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Frightened And Stubbborn 19 Month Old Boy

Guest afulton

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Guest afulton

We adopted Joey about 3 weeks ago. He was called a true "Spook" because of his fears. He was retired at 19 months because they couldn't train him to race.


It started when we picked him up from his foster parents, where he had only been a week. Our organization does their adoptions out of PetCo. We couldn't get Joey to move his feet to `. We had to push and pull till finally my husband bent down and walked Joey's legs for him. When Joey finally saw the door of the van open he ran and jumped in immediately. When we got home, we couldn't get him OUT of the van.Our older Greyhound, Bessie, tried to get him out. She would jump in and out of the van. Eventually, somehow my husband got Joey out of the van and walked his legs into the house.


Joey was initially afraid of every human who he encountered. It wasn't long before he LOVED me...unless I walk towards him. He won't take food out of my hand, such as dog bones. I have to set them down somewhere, making sure he saw me.


The biggest problem we have is he will not walk on a leash or if I hold his collar. All of the other Greyhounds I've had, racers or not, jump up as soon as I hook my finger through the loop on their collar. Joey puts on all 4 breaksn and will NOT budge. He won't walk with me even if his sister is right beside him. Once in a while I have gotten him to walk right next to me as I held is collar, but only for about 5 steps or so then freezes again.


Now we have the issue of peeing in the house. He sleeps in our room on his own bed and, knowing dogs don't like to potty where they sleep, we would put a baby gate on the door so he wouldn't have access to the whole house. This worked perfect! Until 2 nights ago. He peed on my husband's dresser. Don decided it would be easier to clean up any pee Joey may do during the night elsewhere than his dresser, which the urine ran under and out the other side. (thankfully we have laminate floors and no carpeting at this time). So, last night we just didn't put the gate up. Joey peed in the Family Room about six feet from the back door.


Besides the leash issue, if we open the door he doesn't trust us. We have to leave the door wide open and walk away and sit down before he'll go out. HELP!



Momma of Bessie (9)

and Joey (19 months)

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Ruffwear Webmaster or similar structured, supportive harness. You can convey the dog along like a suitcase if you need to. Greyhound kennel (basket) muzzle if you need to; frightened dogs can snap.


On leash for potty (use the harness, not the collar) until he's accustomed to you and will by and large go where you ask when.


When you want the dog to go somewhere, clip the leash on or grab the harness and turn sideways or fully AWAY from the dog -- don't look at him.


Offer treats from your hand (fairly close to your body, not stretched way out; your head and upper body turned sideways to him). If he won't take them, put them back in your pocket. Keep offering. Eventually he'll take. Poached chicken and bits of cheddar cheese are good. :)

ETA re conveying the dog like a suitcase: Only for necessary things, like potty. Not a license to overload him with new experiences :) :) :) . (You probably already gathered this.)

Edited by Batmom

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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I was just thinking about the peeing issue that at least he was heading for the back door......


Odd question: do you have children? If so, you probably have 'parent hearing' where a parent can hear an unusual sound from their child's room and move from dead sleep to fully awake and functional while moving out the door to sort things out. If you don't have children, you can develop this knack. I'd suggest blocking him in your room, but either leashing him to you, or being aware when he starts moving around. When he gets up, you get up too, take him outside, then back inside and to bed. Otherwise, time and calm, time and calm.

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Most do get better, even to the point of being pretty dang normal over time. At your stage of things, sometimes feels like one step forward and four back, but you've already made some progress! :)



P.S. We have a similar newbie here. She's been here a week or two longer and is @ a year older than your boy so we have advantages :lol . Still days when we want to tear our hair out tho. Those WILL get fewer with time!

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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You may just have a very shy or timid dog, or one who will take a lot longer to settle into home life. A true "spook" dog is a whole different kettle of fish.


Dealing with a true spook is not like dealing with a normal greyhound. It can takes months and/or years to get them to a point that other greyhounds reach in days or weeks. They don't have the ability to calm themselves down or to make connections like other dogs. They may not know/learn their name. They may not seem to be bonding with you or anyone/thing else. They may do repetitive behaviors. They don't do well with variable schedules or new things being thrown at them.


Let him have a "safe spot" where he feels comfortable. Sometimes they want an enclosed space, like a closet or a crate with a blanket over it. Sometimes they want to be in the open. Someplace quiet but that you can walk by and check on him unobtrusively. Out of the flow of traffic, but where he can still see what's going on. If he's open to it, everytime someone walks by his safe spot, have them give him a small, tasty treat. Keep a bowl of them with reach of his safe spot.


Make sure he eats and drinks and goes outside to potty - all on a strict schedule - then let him be quiet for the time being. As he becomes more comfortable and settled, he will gradually begin spending time more involved with the rest of the household.


You may benefit from having a consult with a certified behaviorist. This person should be able to give you some further strategies to help you manage your dog.


