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Greyhound Is Biting Randomly


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Guest MAKDS

My husband and I adopted a female greyhound named Bid (Biddie) about 2 years ago. She was just six weeks off the track and about 22 months. Temper and disposition is good. A little sensitive and loves lots of attention. Gets along very well with people not so well with other dogs. However we have had 6 incidents of warning bites and are getting very concerned. Two of the bites were done because of being woken up and startled by a stranger. Not excusable but understandable. History of other bites.

 

1. I was standing with the dog on lead and close to me talking to a nieghbour and his daughter. Biddie had met them both before. The daughter was petting the dog and I was talking to the dad. All of a sudden she went for the neighbour. I had her close on her lead so no damage done but scary. I did not see any cues or hear any warning growl.

 

2. New mail lady started on our route. She approached the dog correctly. Had her hand out for dog to sniff. I had her close to me on her lead and was praising her for being calm and behaving. All of a sudden she bit the mail bag. Again no cues or warning growl.

 

3. Talking to another neighbour with her child. Dog was close to me being quiet. The lady's dress was loose and kind of waved in the wind. All of a sudden the dog went for a warning bite. Tore the dress and startled the child. Again no cues or warning growl. No blood but the lady was very upset.

 

4. Two days ago my husband was standing behind the car after he had gotten papers from a delivery girl. Biddie came from the side of the car, saw him and went for his arm. He did not scold her, get in her way or hear a warning growl. It drew blood and he is very upset. He says another bite and she is going back to the adoption group she came from.

 

We have had a trainer in to work with her after the first bite with the neighbour and his daughter. The training method is alpha training. Ususally a stern no, expect submission and use reinforcement such as a bottle of water. Has worked fairly well. Behaviours like chasing the lawn mower, running to the door and jumping on people have been cured.

 

However we are at our wits end as to these random bites. This is a loving dog who lets me rub her belly, trim her claws, give her baths and loves to be petted and cuddled. I have tried to pick up on her signals but I think I am missing something but I don't know what.I have made a point of staying away from people she doesn't know when walking for their protection and my peace of mind. Also with several neighbours she knows she loves them to death and cannot wait for them to come and pet her. She is great around our grandchildren (all under the age of 7) which of course there is always an adult to supervise.

 

The other thing of note is when we go for weekly greyhound runs with other greyhounds she has a reputation of being aggressive. She will bark a lot more than the other greyhounds and if there is a scuffle I can guarantee she will be in the middle.

 

She also seems to have a high prey aggression. Has killed a mouse and a bird and will chase squirrels in the backyard. However with our cat she is fine with a little encouragement.

 

Has also been to the vet and is healthy. Our vet worked at the tracks in Florida so he is very familiar with the breed and I trust him. Even he doesn't know what to make of these random bites.

 

Any advise or ideas would be appreciated. I am my wits end trying to figure this out. It would break my heart to have give her up but I can understand my husband's concern.

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I have a quirky boy who out of the blue nipped our neighbor on the front walk. They have a GSD that challenges our dogs through a 6ft wood fence. I said sorry and baked them cookies. 2 weeks later a neighbor walks up to us ( we have 4 dogs) and bad boy nipped his leg and drew blood. I did the sorry and he said ok . I baked them a pie and promised that bad ass would never be out side our fence without muzzle. Bad ass now only walks with the pack with a muzzle. Happy 4 years now and no challenges.

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Guest Bean_Scotch

Alpha philosophy of training increases aggression....find yourself a positive reinforcement trainer with experience in aggression cases...if you were my client, the first thing I'd have you stop is the alpha nonsense....someone will get bit if you continue that method.

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Yeah, unfortunately that alpha theory "stuff" is outdated, incorrect and not based in science in any way. Use of punishment (using pain or fear to stop undesirable behaviors), which is what the water bottle and perhaps some of the other techniques you've been taught are, can be effective but unfortunately often carry unwanted side effects, the biggest of which is increased aggression. Your best bet as Bean_Scotch said is to find a reward based trainer who understands the science behind dog training and has a good handle on aggression and proper behavior modification.

