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Help - My Grey Is Afraid Of Her Walks!


Guest greyhoundsuk
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Guest greyhoundsuk

Hi - have only recently joined this forum but am learning things already from all you dog mums and dads out there.

 

I have a beautiful greyhound called Pridey who is 5 1/2. She has been with us just over a year and is the most loving, sweet thing. We love her to bits! That is why i wondered if anyone could help me with her one little flaw.

 

She is very confident and feels totally safe inside the house and loves nothing better than to lounge around going between her several beds round the house or to lie in her basket and just watch what is going on. However, when I go to take her out for a walk she is sometimes - not always - really reluctant to go, even really digging in her paws so that I have to practically drag her out the door, which I hate doing.

 

She is quite nervy outside. We live in a village which is fairly quiet but any noises such as car doors slamming suddenly, crow startlers cracking or people out shooting game - in fact any loud cracking noise, even people chopping wood, has her pulling for home. And now I think she anticipates these things even before she steps outside the door. However, she can walk past a tractor at speed and not bat an eyelid!

 

However, I did say this doesn't always happen. Sometimes we go out and she is bouncing at the door when you get her lead. My boyfriend and I take her for 'pack' walks together where we go to the beach or fields where she can run free and chase her ball - and she absolutely loves this.

 

We have spoken to a dog behaviourist who advised us to just look forward and keep walking when she pulled back. We have tried this for a while now but she is not much better when she feels nervy. It just ends with me pulling her which I don't like and if she is scared of something I would prefer to try and help her in a different way than just pulling her.

 

I also meant to say that once we get out the door and start out she usually calms down a bit and walks along fine. However I am nervous to let her off the lead when she is in a nervous mood in case she suddenly takes fright at something and bolts off.

 

If anyone has the same problem or can advise me please let me know as I really want to help her through this. Not knowing her history makes it difficult as there could be something there too. I am confused as to how to help at the moment and find that each walk is a case of testing the water when preparing for it as to her mood. How can I help her love her walks again and look forward to them?

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:welcome

 

There is one easy thing you can do to help and that's learn about Calming Signals. This will help a tense dog because it will feel that you know what's going on and are in control of it. See this article. They'll often lick their nose, yawn and look away when they're tense and that means they're looking for assurance that you aren't upset with them for being scared. You can send that same signal back and then jolly them along.

 

You're right not to let a nervous Greyhound off leash in a noisy location. Beware of barbed wire in fields even if you have permission, as it only takes one gunshot or crow-scarer to spook some of them.

 

:gh_face

 

Oh.... and photos of the Greyhounds being talked about on here are kind of expected :)

You just host them on a photo-sharing site first so that you can copy and paste the URL. Or just post the link to the photo so people can click on it if you can't figure out how to make them embed and show up on-screen.

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I assume you're in the UK? We rarely let greyhounds off lead in the US--

 

I have a nervous walker too, and while some will not agree with my method, I just carry on. I act as if there is nothing to be afraid of, hoping that he will learn that if I'm not concerned about it, he shouldn't be either. He has improved so much since I first got him. He used to be afraid of everything from a waving flag to a rock painted white. And now we can generally do our walk with no trouble at all.

 

Perhaps keep some nice treats in your pocket to encourage her forward when she's nervous? My dog won't take them, but maybe yours would.


Hamish-siggy1.jpg

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

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Are you on Facebook? There I a FB shop called the One Stop Harness Shop that makes wonderful harnesses for nervous walkers. I live with a dog like yours, and it was three years before I could take him for a walk. Everything changed after I bought the One Stop Harness Shop no escape no pull harness. There seems to be something about it that calms Iker and I can walk him now. Please check it out. It's only on Facebook.

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Xavi the galgo and Peter the cat. Missing Iker the galgo ?-Feb.9/19, Treasure (USS Treasure) April 12/01-May 6/13, Phoenix (Hallo Top Son) Dec.14/99-June 4/11 and Loca (Reko Swahili) Oct.9/95 - June 1/09, Allen the boss cat, died late November, 2021, age 19.

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Ryder takes forever to get back to normal if we encounter any construction men that are banging around outside, men on roofs doing shingling, and very loud surprising bangs, but not limited to buses whipping by and the air compression sound blasting out. He hates my Tassimo machine too. While I try to avoid these situations, I do think if he doesn't get exposure to it, he will never get better. Likewise for Pridey. Exposure really helped to desensitize him, and it takes a lot of time and patience to help them get over their fear. Thankfully he's no spook, but those moms and dads on here that own spooks really have their work cut out for them and are very patient and loving.

 

High value treats are helpful. I've used the flooding method before, just standing near the scary men with shovels that are simply grabbing gravel from a trailer and putting in on a driveway over and over again, and standing with him in some cases up to 30 minutes, offering cut up hot dog until he readily takes them. But some days he just wants none of this, so we move to the other side of the street and quickly and under control walk along until we are back in his comfort zone away from those very scary men.

