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Returned Newly Adopted Greyhound For Bite, Need Advice


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Guest lestersmom

Hi all,

My newly adopted greyhound, Lester, bit my husband in the face (after 2 weeks of having him) a few days ago. We have been following all the advice of all the other experienced greyhound owners with all of our other questions we have had (and have had great success/encouragement) so I am reaching out for this advice as well.

We felt an immediate connection with Lester and the 2 weeks we had him was the happiest 2 weeks of our marriage. We are both in shock over the bite, but our hearts hurt the most. Not to sound dramatic, but, after only 2 weeks with him our home and our hearts now feel empty without him. We have spent the past 2 days without him dealing with our grief and the heartache has been like nothing we have experienced before. He was just finally beginning to show glimpses of personality, he was doing wonderfully at the dog park and with other people...maybe he was just too stressed out to care during those 2 weeks, I don't know, he just never seemed like an aggressive dog.

Whenever Lester was awake but laying on his bed we would go over and show him some love. Never did he act like he didn't like it...until 3 nights ago when my husband sat down with him and out of no where Lester bit him in the face. Luckily he did not need stitches but we were both very afraid and shocked and felt like we needed to return him to the agency the next day....which may or may not have been a decision that was too quickly made, but, it is our first greyhound and we weren't sure what to do.

We did a lot of research before we decided to adopt and read plenty of articles on sleep aggression, (we didn't find greytalk until after we adopted him) but, somehow, space aggression didn't come up...at least not that I remember. Our adoption agency mentioned nothing about space aggression during the adoption process or we would have never ever gotten on the floor with him when he was on his bed. When I googled space aggression in greyhounds today TONS of posts came up about very very similar situations. We are now wondering is it worth giving him a second chance now knowing about space aggression? Is it too soon to make that decision since we are still in the grieving process? Any suggestions of recovering emotionally from a dog bite? Lester did seem very afraid after he bit him, we did not punish him, but there was screaming and crying, not at Lester, just the fear between my husband and I. We actually very gently called Lester to come over and put a muzzle on him, put him in the crate, told him good boy and then headed to the ER. From when we came back from the ER to when we took him back to the agency Lester knew something was wrong...he panted constantly, like he did the first day we brought him home, he wouldn't lay down, just looked like he knew something was wrong. We did spend that whole time crying knowing that we were going to take him back so he could have just been sensitive to our emotions as well. I don't know anything for sure though.

We are missing him more than we ever thought we would but we are also still recovering mentally and physically from the shock of a dog bite. I don't want to consider giving him a second chance if it is strictly just me missing him but I don't want to lose him either if we made the wrong decision in returning him. Any advice welcome. Thanks everyone.

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I don't really have advice, but I just wanted to say that I feel for you and that is a tough situation no matter what. Whatever you decide to do there is no judgement. My sweet boy snapped at me a couple of times when I got too close to the bone he had, and thank god he has bite inhibition because I'm sure he could have done a lot of damage if he didn't. It was very scary and that was a bite with no marks. I used to think that any dog who would bite was a "bad dog" but now I'm realizing that one bite does not make a bad dog. On the other hand, you and your husbands' safety comes first. Good luck with whatever you decide.

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You may or may not have been dealing with space aggression. More likely, you were dealing with sleep startle. There is a difference.

 

Our boy, Rocket has sleep startle. Even after 5 plus years, we have a "no petting unless he's standing" rule. All visitors are advised of the rule when they enter, and reminded even if they have been here numerous times. Rocket is not a cuddler, but comes to us for pets constantly and is attached to my hip if I'm up. Even if his eyes are open, he may be sleeping, which is why we require him to also be standing before we pet or touch him. He is literally the sweetest boy in the world, and makes me laugh constantly.

 

Since Lester showed no signs of this prior to the bite, my money is on him being startled when your husband sat down. Greyhounds have been housed in their own crates at the track, and had their own "house" stating at 6 months of age in training. They are not used to being touched while they sleep. Many are not bothered by it, but some are hyper-sensitive about being touched while sleeping or having their space violated. It is always important to remember to make sure your hound is awake before approaching them or touching them until you know your hound. At 2 weeks, you do not know your hound.