 

I don't know where you live, but if you let me know, I'm always willing to ask on my force free trainers list serve for someone in your area who could help you.

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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

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Yes, this is the sad result of alpha/dominance training. It's been proven for many decades that dominance increases aggression in dogs. It teaches dogs to DIStrust people and become dangerously hyper-reactive. Owners learning canine calming signals (dog's early warnings) is essential; however, your dog likely already learned to skip early warning signs to avoid punishment.

 

Please, please contact a professional from these two reputable links for assistance:

http://avsabonline.org/resources/find-consult

http://www.dacvb.org/resources/for-the-public/

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Guest k9soul

Nothing new to add, just want to add my voice with the others encouraging you to find a positive based behaviorist/trainer. Dominance methods often provide short-term success but cause overall increased frustration levels in the dog. I think your family and your dog will be much happier with positive methods and I sincerely wish you the best in working through this.

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Please do keep Biddie muzzled when walking in public or when others (especially children) are visiting your home. A Greyhound turnout muzzle is safest for the dog since it allows the dog to pant and drink water. Biddie should have her own protected resting space in the house when visitors are at your home: e.g., behind a baby-gate in an adjoining room so she can see and feel as part of the family but her space is not physically disturbed. Please understand that if a bite is reported by anyone to Animal Control that Biddie's life could be at stake.

 

I strongly urge you to read the Lexus Project's site: http://thelexusproject.org/

 

ETA: Biddie may have more of a competitive and vocal play style; however, considering her recent history, she should not be involved in Greyhound play groups unless ALL the Greyhounds are muzzled. It's not safe to muzzle only one dog in a group of dogs (any breeds) because if your dog gets attacked she can't defend herself from other dogs. If only one dog is muzzled, the other dogs consider the only muzzled dog a weaker underdog. Weak or sick animals are often targeted to attack, whether in the wild or dog park settings. Also, if a fight breaks out in a multi-dog setting, it often becomes an all dogs pack fight within seconds.

 

Aggression in dogs is often rooted from fear. Biddie's escalating behavior is likely not her fault, but more likely learned reactive behavior to dominance based training. Similar to humans, anger begets anger; however dogs can't discuss their strong feelings of discomfort, distrust, and/or fear with words. Dominance training often leaves dogs no choice to express their serious discomfort other than using their only self-protection -- their teeth. As mentioned, this behavior would be better handled by an appropriately licensed (positive, reward-based) veterinary behaviorist. Biddie and your family would need to start over from square one to allow Biddie to slowly learn to trust humans (without overstepping reasonable and respectful natural canine boundaries). Otherwise, if returned to her adoption group, a Greyhound experienced single person or adult only home may help her learn to trust very slowly and without her feeling overstimulated.

Edited by 3greytjoys
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Yes. As stated, the alpha dog/Cesar Milan nonsense has likely made your dog skip the lesser forms of warning such as growls and jump right to the point. Particularly when she is scared or startled.

 

Bites feel very personal to us humans, but to dogs it's just a way to communicate. Unlike our canine companions, we humans are really bad at reading their body language and understanding their non-verbal cues, so we push dogs beyond their boundaries and get snapped at or bitten. Unless you were watching your dog intently the entire time before each of the incidents you described above, you likely missed her signals that she was uncomfortable or anxious. It seems random to you. It likely didn't seem that way to your dog.

 

You say she has been checked out medically. Has she had a full thyroid panel done? While there is no real medical evidence, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that a thyroid imbalance can lead to an increase in aggression. It's an avenue to check out anyway.

