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Rescue Greyhound, Confused About Behaviour.


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Guest John_Benson

Hello all,

 

I have always owned small dogs but about three weeks ago picked up a rescue Greyhound that was used for game hunting but abandoned.

 

Some of her behaviour is quite strange. Some of the more normal behaviour is: She doesn't like hugs. That's fine, she's not a human and shouldn't be expected to react as such. The other is she doesn't like her paws being touched, again this seems to be fairly common. She'll let me know she isn't happy with this behaviour by growling slightly. No showing of teeth, just a low mumbling grow.

 

Today, I was sat near her and she laid on her back as she likes to have her stomach rubbed. I did this for a few minutes then suddenly she jumped and growled. There was no show of teeth (she has never done this...yet) however usually when she growls she very quickly becomes timid and goes quiet/soppy. Today however she met me in eye contact and growled. I didn't break eye contact with her and eventually she looked away (for reference I am a 6'3" tall male with a fairly big build - just in case this influences her behaviour on any level?).

 

I am fairly confused about this behaviour. As far as I can tell she definitely sees me above her in the "pack". She will never go through a door before me, she will sit on command and if I am eating she knows begging is useless and she only ever gets food when I've made it quite clear I've finished. When out walking she sticks to heel on command. when I move about the house she will follow me wherever I go.

 

I have also noticed that sometimes, even when she's aware I'm there, she will nervously twitch if I pet her. She has various scars on her body (presumably from hunting game?) and is friendly toward people.

 

Please don't worry, I'm not about to abandon her for being a bit problematic, that's of course the nature of a rescue dog. I do however wish to get this growling nipped in the bud. It's very hard to tell what causes it as, unfortunately, I have no idea what her past was prior to her rescuing.

 

Hope someone can offer some advice!

 

John

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Guest CleverJason

Hi John,

 

If you've only had her a few weeks, she may still be adjusting to you. My grey was very shy and twitched/tensed up when pet for the first month and a half. She will learn to trust you over time. For now, I'd take special note of the areas that may bother her when pet and avoid those areas for now.

 

As for the situation when she growled at you during the belly rub, she may have sleep space aggression. As you were rubbing her belly, she may have drifted off just long enough to snap back, confused and scared because she was being touched.

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Guest John_Benson

Hi Jason,

 

Thanks very much for the reply. I'd rather stupidly omitted a couple of points that in hindsight are likely very relevant. The first was that, as I'm sure all Greyhounds may do, she falls asleep instantly. At the time of the growl a very loud car had gone past - doesn't explain the eye contact growling afterwards but goes some way toward it.

 

Another thing is, she's only really bad when she's "on the same level" i.e on a chair, or on the foot of the bed. I think perhaps it's best to not let her anywhere but the floor for a few months?

 

Apologies if I seem a bit clueless! Since the incident she's been extremely quiet and has been acting very affectionately, laying her head on me and generally following my every movement. Complicated animals!

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Guest roweboy

I'm 3 months into owning a grey for the first time, and always had small dogs - all rescues- previously. Every rescue dog came with its own issues and I can say it often took sometimes 6 months or more before everything felt like it was worked out. There was almost always a "honeymoon" period before we could see all aspects of the dog's personalities. Our grey has been the exception to this, but that's probably a bit unusual. He literally has no issues and has been the best dog we've ever had. However, we're still seeing new parts of his personality and since he's pretty young, just turned 3, I expect we'll see more evolution. Your girl is making a big adjustment and one thing I notice that's different about these dogs is their extreme sensitivity to people and environment. We only need to use the gentlest verbal correction to get a response.

 

I used to let dogs sleep on the bed but I now believe there's a need to be a pack leader all the time and this makes for a happy pet. Only the head honcho gets the best spot for sleeping. I do think dogs should sleep in their own bed or crate in your bedroom. Our boy really likes going into his crate in our room for bed, so while I thought the crate was going to be temporary, it may be here longer than I expected unless I transition him to a bed in its place.

 

Since your girl is already good about seeing you as a pack leader, you may be confusing her by allowing furniture and bed privileges. Plenty of people will disagree with me on that, and I'm not as concerned about furniture as much as bed. I think the feet sensitivity is common but can be worked out with especially tasty treats given during a full body massage with lots of foot attention. I never before realized that my role as pack leader goes well beyond laying down the rules extending to making my dog feel secure and safe which often means eliminating choice. Humans love choice so in my opinion we give our pets (and children!) too much when they often don't want it.

 

There's a very informative book called The Other End of the Leash (McConnell) that has helped me understand dog communication. Also makes me feel stupid with how I acted with previous dogs :/ Direct eye contact is tricky business with some dogs and communicates things I never thought of!