 

From experience; Rocket has bitten twice, and both times were due to being startled / touched while he was sleeping. Not his fault at all.

 

If you don't have small children who are going to run over and hug or grab him while he;s laying down,or other pets that will lay down next to him, and you can enforce the rules about standing before petting, it sounds like you could provide a second chance for Lester. He is probably as upset about what happened as you are.

 

Remember, a growl is not aggression, it's a warning that he's not comfortable with whatever is happening at that moment. A bite happens because he was caught off guard and felt he had to defend himself, which is what makes me think he was startled. If he was space aggressive, he most likely would have been defending his space and/or possessions from the beginning. It is important the knows you are there if you approach him while he's sleeping. Rocket sleeps on the floor next to my side of the bed. I don't approach his bed without letting him know that I'm there, even if all i do is say his name. He never startles or snaps if i do this.

 

Good luck. I hope you are able to provide a second chance for Lester and that it works out.

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Camp Broodie. The current home of Mark Kay Mark Jack and LaVida I've Got Life.  Always missing my boy Rocket Hi Noon Rocket,  Allie  Phoenix Dynamite, Kate Miss Kate, Starz Under Da Starz, Petunia MW Neptunia and Diva Astar Dashindiva 

 

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Fuzzy bit me on the head, the first days he was in our home. He was also the 4th greyhound that we adopted, so I did have some experience. It is up to you. If you are going to act spooky, hesitate, or just scared around the dog, don't bring him back home. It won't be good for you or for him. You need more time to get over this, in my opinion.

Irene Ullmann w/Flying Odin in Lower Delaware
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Oh, I feel for you! An emotional time and a tough decision. I hope your husband is ok.

I can't tell you what to do, but don't get down on yourselves.

Someone really should have told you about sleep startle.

I was warned from the get-go to not pet dogs on their own bed.

I suggest Greyhounds for Dummies, we bought it before we got our dog.

Our first dog had severe separation anxiety and nothing we did helped and we had to return her.

We got an older mellower dog who was returned and he was the right one for us.

 

There is a home for every dog, but the right home may not be yours and you need to be honest about whether you have what it takes to

make things work with Lester. I'm no expert, but it does sound like he was startled. They really do sleep with eyes open sometimes, so it's hard to tell if they are awake.

If Lester was startled, he could have been as scared as you and your husband were. OTOH, I'm not sure if I could behave normally around a dog that had bitten me, especially when I was new to living with dogs, and unsure about the whole thing.

 

Hopefully your rescue has a behaviorist you can consult with.

If you decide you can't trust Lester again, and he'll feel your anxiety, please don't give up on the breed.

There might be a dog who isn't right off the track and has been mentored by some more seasoned people (and dogs) and they

can tell you more about the dog before you bring him home, so you can make it work.

In time, with better information, you might be the perfect home for a different greyhound--it sound alike you've learned a lot already. Hang in there! :-)

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Fuzzy bit me on the head, the first days he was in our home. He was also the 4th greyhound that we adopted, so I did have some experience. It is up to you. If you are going to act spooky, hesitate, or just scared around the dog, don't bring him back home. It won't be good for you or for him. You need more time to get over this, in my opinion.

 

I agree. But it might be worth contacting the adoption agency and let them know how you feel, and tell them what you have told us. Dogs that have bitten are usually very, very difficult to adopt out again, so it may be that they would be willing to hold him for a while for you while you think seriously about this. It does sound as if you really, really want him back and realise that the situation could be manageable knowing what you now know and having experienced this, but do think very hard. If you bring him back and can't cope, will you take him back a second time? Will you feel better for having given him another chance or worse for putting him through the stress all over again?

