I manage to see something he doesn't, then bonus, but more oft than not - he's spied his prey before I have. Cookies and treats are useless here, as is our yard - he's not motivated to run unless something is worth chasing.

 

Any good books on dealing with prey drive that anyone knows of?

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Pretty much what maggiespet said -- short leash, walk fast -- plus obedience class. Unfocus yourself from his prey drive -- which you can't change -- and consider it as a matter of leash manners -- which you can change. Work on heeling indoors where distractions are minimal and he gets the idea of "Heel!" and reward and paying attention to you.

 

Also, if there's a safe fenced area available where he can blow off some steam with a toy before going for a walk, he'll likely be more controllable and pay more attention.

Edited by Batmom

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I have a big (90 lbs) boy who is not so much prey-drive motivated as "I hate other dogs" motivated, but his reaction is the same. I use a harness, much better control than a collar, and he is less likely to hurt himself. I also have a leash with a "handle", so I can keep him close if I need to. I try to walk at times when there are less likely to be distractions, I am hyper alert to everything around us, and I muzzle him so he doesn't take out his redirected aggression on my other dogs. Once he sees a strange dog, he is oblivious to treats, my voice, or anything else.

 

This makes him sound like a monster, but really, most of the time he is a happy dog and we walk along on a relaxed leash. He has gotten a little better, but he will always be reactive to other dogs. Your foster will probably get better over time too, but you will always have to be alert.

Edited by Remolacha
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Hi All,

 

He's on a gentle leader. Although I don't know how gentle it really is. Its been sewn back together because he chews at it when he's writhing around. He's already managed to back out of a martingale. If I manage to see something he doesn't, then bonus, but more oft than not - he's spied his prey before I have. Cookies and treats are useless here, as is our yard - he's not motivated to run unless something is worth chasing.

 

Any good books on dealing with prey drive that anyone knows of?

 

This is more than "prey drive." That would imply dogs with high prey drive cannot learn to walk properly on a leash. This is also bad manners and a general lack of training. I'd deal with this big boy like I would any other large adult dog with rotten leash manners! I'd "learn him up"!

 

I assume the name Judd (yours) is a man's name? These days who knows, right? colgate.gif Anyway, teach him to heel. What you REALLY need is a good general training book.

When I first got George, it was literally painful walking him. His foster Mom found it difficult walking him, so she kept the walks very short--as someone said, teaching him how to walk nicely will be a huge gift to him, as he's more likely to find a home if he's not a beast on a leash!

 

It'll be a challenge, and while he may never IGNORE distractions, I think he should be manageable with proper training.

 

Good luck!


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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When he backed out of the martingale was he able to do it while you pulled down on the leash? If so the fit may not have been correct.

Do not get a Petsmart (or similar) harness. Get the correct kind for a greyhound.

That said, one of my greys easily slipped out of a greyhound-specific harness until someone showed me how to have it fit correctly.

Ditto what was mentioned above: keep the leash short, slip knot it on your wrist, make the walk all business/ no sightseeing.

 

Is there another greyhound owner who could go on some walks with you?

 

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having the right tools, correct halter(wiggles,wags and whiskers), a martingale that is tight enough(it should not just slip off the head and when you pull it tight there should be around 2 fingers of fabric inbetween the rings), a leather leash(most likely 1/2" or cotton web leash NOT NYLON) will all help w/ some basic training.

 

there will be lots of work to get him focused on you, but have the correct tools first, things will be easier.communicate w/ the adoption group for physical support, it will be there if you ask.

 

i think there is a section of holding a leash and fitting a collar somewhere on g/t.

be patient and strong!

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Another thought is to search for some posts from Giselle here on GT for "Look at Me" training or clicker training which might help correct both bad manners and prey focus. She's posted some greyt training videos in the past.

Jan with precious pups Emmy (Stormin J Flag) and Simon (Nitro Si). Missing my angels: Bailey Buffetbobleclair 11/11/98-17/12/09; Ben Task Rapid Wave 5/5/02-2/11/15; Brooke Glo's Destroyer 7/09/06-21/06/16 and Katie Crazykatiebug 12/11/06 -21/08/21. My blog about grief The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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Yes, Doc was not unlike this when I adopted him. He is a big strong dog (86 lbs) who came to me aged 4 and straight from the adoption kennels.

 

To begin with he thought he needed to chase anything that moved - cats, squirrels, plastic bags blowing in the breeze. He would also 'stalk' statues - early on we ended up with him standing with his front paws four feet off the ground in the basin of a Victorian drinking fountain, thinking that there had to be a real animal behind the lion mask the water used to come out of!

