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Tips For Super-High Prey Drive?

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Hi all - we adopted our new girl, Kira, a couple weeks ago and so far she is doing fabulously! She's really smart and learned her name, to stay "Out" of the kitchen and "Down" in under a week. We've also worked a lot of her leash training (she had NO leash manners) and I'm proud to say that she's not pulling anymore!. Overall, she's done unbelievably well in just a little more than 2 weeks & we adore her!


She has a very high prey drive - very high. On our walks, she is fully alert to everything - birds, squirrels, etc. and we never stop or encourage the behavior, we just keep on walking and ignore it, hoping our lack of excitement will rub off on her. She's okay on walks, and I'm not concerned about that. BUT - when we let her out in the backyard, she is high alert and basically patrols the yard for critters. All of our greys have done this to a certain extent, but Kira is actually ignoring going to the bathroom in lieu of patrolling and looking for animals. We have a decent-sized, fenced-in backyard, which is what she needs, as she will not "go" on leash (she was actually returned from a previous home because of this). Up until a few days ago, she was good about going out and doing her business - but recently, she's found the chipmunks are fun to chase and she is obsessed with finding them.


So now, she runs out to the "squirrel" spot and checks for them, then runs along the fence and checks under the shed for anything hiding there (we've had bunnies in the past) and then along the fence again to the corner where she checks for squirrels again. Then she starts all over and does this over & over & over. This morning I put a muzzle w/ poop-guard on her, thinking this might inhibit a little - and no luck. I let her out after breakfast and she immediately started her patrol - I sat outside & watched her for 45 minutes (thought she'd get tired) and she never went to the bathroom. I eventually had to go to work and tried calling her in to no avail - I had to go get her (I had a treat handy in case she came to me so I could reward her for it). Took her on a walk later in the morning and she peed, but no pooping on leash.


Any other suggestions to break this obsession? She was outside yesterday afternoon for an hour, my full lunch break, and all she did was patrol. She came inside exhausted. I can't get rid of squirrels, chipmunks or bunnies - and we don't have tons - but we're in an urban area with lots of trees, so we do have critters. It's her yard and I'm happy to let her patrol, I just want her to go to the bathroom, too!

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my boy is the same.... but even worse... he absolutely WILL NOT poop on walks... he saves it for the dog run.... he will pee TWICE in a 30 minute walk, while my girl is a marker and has to stop & pee on every blade of grass... from the moment we walk out the door, he is on FULL ALERT!!! Squirrels, rabbits, birds, people, bike/scooter riders, etc.... everything catches his eye.... but what's worse is that he has also designated himself my security guard, and barks/pulls/jumps at other dogs like a bucking bronco.... he hates non-greys and wants to tear them apart, like the squirrels, bunnies, etc... same thing in the dog run... he will bark at various critters he can't reach, for an hour, if i don't call him in... doing his business is an afterthought... his mission in life is to protect us from ninja squirrels and the like.... it's not easy... and the walks have not improved... i stopped going on our weekly greyhound walks in the park b/c he is really out of control... yet he has learned to live with a 15 yr old cat, with no problem.... why do cats rule every animal 10-100 times their size???? i don't get it...

Edited by claudiav

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The first thing that came to mind is to put something in the places over which she obsesses. Something that is big enough so she can't patrol the spots she likes. Or maybe a nasty-smelling spray, non-toxic of course, that would deter her. Her places need to be made unfriendly to her.

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I don't have any of these issues, but my thought would be to make a smaller area away from where the squirrels; etc. are so she can't get to them. Close to the door/stairs. Maybe an x-pen or snow fencing. The smaller area could be the potty area...hopefully.

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Agree with creating a smaller "potty only" space close to one of your house doors. I find it much easier to manage, and potty train eager new fosters (lacking any obedience knowledge) in a smaller space without critter distractions. We opened a 48" tall ex-pen (with it's ready-made gate) to use as a long-term, temporary fence, secured with 5' metal fence posts to enclose a side yard between house and existing fence. Current ex-pen has been in place for about a decade. (Last one was up for 15 -20 years.)