 

I have had two dogs which gave me serious warnings and I know I am lucky to have escaped being bitten. I was quite convinced that I'd never be able to snuggle with Jeffie because he was so spooky about close contact and growled at me a lot in the early days, but in fact he is now the biggest fan of being hugged and I can actually lift him bodily and move him while he's on his bed (I have to do this sometimes so my tripod can get past him to lie down). I have learned to watch body language very, very carefully and make sure he's comfortable at all times - but that's worth doing with ANY dog. In fact, if you haven't already done so, I'd advise that you get a good book on dog body language and social signals and read, it bearing in mind that greyhounds can give much more subtle signals than other dogs. Sometimes it's literally no more than eye movement to indicate emotion. As they relax into your family, it all becomes more obvious, but in the early days watchfulness is definitely the way to go.

 

Did anyone tell you that many greyhounds sleep with their eyes open?

 

The two books I usually recommend these days are 'The Other End of the Leash' by Patricia McConnell and 'Bones Would Rain from the Sky' by Suzanne Clothier

 

If you don't have small children who are going to run over and hug or grab him while he;s laying down,or other pets that will lay down next to him, and you can enforce the rules about standing before petting, it sounds like you could provide a second chance for Lester. He is probably as upset about what happened as you are.

 

Remember, a growl is not aggression, it's a warning that he's not comfortable with whatever is happening at that moment. A bite happens because he was caught off guard and felt he had to defend himself, which is what makes me think he was startled. If he was space aggressive, he most likely would have been defending his space and/or possessions from the beginning. It is important the knows you are there if you approach him while he's sleeping. Rocket sleeps on the floor next to my side of the bed. I don't approach his bed without letting him know that I'm there, even if all i do is say his name. He never startles or snaps if i do this.

 

 

 

I agree with this, too.

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The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

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I was also bitten when we'd had Sweep only a few weeks (first grey and first dog as adults). My husband had just left for a movie so I was home alone, brushing her on the floor with a Furminator, when suddenly she lunged and got me right below the eye. I am not sure if she dozed off and then startled or if I hit a tender spot with the Furminator (Zoom Grooms only now!). My bite wasn't severe enough to warrant an ER visit but I spent that Christmas with a lovely black eye. Regardless, it was terrifying and horrible and I experienced the same emotions you're having. Sweep immediately tucked her tail and crated herself while I sobbed at the thought that my husband would almost certainly insist we return her. Fortunately, that was not the case. When I had a few hours to calm down and think rationally about it, it was clear the fault was mine because 1) she was still new and adjusting to us, 2) I shouldn't have been brushing her while she was lying down, and 3) I probably shouldn't have been using the Furminator on her at all. Now that you've researched space aggression some and have a good theory on what triggered the bite, I am sure you realize Lester isn't really an "aggressive dog." I commend you for not punishing him and for understanding that he also likely picked up on the stress and tension of the situation afterward. If there are no kids in the picture and you're willing to work on or around his space (and/or sleep) issues, then why not try again? It sounds like you love him a lot and he's lucky to have people who put so much thought into doing right by him.

 

As for recovering emotionally, it just takes time. I work from home and am with Sweep almost 24/7, so I just had to press on in spite of my initial wariness/fear. I also researched calming signals so I'd know what to look for when she was feeling uncomfortable or unsure about something. It's been almost two years since and we have never had another incident; Sweep is a goofy, well-adjusted, snuggly velcro dog. Try to see it from the dog's perspective: they live in the moment and every day is a clean slate. Whatever you decide, you have support here.

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That sounds like a scary situation for all involved! I am sorry that you went through this and agree that maybe potential owners of any dog should be warned about sleep startle (we have a non-grey who does it, so it isn't really just greys - our grey never has never had it). I agree with reaching out to your adoption group and discussing the situation with them, and asking them what your options are now. Also letting them know that they may want to at least mention sleep startle and space aggression to potential owners may be a good idea.

 

Our non-grey had a very rocky entrance into our household and while she never broke skin, she was on "probation" for probably a year while we worked through some serious issues. And we had a lot of dog experience before we brought her in!

 

I wish you comfort in whatever you decide.

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What did your husband tell the ER about the bite? What are the Dog Bite Laws in your area? Is the ER required to fill out a report?