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Guest MAKDS

I live in Waterloo, Ontario. If anyone knows of a reputable behavioral trainer please advise. I have talked to a few people about them but it seems the growing trend in our area is drugs ie Valium and prozac. I know of 4 people in our greyhound run group using them and I don't like this trend. Just my personal opinion. But I will keep looking for another trainer and read all the links provided. I know Biddie's life could be in danger if I cannot solve this. The muzzle idea is definitely good. I honestly suspect the alpha training has contributed to this but I will keep working on the problem. The main thing right now is to keep Biddie and any people around her safe. That is my responsibility as her owner and I take it seriously. Thank you all for the quick responses.

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Agree with others re alpha training. Drives me nuts that there are still "trainers" doing this kind of thing :( .

 

Have you talked with your adoption group? Might be they can recommend someone.

 

The experience with the mail bag, the lady's dress, and gh group makes me wonder if some of her behavior is puppy high spirits and excess energy. Some dogs can be overly enthusiastic and mouthy when they play and explore.

 

Sleep startle is different; best managed by letting sleeping dogs lie and getting the dog up on her feet before handling. :)

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Guest MAKDS

In the greyhound play group all dogs are muzzled. It is a condition of this group so there is no issue there. As for the high spirits and boisterous play even after two years she still has puppy behavior. Loves to run and play ball and play catch with her squeaky toys. Compared to most of the other greyhounds I have interacted with she is high energy and very curious. In fact it takes about 2 to 3 hours of play or walking to tire her out. We still crate her at night so she can get proper sleep. Otherwise if we move she moves. Biddie does not want to miss anything.

Can anyone recommend any online resources for positive based behaviour therapy. Right now I simply cannot afford another trainer. Bathroom had a major plumbing leak which has priority. I will eventually get another trainer but in the interim I want to try and work on this.

Sending her back to her adoption group is not an option. Even my husband has agreed to that. I think he was just upset when Biddie bit him.

We love this dog too much to give up on her. She has given me so much joy I will find a solution.

Glad I found this forum. It is nice people offer positive solutions to problems.

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Guest MAKDS

Just another note in this mystery. Biddie and I regularly visit a nursing home where the residents love her to death. It started when my father was in there. After he died I was asked to continue the visits because of her gentleness and interaction with the patients especially the dementia and alzeihmer people. Should I stop this? Never has been any problems. When we go as soon as she sees the building she gets all excited. She seems to understands these people just need affection. Lay's her head on their laps, positions herself so they can pat her easily and licks hands.

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Guest sireltonsmom

My thought is to have her wear a muzzle when walking - say she's a greyhound in training if anyone asks. I'm glad you won't give up on Biddie and will continue to seek advice and support and a positive trainer when you can afford it. My boy has become snarky at other dogs and I'm just increasing the pace of walking with him past the house with the barky dogs inside. It seems to be helping. I'm fortunate to be part of a prison training greyhounds group and I absorb good positive advice. Good luck and let us know when she's over her issue.

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Guest k9soul

It's just very difficult to give accurate advice online without being able to see her behavior and body language. They do sound like serious nips, especially with drawing blood. I would personally be nervous to have her in the nursing home until I at least knew what was causing her to bite and if there was any risk of it happening there. There's a lot of good reading out there about understanding dog body language and behavior. I like Patricia McConnell's The Other End of the Leash that really helps explain the communication gap between dogs and people. Just gaining more understanding of your dog can help a lot in dealing with issues. I just would really recommend at least a consultation with a positive-based behaviorist/trainer as soon as you can who can see the dog face to face and give their thoughts. I hope you can find more answers and gain a more mutually comfortable relationship with your girl.

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I agree with the muzzle. Not only will it prevent incidents, it'll also help keep people from rushing over to say hi.

 

I could be way off, but if I had to guess I'd say it's stemming from fear. What makes me think that is when you say the woman's dress blew in the wind and then Biddie bit. You'll get some good advice from others on here, but until you can afford a trainer, definitely keep her muzzled on walks.

Mom of bridge babies Regis and Dusty.