Generally, our hounds and fosters' overdrive critter radar has lessened over time as they become more accustomed to taking leashed walks in their neighborhood environment. Everything is so super exciting when they're newly retired. Good luck! :)


ETA: You're doing the right thing by ignoring animals during your walks. Try to prevent your hound from gaining the self-reward of being allowed to visually obsess over every passing critter. Quicken your pace as you pass animals. If needed, change directions to break hound's focus. While at home, helps to begin training "watch me" cues rewarded with treats. In time, you can use those cues to keep your hound's attention when needed during walks.

Edited by 3greytjoys
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She'll learn soon enough to go on a leash. I'd suggest daily leash walking (4x) until she figures it out. Good for her, good for you, and she will enventually go. It's not like greyhounds are not permitted to pee when they're leashed up at the track, so I bet if you give her a little more time, and try the leash walking, you'll be laughing about this in no time!


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

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I'm glad Kira is doing well! And I love the new name. Was never fond of Olay and always figured it should actually be spelled "Olé!" because she's so enthusiastic about everything :lol Also, I'm really impressed that she now walks on a leash instead of bounces like Tigger. I wish I had a video of it, though!


I agree with the suggestion to just walk her. Walk her around the yard, take her on a walk, just keep her on a leash. Eventually she'll have to go so bad she'll just do it. I feel your pain in the meantime, though - when she first came back, she was "Leash walk only" because of her tendency to hop fences when unattended (and since it was turnout, she was out there alone). I spent half an hour holding her leash while she vertically bounced around the biggest run without doing any potty at all. Let her off and she went immediately... It'll probably take some time, but she'll likely get the hang of it eventually.


If that won't work (for her or you!), a potty-only section of the yard could also work. If it's boring and just for potty (try using sand, since that's what she got used to pottying on) maybe she'll be more inclined to go instead of stalk fuzzies!

Mom of bridge babies Regis and Dusty.

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Another (or maybe better, an additional) approach might be to reward going potty, so that you encourage the behavior that you want. Lots of people train their dogs to "go" on command by praising and using a specific word when the dog goes on her own. The dog then associates the word with the deed. This might help your schedule both on leash and in the yard, as she gradually gets acclimated. In the yard, the goal would be to potty immediately, then patrol. The fact that she's already learned some words is promising.


My first girl, Eve, went on high alert at every single place that she had seen previously seen a critter on walks. Every. Single. Place. And she had an excellent memory. After a month or so, evidently her brain was overloaded and we could proceed in a less sensitized fashion.

Edited by EllenEveBaz


Ellen, with brindle Milo and the blonde ballerina, Gelsey

remembering Eve, Baz, Scout, Romie, Nutmeg, and Jeter

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i' confused.


i have thought of poppy as high prey, when she goes out in the garden she runs full speed after any birds on the ground, has chased a few cats/fox full speed and just missed them as they went over the 6ft. fence.she luckily hasn't however actually caught one.


she is obsessed with an evergreen along the path in the garden, it has a resident blackbird. no nest i can see, but poppy pokes thru the thick branches to watch it. so far no sign she wants to eat it tho. i thought it might have a nest & babies in there, but can't see it if i poke into there myself. the bird flew out & did the 'broken wing' distraction thing, poppy wasn't fooled, just kept rubbing around the base of the tree.


night before last we went out & poppy had a poke around the side garden, a neighbour came out another entrance to our apt. complex into the communal garden & poppy ran over to greet her. she asked me to hold poppy while she got her cat in (she has a black lab too that poppy plays with) anyway, i grabbed her collar, and backed her up a bit, then looked about 5 ft. to the right to see the cat laying down & watching us intently. it's been there the whole time & poppy had ignored it. had it taken off, i'd bet she'd have gone after it tho. typical "if it ain't movin' neither am i" sight hound behaviour. how many greyhounds does it take to change a light bulb? none. if it ain't movin' they ain't interested.


the lady picked up her cat, went inside with it & poppy never made a sound, or pulled at my restraint & afterwards had a quick sniff and ignored where the cat had been entirely.


back to the main garden last night and running full bore for the other end of the garden where she'd chased a cat last week. back then to watch the blackbird in the evergreen.


her prey drive seems part time.


p.s. she has no trouble with teeny teacup dogs, they are puppies to her to be loved and cuddled and to let chase her too.


she is intrigued with hedgehogs and will stare at them at night for hours without going the last couple of feet or barking at them. they of course don't move if she is watching.

Edited by kronckew


Wayne Kroncke

Vegetarians: My food poops on your food.