 

If so, that is something to seriously think about. If you were honest about who/what bit him and they filed a report, that is one strike against him in your area.

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Sorry for the difficult decisions you have had to make. I really do think that sometimes greyhounds are advertised as a little TOO perfect, gentle, and easy. A lot of people are caught unawares when this type of thing (which is not uncommon) happens.

 

I agree that this could very well be sleep startle. It sounds like a reaction based on fear or being startled. If it was true aggression, you probably would have seen signs before, he would have tried to bite multiple times, and your husband would have probably needed stitches. It is a good idea to give them space on their beds in the beginning, but IMO space aggression can be trained out with a lot of hard work. Sleep startle is a little trickier because they do it involuntarily, but I find it often calms down or totally disappears once they become more accustomed to the hustle and bustle of a house.

 

Dogs never bite without warning (again...unless it is a sleep startle response), however most people are unaware of body cues, and think that a growl is the only warning a dog gives. If you are sure that he was fully awake when this happened, and you do want to take him on again, I would suggest looking into this so you can recognize when he is feeling uncomfortable.

 

Whatever you decide, please do what you think is best for your family and the dog. Some dogs just do better with different families, there are many people here in the same situation as you. He will find a good home wherever he ends up.

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Of course you can make your original adoption work. If you are willing to do so.

 

The first step is to contact your group and speak with them about the incident, what you have learned, and what their policy is regarding this. Some groups would not return the original dog to you after you have returned him the first time.

 

Secondly, work through your emotions regarding this incident. Yes, it was shocking and traumatic. But both you and your husband seem to be taking this very personally. Yes, Lester did bite. But he was not biting *you* personally. He would have snapped at any human (or even another dog) who approached him right then. Whether he was sleeping or was guarding his space. And at two weeks or so into an adoption, this is just the time he would be feeling relaxed and starting to become assertive of his wants and needs. Prior to this time, it's likely he was hyper-aware of your movements and always awake when you were near him. Similarly, he might have felt not as confident about his situation, and felt he could/should not protect his space. Then, that day, he was.

 

Either way, the answer to dealing with the problem is really the same. Just don't ever approach his bed closely when he is laying down or sleeping without making sure he is *completely* awake and aware. Always call his name, or clap your hands first, then, when he looks at you, toss him a yummy treat. For the time being, call him to you for pets and attention. As he settles down and becomes more comfortable in your home, his sleep startling/space aggression will likely lessen.

 

Remember, your dog has NEVER had to share his space with any other living being. He has always been awake when people approach him, and nothing has ever tried to share his bed. This is part of having his whole life change in the span of several weeks/months, and he deserves a chance to catch up with all of it.

 

FWIW, our first greyhound bit both my husband and myself within the first week we had her. It was totally our fault because we knew we had pushed her boundaries and it never occurred to us to return her. It wasn't her fault and we already loved her. Libby never did get completely comfortable sharing space when she was sleeping. That was OK with us. We have had two other space/sleep reactive greyhounds since. One now regularly sleeps in bed with us, and the other has found he prefers a dog bed.

 

Sleep startling and space aggression are very manageable. If you want to take the time and effort.

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How severe was the bite? You mentioned going to the ER, but not what the result was (punctures, bite wounds that required a few or many stitches, bruising, etc.). The only thing I would say because it hasn't been mentioned yet is the severity of the bite is worth considering. You can work to counter-condition issues like this and see improvement, but you can't really change an adult dog's level of bite inhibition. It may have been there was some combination of stressors that led him to go straight to the bite rather than warning you, but it's worth considering that if he ever feels the need to react in the future (perhaps when he's older and is sick or if he becomes injured) he may go straight to biting again. If you're inexperienced with dealing with this type of issue, I do think it's worth weighing that. What if you make a mistake again in the future, or you have him for a bit and start to feel he's become comfortable around you and then push it and he reacts again? You have to consider not only your feelings but also liability issues, the animal control rules in your area (doctors are required to report bites and after multiple bites they can sometimes require euthanasia), and the increased difficulty of placing a dog with a bite history, especially multiple bites. There are plenty of greyhounds who don't have this issue so if your group feels it's better that they work on finding a dog that doesn't for you, I would go with their recommendation.