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Unfortunately, I think you need to keep her out of the nursing home for liability reasons, and for her own safety. Are you visiting as part of an organized therapy group with liability insurance? If not, then you are on the hook for whatever happens. Additionally, that's the type of incident that can get ugly quickly with local authorities getting involved. Older people have thinner skin than greyhounds and can bleed like crazy, as well as sometimes can pet a little roughly because of a diminished sense of touch. I don't think you can even risk a nip at this point.

 

Once she has some proper training and is not startled easily, she sounds like a wonderful candidate for therapy dog training based on her past experiences there - but it sounds way too risky to take a chance until the issues are resolved and she has passed a training certification for therapy work.

 

Best wishes to you and Bid. You will get through this. We have a boy with sleep startle and the rule in this house is that he only gets petted when standing, so that we know he;s totally awake. He does give a warning growl if he doesn't like something, so we are all aware when that happens that he is uncomfortable with whatever is happening at that moment.

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I've met Biddie at playgroup so I know what you are referring to. I'm not sure if you remember us because my dh and I only went out a few times, but we did discuss the training methods you were using very very briefly.

 

I can suggest a lot of books, plus there's a lot of articles on-line such as http://www.positivedogtraining.org/article/positive-reinforcement-dog-training/but also on-line videos by Sophia Yin and/or books by Patricia McConnell.

 

However, I highly recommend investing in positive reinforcement dog training. It's technical and not knowing what to look for can negate any progress you've made with Biddie. For example, If you teach her the "down" position, and treat her when she gets into the sphinx position, if you treat her as she starts to come out of it, she'll associate the treat with starting to get up, not the down position, so it be very exacting. Also, you need to learn about things to look out for such as "whale eye" which may tell you when she is likely going to bite next. These are all things a professional could help with because you mentioned you didn't see any signs. Plus, after observing her at the play group, I suspect you may have trained her not to growl and probably aren't aware of it which is another good reason to invest in a professional trainer.

 

I've never used a dog trainer so I don't have any recommendations. Have you asked other GRA greyhound dog owners?

 

Lastly, muzzle her on walks. Hope some/all of this is helpful.

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I have no suggestions re handling the problem because I have no experience. I do suggest, though, that you muzzle her whenever she is in public. If you continue the nursing home visit, muzzle her. IMO, it is wrong any way you look at it to bring a dog known to bite anywhere without a muzzle. I think you're lucky that your neighbors are understanding and happy with baked goods. I might not be so kind if I was bit or my granddaughter were bit.

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I have never dealt with this type of situation so, regrettably, I have no advice. The only thing I can say is that I would immediately stop visiting the nursing home. You can't take an unreliable dog into a therapy dog environment, it's not fair for the dog, you or the residents. Good luck with everything!

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Guest MAKDS

I think I will keep her out of the nursing home for a while. My husband also pointed out the bad behaviour has started again since returning to the greyhound play group. I am wondering if she cannot handle that much stimulation and excitement. We live a relatively quiet lifestyle. I will keep her out the group and see if there is any improvement. I will also look for a behavior therapist when funds permit. Again thank you to all for the advice and encouragement.

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I live in Waterloo, Ontario. If anyone knows of a reputable behavioral trainer please advise. I have talked to a few people about them but it seems the growing trend in our area is drugs ie Valium and prozac. I know of 4 people in our greyhound run group using them and I don't like this trend. Just my personal opinion. But I will keep looking for another trainer and read all the links provided. I know Biddie's life could be in danger if I cannot solve this. The muzzle idea is definitely good. I honestly suspect the alpha training hIas contributed to this but I will keep working on the problem. The main thing right now is to keep Biddie and any people around her safe. That is my responsibility as her owner and I take it seriously. Thank you all for the quick responses.

I live in Kitchener and I know of a great trainer on King St., near Freeport Hospital. Her name is Jess at Impressive Canines.