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Rex and Kenny Roo Who the GH mix would remember where they saw squirrel on a walk 3 months earlier. :lol


Rex and Barkley would sit under the "squirrel tree" for hours on end...Barkley still does. At some point I make him come inside and lock the dog door for a while so the squirrel can make an exit. Many of them the hop over into the yard with my neighbor's boxer :rolleyes: Not the most intelligent choice.


About 12 years ago I had the back door open and was on the computer. Poodle kept coming up to me and whining then going out to the deck. Rinse and repeat. I asked him "What is it Lassie, is Timmy down the well?'' Finally went out back and there was Rex munching casually on half a squirrel. Ratted out by your little brother. I thanked the spirit in the sky I'd taught Rex "drop it", brought them in and called my neighbor for body removal.

Rex was a squirrel killing machine...and he never in his life would poop on a leash. so I feel your pain. Luckily the only place we ever went was Abilene. KS and he could use the turnout kennels at the NGA. Always our first and last stops.

Edited by Hubcitypam
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Aston was six years old when I got him, with a reputation for being high-prey and a predator of small white-fluffy dogs. He had been adopted shortly after getting booted off the track at ~1.5 years old, and his first adopter left him with our group for being "vicious" and "uncontrollable."

From what I heard, that adopter herself was quite "theatrical." I was instructed by the group that Aston needed a calm, but authoritative person to be his leader -- not necessarily in an alpha way, but just someone to model after.

On walks, for the first several months, he would freeze, froth, and whine -- well, actually, make excited chimpanzee noises -- at ALL dogs within earshot if he could hear them, or eyeshot if he could see them (and yeah... greyhounds can see quite far. :lol ). He would just dart after squirrels and cats without warning, leading me to get yanked down on my face a few times, the leash slipknotted around my wrist.

I kept my cool and tried not to feed into his freaking out and getting excited about stuff. Just... let's keep going. When I could get him to keep going, that is. If he was frozen and focused, I would stand in front of his face to break his stare; sometimes that wouldn't work because DO GREYHOUNDS EVER HAVE LONG NECKS? YES, THEY DO :lol
If he was frozen, I would hike the leash up and sidle up next to Aston, pin my hip against his shoulder, and we'd walk in a tight circle (with me as the pivot point) to break his focus, and try to work up some "momentum" to get walking again.

What really helped, in the end, but took constant doing -- was clicker training. Specifically, "Look at that!" training. It's mentioned here: http://forum.greytalk.com/index.php/topic/250366-look-at-that-training/

Essentially, I rewarded Aston for not freaking out at his stimuli, but the trick was to click and treat BEFORE he started to freak out. So we'd hear a dog -- CLICK, treat. He'd have his attention on me for that split second. I'd wait another second or two. He's still not freaking out! GOOD boy! CLICK, treat...
The hard thing was that the window for getting a treat in there before the freakout was maybe a millisecond at first. He was very tightly wound. So our walks would be less about any distance covered, and more about just stretching out his windows. People would ask me what I was doing, because I'd be standing there for ten minutes constantly clicking and treating... and you could see the gears turning in Aston's head to the point that smoke would come out of his ears. :lol The learning wore him out more than any walk could. He slept well.

If I missed the window and he started to focus and freak out, I'd lost my chance. Not even clicking would get his attention back... so I'd walk him in circles to break his focus and hopefully get us moving and to another location where we could start again. If he was still too amped to learn, we'd go home and try again on the next walk.

Eventually, his windows stretched out to 10....20....30 seconds, then a minute at a time of calmly listening or watching a stimulus, but no reaction. GOOD boy! and at first, he would only apply his training to particular dogs we ran into or heard... so he wouldn't freak out at THAT dog, because he'd learned, but a new dog from around the corner would start us all over again. But eventually, he applied his knowledge everywhere, and he was a chill dude. :)

I eventually started to "jackpot" his rewards so that I wasn't going through a horde of tiny treat morsels every day. The training still stuck.
I also got tired of trying to juggle the clicker with my poop bags and leash slack on walks, so I trained him to respond to a particular tone of GOOD!boy instead of the click. I'm self-conscious about my voice when others can hear me, but it sure beat trying to get the click in there right on time if I didn't want to drop anything else I was carrying. :)

I think the overall takeaway, though, is that time with a chill owner and time to acclimate to her new surroundings will calm your girl considerably. A lot of it is just settling in. Aston had to settle in, too, even though he wasn't at all fresh off of the track -- he had just been in a more 'dramatic' household prior to mine.