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Most of the factors regarding whether you should give Lester a second chance, and whether the group will even allow you to do that have already been covered, but I just wanted to address this one point:

 

Whenever Lester was awake but laying on his bed we would go over and show him some love. Never did he act like he didn't like it....

 

Are you familiar with the more subtle signals, often called calming signals, that dogs show when they are uncomfortable or stressed? Many of these signals are easy to miss if you're not specifically looking for them, and it's possible that Lester was showing you that he didn't like it, just not in an obvious way. If you're completely sure Lester was awake when you approached him on his bed, then it probably wasn't sleep startle, but a matter of him being uncomfortable with the close contact. If his more subtle signals were not effective in communicating his discomfort, he may have just gotten too overwhelmed and lashed out. Whether you try again with Lester, or for future reference with another dog, I'd recommend learning to recognize calming signals. The link below is a good starting point.

 

http://www.greenacreskennel.com/dog-behavior-and-training/canine-calming-signals-and-stress

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

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My first greyhound snapped at me 3 weeks after I had her (I was trying to get a plastic milk cap away from her - she has taken it off the counter). I was devastated - I cried because she hurt my feelings and cried even harder because I thought I would have to return her (we had 2 young kids). I talked to so many people and had people from different groups check her out - ultimately we kept her. Despite having read everything I could find on greyhounds, I still had a lot to learn about adopting an adult dog (all of my previous dogs had come to me as puppies). Anyway, I don't have anything to add to what others have said. I just wanted you to know that I totally understand how you feel. Good luck!

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Yes about calming signals. Our dog doesn't growl, but I now know he yawns, licks, or looks away when he's really uncomfortable or unhappy--I didn't recognize that when we first got him, and I'm damned lucky I was never bit. Some greys apparently really don't like their ears handled, I've heard.

 

I tell my husband often "remind me if we ever get another dog, not to try this…" because our boy really mellowed once he settled in with us. I can pedi paws him, Q-tip his ears, anything--as long as he gets a treat. :-)

 

Think about your habits, too. My house is small and I'm a klutz, I can't count the times I've tripped over, nearly stepped on, or kicked Shadow with a sock, especially in nightly trips to the bathroom. When he startles, which is rare, he just lifts his head up and stares as if to say, "what are you doing here??" . A dog that bites on startle would probably cover me in wounds.

 

Know yourselves and your home.

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Guest Houston1219

Think about your habits, too. My house is small and I'm a klutz, I can't count the times I've tripped over, nearly stepped on, or kicked Shadow with a sock, especially in nightly trips to the bathroom. When he startles, which is rare, he just lifts his head up and stares as if to say, "what are you doing here??" . A dog that bites on startle would probably cover me in wounds.

 

Know yourselves and your home.

Yes! This!

 

I have said it a thousand times, a dog with sleep or space issues would be a miserable basket case in my house, and I would likely be a regular at the local ER. We have a 700 square foot townhouse. It's long and narrow. Think of living in a nicely decorated hallway lol. Someone is always stepping on someone, and every bit of floor space is a walkway. We are so blessed to have a dog who thinks closer is better, and will open one eye without even lifting his head should you step on or even lay on top of him. Know your dog and your home!

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I tell my husband often "remind me if we ever get another dog, not to try this…" because our boy really mellowed once he settled in with us. I can pedi paws him, Q-tip his ears, anything--as long as he gets a treat. :-)

 

Dogs will become a lot more tolerant of close handling after they have settled in and had a chance to fully bond and learn to trust you. Think about it like getting intimate with a friend. You may get along really well with a new acquaintance, but not want to be hugged or touched by them until you've gotten to know them a lot better.

 

I usually advise new adopters to respect their dog's space and not to approach to give affection when the dog is lying down at least for the first few weeks. A dog who is lying down and trying to rest or sleep may not be in the mood for attention and affection. Especially in the beginning, it's much safer to allow the dog to approach to solicit attention when he's ready, or call the dog over to you if you want to initiate an interaction.

