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Training Not To Kill


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Hi

 

I've seen similar threads get a bit heated so just want to say that I take full responsibility and don't blame my dog in any way. I'm just after some practical advice on moving forward.

 

We've had Charlie about 3 months. He's a bit shy and sensitive but is very well behaved on our regular walks and in the house. We're very careful about letting him off the lead but his recall is very good.

 

We've had two sad incidents in the past month. Firstly an old stray cat jumped into the garden and Charlie caught it, by the time I got to them he'd let go but the cat died moments later.

 

Secondly I was visiting my mother who keeps chickens and they were shut away so I let Charlie off the lead like I've done before. Unfortunately a chicken had managed to escape (this hasn't happened before) and Charlie killed it. My mum has greyhounds but they recognise her animals as a 'no go' area, obviously as we've only visited a couple of times Charlie doesn't think the same.

 

I'm really sad about this and not taking this lightly and I also know animals kill things. I'm taking extra precautions now like muzzle if we're visiting mum but not in our own garden. I just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on training....is there anything we can do to discourage chasing and killing? Both times it's been over so quickly, in a matter of seconds.

 

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

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I'll be interested to hear what others say. If a cat got into my yard, I doubt it would have a chance. Rumor goes for anything that moves - taking her on walks is a challenge with all the toads and frogs we have here. Just yesterday she killed an injured bird that was in our yard. I have tried discouraging her toad/frog issue but haven't had any luck. My sense is that she almost can't help it - they must taste bad because she foams at the mouth when she gets one yet if she catches their movement, she reacts, going for it. I think this is just who they are.

<p>Kim and the hound - Rumor
Missing my angels Marlow, Silver, Holly and Lucky

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Hi, I take it like me you are in the UK? (Note to US readers: British greyhound rescues permit, and indeed encourage, their adopters to train a recall and let their dogs offleash, with due safety precautions)

 

There is a book called 'Stop' by the dog trainer, David Ryan:

http://www.dog-secrets.co.uk/stop-how-to-control-predatory-chasing-in-dogs/

 

I haven't read this myself but have often seen it recommended on UK dog rescue forums. The control of predatory chasing is one of his specialisms and he also often runs seminars on the subject, including I think specifically for greyhound groups.

 

Doc had/has a very strong prey drive though these days he is a wobbly old boy so it is less of an issue. From my own experience I would suggest just checking the garden for wildlife/cats before you let him out. Open the door loudly and/or clap your hands and any visiting creatures will hopefully get the message. As you say otherwise given the distances involved things will kick off too quickly for you to be able to intervene.

 

For walks the best advice I can give is to learn to 'think/see sighthound'. With practice I became almost as good as spotting squirrels as Doc himself.

 

Also - watch your dog. When he spots something, his ears will go up, and then you have a micro-second to get his attention before the chase instinct kicks in - after that he just won't hear you.

 

I also recommend playing games that encourage recall on walks. Our favourites were 'hide and seek'= hide behind a tree and call him and 'greyhound catch'= two of you, armed with treats, calling him in turn and rewarding him when he comes.

 

You may well find that as he settles into domestic life his chase instinct dies down a bit, but don't count on it, certainly where live creatures are concerned. Doc was ten when he caught his first and hopefully last squirrel. (In the park, early in the morning in heavy rain, so I didn't see it first. It was rather a stupid one, as it ran across the grass instead of up a tree!)

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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Sadly I think that the demise of the cat was probably unavoidable, as sad as it is. The chicken incident should be looked upon as a lesson well learnt. Predatory drive is such a difficult subject because every dog is different.

 

I have owned four Greyhounds, two from puppies and two ex racers, my current boy I have had just over three months. He is a high prey drive dog, during one of our early off leash training sessions in a fenced field he caught a fox, luckily it got away, and even more luckily it didn't do him any damage. It seemed to really "hype up" his prey drive for a while though which has set back his off leash training for a bit. I think it was a salutary lesson for me though to remind me what these dogs are capable of. My last grey lived to be fourteen and had pretty much given up chasing anything apart from her food bowl by the time she was ten so I had needed that reminder.

 

As DocsDoctor said, you do learn to be super vigilant and much of the time are able to avert disaster by spotting potential problems before they occur. I have found that in all but one of the Greyhounds I have known (both mine and those belonging to friends) the prey drive does seem to lessen over time, and in many cases they seem to spend more time thinking about the chase before actually running, giving you time to distract.

 

Work hard on getting a good close bond with your dog so that his recall is very good. If that means spending more time on leash for a while then it is worth it in the long run.