You can do a search on the board here for "anxiety," "spooks," and even threads on Separation Anxiety might give you some help.

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

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

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, Lilly

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Guest afulton

Greys, Joey is VERY social when it's just my husband and I. He's also very nosey and has to know everything that's going on. He's very curious and is quite the thief to the point we almost named his Jesse James. He entertains me quite a bit. His "sister" isn't as entertained tho.

Brandi our children are all grown. I've had greys pacing at night for so many years I usually sleep right through it. Lots of good ideas tho.


Batmom, my big concern is we're going to be gone for about 3 weeks in June and my daughter and her family are going to stay her with the greys. I need him housebroken before we leave. Otherwise it wouldn't upset me quite so much. Also, I discovered if I'm sitting he'll take bones out of my hand. Just a huge learning curve I guess - for both of us.

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Since your adoption group called your boy a true spook, I hope they also prepared you for the long road and patience he'll require. Everything you describe is pretty par for the course with a spook. He's not being stubborn. For many spooks, freezing and becoming immobile is how they deal with their fear. Some will also try to bolt when they are panicked.

All dogs, but especially shy, timid dogs, are very sensitive to our body language. Approaching him directly, face-on, and with eye contact are all very intimidating for an insecure dog. If you need to walk toward him, try to approach in a curve or from the side inside of walking directly toward him.


Turn your side or back to him when trying to offer food out of your hand. Squat or sit next to him instead of leaning over him. If he'll take food when you set it down, stay nearby (sitting with your side or back to the treat) and see if he'll approach to take it with you right there. If he will, leave your hand, palm up, near the food. Then leave the food in the palm of your hand, with your hand on the floor, stretched out behind or beside you.

Using a leash will be less scary than trying to walk him by his collar. Clip the leash on, turn your back to him, and just start walking. If he doesn't follow, try applying gentle, steady tension to the leash, but don't turn to face him. Keep your back to him and face the way you want to go. If that doesn't work, you may need to use the harness and 'suitcase' method, but trips outside to potty 3-4 times a day should not be optional. If your yard is fenced, and he'll go out and come back in the house without using a leash, that would be better.

Most of the greyhounds I've fostered have been spooky or shy because those are the ones I request and enjoy working with. In the beginning, I interact with them as little as possible, and just give them time to get used to my household and routine. The only things that I work on during those first few weeks are going in and out to potty and crating at mealtime. It takes time, but most spooks will settle in and act like normal dogs when in their familiar environment. Dealing with outings and change will be challenges to tackle later.

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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Excellent posts above. I agree to take several steps back and limit Joey's potty outings to your own yard. Much later, after Joey feels much more confident with his own family, home, and yard, he may become more willing to take tiny baby steps to venture out for neighborhood walks, etc. Patience, quiet, and allowing him to adjust in his own home in his own time is most important.


Another harness that many Greyhound people like is this "Greyhound spook harness": http://www.majesticcollars.com/harness.htm


When it's important for him to do something, try to encourage his natural movements and behavior. Example: Toss high value meat treats (from afar) on the floor to help encourage him to stand up, and then to walk to the door to eliminate outside. Reward for any/all good behavior.


Hopefully Joey can go out in his own yard for a last potty elimination immediately before humans lie down to sleep. (A belly band might help keep his urine contained during overnights; however, the strange feeling of the band might make him feel more anxious.) Ensuring he has enough opportunities to eliminate is the most important key. Dogs adjusting to a new environment often need to eliminate much more frequently than usual. Reward for his outside eliminations. Please do not reprimand him for any accidents inside.


If you don't already have runner rugs with rug gripper mats underneath, please seriously consider adding them. In a pinch, rubber-backed bath mats can help hounds feel more comfortable walking on hard surface floors at home. Even one scary slip on the floor can set any hound back, particularly a fearful hound.


Assuming your yard is fully fenced, please take extra precautions to ensure your gate is kept locked (a carabiner is better than no lock), and ensure there is no furniture, garbage cans, wood piles, etc. near the fence which could act as a platform for Joey to jump on and over the fence (if be becomes frightened by an unexpected noise, etc.).


A strip of reflective tape across the inside of a gate helps humans ensure a gate is closed from a visual glance.


Since your latest reply mentioned your trip: if possible, ask your daughter's family to ensure Joey is always behind a baby-gate whenever doors leading out to a non-fenced area are being used.

Also, an ex-pen can be placed in a U-shape around the most used house door leading to a non-fenced area (and/or fence gate). This acts as a secondary safety catch pen to prevent an accidental Greyhound escape.


If Joey is already social with you and your husband, I'd guess he is shy but maybe not a full spook. A true spook might hide in a far room of the house too scared to willingly venture anywhere near a human for weeks or months.


If interested, here is another thread re: shyness:


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