 

With my fosters or new dogs, I initially don't approach them at all when they are lying down. After they've settled in and are acting relaxed and comfortable, I'll calmly approach and sit down next to them while they are lying down. I sit down with my side to the dog, and closer to their side or back end, rather than directly in front of them. I also take care to never lean over them, which can be seen as an intimidating gesture. If the dog still seems relaxed, I'll reach over and gently rub their body (ie. thigh, side, or shoulder) briefly. If the dog is showing signs of enjoying the contact - staying relaxed, rolling over, pawing, nudging, etc, I'll continue petting. If the dog seems uncomfortable or indifferent - calming signals or no reaction, I'll praise for the brief contact and leave them alone for that session.

 

With my own dogs, I can approach while they're lying down, snuggle and 'spoon' then, use them as a pillow, and they are fine. But I didn't even attempt any of that until I'd had them for months or longer. And I still always pay attention to body language as I'm approaching to make sure they're ok with the interaction. Just like people, dogs can have bad moods and 'off' days, and just because they're usually ok with a certain interaction doesn't mean they will always be ok with it.

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

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Sorry for the difficult decisions you have had to make. I really do think that sometimes greyhounds are advertised as a little TOO perfect, gentle, and easy. A lot of people are caught unawares when this type of thing (which is not uncommon) happens.

 

I agree that this could very well be sleep startle. It sounds like a reaction based on fear or being startled. If it was true aggression, you probably would have seen signs before, he would have tried to bite multiple times, and your husband would have probably needed stitches. It is a good idea to give them space on their beds in the beginning, but IMO space aggression can be trained out with a lot of hard work. Sleep startle is a little trickier because they do it involuntarily, but I find it often calms down or totally disappears once they become more accustomed to the hustle and bustle of a house.

 

Yes. If your husband only has bruising, grazes, and/or slight nicks that don't require stitching, Lester was showing good bite inhibition. It was a warning snap that connected rather than a true bite. If your dog had meant to nail him, your husband would now be wearing quite a few stitches, and might be on the list for plastic surgery.

 

Incidentally, some people on GT have trained dogs out of sleep startle by a little gentle 'stuffie tossing'. They've started with something light and soft like a pair of rolled socks just tossed onto the back end of the dog's body while he's sleeping, and when he's used to that, have progressed to small stuffed toys and then larger stuffed toys. The idea is to get him used to being suddenly touched while he's asleep, so that it becomes routine and no surprise. The way greyhounds are kept in the US means that nothing and nobody touches them while they are sleeping and they get plenty of warning of anyone approaching.

 

Here, we don't have quite the same problem because they are kept in pairs and share a bed, so they are all used to being touched while sleeping ... you do get the odd grumpy hound who doesn't like it and has to be kept kennelled alone but usually they can find at least one companion whose touch the grumpy one doesn't mind.

 

Most of the factors regarding whether you should give Lester a second chance, and whether the group will even allow you to do that have already been covered, but I just wanted to address this one point:

 

 

Are you familiar with the more subtle signals, often called calming signals, that dogs show when they are uncomfortable or stressed? Many of these signals are easy to miss if you're not specifically looking for them, and it's possible that Lester was showing you that he didn't like it, just not in an obvious way. If you're completely sure Lester was awake when you approached him on his bed, then it probably wasn't sleep startle, but a matter of him being uncomfortable with the close contact. If his more subtle signals were not effective in communicating his discomfort, he may have just gotten too overwhelmed and lashed out. Whether you try again with Lester, or for future reference with another dog, I'd recommend learning to recognize calming signals. The link below is a good starting point.

 

http://www.greenacreskennel.com/dog-behavior-and-training/canine-calming-signals-and-stress

 

Dogs will become a lot more tolerant of close handling after they have settled in and had a chance to fully bond and learn to trust you. Think about it like getting intimate with a friend. You may get along really well with a new acquaintance, but not want to be hugged or touched by them until you've gotten to know them a lot better.