 

I look back over my years as a dog owner and realize that while I was expecting to be a pack leader, my behavior wasn't consistent and therefore sending mixed messages. A dog who knows where she is in the pack is a happy dog. It sounds like you both need time to figure each out but since she can't read any books on human behavior, I really suggest you reading the one above as a dog lover and new rescue owner :)

Edited by roweboy
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Hello all,

 

I have always owned small dogs but about three weeks ago picked up a rescue Greyhound that was used for game hunting but abandoned.

 

Some of her behaviour is quite strange. Some of the more normal behaviour is: She doesn't like hugs. That's fine, she's not a human and shouldn't be expected to react as such. The other is she doesn't like her paws being touched, again this seems to be fairly common. She'll let me know she isn't happy with this behaviour by growling slightly. No showing of teeth, just a low mumbling grow.

 

Today, I was sat near her and she laid on her back as she likes to have her stomach rubbed. I did this for a few minutes then suddenly she jumped and growled. There was no show of teeth (she has never done this...yet) however usually when she growls she very quickly becomes timid and goes quiet/soppy. Today however she met me in eye contact and growled. I didn't break eye contact with her and eventually she looked away (for reference I am a 6'3" tall male with a fairly big build - just in case this influences her behaviour on any level?).

 

I am fairly confused about this behaviour. As far as I can tell she definitely sees me above her in the "pack". She will never go through a door before me, she will sit on command and if I am eating she knows begging is useless and she only ever gets food when I've made it quite clear I've finished. When out walking she sticks to heel on command. when I move about the house she will follow me wherever I go.

 

I have also noticed that sometimes, even when she's aware I'm there, she will nervously twitch if I pet her. She has various scars on her body (presumably from hunting game?) and is friendly toward people.

 

Please don't worry, I'm not about to abandon her for being a bit problematic, that's of course the nature of a rescue dog. I do however wish to get this growling nipped in the bud. It's very hard to tell what causes it as, unfortunately, I have no idea what her past was prior to her rescuing.

 

Hope someone can offer some advice!

 

John

 

Welcome aboard to you and your girl.

 

Re rubbing her belly and her growling: My first thought was that she'd had enough of being touched and, because she's a dog, added the low growl to her jumping up. Maybe you were rubbing the same spot over and over and it was irritating. I've had my girl for almost 3 years and I touch her as I want to be touched. It's all good unless it goes on and on and on, so I always pull back from rubbing her belly, etc., before I want to. If you literally rubbed her belly for a few minutes -- say for 3, 4, 5 minutes -- especially in the same spot, I suspect she had had enough. LOL

 

Re twitching when being pet: It could be a lot of things. Maybe it makes her nervous. Maybe it's a bit painful (my girl has arthritis in her spine so I'm careful about where I pet and touch). Maybe it tickles her!

 

I suspect you'll get different opinions about being a pack leader. Some don't subscribe to the idea. I personally have no opinion. I have one dog. She's literally an almost perfect dog. I'm the human, and she's the dog. In my house, as much as I love Annie Banannie, human rules apply, but I don't feel like a leader of the "pack."

 

Finally, three weeks is a very short time in Greyhound ownership. Your girl -- and what is her name?? -- will change so much over the next few months and beyond.

 

Oh... in addition to her name, we need a picture. :--)

Edited by Feisty49
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You have already been given some excellent advice but I just wanted to add that I have had my greyhound for just over two months, I have owned three greyhounds previously so have a fair bit of experience but he still surprises me with his behaviour! Try not to get too bogged down with dominance theories, your girl is just communicating with you the only way she knows how. Set reasonable boundaries and try to see things from her perspective and I'm sure you will get along just fine.

<p>"One day I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am"Sadi's Pet Pages Sadi's Greyhound Data PageMulder1/9/95-21/3/04 Scully1/9/95-16/2/05Sadi 7/4/99 - 23/6/13 CroftviewRGT

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Guest CleverJason

Hi Jason,

 

Thanks very much for the reply. I'd rather stupidly omitted a couple of points that in hindsight are likely very relevant. The first was that, as I'm sure all Greyhounds may do, she falls asleep instantly. At the time of the growl a very loud car had gone past - doesn't explain the eye contact growling afterwards but goes some way toward it.

 

Another thing is, she's only really bad when she's "on the same level" i.e on a chair, or on the foot of the bed. I think perhaps it's best to not let her anywhere but the floor for a few months?

