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Training For Fun Options For Greys


Guest Patton
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Guest Patton

I'm curious to know about what types of activities might be fun for greys. I'm believe that dogs enjoy having a "job" or something that they can excell at using their brains in addition to their brawn. Do these guys like to "fetch"? I'm thinking they could have a fabulous time with Frisbees, but what about their jaw structure...... a no go?. Agility is a favorite go to activity for me also, not at a competitive level but just for fun. My first plan after settling in and just getting to know our new pet will be CGC course. Have a friend that is a certifier/trainer and it will be fun to have a dog in her class.

 

On a side note I just got finished talking with my 87 yo dad..... he hasn't been taking his pug, Suzy, to the dog park for a while now due to the heat but I told him I was working on adopting a greyhound. He was pretty excited for me since he also had fond memories of our childhood gh girl, Blue, and then went on to tell me that there were a few that visited the local dog park regularly. Went on to say that they run around and play........ then lay down when pooped out. I haven't visited this dog park with my dogs but was happy to hear that there were other ghs here and it sounds like they have fun playdates together. It's a beautiful park........ hope there's not too many "problem owners"!

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Guest Wasserbuffel

My grey will fetch, but only inside the house and only for a couple minutes.

 

I'm thinking about doing nose work with my grey. She's pretty 'nosey', so I think it would be something she would enjoy doing.

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My grey will fetch, but only inside the house and only for a couple minutes.

 

I'm thinking about doing nose work with my grey. She's pretty 'nosey', so I think it would be something she would enjoy doing.

 

What do you mean by nose work?

 

I'm trying to figure out fun stuff to do with my new boy too. With my first boy, Regis, I set up a couple jumps in the backyard and taught him to go over those. He seemed to enjoy it (well, he didn't hate it) and it was fun for us. I didn't do this with our girl, Dusty, (I couldn't get her to go over them, no matter how low they were) and I didn't feel nearly as bonded to her as I did to Regis. I want to find something I can do with Eli that will be fun for both of us and bring us together. Sadly, therapy dog work is out - I've got a fear of hospitals and Eli's method of greeting people involves much wagging, grinning, toe-stepping, and face-rubbing.

Mom of bridge babies Regis and Dusty.

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Greyhounds can participate or compete in any sport any other dog can. You might have to be a bit more choosy if you hope to work up to competition, but honestly greyhounds are just dogs. I've done flyball for fun with both Neyla and Zuri since they both seemed to have a natural inclination to fetch and play with tennis balls (Violet does as well, but the classes don't fit well in our schedule these days). I went through intermediate obedience with Neyla and advanced obedience (focused on shaping behaviors) with Zuri. Violet's newer so we've only gone through basic, but we'll pick something else up eventually.

 

Nosework is a relatively new dog sport. Trials are somewhat limited, but growing at least here on the East Coast. I have a friend who does Nosework with both of her dogs. Both are titled in level 1 and her lab, who she started working with first nearly got his level 2 cert this weekend. It's a neat sport - more about working with the dog's natural ability rather than teaching him to do somewhat foreign things (ie. agility, flyball, etc.). Not that one is better than the other, just different strokes for different folks.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Greyhounds are dogs, and ultimately you can train any dog to do almost anything that is within their physical abilities. I took a greyhound who wouldn't even LOOK at a toy and trained him to play fetch. I took a greyhound who couldn't jump (he actually climbed very ungracefully into the backseat of my car) and took him through agility (he also now jumps into the backseat of a very tall truck).

 

If you have the right dog and you put in the work you can train almost any dog to do almost anything. Some dogs just take a little more patience and sometimes a creative approach. But it's do-able.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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I think clicker training is a fun option. Although I have to admit, Teague is the most difficult dog I have ever trained because I have yet to find a motivator that will keep him overly interested. I can't get him to lure very well because he just has no perseverance or food motivation, and he generally will go and lie down after about 5 minutes. lol :) But, he still enjoys it and has learned to shake a paw and I have taught him to target. I have also been doing some "hide and go seek" which practices his stay and come command as well as his nose. I tell him to stay in one room, go into another room and hide with a whole bunch of smelly, tasty treats. Then I call him and he has to try and find me to get the food. Again though....not a whole lot of motivation, he tends to just go and lie down after one or two rounds. I would love to do lure coursing as I think he would find this more motivating, but I can't find anything close by as of yet.

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I think clicker training is a fun option. Although I have to admit, Teague is the most difficult dog I have ever trained because I have yet to find a motivator that will keep him overly interested. I can't get him to lure very well because he just has no perseverance or food motivation, and he generally will go and lie down after about 5 minutes. lol :) But, he still enjoys it and has learned to shake a paw and I have taught him to target. I have also been doing some "hide and go seek" which practices his stay and come command as well as his nose. I tell him to stay in one room, go into another room and hide with a whole bunch of smelly, tasty treats. Then I call him and he has to try and find me to get the food. Again though....not a whole lot of motivation, he tends to just go and lie down after one or two rounds. I would love to do lure coursing as I think he would find this more motivating, but I can't find anything close by as of yet.