 

I usually advise new adopters to respect their dog's space and not to approach to give affection when the dog is lying down at least for the first few weeks. A dog who is lying down and trying to rest or sleep may not be in the mood for attention and affection. Especially in the beginning, it's much safer to allow the dog to approach to solicit attention when he's ready, or call the dog over to you if you want to initiate an interaction.

 

With my fosters or new dogs, I initially don't approach them at all when they are lying down. After they've settled in and are acting relaxed and comfortable, I'll calmly approach and sit down next to them while they are lying down. I sit down with my side to the dog, and closer to their side or back end, rather than directly in front of them. I also take care to never lean over them, which can be seen as an intimidating gesture. If the dog still seems relaxed, I'll reach over and gently rub their body (ie. thigh, side, or shoulder) briefly. If the dog is showing signs of enjoying the contact - staying relaxed, rolling over, pawing, nudging, etc, I'll continue petting. If the dog seems uncomfortable or indifferent - calming signals or no reaction, I'll praise for the brief contact and leave them alone for that session.

 

With my own dogs, I can approach while they're lying down, snuggle and 'spoon' then, use them as a pillow, and they are fine. But I didn't even attempt any of that until I'd had them for months or longer. And I still always pay attention to body language as I'm approaching to make sure they're ok with the interaction. Just like people, dogs can have bad moods and 'off' days, and just because they're usually ok with a certain interaction doesn't mean they will always be ok with it.

 

 

Yes. :nod I've 'bolded' the parts which I feel are particularly important, but I agree with everything Jennifer has said here.

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The plural of anecdote is not data

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Incidentally, some people on GT have trained dogs out of sleep startle by a little gentle 'stuffie tossing'. They've started with something light and soft like a pair of rolled socks just tossed onto the back end of the dog's body while he's sleeping, and when he's used to that, have progressed to small stuffed toys and then larger stuffed toys. The idea is to get him used to being suddenly touched while he's asleep, so that it becomes routine and no surprise. The way greyhounds are kept in the US means that nothing and nobody touches them while they are sleeping and they get plenty of warning of anyone approaching.

*raises hand* I did this 8 yrs ago with my first greyhound, Sammi. (I don't remember who here on GT explained it to me :( But thank you!! ) I am also doing this with my 2 new greyhounds. Sammi no longer startles in her own home & around her pack (family). When we travel, she cannot get over stimulated, and she must remain in the room I am sleeping in at night. If not, she runs the risk of startling because she can't relax with the new people/new surroundings. Sammi also is losing her vision. Her night vision is worse than mine, so I think this adds to her anxiety in a new place at night.

 

River is just about totally desensitized. She starts occasionally, usually when a noise that isn't normal occurs while she is dozing (A truck backfires going by, I trip/drop something, a bark, etc...)

 

Now about Lynni :lol She's taken a bit more training and learning what her limits are. Between the sock/stuffy desensitizing training and observation, We've gotten her down to 2 situations that can set her off. 1- nighttime: she is in a deeper sleep at night, and can come awake swinging if one of the greys/DH or I are moving around the bedroom. No room for a crate, so for now we muzzle her at night. She is actually quite content in her muzzle at night and settles down/goes to sleep quickly with it on. I mused to DH that maybe someone had stepped on her nose and she sees the muzzle as protection 2- daytime/snoozing: as long as she falls asleep touching someone (be it me, Sammi, River or DS) she is fine. It's when she falls asleep solo and something touches her face that may set her off. (Working on this one, I will reach out and lean my foot on her leg, butt, back, etc.. hence why we're narrowed down to her face) How do we deal with it? Make sure that she is awake and aware before sitting next to her.

 

Actually, for all 3, I have always had a rule -especially for kids & guests- to NEVER approach them sleeping or laying down, to always make sure that they are awake and aware before approaching. It becomes second nature after a while to just make a noise, or step a little harder while walking, to get a sleeping dog's attention. Kind of like saying "bless you" when you hear a sneeze. After a while, you sometimes don't even register yourself doing it.