 

You know your dog best. Perhaps instead of pulling her one way or the other, stop and wait it out with her till she's ready to move forward, offering treats all the while. If she doesn't take a treat right away you know she's upset, but maybe she will in 10 minutes. Grab a harness to help you out - while some harnesses give them more power to pull you along, you can be in better control of Pridey without a fear of losing her. This is something you will need to work on and it won't just go away on it's own. Good luck.

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10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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Guest greyhoundsuk

Thank you to all of you who have replied with good advice. I have looked at the art of dog website and the article on the calming signals and found this very helpful. I will put these into practice around Pridey now. Her nervousness all started (as far as I know) with a firework going off near our village on firework night. Since then she has gradually become more scared of other things but it is only sharp cracks - eg. Gunshots, crow scarers, even wood chopping, but always sharp noises. As I say I do not know what she may have experienced in the past either before we got her.

 

I do take out treats on every walk and when she is feeling relaxed I throw them up for her so she can jump for them. I am beginning to think, even though we were advised to, that walking forward when she refuses to go is not the best way as the harness or the lead, we have both and alternate, just rubs her as she digs her claws in and will not come. It ends with me having to drag her. We were told this would show her that we were not frightened and she would then just follow. She does, eventually, but not before being dragged along a bit, which I absolutely hate to do. Also, she is not doing this out of bloody mindedness - she is scared. Therefore this is not the answer in this case. She needs a sensitive approach. Waiting out sounded like a good idea but could take forever.

 

I have contacted a behaviourist attached to our local vet and she is coming to see Pridey next week as I think she can help not only Pridey but myself as our dogs are mirrors of our emotions and I am stressing about this too which Pridey is picking up.

 

Not sure how to get the pictures on this site as not very au fait with picture hosting and sharing sites and they are on my iPad so don't have a link. But will try to get some pics on here as she is beautiful!

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Guest xengab

thankyou for asking this. My houndie really doesnt enjoy walks. he will go sit on his bed and look sad. But I was told to just keep on walking him, act confident and he'll get over it.

He's just jumpy at things, yes he has improved and we've only had him a short while (a month) but he has improved. We got told to keep him on the same walking route, well we had to slightly change that as a border collie tried to chase us (not in a play way either).

 

This morning I gave him alittle peanut butter on his nose as a treat while putting on his collar and harness. (going to get one of those mentioned above, to try out. )

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Guest greyhoundsuk

You've given me two great things to try there. Trying the same route each day and the peanut butter trick. The behaviourist we are seeing next week advised to keep the walks short until she sees Pridey so as not to stress her. To get her out the door I was going to take her favourite - sliced chicken but also peanut butter would work as she loves that too. But I wouldn't want her to start to associate a favourite snack with something she dislikes at the moment, ie her walk.

 

I was also thinking of keeping the route short but also the same. Up to now I've tried to take her on as many varied routes as possible so she doesn't get bored but now I think repeating and getting her used to a route where she knows there are no demons may be better for the time being.

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Guest xengab

The only treat my dog perks up for is peanut butter, but I also smear it on his muzzle so he is busy licking that off while the collar goes on and we get out the door.

It's something that was suggested to me by another hound owner, and said its called counter conditioning. Pretty much his mind was on getting that yummy stuff off his face and into his belly. He didn't catch on that he was outside until we were at the street and I told him stop.

 

I've also found whistles get through to him more when he freaks out. He is a very sound reactive dog. I can call COME and may as well be calling my deaf cat, but I whistle and DOG at my side in 3 seconds. (except when he is not wanting to go for a walk). I also put PB in his kong toy for when I go out, he still went for it like normal.

 

I think PB would only be taken as bad, if you just used it for before walk time. When home, maybe give it to him before play or someother happy/calm time. Im no dog expect but I'd think that should help have him not associated it with walk time.

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Guest CarryOnAMusing

If you're concerned about forcing her to walk forward, first walk in a circle. You don't want her to get her way by turning around (unless she truly is frightened, then calmly return home like nothing is wrong but remove her from the "danger" she perceives). I pretend like I'm turning around but instead walk a few circles then continue in the direction I wanted.

 

Or walk at an angle instead of forward directly. Kind of press her shoulder with your thigh to put her off balance so she moves her feet, then immediately go straight at that angle. You can then try righting it if you want or just go on that way.

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Guest greyhoundsuk

I have only tried circling her once, I will try several circles. This may also confuse her a bit but she is one clever pooch. Putting her off balance a bit when she refuses to walk on may be a good idea in my case as even when I walk in circles Pridey knows when we are facing the way she doesn't want to go again and will then dig her heels in again. We had quite a successful short walk this morning. Although reluctant at first she came quite willingly and took the chicken I offered her as we went along. I played a chicken game with her in the house first and slipped the collar and lead on while we were doing that.

 

These are all useful, helpful tips. Thank you.

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Guest GreyOrchard

Hi Newbie - I have been running a small private greyhound sanctuary in Ireland for more than 10 years now, and have been very hands-on with the dogs. I know a lot of UK greyhounds are from Ireland (about 5000-7000 a year are re-registered from Ireland to the UK) and some of them can come with a lot of baggage.