Look into shaping. I think the issues you're having are less of motivation and more of frustration. Shaping (when done right, which can be hard to get the hang of at first because we tend to want to increase the difficulty too soon) can really build your dog's confidence and teach him that training is a game where he has to try lots of different things to figure out what he's supposed to be doing. Also look at what you're using as rewards - I haven't seen many dogs turn down steak scraps, or even canned chicken for that matter. :)

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest blondealonso

To hop in as well :-) we're looking for fun options for our grey, he's been with us just over 2 weeks and isn't particularly interested in playing with toys / squeakies and so on (unless its new... then he chews on it for 5 to 10minutes or until he's killed the squeaker and then its no more interest).

 

He loves a good fuss and will happily be fussed over for hours, but play lasts only a few minutes then its time for a lie down. Some days he doesnt even want to play at all.

 

Neylas have you got any more information on 'shaping'?

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Look into shaping. I think the issues you're having are less of motivation and more of frustration. Shaping (when done right, which can be hard to get the hang of at first because we tend to want to increase the difficulty too soon) can really build your dog's confidence and teach him that training is a game where he has to try lots of different things to figure out what he's supposed to be doing. Also look at what you're using as rewards - I haven't seen many dogs turn down steak scraps, or even canned chicken for that matter.

 

 

Lol Teague would be the dog who would turn down steak and chicken. So far for food I have tried liver treats, freshly cooked chicken, beef, (real) bacon, hottdogs and cheese. He will usually work for them but only for a few minutes, and even if it is doing simple things that he knows like targeting, come, paw, etc. he will just leave in the middle and go lie down even if I offer him the food. Also, I am having trouble getting him to lure, even for simple things like holding the food a foot away. Any other dog I have had will gladly follow and chew off bits of treats and you can easily get them to move or follow. I guess the key with him would be to a) do training when he is really hungry and in his active mode (evenings) and keeping sessions really short and simple. I have clicker trained a lot of dogs to do all kinds of things, and part of my undergrad was lab work in operant conditioning, but I just have never had a student like Teague (and that includes the rats I trained too!) :) lol To be honest though, I haven't put in a ton of effort, we just do it for fun sometimes. I am sure if I did it daily he would start to pick up on it more.

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Neylas have you got any more information on 'shaping'?

Here's an excellent article on shaping from the trainer who taught Zuri's advanced obedience/shaping class.

 

I also really love Karen Pryor's book, Reaching the Animal Mind. It's got lots of anecdotes to coincide with how to teach behaviors, but the part I like best is that there is a corresponding website with videos that demo how to teach the behaviors. It's where I got the idea to teach Neyla how to "blow bubbles" (go here and click on the 3rd video link). I was amazed at how quickly I was able to teach her to do it (less than a week? it's been a while :() and we won best trick at our group's annual picnic that year. :colgate

 

ETA: The trick about shaping, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is learning how to break down the increments and apply them at the right time so your dog gets neither bored or frustrated. I think shaping behaviors is something of an art, it definitely takes practice, though thankfully our dogs are bright enough creatures that most of us (ie. me) can bumble through it and manage to teach the behaviors anyway. :lol

Edited by NeylasMom

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Look into shaping. I think the issues you're having are less of motivation and more of frustration. Shaping (when done right, which can be hard to get the hang of at first because we tend to want to increase the difficulty too soon) can really build your dog's confidence and teach him that training is a game where he has to try lots of different things to figure out what he's supposed to be doing. Also look at what you're using as rewards - I haven't seen many dogs turn down steak scraps, or even canned chicken for that matter.

 

 

Lol Teague would be the dog who would turn down steak and chicken. So far for food I have tried liver treats, freshly cooked chicken, beef, (real) bacon, hottdogs and cheese. He will usually work for them but only for a few minutes, and even if it is doing simple things that he knows like targeting, come, paw, etc. he will just leave in the middle and go lie down even if I offer him the food. Also, I am having trouble getting him to lure, even for simple things like holding the food a foot away. Any other dog I have had will gladly follow and chew off bits of treats and you can easily get them to move or follow. I guess the key with him would be to a) do training when he is really hungry and in his active mode (evenings) and keeping sessions really short and simple. I have clicker trained a lot of dogs to do all kinds of things, and part of my undergrad was lab work in operant conditioning, but I just have never had a student like Teague (and that includes the rats I trained too!) :) lol To be honest though, I haven't put in a ton of effort, we just do it for fun sometimes. I am sure if I did it daily he would start to pick up on it more.