 

Apologies if I seem a bit clueless! Since the incident she's been extremely quiet and has been acting very affectionately, laying her head on me and generally following my every movement. Complicated animals!

 

I would definitely be keeping her off the bed for now. Even if you plan to gradually break them later, having and enforcing rules at the beginning is extremely important to helping your dog feel comfortable and trust you. I don't necessarily subscribe to "pack" theory, but I do believe that your dog wants and needs leadership. I didn't let Baron onto the couch for months when he came home, and I'll never let him in the bed — don't worry, the one he sleeps on right next to me is probably more comfy than mine.

 

And you don't seem clueless. We all are when adopting our first grey, but you're in the right place. They become less complicated the longer you have them. And if she's affectionate after only three weeks, watch out. It gets better.

Edited by CleverJason
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Guest John_Benson

Hey all,

 

Thanks so much for your help! Her name is Sky (we didn't want to rename her!) and she's 3 years old (we believe..). I'll get some photos up asap.

 

On a separate note, she has quite a few scars on her. Is this likely to have come from the game hunting or human abuse?

 

She's a lovely girl, I'd had to think these insecurities were a result of human abuse :(

Edited by John_Benson
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Hi John: My first greyhound was a hunter found running loose in the boondocks of central Ohio. I never knew any of his history, only guessed,

and only had him for about 3 years before I lost him to an icky medical condition. I now am proud parent to a retired racer........and I gotta tell ya,

the difference between those 2 boys was mind boggling.

 

I've thought about it more than a little, and here's my theory. They're all greyhounds, so have many of the same traits, but their upbringing was oh,

so different. The redneck hunters here in Ohio are a breed apart in themselves. (I know a bunch and have dated a few as well). To them, a dog

is a dog is a dog is a dog is a dog. They're raised outside, to hunt, and affection doesn't really enter into it. Not that the hounds are treated poorly,

just different. The hunter hound I adopted was very sensitive (one of the greyhound's lovely traits). I never ever raised my voice to him, he acted

like I'd beaten him with a stick. In his case, I think it was a matter of trust. For a long time he acted like he couldn't believe that a human actually

enjoyed being with him, just to be with him. It was almost a year before he could relax for a good rub, or accept that I wasn't going to cut his toes

off when trimming nails. He never did trust his vet, lol.

 

It sounds to me, though, that Sky will come around a little quicker than that. Patience and love. 2 important words to remember.

Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.

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As for scars, all I can say is that I started off with a relatively scar free black dog with a few little nicks. In the 2.5 years I've had her, she has now added considerably to her total by scraping against the house, rocks and other dogs, running into things, walking down the street..... Their skin is very thin and fragile, so I would sooner ascribe the scarring to general 'being a greyhound hunting, running and living' than to human abuse.

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Hi, her scars could be either, but they also could be from trees and rocks or even playing with other dogs. Greyhound skin rips easily, so there's no way to know.

As for her furniture issue, it sounds like maybe she's resource guarding it. I'd keep her off of it for awhile until she's more comfortable with you. If she gets on it, call her off and give her a treat for listening. If she doesn't listen, throw a couple treats. She'll learn she gets rewarded for getting off the couch.

I'm a big believer in positive reinforcement and I'm not a big believer in having an alpha. I do believe dogs respond well to respect and consistency. I'm a dog walker and if any dog growls at me, I respect that something I did made it uncomfortable. That means I need to work with the dog to make whatever I need to do with or to the dog comfortable for the dog. For example, I had a foster that had many ticks between his toes. Unfortunately, he also had a ton of sores between them and growled when I tried to remove the ticks. I muzzled him up, threw kibble on the ground, and started removing the ticks. He was distracted by eating so he didn't care when I removed the ticks.

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You're doing fine. She's doing fine. Everything you describe are normal behaviors and not in any way aggressive.

 

In this settling in phase, it's probably best to keep her off the furniture and human bed. Have several comfy dog beds - at least one in every room you use - so she has a place to land. She probably will begin, if she hasn't already, to follow you around and want to be in the same vicinity as you. As she learns to trust you, and you her, you can gradually let her closer to you for longer periods. I would also not approach her on her bed for pets and attention. Call her to you and reward with a yummy treat, in addition to giving her attention.

 

Some of it may be resource guarding of her space, some of it may be sleep startling. A lot of it is just her learning about living with you in your home and learning to trust you.

 

Dogs can't talk. Duh. What they can do is make a lot of different sounding growls and grunts and barks and whines. In the cases you describe, the growl was indicating she was uncomfortable with something that was going on around or to her. It's the only way they have to communicate with us, and when you discipline her or otherwise try and take this form of communication away from her, she will move on to something that is more emphatic - usually a snap. Be assured, if she *wanted* to bite you and cause an injury, she absolutely could have. Take the growl in the way it was meant.