 

I think that the kill instinct may always be there beneath the surface but with diligent obedience training it can be managed. I have to say that I know many greys that have caught rabbits and squirrels and birds, but not many that have hurt or killed cats or small dogs and I am sure this is due to the training they have received. Three months is not long, keep working on that training and keep us posted on your progress.

<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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sounds like the activities in my back yard. annie has zapped one cat, the other big fluffy cat made it out of the yard and there were 4 muzzled greyhounds chasing it! annie helps herself to a snack when ever possible-----birds are her favorite. felix....duh? but on lead they are fine w/ rabbits, fox, birds and small non-snapping/barking dogs.

 

there are hunters and there are hunters. as long as you don't encounter problems on lead, it's the breed...

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I'll be interested to hear what others say. If a cat got into my yard, I doubt it would have a chance. Rumor goes for anything that moves - taking her on walks is a challenge with all the toads and frogs we have here. Just yesterday she killed an injured bird that was in our yard. I have tried discouraging her toad/frog issue but haven't had any luck. My sense is that she almost can't help it - they must taste bad because she foams at the mouth when she gets one yet if she catches their movement, she reacts, going for it. I think this is just who they are.

Not to highjack the thread, but be very very careful with toads, some are poisonous and can seriously harm your dog.

 

Back to the regularly scheduled thread :) I don't think there is any way you can train him not to chase, not 100% reliably at least. Your best bet is to learn to be vigilant about your (his) surroundings. The local cats and other wildlife will learn pretty quickly to stay out of your yard, mostly. You might try teaching him to "drop it" but that might just end up leaving you with an injured animal that you have to deal with. It can be hard for us humans, but it is just natural for them.

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Greyhounds are bred to chase and kill. The instinct may lessen over time, but it will never go away completely. Your best bet may be to train a reliable "drop it" command.

 

FWIW, everyone in my neighborhood knows that any free-roaming cat that gets into our yard is fair game for my dogs. It's their yard, after all, and I'm not going to restrict them from playing and doing what comes naturally. The cats soon learn to avoid it once they've been chased out a couple times. We have had some fairly violent cat/dog fights over the years between my (outdoor) cat zappers and a big tom cat.

 

All my dogs are completely fine with indoor cats, and live with them every day. Outdoor animals of any kind are a different matter.

 

I do know there is one dog here on GT whose owner trained her to leave their chickens alone. I seem to remember it took many months of desensitization and training.

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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I wouldn't trust any of mine with any sort of small critter that ventured into our yard. Nixon was very proud of himself the first time he caught a rabbit.

They are all fine on leash. We love on a very rural area and often have chipmunks/squirrels run very close, right across the road in front of us when we walk.

The dogs do react ...ears up... but a quick NO from me works..... they know that are not to allowed to chase if they're attached to me and within seconds have forgotten all about the little fluffy.

 

This goes for most dogs that we've had...not just the Greys.

We had a Doberman who could outrun any groundhog...and she was quite proud of her kills.

Our GSDx was also a good hunter...moles were her specialty.

Edited by BatterseaBrindl

 

Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos).   Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) Nigel (Nigel), and especially little Mario, waiting at the Bridge.

 

 

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Guest Scouts_mom

My Mindy learned to stop trying to kill squirrels, but that was only after one she caught fought back and scratched her nose. The squirrel didn't survive, but while she would still chase them, she was very careful to never get too close again.

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Small dogs are often seen as prey by greyhounds. Especially small, white, fluffy dogs which can look a bit like a racing lure. Again, familiarity can help with tolerance for some. Some dogs - not just greyhounds - just have issues in this regard that can't be easily overcome.

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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No reason you couldn't work with the dog re chickens the way some folks work to get them to ignore cats. No guarantee of success, but there have been people here who trained their dogs to leave chickens, ducks, etc. alone.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Controlled exposure (i.e. muzzle and leash) to things like the chickens, cats, etc. can definitely help to lower the excitement or "novelty" of seeing the prey, but it is pretty hard to train out completely. My guy has killed a raccoon, but he doesn't blink an eye at any of my 4 rabbits, just because he sees them every day.

 

From what I have seen the only way prey drives are "trained" out is with pretty aversive techniques (e.g. shock collars, etc), which I obviously wouldn't want to do, especially with a greyhound.

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I've never really thought of small dogs being an issue! I thought they would be processed as 'dogs' but I suppose from a distance. Is this a common issue?

