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Confused About Non-Greyhounds

Guest Connorandco

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Guest Connorandco

Hello Greytalk community!


Have elected to post under a pseudonym for a number of reasons. I'm looking for advice about our dog, Connor, who we've had for 3 years. Apologies in advance for the long post, but I want to give all the information I can to see if anyone has advice or a similar experience.


We have another greyhound and have fostered numerous greyhounds over the years, but do not purport to be experts. We have two cats, and therefore have worked hard on training fosters to be cat safe, or at least began their 'cat workable' training before they go to homes. We've relied heavily on this site for advice on how to do that with much success.


When Connor came to us, he came with the understanding from the racing kennel that he was very timid and fearful around other greyhounds, and continues to exhibit this behavior regardless of how many meet and greets and greyhound-only playdates he attends in which we try and help him make positive associations. With that said, he does not approach or try to bite other greyhounds... he just hangs out and quivers, typically.


We recognize that Connor has a prey drive and exhibits those signs at cats, squirrels, and small dogs: visually fixates, stiffened body, ears engaged, and whines. We cat trained him to a 'reliable' point with our cats for several weeks with his muzzle on, and after that time, allowed him to greet one of the cats. He bit the cat, who shrieked and ran, and he got the extreme voice of god and didn't attempt to chase. The cat had no broken skin, nor a misplaced hair after this incident. We started again from square one, and Connor has now lived freely with these cats for 3 years with no further incident, so we know he is indeed 'trainable'.


Back to when we first got Connor, after several weeks we met a medium sized, smooth coated dog who our other greyhound is friends with on a walk, and Connor didn't display any of his usual 'prey-drive' warning signs... he was ears attentive and wanted to go to the dog, which I allowed. He then bit the dog, who yelped and moved away. The owner of the other dog and I inspected for injury, and again, no signs of injury and Connor didn't seem particularly interested in him past the initial bite. Of course, I offered for the other owner to take the dog to the vet at our cost, but she declined since he had no injury and she has been friendly with us ever since. We began restricting Connor from greeting other dogs on walks.


My husband was walking the greyhounds several months later, and met a man with his dog who looks to be a large black lab cross. He wanted his dog to meet ours, mentioning he was told his dog was part greyhound, and my husband warned him that Connor isn't necessarily friendly with other dogs. He insisted, and again, Connor bit the dog who expressed a yelp, but no injuries. Connor again, exhibited no prey drive signals and this dog was MUCH larger than he is.


Finally, a neighbor's bulldog was running off leash and approached while we were on a walk and while my husband kept Connor behind his legs, he did manage to again take a chomp at the dog.


My questions are:


a) Connor exhibits clear prey-drive signals with small fluffies of any species, which we've been able to train for in our home with our cats, but outside our home we steer clear of his triggers. When he "test chomps" (like a shark) non-greyhound large dogs, with which he has not giving any prey-drive signals, tension, reactivity, or other warning sign prior to the chomp... is this prey-drive? Is he confused? Does he not realize it's a dog until he takes a bite and sees the reaction? Why does he do this?


B) Connor is very trainable and does well with 'look at me' training on his walks to desensitize him to small fluffies from afar. Can we ever truly trust him to greet other large dogs? We'd love to enroll him in training or agility classes but don't feel we can trust him around any breed of dog that isn't a greyhound, and yet he does poorly around other greyhounds. He gives no warning signs around larger dogs but does his non-injury bites anyways. How will we ever know we can trust him? Why does he bite non-greyhounds but then is scared of other greyhounds?


Any insights, advice, or anything would be appreciated.



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In my mind, "prey drive" refers to the desire to chase prey (typically any moving object, which is how they can use a plastic bag as a lure for lure coursing--if it moves, dog chases. That is prey drive or my understanding of it). What you are describing seems more like a leash aggression thing.


Clearly you need to stop introducing him to other dogs--my George was a total breed snob and I figured that out after a few weeks. We never once approached another breed of dog, and it wasn't that hard. I would just say, "Sorry, he only likes greyhounds" when people wanted their dog to meet him. No big deal.


As to his behavior around other greyhounds--I have no clue. That is certainly not typical, but I expect people with more hound experience will step in.


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

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Conner has a strange idea of how to manage greeting other dogs. I agree with the term "test chomp". If Conner was trying to do real damage he would have done so by now. He is clearly holding back. More of a nip it sounds like. It has been three years and unfortunately I don't think Connor will change this behavior. If it was my dog I would have a muzzle on in all situations where a "test chomp" was a risk.

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Hi Connorandco. Without being a dog professional, or seeing your dog in person, here are my thoughts. I read that your dog has a history of being fearful of other dogs. Your dog doesn't want anything to do with meet&greets with other dogs.


Don't take him into situations where he's fearful and/or feels the need to bite. Try stay away from other dogs (at least for now) and ensure other dogs stay away. Maybe consider a muzzle.


Greyhounds behave the way they do for many reasons including genetics, and past and current experiences. Usually it's a mixture of all of the above. Many greys can be very hard to read accurately, for various reasons. A bite (usually a last resort in dog communication) may be the only way for your grey to tell another dog "Please get away from me NOW!" Please help the dog by not allowing a situation where it needs to bite to communicate.


The trembling is also due to fear.


Prey drive is the drive to chase, catch, and kill (and possibly eat) prey.


Most non-greyhounds will show a Fight or Flight reflex in response to immediate threat. Greyhounds can Freeze and shut down their behaviour as a way to 'cope' with those fearful situations, and then bite as a last resort. The best way to deal with this IMO would firstly be management. If you still want to train for this issue, I'd suggest calling in a behaviourist skilled in Positive Reinforcement type meathods.


Cheers. :)

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Hey there! I have only had my greyhound Max for three months, but I've had great success using positive reinforcement with his non-greyhound dog encounters. I don't do this every walk, but every couple of days at least, we'll go on a walk in an area where I know we'll encounter a lot of other dogs and I'll have my pocket full of treats. Every time we see a dog, he gets a treat. We don't greet other dogs except on very rare occasions with very mellow dogs, because he has pretty bad anxiety towards non-greys, and he has tried to bite a dog who was in his space (the reason I started this training). It takes time, but at the very least, the treat provides a distraction while you maneuver yourself and Connor away from the other dog. Max has already grown to expect his treat when we see another dog and already he seems calmer (hackles rarely go up) when we do, unless the dog has aggressive body language or is barking.


My friend Rozie who has a greyhound of her own and is a professional dog walker gave me this advice and it has been such a relief to us both on walks - I highly recommend that you try it if you haven't already, especially if Connor is food-motivated like my boy.

Loving life with my first greyhound Max (4 year old dark brindle boy)! :wub:

Check out our hiking blog! www.greythikes.blogspot.com

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