 

She acts submissive afterwards likely because she knows you don't like her to growl - either from your discipline or from discipline she's received prior to coming to you. But she still needs to communicate with you, so she still growls. She just tries to apologize afterwards. It has nothing to do with "pack order" or "dominant or submissive" behavior. Greyhounds love poeple and they want to be around them. They are particularly attuned to our moods, and really do want to please very much.

 

The book recommended is very good. Please pick it up and read it.

 

Time and patience. Patience and time.

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

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Dominance theory (pack behavior, alpha, showing the dog who is in charge) is largely pseudoscience and has been disproven by dog behavior experts. The APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) has even put a section on their website to dispel all the myths about 'dominant behavior.' There is no evidence that walking through doors first or growling or pulling on leash are ways for the dog to be in charge. Absolutely none. Cesar Milan, the person responsible for sensationalizing dominance theory, is a fraud and a phony with no formal education of dog behavior.

 

Now that I've gotten that out of my system... :lol

 

The behavior you're describing is actually very common in greys. I'm not sure what types of dogs you've owned in the past, but if your experience is with non-sighthounds, you'll probably need to throw it out the window. Greys are highly sensitive and communicative with their emotions. Their behavior and personalities differ greatly from some of the more common 'family dogs' (i.e. retrievers, gun dogs, and working dogs who, as a breed, rarely growl, tolerate rough-housing, and may require a firm training style). Greys are still amazing and make wonderful companions, but they do have their own unique set of behavior 'quirks,' at least in the beginning.

 

Resource guarding, space guarding, and startle/sleep aggression are probably the most common issues that come up in the T&B section of this forum. I'm sure you'll be able to search through the threads and get some helpful advice. So not to fear, you aren't the first to go through this (and certainly not the last). There are ways to address the behavior with counter conditioning and positive reinforcement. Very often, this behavior is reduced or eliminated over time. Sometimes the dog is never comfortable with humans in his or her space. Then we, as owners, accept that our dog may not be the type to snuggle in bed, but that's still okay. Respecting each other's boundaries is a part of ownership.

 

One basic thing to remember is that growling is a form of communication, so it's likely that your dog will growl on occasion. Greys growl- I've never met one who didn't. It's her only way of telling you she's uncomfortable with something. It's very dangerous to punish a dog for growling, because then, you take away their only means of communication, and it often leads them to a more drastic type of expression, like a snap or bite. Even if it's something that seems really silly to humans (like the prolonged eye contact, which by the way, is a very threatening thing to do in 'dog language,' think two dogs staring each other down before a fight), she didn't like it. Once you become more bonded, tolerant, and attuned to each other, the growling gets lesser and lesser, and she won't feel the need to growl at every indiscretion. Understand, though, that it is still her tool to use when she needs to. If I had a nickel everytime my two boys growled at me, I'd have a ton of nickels (counter this with my lab-owner friend, whose dog she has never seen growl about anything in his entire life). Certain breeds are different and have different thresholds of emotions.

 

On the topic of scars and abuse... You'll probably never know where she got her scars, but every greyhound is bound to have them. I adopted an AKC greyhound as a puppy. He was a pampered prince and had no experiences of the 'hard life.' Yet, even he's covered in minor scratches and dings (from running, playing, and general clumsiness), even more so than my retired racer. He's also a huge growler with a ton of anxious hangups. I've had him his entire life, so of course, I know he was not abused. Do I understand why he does weird stuff? Absolutely not. It could be genetics, it could be his interpretation of past experiences, it could be anything. A lot of new adopters jump to the conclusion that scars and behavior issues automatically = abuse, and (while you'll never know for sure), it's probably unlikely.

 

I think we as humans feel the need to rationalize everything, and if there's a behavior problem, there has to be some heavy explanation for it. Most times there isn't (and if there is, it follows a complicated set of 'dog logic' which we can't understand). Even though your dog wasn't a racer, I doubt her owner would have abused her. When you're using an animal to work for you (whether by hunting or racing, whatever) it doesn't make sense to inflict injury upon them. A hurt dog doesn't perform as well as a healthy one.

 

I agree with the others about consulting 'The Other End of the Leash' or even 'Greyhounds For Dummies.' These will give you a great baseline of dog behavior and how to interpret/remedy it. Try to stay patient and positive. Best of luck with your new girl.