Please give her some ear scritchies for us. :beatheart And I love her name!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for all the replies! I realize I am very late here - but we went on vacation not long after posting this (rafting/camping/hiking the Grand Canyon for over a week) and we were totally off-the-grid. Just now getting back to real life...the only good part was seeing the pups again! Oh...and taking a shower! :)


I'm happy to report that Kira is doing much better - apparently, she was on "super-super-duper high alert" in the yard because she was killing chipmunks (we've found two bodies). Cute little critters, but she was getting SO excited at the thought of chasing & killing - we use the muzzle w/ poop guard when we see her getting too agitated now. Also, with her "break from the yard" while boarding, she isn't so vigilant.


She loves her walks and we make it a big game - if she pulls, we change direction and happily invite her to come with us, and give lots of praise when she comes to us and walks correctly (thanks, Victoria Stilwell!) - she's walking really great on the leash now. It was funny the other day, we went on a new route and she got so excited that she kept forgetting to pee - she would squat and nothing would come out - and she would just keep looking around. I let her out back when we got home and she went right away. She's just SO excited about everything! She's even pooping on walks (twice in the last few days) - so maybe just being consistent with her and teaching her leash manners, as well as getting her used to certain routes has helped.


I've also been teaching her to "wait" at the back door before she bolts out - she kept trying to go out so fast that she'd get stuck in the door because I hadn't opened it enough for her to get through. The pups have to go "down" to get collars/leashes on and "wait" until we release them to go for walks (so they don't bum-rush the door) and it seems to be helping her at the back door, too. She stills hurls herself off the deck and checks her "spots" for critters, but at least I can get the door open now!


We just have such an overabundance of chipmunks and bunnies this year, it's crazy. :omg

Edited by Sundrop
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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Amber

Sounds like a typical greyhound to me! Not especially high prey drive - well she may be but would reserve judgement on that for now.


How old is she and how long off the track?


Unfortunately your chipmunk garden is just reinforcing her instincts. The more she chases the more ingrained it becomes. I can only suggest limiting free access to chipmunk land by using a long line to prevent hunting in your own yard.


The toileting thing makes it difficult but she may potty on a long line.


Not ideal I know.

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She just turned 3 in February and was retired early due to a pretty bad muscle tear after only 25 races. I looked at her brief racing record and she was really good. Out of 25 races (on Greyhound Data) she won 12 (!!) and came in 2nd twice and 3rd twice. I'm no racing expert, but that sounds pretty flippin' good!


She's still very reactive to all critters in the yard and out on walks - we work to just ignore everything on walks, and she walks on lead pretty well - she stays at our side (mostly) but doesn't pay much attention to us. We are working on that with treats. :)


She's our 6th greyhound and we've had other "killers" in the bunch (our yard is down 3 opossums, 2 birds and a squirrel thanks to 3 of the other 5). We've never had one so distracted that they wouldn't relieve themselves, though. I know she'll calm down eventually - she's young and all of this is new to her.


Her newest oddity is to pee/poo on our deck instead of going into the yard. :dunno I've had to block off the two stairs to the deck, walk her into the yard and close the access points so she can't get back on the deck until she "goes" in the yard. It's SUPER weird because for so long we couldn't get her OUT of the yard and back into the house!


She's just an oddball...and we love her to pieces. :beatheart

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I think you're doing just fine with Kira, considering her young age and the fact she has only been with you for a couple of months




Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Joshi.  Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) Nigel (Nigel), and especially little Mario, waiting at the Bridge.




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The squirrels do learn not to nest in your trees. My faithful Willie wonks was on sqirell patrol for 14 years. Being a terrier he never gave up,if he wasn't outside he watched from each window and often the dining room table. Hopefully your pup will not find the need to perch on a table.


Annie and Emily both greyhounds ate and caught birds on a regular basis. The cats have been a pita,scratched cornea and one dirty bird fiasco ended up with a MERSA



But they are dogs and hounds and terriers always seem to get in trouble doing exactly what they supposed to do.


Try a potty corral and do remember to reward the success

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