 

To be honest I don't think this is that unusual a problem with ex-racers. Remember that all their life, and their training to date, has been geared towards ENCOURAGING their chase instinct. It's our role as adopters/ fosterers to introduce them to a wider world, and teach them that they no longer need to chase everything that moves. Thank you for taking this boy on, I'm sure with a bit of patience you'll be able to help him.

 

Others have given you good advice about how to teach him to walk nicely on leash/ignore distractions, all I will add is that what helped us was time and patience. Gradually I learnt what was likely to set him off, and the signs that he was wanting to chase, and how to deal with that (watch the ears - you have a split second after those go up to recall his attention!). And he learnt that chasing was no longer always expected of him... these days (four and a bit years on) he definitely still has a prey drive, but is a delight to walk on lead, and works as a therapy dog too.

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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I've dealt with a high-prey drive dog and you CAN teach them to walk nicely on the lead - it's very hard work, but it can be done, with most of them at least.

 

As someone else said, this isn't just 'high prey' this is also lack of training, so that's how we approached it. Stinky cheese (tiny bits) in one hand, leash with properly adjusted martingale collar (and linked to a second collar if necessary) in the other. The way to do it is to reward the tiniest moment when he sees something and doesn't react, and start with low expectations: if he sees a dog 500 yards away and merely comes to full alert without lunging, reward that. If he can't help barking but doesn't lunge, you might need to catch that moment first and reward that until he gets the idea. Whichever way round you do it, you then begin making him work harder for his treat by waiting till he's a little bit closer and maintaining the 'good' behaviour, and then a little bit closer still, and so on. But you have to start by rewarding the tiniest moment - for instance, if you can catch him while he's drawing the breath to bark/whine/yodel, but is still actually (for that second) quiet. And you have to take it in tiny, tiny stages, and go back a stage each time he fails.

 

My advice would be to start immediately working on training indoors, with no distractions, and use a clicker. Clicker training is great for these highly reactive dogs because with a clicker you can catch the half second of good behaviour by marking it with the click which tells the dog he did something right, and then the reward can follow as quickly as humanly possible. Then when you are out and about, what you are trying to achieve is to reward him for being in the presence of something exciting without reacting, but you need to take this in very, very small 'baby steps'. You can't expect him to become calm and quiet immediately, so you go for (for instance) 'quiet while doing the salmon thing' first, then 'keeping his feet on the ground' (even though he might be straining at the end of the leash and literally shaking with the desire to kill something) - or whichever way round is easier for him. Tiny steps. You really do have to reward a second's worth of good behaviour in the first part of this training.

 

A good book, if you can find it, is 'When Pigs Fly' by Jane Killion. It's about training 'impossible' dogs and very 'stubborn' breeds, and it works!

 

It took me five months to get my Susan to the stage where we could stand and talk to someone with another dog (not too close, but not shouting distance either), and she'd put herself behind me and studiously not look. We lost her then, sadly, to kidney cancer ... not sure how she'd have done eventually, but I know I'd never have trusted her off lead/unmuzzled with anything other than a greyhound or whippet. Still, I could walk two dogs without having my arms pulled out of their sockets, and I'm guessing that's what you're aiming for!

 

Good luck!

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Guest jaycee73

Hi All,

 

Thanks for all the words of encouragement. We'll keep at it, check out the book and probably schedule some training sessions. I know its tough to get him to stop being this way after a racing career. In fact, we took him coursing last month and he did very well. I didn't expect such a freakshow on the streets, however. Our other grey is much easier to handle and doesn't really care about small furry things nowadays.

 

Cheers,

J

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Guest greytloves

Boy, sounds like you have your hands full! Not much to add, but I will say that you may be pushing him too far, too fast. If it was me, I would work with him indoors on a lead to get his attention to you and your voice commands before going back out. If he is that hard to handle, you are running a huge risk of him actually escaping and that type of dog would also be a real challenge to get back.

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My first grey was 85 lbs. straight track muscle - 4 years old - RACER. PREY drive to extreme.

 

So. I established that I run the show but I'm no bully. To him - I'm the favorite - I play - I have the treats - I give the food - I'm the FAVORITE. AND... most important - I'm the boss. I KNOW what's going on. I give the diretions - I take care of things. I NEVER intimidate, treaten or push. I just lead, confidently. So - in the dogs' mind - I'm not only "cool" but..... "the one who knows what to do"...the LEADER. B)

 

So - after you've done that - when walking a high-prey dog, wrap the leash around your waist - and proceed with confidence. Start out with small walks. Correct immediately. And go home. Work up to bigger walks when the dog "gets" it.

 

In my house - no dog will make an idiot of me in public. A dog acting out - is a dog that I should've worked with more. SMALL SMALL steps.

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