 

And please do not take a sleep startle snap personally!! As a human that has suffered from sleep startling my whole life I can honestly say that if I don't know what I am doing if I am startled and come up swinging, how can I expect my dogs to be more self aware than me?

Edited by Gryffenne
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Guest KsFrets

Magnus has bit me twice, once in the face and once in the arm. After analyzing why, we both have a better understanding of each other, and remain best friends. I was raised with animals, so getting bitten is nothing new.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I am with KsFrets on this one. Not to sound flippant, but its really just a bite. Its not like full out attack where the dog mauled you and wouldn't stop biting you. You have already said how you were able to read a lot of articles about this very subject and realized it was your fault. I have been around dogs all my life, they have teeth and from time to time you get bit, that's just the way it is. No big deal. One of my dogs bit me in the chin when i was sliding her around while she was laying down, one of my dogs bit me in the face when I tried to move him by his collar when he was sleeping, one of my dogs bit me when... you see the common denominator here, when "I" did something to the dog. In each instance the dog is reacting to something I am doing, therefore I should not hold the dog responsible for reacting to my stupidity. In the grand scheme of things its not really that big of a deal, your feelings are hurt, move on and dont hold the dog responsible for your actions.

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I am with KsFrets on this one. Not to sound flippant, but its really just a bite. Its not like full out attack where the dog mauled you and wouldn't stop biting you. You have already said how you were able to read a lot of articles about this very subject and realized it was your fault. I have been around dogs all my life, they have teeth and from time to time you get bit, that's just the way it is. No big deal. One of my dogs bit me in the chin when i was sliding her around while she was laying down, one of my dogs bit me in the face when I tried to move him by his collar when he was sleeping, one of my dogs bit me when... you see the common denominator here, when "I" did something to the dog. In each instance the dog is reacting to something I am doing, therefore I should not hold the dog responsible for reacting to my stupidity. In the grand scheme of things its not really that big of a deal, your feelings are hurt, move on and dont hold the dog responsible for your actions.

I don't think your dismissive attitide to someone new to dogs is helpful. This was a knee jerk reaction to something that is not expected. I have had dogs for many years and have not been biten by any of them. The OP has admitted their involvement to the problems. They are looking for opinions moving forward.

 

To the OP...think long and hard if you can move forward...talk to the group and get their thoughts...good luck on your future with greyhounds.

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Lester needs a benevolent pack LEADER. It doesn't help him to tell him he was a good dog after he bit you. I admire your desire and kindness but imo that is part of the problem. Any intelligent dog is going to be inclined to have problems in such an environment. IMO he should have been immediately corrected after the bite. It doesn't take much with greyhounds a lot of the time-for some a sharp no! is sufficient others need more but all dogs NEED to know they have a pack leader they can trust. If you are willing to be open minded and learn how to be their pack leader then you and he could probably have a wonderful happy life together. If you bring him back into the same environment that tells him he is good when he does wrong, then things will become even worse. www.leerburg.com has a god dvd on how to be a good pack leader for your dog. There are also some good articles on the site. Obviously I am not saying a dog should be punished for things he can't help or emotional problems he might have. But even so he shouldn't be praised if he does wrong. You know most people have issues or things. Maybe Lester is just sensitive to space. So what? Is he not allowed to have an issue when even people can? So just give him his space and everything is ok. It is not worth losing the love of a great and special relationship over. That works fine. I cannot tell you the relationship Minny and I had and he even had to wear a muzzle pretty much 24/7. But oh how we loved each other. Nobody, dog or human,is perfect in every way. You have the most important thing you need though to work through this- you have love. As long as you continue to operate in love everything will work out. Good luck! Let us know how everybody does-hope your husband makes a speedy recovery. JMO.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I gave constructive ways to deal with it, its not a big deal, move on. No need to dwell on the actions of a dog that was provoked by the human. Dont take it personally, and move forward.

 

You know its very similar to children. What do you do when your child hits you for the first time? You give a quick correction and move on. You don't get all bent out of shape because your sweet little child slapped you in the face when you picked him up. Its something that happens, no biggie move on. That is what I am saying.

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