 

http://www.impressivecanines.com/

 

Also' it's not unusual for dogs to get overstimulated in playgroups, so I wouldn't be surprised if that had something to do with it. Please call Jess. She will work with you at your home or wherever you need her to be.

Edited by robinw

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Glad you won't be taking Biddie back to the nursing home. It's too serious a risk for the patients, your liability, and Biddie's life.

 

If you don't have a fenced yard, the fenced exercise could be good for her; I wonder if you might be able to let her to run in that fenced facility when other dogs are not present.

 

Generally, we keep physical petting contact somewhat brief for all of our Greyhounds. (ETA: Meaning we give them plenty of affection for a couple of minutes (their time choice) whenever they are standing up and approach us ready for attention, but we don't disturb them on their beds for excessive petting. We let resting dogs lie undisturbed. Their beds are considered their undisturbed "doggie safe zone". Same reason we don't trim nails or brush teeth while they are lying on their beds. When dogs know they can feel completely safe on their own bed, it helps them develop a more trusting foundation with humans.) They weren't reared in family homes and are not used to being excessively showered with attention. They were left undisturbed inside their racing kennel crates to rest and eat meals They are accustomed to having their own personal space and resources. Most weren't used to being around children. (It usually just takes time and positive experiences for them to understand and adjust to their new family life. :))

 

Any dogs can feel threatened by direct eye contact, or reaching overhead for petting, etc. Safer to approach from the side and pet their shoulder so they don't feel cornered/trapped from the front.

 

Below are some important warning signals that dogs often show as their discomfort to stimuli increases. If you see any of these canine body language behaviors, please ensure petting or whatever is causing the dog to feel discomfort ceases immediately. Any person should calmly back away from the dog. (This quick list is off the top of my head so isn't complete.)

 

- Yawning (early sign of discomfort when dog is not tired)

 

- Quick lip lick (early sign of discomfort)

 

- Turns head away from person (early sign of discomfort)

 

- Dog may watch with peripheral vision if dog appears to be looking away with head turned.

 

- Whale eye (you may see the whites of the dog's eye)

 

- Lips: a dog about to bite often forms a "C" at the mouth's inner corners with forward, tense lips and muzzle with whiskers forward.

 

- Frozen/hardened eye stare with dialated pupils.

 

- Brief tense body freeze (just before launching forward to bite).

 

- Body's center of gravity in a forward position (potentially preparing for action).

 

 

There are additional threads that you might explore in GreyTalk's Training and Behavior section. I'll add more links in this thread as time permits, and others likely will too. Your careful management of Biddie is most important, and please don't take any chances around your young grandchildren. Again, Biddie should be safely muzzled and behind a baby-gate when children or visitors are in your home. (Speaking from experience with other breeds.)

 

This article is an excellent revealing window about racing Greyhounds' kennel life:

http://www.northerng...ghtsOfAGrey.php

(Article by the late Kathleen Gilley)

 

Edited by 3greytjoys
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Alpha philosophy of training increases aggression....find yourself a positive reinforcement trainer with experience in aggression cases...if you were my client, the first thing I'd have you stop is the alpha nonsense....someone will get bit if you continue that method.

Thanks for having the courage to state the truth.

Edited by racindog
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Guest MAKDS

We have a big fenced yard and Biddie and I spend a lot of time there playing ball. Her favorite game. Thank you for the list of warning signs. I will watch for these. And again I will contact a trainer as soon as funds allow. In the interim safety for Biddie and all in contact with her will be my prime concern. Muzzling when appropriate, limited contact with other dogs, positive reinforcement (treats and praise) for good behavior and above all lots of love. I cannot imagine life now without her. Obviously I have made some mistakes but I think all can be corrected with patience. Point of note though. One reply mentioned greyhounds do not like to be touched a lot. Biddie just loves petting, cuddling, belly rubs and getting baths. In fact as soon as she sees me getting the rinse jug she goes and hops in the bath tub. I have never seen a dog that enjoys so much tactile attention. Could this be over stimulating her?

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