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Guest archine71

Hello!

I am a first-time greyhound owner as of three or so months ago. River, our 2.5 year old retired racer, has had some shyness problems since we got her. For example, for the first few weeks, she froze (would just stand still and not move or respond) multiple times on every walk. This problem had gotten much better until three days ago. We were outside when a bunch of teenagers about 100 ft away were skateboarding. As soon as River heard the skateboards, she did something we never saw her do before - pulled as hard as she could on the leash to go back inside. This lasted all the way through our apartment complex, and she only started to calm down once we were back in our apartment. Later that night, the same thing happened, and since then she hasn't been the same. She used to respond to "come" much more reliably, and for the past two days, has refused to go outside even when she has to go to the bathroom. We either have to pick her up if we are taking her out by ourselves, or if we both take her out, she will go hesitantly. Today (two days since the incident), she has stopped using stairs which she was fine with before, and is now not even interested in her favorite treats (milkbones, greenies, or ice cubes).

We aren't sure if it's still trauma from the skateboards, or if she's just feeling under the weather.

We don't want to reward her for her renewed interest in freezing on walks (giving a treat when she finally comes), but we don't want to scold her either.

Should we pick her up when she stops, or just wait it out? Do you think the trauma will just take time, or is there something else we can do?

Thank you!
- Crystal & River

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So are you interested in just getting her to not freeze on your walks or do you want some advice about getting her to easily go outside? I had lots of experience with freezing or planting, as I call it. My Annie was an award-winning I'm-not-gonna-move Greyhound. I remember being in near tears because she'd just stop and there seemed to be nothing I could do.

 

The solution is simple: You need to get the feet moving again. One way is to hold River's head close to your thigh via a very short leash and walk in a circle, pressing your thigh against her head to move her whole body. As you come out of the circle, keep on walking. Another way to get feet moving is to gently give a push on her shoulder so she has to sort of jump. When she moves, start walking briskly and in a firm voice say, "Come on," or whatever works for you.

 

I know my Annie seemed to go into a trance when she decided to plant herself. As the trainer told me, gotta break the focus on whatever they are thinking and get their attention by moving them about.

 

Something to think about: When you're walking, do you slow down when she slows down? I'm not talking about her slowing to sniff the grass and check pee mail. If you're walking on the sidewalk/road and she starts to hesitate, don't you slow down. Keep up the pace, maybe increase it a bit. We tend to let our dogs dictate the pace of the walk which means when they slowwww down and stop, you're stuck. You be the one to decide the pace and she'll soon learn to follow.

 

Good luck!

Edited by Feisty49
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Guest archine71

Hi!

We read similar advice when we were first dealing with her freezing, and it seemed to help some of the time. Now, when we try to physically move her a little, or walk her in a circle, she becomes even more rigid and scared. And the more I try to distract her with "come" or her name or noises just seems to make her respond to those less the next time.

 

She has stopped even wanting to leave the house.

There's also been no dietary change, yet her stool has become runny - does anyone know if these could all be symptoms of her feeling under the weather? Or is the runny stool just a symptom of her being incredibly stressed? The reason I haven't taken her to a vet yet is because all of these problems seem to disappear when she's in the safety of our home.

Thank you, and anything helps.

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Guest grey_dreams

Yes, stress will cause diarrhea. Do you live in a very noisy/busy neighborhood? If she is having that much stress that she doesn't want to leave the house, she will need something to help calm her. You can try Zylkene, which is a peptide isolated from milk. It's very safe, just give one a day. Theanine can help some dogs, but not all (I had one that it didn't help and one that it did); just give one tablet per day. It's really unfortunate that she got spooked by the skateboards twice in one day. I guess you now realize that you need to avoid those situations as best as you can. With time, and once she develops trust of you, she might be able to overcome some of these fears. But some dogs never really get used to things like teenagers on skateboards. If your neighborhood is always noisy/busy, you might consider driving her out into a quiet area to walk, either a quiet neighborhood or park.

 

If she doesn't respond to the Zylkene and/or theanine, you might have to consider a pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medication. It's really better to get the anxiety controlled so you can work on counter-conditioning to decrease their fear. When they live with too much fear/stress it's really bad physiologically, and it makes it that much harder to counter-condition.

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Guest Lillypad

It is so disheartening to hear of new owners having difficulties. I send the best wishes and hope you will be able to get past these obstacles. I don't have any experience with this behavior to advise you on how to cope. I can only go with my gut, which is go slow and don't expect too much at once. You are both very new to each other. Can you seek the help of your adoption group. It might be worth trying to walk her with another hound or at least another dog that she is comfortable with. I think the company of an other dog would give her some confidence. It might be beneficial to seek a behavior trainer. My fear is because of your novice skills, things may become more stressful then they need to be. I agree with Fiesy49 you have to get her moving forward. I think the best way to do this is to make it fun for her. Agree, take her some where quite, lots of treats (maybe consider this when she is a little on the hungry side just before dinner) Have you tried jogging backwards with a really yummy treat in your hands, call her name in a happy and excited way. You may have to work on this inside your home for a few days, then in the yard, driveway and work your way out to the street. Once again I would try this when she is hungry, so that it is worth her while to participate. Above all you must be relaxed and confident. Without a doubt she will sense your anxieties and will have an effect on her behavior. I have found that food is my saving grace when I have to introduce my grey to a new surrounding or situation. I hope my humble suggestions are helpful and I wish you the best of luck. You will get past this and when you look back realize what you have accomplished. It has been two years for us and I feel so proud of how far we have come together. I have learned a great deal from my greyhound. One member here has posted on how she is thankful for all that she has learned from her many challenging greyhounds and in hindsight wouldn't have it any other way.

