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Small-Dog Safeness - Can This Be Trained?


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Just wondering if it is possible to train a VERY NOT small-dog-safe greyhound to better tolerate small dogs? We have encountered 2 small dogs on our walks, and our boy reacted very poorly. The first was a cocker spaniel who was sitting with his owner in the front yard - we tried to let them meet, but our boy was crying and lunging to get to him, which made the cocker spaniel growl.

 

Just now, we encountered a small yellow lab puppy on our walk and our boy went insane. Jumping, crying, lunging and screaming to get at him. We had to stop walking and pull him to the side, trying to correct him the whole time but just could not redirect him at all. He was trying to jump backwards out of his collar (thank goodness for martingales).

 

We will never have a cat or small dog, but we really want to be able to at least encounter a small dog on a walk without him going nuts.

 

Other than repeated exposure and correction on walks, what else can we do?

 

If he is like this with small dogs, will he be okay with other big dogs? We were going to introduce him to our neighbor's dog today by taking them on a walk together, but now I am concerned. Our plan is to meet on neutral ground, and walk them together so they'd have a positive experience together. We dog sit this dog all the time, and they dog sit for us in return - so if this doesn't go well, we are in trouble. 😒

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Search for Look At That training (LAT). There are a lot of threads for that specific training. How long have you had your boy? It may not be so much as he want to kill the small animal as much as it is a very new thing to him and he really wants to see what it is. Either way, you are correct in not allowing direct contact.

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I've got two who aren't small dog safe. They will never be small dog safe. But after three years of constant work, they are better. Lots of treats as soon as they see a small dog has them looking at me, but they will also always take the opportunity for a quick snack if it presents itself.

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Guest Scouts_mom

I wonder if your dog is truly unsafe with small dogs or if he just doesn't know how to greet non-greyhound dogs? Most of our hounds come to us having never seen a non-grey dog before and are confused by all the shapes and sizes that fellow dogs come in. Your boy may just be finding them extremely exciting. I suspect this based on how he greeted the lab pup. Dogs know when they are looking at a puppy and will treat a large dog puppy different from a small dog (if they are interested in eating the small dog). I agree that you need to do some training and/or bring in an animal behaviorist.

 

What kind of dog does your neighbor have?

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I wouldn't be concerned with "introducing" him to other dogs right now. Just carry on with your walk and let him get used to the sight of other dogs.

 

When you can walk down the sidewalk (maybe on the opposite side of the street) without him acting like a nut, start gradually getting closer.


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Chancey still does this after eighteen months but will walk perfectly quietly when I take her out with other greyhounds / sighthounds on our monthly walk. During yesterday's walk she even ignored a little Yorkshire Terrier that ran off ahead of us, I was really pleased with her!

 

She wants to meet the dog next door through the hedge but when they met outside the house she's a leaping screaming maniac again. She has never been growling or aggressive with other dogs but her jaws have snapped within the muzzle until the other dog has told her off, an older greyhound bitch as it happened, and then stood perfectly nicely until the other owner and I finished our conversation.

 

I have not yet found any treat that is more interesting than another dog but I am gradually getting her to 'stand, stay' when we meet other dogs out walking in the forest. I believe she just wants to go and play with them but until she calms down around other breeds of dog she won't be allowed to greet them. (She has to wear a muzzle due to Pet Insurance Company conditions & I wouldn't trust her with small fluffies anyway!).

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

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

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Hi all, thanks for the replies!

 

We walk our dogs twice per day (morning/evening) so they have a lot of opportunities to meet & mingle and for a little exercise. We have a great walking neighborhood - sidewalks and not a ton of traffic on the street. We have a variety of dogs in the neighborhood - big & small. Some very socialized - others, not so much. We've learned which ones to steer clear of. We don't meet dogs on every walk, but definitely a few times per week, at least.

 

The great news is that the introduction with our neighbor's dog (she's about 60 lbs) went really well. He was muzzled, and we met them on the sidewalk - he was very interested in her, but within a minute or so he fell in line and they walked together side by side. After 5-6 minutes, we stopped and let them sniff. She even got a bit excited and was jumping and howling, and Finn was totally indifferent. We let them loose together in her backyard (left him muzzled, of course) and they were great together. We are going to get them together a few more times this week, our yard/house and her yard/house before removing the muzzle.

 

We are going to try to make sure we walk him during busier walking times in the evening in hopes that we encounter other dogs more often, just so he has more exposure. We'll also try the "look at that" training. He has already picked up on "out!" to stay out of the kitchen, he knows him name and he's been pretty successful at "down" and "wait" - he's is eager to please and very food/affection motivated. He was not cat/small dog tested at the rescue group, as he was too recent a rescue and they hadn't done anything with him yet. We weren't really concerned, as we will never have a cat or a dog other than an adult greyhound - but we'd like him to at least not be that crazy!