Seriously, try free shaping. It sounds like you have the background to grasp the concept and execute it well. Do something like 101 things to do with a box and let his movements dictate where the behavior goes. Reinforce often - err on the side of reinforcing too much. See what happens (and then report back :lol).

 

I think the problem is that retired racers have been "programmed" not to think for themselves. Track/kennel life is routine, predictable, go with teh flow, let me do this and that to you, run hard, rest hard. New behaviors are probably ignored and at worst corrected/discouraged. Then they get into a home environment where everything is new and they're often told no a lot all over - no, you can't pee in the house, no, you can't growl at the other dogs over your food, no, you can't take that food off of my plate, no, you can't chase the cat, no, you can't get on the furniture, and so on. In other words, offering new behaviors has never gotten them anything - so until the lightbulb goes off and they see that it will, and doing so can be something of a fun game - training can be tough. I could be way off base - maybe you just have an incredibly unmotivated dog, but I don't think so.

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest blondealonso

Thank you so much Neylas :-) this looks really good to try! Going to have a good read of it now.

 

One thing I forgot to add... we found tying one of Al's toys to a long piece of string or a tracking lead and hiding the toy then pulling it out would often get him into a playfull mood and a good tug of war :)

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Neylas Mom,

Yep, I totally agree about the greys acting helpless due to their different upbringing. In fact, I was going to mention that I think part of the reason why Teague won't lure to the food so well is because he is so "polite" with food and would never try to grab it out of a hand. You are right, I probably used the wrong word when I said "unmotivated" as I know that is a no-no word in clicker training. I just think he hasn't quite figured things out yet. He has made progress in the little time I have worked with him, so maybe if I spend more time he will come around. I will try some things with him and see how things go. :) I was actually trying to clicker train my rats the other day, I was watching some great videos on that too! I used to have a retired labrat that I trained to do all kinds of things with chaining and free shaping.

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Guest Patton

Thanks for the great feedback! I know that these guys are basically "dogs" at the end of the day but they are so structurally different from most dogs I've owned that I had some concern about accidentally causing leg fractures/injuries that some other more stout dogs might not be prone too. Quick turns of flyball and some agility obstacles, jumping and twisting during frisbee etc. My personal favorite is agility for fun, I am VERY happy to read that I pretty much shouldn't have any problems at all........ if the mental aptitude is there, it will be our long term goal:)

 

I adore the sweet Iggys, but my experience with them has been that nearly every one I've ever met has had a broken bone at some point from very minor jumps off the couch, getting under owners feet, running and being rolled by another dog in play... etc. Have read of several greys up for adoption with previous fractures (presumably from racing around in circles) and am very much about preventing any problems as much as possible :goodluck

 

Have to say....... my current :beatheart dog is my Frenchie....... he's super sweet, funny and entertaining but definitely not the brightest bulb in the box so I look forward to having a "sporting" companion a lot.

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Fractures from racing are very different than the types of injuries you're describing with IGs. Unless the greyhound had a previous history, there's no reason he/she couldn't participate in agility. So have fun, and make sure to post photos and videos! :)

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest patterpaws

I took my Tristan to obedience class years ago. He really loved it! Also used clicker training methods to teach him to balance a treat at the end of his nose and wait until I said "okay" to flip it in the air and catch it. I was able to train all of the basics, but never got a good "sit" since anatomically sitting is hard for them. He does a gread "down" (laying down) though! I think training is easier if they are food motivated. Not as easy as training... say, a herding dog, but with a little patience you can do quite a bit!

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Thanks for the great feedback! I know that these guys are basically "dogs" at the end of the day but they are so structurally different from most dogs I've owned that I had some concern about accidentally causing leg fractures/injuries that some other more stout dogs might not be prone too. Quick turns of flyball and some agility obstacles, jumping and twisting during frisbee etc. My personal favorite is agility for fun, I am VERY happy to read that I pretty much shouldn't have any problems at all........ if the mental aptitude is there, it will be our long term goal:)

 

I adore the sweet Iggys, but my experience with them has been that nearly every one I've ever met has had a broken bone at some point from very minor jumps off the couch, getting under owners feet, running and being rolled by another dog in play... etc. Have read of several greys up for adoption with previous fractures (presumably from racing around in circles) and am very much about preventing any problems as much as possible :goodluck

 

Racing greyhounds are really very tough creatures. If you ever get the opportunity, go see a race. It's very educational, exciting and awe-inspiring. These animals give 200% going after the lure. They're not fragile. Their legs take several gravities of pressure pounding down that track, and I've been told that the most common injuries are to the right rear leg because most of the pounding pressure is there plus some twisting pressure when they hit the turns. That being said, most racing injuries are simple muscle strains and tears just like human marathon runners, and when bones break they're usually from falls or collisions. But a surprisingly few falls/collisions cause injuries - many dogs fall, get back up and finish the race. Check the comments in any retired racer's track record (you can find them on greyhound-data.com).