 

Just found this older post, my be some helpful information.... you are not alone,

http://forum.greytalk.com/index.php/topic/252118-our-new-grey-freezes-on-walks-what-to-do/

Edited by Lillypad
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If she has one particular specific fear - skateboards - you can try desensitising her, as we are doing with Jeffie and his terror of bouncing footballs. But be warned: it can take a very long time indeed. We have been working with Jeffie for months and he is much improved but he still fears footballs flying through the air. He doesn't buck and leap and try to back out of his collar now, but he is still very afraid of them.

What we did with the football fear was to go and buy a football and just place it in the lounge on the floor, and ignore it for a week. Then very gradually, we would just move it with our feet just a few inches, keeping it well away from Jeffie. As time went on and he became used to that, we rolled it nearer and nearer to him, and picked it up and gently touched him with it. When he accepted that without flinching or moving away, we began to bounce it (again well away from him at first). Now we can bounce it to the ceiling indoors, and he doesn't care. it can touch him and he doesn't care. However, although he is very much better about footballs being used outside, he still needs work when they are flying through the air in the park accompanied by whoops and shrieks.

If I were you, given River's current state of terror, I would buy one and just place it somewhere in your living space. Don't let it move and don't be in any hurry to progress to the next stage. You must take it at the pace of a sick snail who hasn't slept for a week.

 

By all means work on her normal freezing and walking and stairs issues in the meantime, but IMO, she needs particular help with this one fear. Over time, you can begin to pick it up and put it in a slightly different location, or make it move just an inch or two. Try not to let it make noise in the early stages. Later you can add in a little clack of one wheel by touching it and letting go, etc. You'll probably need to do each stage several times a day for at least a week - but make sure you stop and go back a step if she shows any sign of anxiety and reward her with praise and treats when she copes well. What you do not want to do is make her afraid of her house, so make sure that she has somewhere to go to sleep and to eat where she cannot see or hear the dreaded skateboard.

I hope that helps!

 

Oh - and a pheromone collar might help, too - Adaptil do one, don't know the brands in the US anymore.

Edited by silverfish

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The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

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Guest Lillypad

Your advice makes me smile silverfish, reflecting back when we first got Lilly she was petrified I mean petrified of plastic bags. Now, LOL, after conditioning such as you suggested she pokes her head into plastic bags to haul out toys and treats. So, I know how effective your suggestion can be. I was considering advising the same type of conditioning, but little River seems to be anxious about walks in general.

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Your advice makes me smile silverfish, reflecting back when we first got Lilly she was petrified I mean petrified of plastic bags. Now, LOL, after conditioning such as you suggested she pokes her head into plastic bags to haul out toys and treats. So, I know how effective your suggestion can be. I was considering advising the same type of conditioning, but little River seems to be anxious about walks in general.

 

She does, but it could be that this one overwhelming fear is making her avoid the situation by refusing to go out at all ... that was my thinking. Normally, I'd suggest going to places where the scary thing happens but keeping a long, long way away - beyond the distance which would trigger the fear. But poor River doesn't seem to have a safe distance at the moment. I do agree that the only thing to suggest about walks is that they bundle her into the car and take her somewhere where there is no traffic noise and no possibility of noisy equipment, just for the time being. But I don't know how practical that is.

 

You're also right that because River's people are novices it might be wise to ask for help.

 

It's great that you managed to de-sensitise Lilly so thoroughly! Just shows it can be done, huh? :thumbs-up

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The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

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I second trying the Zylkene that grey_dreams suggested. I used it for my slightly spooky girl for a year when I first got her and it seemed to help her. If she were mine, I'd also be giving her extra B vitamins and magnesium, both of which are depleted by stress.

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When a relationship of love is disrupted, the relationship does not cease. The love continues; therefore, the relationship continues. The work of grief is to reconcile and redeem life to a different love relationship. ~ W Scott Lineberry

Always Greyhounds Home Boarding and Greyhounds With Love House Sitting

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Guest archine71

Thanks so much everyone for the advice.

Many of you have suggested making sure to avoid that similar walking spot. We haven't taken her back their since the skateboard event, but the biggest problem is that her freezing isn't really happening outside at all. Her biggest problem is freezing in our hallways (we live in an apartment complex). So unfortunately, driving her somewhere isn't that great of an option, as she will still freeze all the way to the car.

As to the desensitizing of the skateboard - I think this is an important step down the line. But at this point, I don't even think she knows what a skateboard looks like - they were 100+ feet away. She was scared purely of the noise they were making hitting concrete.

I'm very seriously considering using the Zylkene you all have suggested - it is so hard to see her act like this after months of being totally fine and happy.

As far as trying to get her to walk goes, anything really involving treats, as Lillypad suggested, just stops being useful regardless if it's before breakfast in the morning or not. She just doesn't seem interested. And we've tried multiple different types of treats thinking she was bored with her old ones (from milkbones to salmon treats to cheese), but that didn't seem to help either.

I've also reached out to my adoption organization and her previous foster. They suggested I get her thyroid levels checked. I've read up on it, and while some of it sounds like River, I'm also not sure how common it would be for thyroid problems to be triggered by an event.

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Guest Lillypad

Thanks for the update Archine71, we will be thinking of you and hoping for a a quick resolution. Keep strong, you will get through this.

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