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Guest valeriej

I don't have a lot of advise, but I'll definitely be following this thread. Sarah hasn't had much interaction with small dogs at this point, we've only had her about 6 weeks. But last night, a family was walking their 10lbs, furry dog off the leash in the neighborhood (don't even get me started). I had Sarah on the other side of the street and her leash tight right next to me, but she was whining and trying to lunge. I didn't want to scare these people, but I had to tell them to get their dog away from her because I couldn't promise what she would do. It could have been as simple she just wanted to sniff and play, but I'm not ready to take that risk. Because I'm sure if something did happen, it would be the big, bad greyhound's fault :angry:

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

one word of caution, be careful about letting dogs play together that arent all muzzled. General rule of thumb, if one is muzzled, they are all muzzled. If they all cant be muzzled, then they either dont play together, or they are all clear of muzzles. I personally dont recommend a newer greyhound to play with non-greyhounds for about 6 months or so off the track to get acclimated to other breeds. Greyhounds dont play like other breeds and things can happen so fast that fights can break out or the greyhound can be injured pretty easy because of the very thin skin.

 

Chad

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We are going to try to make sure we walk him during busier walking times in the evening in hopes that we encounter other dogs more often, just so he has more exposure.

This is really opposite of the approach you should be taking. You want to expose him to dogs that will elicit that type of reaction as little as possible until you've trained an alternative behavior (and trained it REALLY well, which is going to take some time) so that when you see a small dog, preferably from much further away at first you can ask for and reward the trained behavior. As the dog gets better at responding when you ask for it, you gradually decrease the distance. Until you have the cue trained to the point that your dog is able to do it when asked, you want to avoid the stimulus (little dog) so that he doesn't get to practice the unwanted behavior.

 

In the meantime, you might want to look into getting a gentle leader to give you more control on your walks, and as an added safety measure in case an off leash small dog runs up to you unexpectedly. I don't recommend them that often, but in the case of very high prey drive greyhounds I do because it gives you better control of the pointy end. I would suggest finding someone knowledgeable - a trainer or possibly if you have a really good pet boutique around you the owner might be familiar - to properly fit the gentle leader for you and also teach you how to get the dog acclimated to it (don't just put it on and hope the dog deals with it). You can also use this video to help with that:

 

Finally, make sure that you have a way to also have the leash clipped ot the dog's collar for safety. Some of the head collars now have a little strap with a clip on it for that purpose. Otherwise, I recommend using a coupler with the longer portion attached to the martingale collar so you're still controlling the dog by the head collar).

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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Good news for Finn - the more he sees stuff on our walks, the better he is becoming. We've also worked a lot on his leash manners, so I think that has helped. We are also being very consistent with his walks - twice a day, around the same time each day and for about the same length each time - we encountered the same little puppy the other day, and he was very interested and wanted to watch, but no screaming/jumping/crying like the first time. We still aren't sure whether it is high prey drive, or just high curiosity due to never seeing other dogs/animals before - but he's seen a few other dogs while out walking and again, a lot of interest - but each time, the intensity seems a little less.

 

We have two neighbors with small dogs and we've asked both not to approach if they see us out walking, as I think he is still far too interested to be considered safe. Also, he hasn't "met" another dog yet, other than our neighbor's dog. We will see her again this weekend. I have another friend with 6 dogs, so I was going to see if perhaps we could meet one of her (very calm) golden retrievers out for a walk some night. Just taking it slow & easy, and continuing our training as we do it. He's responding very well.

 

Also going to start doing some "look at that" training this weekend. He's picking things up really quickly - very smart, eager to please and highly food motivated. :)

 

On a side note, he absolutely adores humans - the tail goes a mile a minute anytime we meet another person. Last night, some neighbors with kids were out (8-10 year old range) and he loved them as much as the adults. He wasn't phased a tiny bit by another kid riding his bike on the sidewalk, and when he saw a stroller earlier in the week, he didn't even flinch!

Edited by Sundrop
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Sounds like you're making good progress! :thumbs-up

 

One thing to keep in mind, quiet and watching isn't always a sign that things are okay. Watch for whether his body is very stiff when he's doing that, and his eyes very intense and focused. The dogs that do that are often the scariest in terms of prey drive from what I've seen. Just a word of caution as you proceed, but sounds like you're doing a great job so far.

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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Guest Amber

I've had a couple of fosters who were very unsafe with small breeds and i didn't have them more than a few months but i think if they truly view small dogs as prey animals and cannot recognise them as canines, then no, they will never be safe with small dogs. You can train and they might be ok with some they know, but it just takes a second for that flick to switch into prey mode and well, we know how fast they react.

 

If the new greyhound is confused about small dogs but not intently preying on them, then there's a good chance in 1 to 2 years of REGULAR exposure and constant training that they learn to recognise by scent fellow canines and they can be pretty safe.

 

but that's just from my (pretty limited compared to many) experience ... really just know your own dog, be very patient, go slow and try not to take risks.

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