Edited by a_daerr
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Dominance theory (pack behavior, alpha, showing the dog who is in charge) is largely pseudoscience and has been disproven by dog behavior experts. The APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) has even put a section on their website to dispel all the myths about 'dominant behavior.' There is no evidence that walking through doors first or growling or pulling on leash are ways for the dog to be in charge. Absolutely none. Cesar Milan, the person responsible for sensationalizing dominance theory, is a fraud and a phony with no formal education of dog behavior.

 

Now that I've gotten that out of my system... :lol

Thank you thank you thank you!! :lol

 

When I first adopted Sammi 8 yrs ago, she had very high prey drive that I was working with. BUT to work with it, I had to SEE it. She could see small furry things sooner than I could, so I would watch her head/ears. Sammi's walking buddy, a Pom, had a doggy mommy that was a very devout CM follower. Oh how we would get into it that I wasn't doing things "His Way". basically, because I was walking Sammi literally hip to hip (not shoulder to hip or behind me). or fully in front of me. (Umm... where I could see her head! The brat faceplanted me walking behind me). or when she saw me "allow" Sammi to walk in front of me into the house. (actually, no, I told Sammi to) For me, it was much easier to open the storm door & door, then have Sammi walk in, and shut them behind me than to open, walk through, have her walk through while I was leaning out on one foot at a precarious angle to keep the storm door open behind her long body so it wouldn't catch her tail when it slammed shut :lol Oh, and she would inevitably step on that one foot i was balancing on. Nope. Easier to have her go through first. Put me right at the door then.

 

As to the OP's issue of the bed/furniture. Sammi was on the futon in the living room at the homecheck :lol.But, once she was home, I do remember having to remove her from the furniture for guarding them. Same for my bed once. She growled at me, I "growled" back, telling her to get off of the bed, and wouldn't allow her back on it for a week. She never growled at me again about it.

 

Hugs~ Most dogs hate them. To them, you are putting your front paws around her and your muzzle (face/mouth) against her neck. Some learn that you are showing affection and accept/like them. Some tolerate them because it's a weird thing their weird human does. Some will always dislike them. I didn't hug Sammi right away, and I don't allow strangers to walk up and bear hug my dog. Especially strange children. I started out petting and leaning like she does. Then an arm over her as I petted her. Now, years later, she leans into a hug and rests her head at my neck while letting out a long sigh. She will actually push into me for a hug. But I have known dogs that never got into the whole hugging idea.

 

I don't know if it is all sighthounds, or just my weird diva, but she is always looking at my face/in my eyes. Especially when she wants something. Maybe she's trying hypnotic suggestion :lol

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Love the name Sky!

 

One thing you'll learn as you read the forums here is that for as many Greyhounds out there is just about as many personalities there may be. Some are so easy going they are almost boring. This is my girl. Anybody can wrap their arms around her and she's fine. She actually 'requests' it by coming up to me, laying her head in the crook of my elbow and pressing down so the arm bends over her head. She never goes on furniture. She has no interest in my bed. She doesn't beg for food. Food can be left where she could get it if she wanted and she doesn't bother. Play with toys? Uhmmm.. not so much. Zoomies? Almost never. Run in the backyard? Again, almost never. I've had her almost 3 years and we occasionally visit one of her foster moms (who has 5 Greyhounds) and her foster mom says that except for having lost her shyness, she is the same dog now as she was then: laid back and boring. LOL

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Take a look inside your hounds ears. If she was a racer she will have tattoos in both ears. I believe the left ear will be the registration number (litter), and the right ear will be 3 numbers and a letter, This will be the month and year born and the order in the litter she was tattoo'd. So if her right ear is 611B, she was born in June 2011 and was the second hound in the litter tattoo'd. The letter has no relevance to order born. If she was a racer and has tatts, then you can write down the numbers in both ears, go to www.greyhound-data.com, do a "dog search" and put in the numbers. They may have her racing records. If they don't have anything, try www.trackinfo.com and put in the same info. On trackinfo you can even see some of her old races depending on the track(s) she ran at.

 

Chad

Edited by Greyt_dog_lover
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Guest fenix916

It's great your concerned, i'm sure you're doing wonderful. We've only had our grey for 6 or 7 weeks. It's been a few weeks since he growled/snarled/barked at me, but man those first few weeks it'd be like we were best pals, then something would suddenly randomly piss him off or scare him. In retrospect, it was always my fault because he was new and adapting and didn't fully trust me (and probably still doesn't). I think greys are can be confusing because they're so kind and sweet that it's easy to forget they're rescues carrying baggage. But it is getting better! He wouldn't even show me his belly for the first few weeks, now he does it almost every time i go to pat him.

Edited by fenix916
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