Most greyhounds will not encounter other breeds until they stop racing, so yes this is quite often an issue. Small white fluffy dogs may suggest a racing lure to Charlie, the squirmy movements of puppies may also suggest prey, and then you have all the other breeds of dogs whose body language and sense of etiquette is often just very different to a greyhound's - Doc found pugs alarming and difficult to 'read', for instance, because of their squashed-up little faces and non-waving tails. What helped for us was finding a mixed breed obedience class with a good trainer where he could get to know lots of 'funny-looking' dogs under controlled conditions. It was good for our bonding and for expanding my knowledge of doggy body language too. Look for someone offering positive reward-based training only - greyhounds are sensitive souls!

 

From what I have seen the only way prey drives are "trained" out is with pretty aversive techniques (e.g. shock collars, etc), which I obviously wouldn't want to do, especially with a greyhound.

 

David Ryan (the clinical behaviourist mentioned in my first post) uses positive reward-based techniques only, I believe.

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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just remember that if your dog gets into a conflict w/ a feral animal and is scratched he will need a rabies booster.

The OP is in the UK, so this will not be the case - a dose of antibiotics, possibly.

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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These are really helpful insights thanks so much everyone.

 

I think it's interesting about the 'novelty' and perhaps the fact that pets are recognised as part of the pack/family. Our family had a grey (Cait) who had no training but never batted an eyelid at our chickens, geese or sheep but would chase anything she could outside. It was like they were part of the scenery/ a 'no go' area.

 

I'll certainly follow up the references people have provided.

 

M

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Oh actually one further (strange) question - has anyone got a muzzle that can still accommodate 'treats'. Sometimes I'd like to keep a muzzle on just to be on the safe side but would also like to reward.

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Oh actually one further (strange) question - has anyone got a muzzle that can still accommodate 'treats'. Sometimes I'd like to keep a muzzle on just to be on the safe side but would also like to reward.

 

It's usually easy enough to "post" small treats through holes in a basket muzzle.

<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 WhiteWave

I think lower prey driven dogs can be trained to be reliable around small critters, but I think with high prey drive dogs all you can do is restrict access as much as possible, train recall and drop it. Any cat, chicken, opossum, raccoon, ect that has been crazy enough to venture into my yard has been killed. They ate a few chickens a couple month ago that a neighbor behind us lets run free.

 

I have had some high prey drive hounds. Leroy and Henry would zap a cat faster than you can blink, they fixated on them and you could not redirect them at all until the cat was completely out of sight for at least 30 minutes. When I cat tested Leroy, the cat knew he was dangerous the moment we walked into the room and attacked him. He almost killed her with the muzzle on and 3 people trying to get him off. But never in over 30 hounds have I had one go after my small white fluffy dog, probably because he would tear them up. I brought him 3 young male hounds straight from the track, first thing they did was run at Pongo, that was the very last time. He is 1/2 Jack Russell 1/2 American Eskimo and mean as hell!

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I have had whippets for 25 years and though they accepted our cat while she just walked through the room, one whippet would chase her if she turned & ran. Every whippet would scream and want to chase a cat when we saw one out on a walk and several cats have been chased up the back garden & when cornered fought back at a dog until I broke up the hassle & gave it chance to escape. Banjo (whippet) will scream and bark through the closed window at any cat that walks past the front of my house, despite all my attempts to calm him down. Now Chancey joins in, jumping up onto the settee to look out of the window and yelp at it. Both dogs have chased a remarkably stupid cat that keeps returning, down the back garden & it has only just made it over the 6ft high fence. Now at night I put on the light & make a big show of unlocking the back door to allow it chance to get out of the way before i open the door.

 

Chancey left the track at the end of December & i have had her since the end of January. I take her out wearing a muzzle all the time because I would not trust her with any small furry creature yet. She is still highly reactive about any dog except a sighthound (we walked with 61 a few weeks ago & she behaved beautifully) & i have a screaming, bucking bronco on the end of the lead, nothing I offer her will distract her. Seeing a cat when out walking is just as exciting, then I have both whippet & greyhound trying to get at it.

 

I have always accepted that as sighthounds my dogs have the chase instinct inbuilt and whilst I can do my best to train "Leave it" and get them to walk calmly i would never trust them off lead around small animals / birds that move.

Miss "England" Carol with Chancey - (Goosetree Chance) and whippet lurcher Nutmeg

R.I.P. Bluegrass Banjoman. 25.1.2004 - 25.5.2015 and Ch. Sleepyhollow Aida. 30.9.2000 - 10.1.2014.

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Guest chickenpotpie

Lucky is a low preydrive dog, but still, today in the yard she went after and killed rabbit. Who knows when she'll finally get a squirrel....

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