 

I love that video of the dog blowing bubbles, but I have a couple of comments about it. The OP should note that most greyhounds won't tolerate doing as many repetitions of a simple behavior as the dog in that video did. Greyhounds are independent hunters, not really collaborative like herding breeds, so they are less likely to keep at many repetitions when training. They'll typically do three or four in a row and then lose interest. Some people perceive this as dumb or disinterested in training. It really only means that you have to do shorter training sessions, keep motivation high, and let the dog rest in between every few reps.

 

My other comment is that I've taught freshly retired racers to blow bubbles in about three tries simply by holding pieces of hot dog in a baby wading pool. We did this as a dog game at our picnic last year. The hot dogs sank instead of floating, so the newest dogs were like "ew, my nose will get wet" and refused them. I encouraged them by holding the meat just immediately under the surface, then slightly lower, then let it fall to the bottom. Food motivated dogs learn SO quickly! (Talk about impressing new adopters! These people were so happy they were bragging to each other about their dog learning to bob for hot dogs. :balloonparty:heart )

 

Oh, and I almost forgot I wanted to add some simple ad-hoc games I play with my dogs that have turned out to be bonding exercises. These guys are programmed to chase, so we've turned that into a game at my house. I have a big enough house they can chase me around inside. (I NEVER win. LOL) If your dog seems disinterested but he's food-motivated, you can try to teach him it's okay to chase you by tossing treats on the floor and then running into another room. He'll go after you to get more treats. This game is really easy to transform into "hide and seek". Capri never sparkles as much as when she finds me hiding in a new place. I swear sometimes she laughs!

Edited by jetcitywoman

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I love that video of the dog blowing bubbles, but I have a couple of comments about it. The OP should note that most greyhounds won't tolerate doing as many repetitions of a simple behavior as the dog in that video did. Greyhounds are independent hunters, not really collaborative like herding breeds, so they are less likely to keep at many repetitions when training. They'll typically do three or four in a row and then lose interest. Some people perceive this as dumb or disinterested in training. It really only means that you have to do shorter training sessions, keep motivation high, and let the dog rest in between every few reps.

 

I totally disagree. As I said above, greyhounds are dogs. You can train them in the same ways that you train other breeds of dogs. Right off of the track they may need a little bit of time getting the concept of training, but once they get it, they can work just like any other dog. How else have I and many other people managed to work multiple dogs through hour+ long training classes?

 

As for dropping the food in the bowl, that's a totally acceptable alternative method for teaching the trick, but that would be using a food lure, not free shaping. I strongly encourage anyone to try teaching something using shaping (without any lures, or other hints or help from you) to see the way that it opens up the dogs mind and encourages him to have fun, try new behaviors, and builds his confidence.

Edited by NeylasMom

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest NeverSayNever

Just some thoughts on a few things. I teach clicker training obedience classes for greyhounds in Atlanta. I compete my racers in obedience and agility.

 

You can build drive and endurance for training which will increase tolerance for repetitions. The main thing is to make sure you leave your greyhound wanting more. If you train until your greyhound loses interest.... you have trained for too long. So some greyhounds need to be stopped at 2 minutes, others can drill for 20 minutes. The more food motivated your hound is the better. Over time, you can build drive and motivation for training if training is fun, the food is good, and you always end before the greyhound is ready to.

 

Also consider your food treat. I don't allow anyone to bring "dog treats" to my greyhound training classes. I request real meat or cheese. Something stinky works best for hounds. Hot dogs, grilled chicken strips, meatballs, routisserie chicken meat, swiss, cheddar, etc.

 

Also, I find that starting with a food lure works best for regular training. It just explains concepts such as down or sit much faster than free shaping... plus I find the racers a little frozen initially. They just don't realize at first that their actions are resulting in a food reward so I like using a food lure just to get them learning to "earn".

 

Absolutely, love clicker training. It is so concise and is a great way to give feedback and rewards for tiny steps in the right direction. Free shaping is a lot of fun. You can let the dogs come up with their own tricks and see what they offer.

 

Greyhounds can be excellent retrievers if you are willing to trade for a treat. Many do need a reason to bring it back. I have a series of posts and videos on my blog on how I teach my greyhounds to retrieve. Its really just teaching them to put something in your hand for a treat... then you just increase the distance of the object. But you can teach them to pick up all sorts of things.... or to just retrieve a toy.

 

I have tons of training videos on my blog for other things as well. www.neversaynevergreyhounds.blogspot.com

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