 

A few thoughts for you:

 

- she might be reacting to something that is not obvious to you, and this could account for her being erratic about wanting to go for a walk or not

 

- I don't know what your walking "style" is (the long-leash mooch-about or striding out with determination), but if you are already out walking and she begins to back off, then the very second she does that, shorten up the lead, bring her closer to your side, maintain contact with her through the leash (no slackening of the leash) and for several steps or more, walk her close to you, very quickly, in the same way a mother will take her child's hand and hold it tightly as they pass by something a bit frightening. If you do that, you are telling her "I am here with you. I am in charge. I have you close to me." This can be vey reassuring.

 

- if from in the house she balks at going out walking, put the leash on anyway, walk her out the front door and a few steps, and bring her right back in. If you do this several times over a period of several days she will get the message that leashing does not always mean a big scarey walk. After a few times, you can take her one or two steps further. And you can begin to build on this. Eventually you will be able to lengthen the number of steps away from the house and turn this into 1 minute, 3 minute, and 10 minute walks without incident. You will be creating a new habit, a new pattern.

 

- if there is somewhere to take her where she can be safely off leash, that's great. This can be the great reward for going out walking, and will make her look forward to it. If you have a friend with a well socialized dog who can meet you at your house at the beginning of the walk, or at the off-leash place, this is even better. Greyhounds love love love to run and stretch and feel the air in their lungs. It is a great and unforgettable "high", and can be the real benefit in her mind of agreeing to go for a walk.

 

- on the way to and from the offleash place, do make sure you pull her in to you the moment she begins to balk.

 

- there is a large group of people in the Dublin area calling themselves the Sighthound Social Club, and they have a closed Facebook page, They all exchange information on there, and they would not mind at all if you joined and discussed this, as I know some have had this problem as well with greyhounds and lurchers as well. You are also welcome to email me at orchardgreyhounds@yahoo.ie

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Guest greyhoundsuk

Thank you very much for this information. I certainly makes sense. The behaviourist that is visiting this week has advised small walk so that is what we are doing at the moment - just to a lane and back basically so she can go to the loo and then come back. As you say, this takes about two minutes. Pridey is accepting this but is still unwilling to go out the house so that is the hardest part - actually getting her up and out but I am putting the lead on anyway and taking her out the front door. Pulling her close to me is a good idea but at the moment she is ok on the short walk we are doing and we are not going further until the behaviourist has been to see us. Just to say, this weekend we have taken her out on two car journeys and gone to places she doesn't know and she has been absolutely fine and enjoyed herself. We have not let her off lead as there has not been the opportunity but away from her familiar walking ground she is more confident than round the village where we live - this is why i am confused as she prefers places as she feels ok in places she doesn't know and so doesn't know what is round the corner.

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She is quite nervy outside. We live in a village which is fairly quiet but any noises such as car doors slamming suddenly, crow startlers cracking or people out shooting game - in fact any loud cracking noise, even people chopping wood, has her pulling for home. And now I think she anticipates these things even before she steps outside the door. However, she can walk past a tractor at speed and not bat an eyelid!

 

Are her bad days AFTER a noisy event he day before? our Kingsley was scared by noises and he would be a wreak for up-to a week after a scary incident... so maybe her off-days are following a scary day?

Amy and Tim in Beverly, MA, with Chase and Always missing Kingsley (Drama King) and Ruby (KB's Bee Bopper).

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My houndie is improving. I had a major break through with morning walks. He loves to jog with me. I did it once mainly to just see what he'd do. So he gets a treat for collar going on and heading out the door. Now he has a short jog to start off too. Before it was pure business, and scary stuff. Three days of short jogs, he pranced around after jogging, tail waggined and the happy dog I see at home shone through. I was amazed. I suck at jogging, but going to keep it up. It's not even for a long time, maybe 20-30 seconds of jogging then slowing down, then doing so again furher down the road (the footpath is uneven, so hard to run on all the way.. thankfully..LOL)

 

So please dont give up. Have you tried alittle jog, get his feet moving? Mine was totally focused on me while doing this. he was in heel the whole time, with eyes looking at mine.

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Guest greyhoundsuk

Hi Grey Pup

 

Glad to hear your houndie is improving and not so afraid of the outside world. I am going to try this with Pridey. With her it is actually getting her out of the house that is the problem. She now actually has to be pushed out of her big basket sometimes and still holds right back outside the front door. But I did notice the other day when we ran along for a bit together she was, like yours, really vibrant when we finished running. So will keep going with this. Still worried about the getting out the door bit but will just have to keep persevering with this. Maybe if she gets to like the jogging she may look forward to it more from the very outset.

 

One thing I have noticed is that she is definitely noticeably happier when a few of us go out, whether a group people or people and dogs. She is definitely a pack walker. But we can't always do this -sometimes it is just me and her.

 

Will update in a few days. Thanks to all - am using lots of different bits of your advice.

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