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Cuddle Without Startling?


Guest GreytMom15
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Guest GreytMom15

I understand the startle reaction and we are very careful not to interrupt Punzie as she is sleeping or starting to doze. Our five year old son is also aware (and we constantly remind him, daily) that he cannot pet her, approach her or otherwise as she sleeps. He's very good about that. She LOVES to snuggle up and plop down right next to me. She'll even plop her head right on my arm or stomach. I sometimes will give her a gentle but quick rub down her back or a scratch on the hip but then very aware to stop before she might startle. My question is, does the startle reaction ever dissipate? I'd love to sort of cuddle her right back but should I just leave it on HER terms and let HER snuggle ME? She's very affectionate and sweet and I don't want to upset her in any way. Thanks in advance. :)


Also, as a side note, she can fall asleep almost immediately after lying down. LOL It doesn't give me much petting/rubbing time before I feel like I have to stop.

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The urge to cuddle for a dog is a matter of trust and connection. It *can* get better as the dog settles into home life, becomes familiar with the routine and people, and developes a sense of trust in them. Many greyhounds that come home with a severe sleep startle reaction will gradually become able to be cuddle. But not all of them.

 

We've had 3 dogs with severe (drew blood) sleep startling. One never was able to cuddle while laying down. One is mostly better - he likes to cuddle but only on his terms and when he wants to. One is now completely able to cuddle while sleeping and regularly sleeps with us in bed.

 

I think you're wise to keep your 5 year old away from a sleeping dog. It just makes good sense for him to learn that, whether or not the dog that is sleeping has this issue. With the adults, unfortunately, the only way you can find out if she still sleep startles is to give it a try. Let her fall asleep on her bed, and then toss a rolled up pair of socks or a toy at her from a little ways away, see how she responds. Many people have used this technique to sort of hurry-up the process and get the dog used to being awakened suddenly.

 

Even with dogs who I know don't sleep startle, I always make sure they are awake before I pet them if they are close to me - call her name, or touch her on a part of her body far away from my face. It's something our first greyhound taught me and it has always served me well.

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

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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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Has she ever actually reacted like that? Not all greyhounds do it so while I think you're very smart to be cautious, especially if she's new and still settling in, you may not have to worry about it down the road. Violet is one of the most affectionate, snuggly dogs I've ever met. She sleeps in bed with me almost every night, sometimes nuzzling her face into my neck and she's often curled up next to me in the couch or in "comfy chair" (our large oversized chair) when I'm reading. She's never been protective of her space although I seem to have some vague recollection of her maybe waking up and growling in the middle of the night once or twice very early on and I just told her to get off the bed and that was that.

 

I do think you need to teach an "off" cue if you're going to let the dogs on the furniture though, just in case, so that you can tell her to get down as a consequence if she does growl, and you don't want to have to force her off by grabbing her collar as that could cause her to escalate. Really easy to teach. Just say off, toss a piece of food on the floor so that she sees it, she jumps off to get it, repeat until she will jump off after you say "off" but before you toss the food. You can teach her "up" or "on" at the same time by doing the opposite. :)

 

ETA: Zuri is another story and more to your question - yes, it can get better, especially if you help them. I did a lot of counter-conditioning and desensitization with Zuri and he now sleeps in bed with me whenever he beats Violet to it and no longer snarks at the cat or the girls for startling him awake when he's on the couch. The former came easier - he was less likely to direct that behavior at me from early on, the latter took a good bit of time and effort on my part (every time he was startled awake or someone got really close to him on the furniture or a bed I would feed him; this also involved a lot of me intentionally startling him awake (gently at first) and feeding).

Edited by NeylasMom

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

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

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Guest GreytMom15

She growled at Biscuit once for him getting a tad too close once. She hasn't done it to me up to this point. She usually sleeps in our bed with us. The first night she jumped up there I said to my husband, "If you don't want her sleeping with us, we have to tell her starting right now." His response, "No, it's ok." So there you have it...two adults, a greyhound and a cat asleep in a queen bed! Sometimes if Biscuit finds a spot then there's five of us. We seriously need a KING bed! lol

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She growled at Biscuit once for him getting a tad too close once. She hasn't done it to me up to this point. She usually sleeps in our bed with us. The first night she jumped up there I said to my husband, "If you don't want her sleeping with us, we have to tell her starting right now." His response, "No, it's ok." So there you have it...two adults, a greyhound and a cat asleep in a queen bed! Sometimes if Biscuit finds a spot then there's five of us. We seriously need a KING bed! lol

I think you have answered your own question....it doesn't sound like she is that bothered :lol

 

But still worth your son being cautious....let sleeping dogs lie and all that.

<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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Startle is just that--startle! If she's on your lap and aware of you, which she obviously would be, it would be pretty unusual for her to get started if you're petting her and then she falls asleep.


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Startle is just that--startle! If she's on your lap and aware of you, which she obviously would be, it would be pretty unusual for her to get started if you're petting her and then she falls asleep.

False

 

To the OP, agree with scullysmum - doesn't sound like it's likely to be an issue for you, but best to keep doing what you've been doing with your son. If something does change a snap or bite directed at you could have a very different outcome than one directed at your son.

Edited by NeylasMom

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

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

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

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Just want to chime in that Rudy could startle even while awake. After being with me now 1 year and 10 months, he rarely startles now and usually only when he's actually asleep. But at first he would come to me for attention and then just suddenly startle and growl when I touched an area he didn't expect or reached over his neck the wrong way. I felt a bit on eggshells with him. Also if he was relaxed and a person suddenly moved near him he would often startle, even though not asleep. He'd come up out of his sleep startled at times even though no one was near him. He just really seemed to have a lot of startle issue, which seemed odd because he is otherwise so unflappable, i.e. he did okay during storms, he wasn't afraid of the vacuum, he wasn't afraid of traffic while on walks, and did not get jumpy if I dropped something. For him it just seemed mostly to do with touch and space.

 

With time and counter-conditioning he's very relaxed now even when I touch behind his neck or around his shoulderblades, which he used to be uneasy about. I let him cuddle with me for awhile in bed at night while I read before I go to sleep, but then when I say "ok it's time for bed" he gets down, gets a treat, and goes to his own bed. I do this since when he is sleeping very deeply he could still startle if I bumped him in my sleep.

 

Anyway, it sounds like your girl is pretty laid back and not too startle-prone, but it's good to keep up with caution for awhile, especially with the little one :)

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It would be a good idea to tell your son not to approach, touch, etc., your hound when she's laying down, even if she appears awake. Greyhounds often sleep with their eyes open. Even after 3+ years of Annie living with me, occasionally I can't tell if she's awake or asleep, though her eyes are open. She has no issues with me doing anything to her, asleep or awake, though out of respect for her naps, I don't bother her when she's asleep.

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