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Our Girl Got Spooked By Another Dog, Now Gets Really Anxious At Sight


Guest Raymondinho
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Guest Raymondinho

Hi, I've recently found this forum and it seems to be friendly, caring and knowledgable community so hoping to get some help.

 

Sorry for the long post but I know the more info the better.

 

So we'll start with the background. I've had dogs all my life, although closest to a greyhound was our Whippet / Red Setter cross. My wife didn't have dogs growing up but we've had our Yorkie / Jack Russell cross, Yuuku since he was a pup and he's 9 now. Yuuku is quite a solid dog, only thing he's scared of is skateboards. 8 weeks ago we fostered Bayley, our 4 year old retired greyhound and have since adopted her. Bayley is very inquisitive and quite solid too, doesn't get scared / freaked out by anything except of shopping carts that people pull behind them.

 

However, as you'll have guessed from the title, she's not great with other dogs. She was great with other dogs when we first got her, always wanting to go and say hello to other dogs and whining a little if they were too far away or if the other owner moved their dog away. But about three weeks in Bayley seen another dog on the other side of the road, she looked over at it, ears up in curiousity as always, and the other dog started barking at her. It really caught her off guard and she started to whine, bark and jump up and down. Now when she sees any dog, not matter the shape, size or breed and even if they are minding they're own business or haven't even seen her, she acts the same, whining, barking (slightly) and jumping up and down. It's certainly not aggressive, and she doesn't try to get away either.

 

I know the textbook answer is to de-sensitise her by getting her at a comfortable distance, re-assuring her and rewarding calm behaviour and gradually decreasing the distance but she doesn't seem to have a comfortable distance. Or if she has, it's longer than any of the flat unobstructed patches of land in my area. Basically if she can see the dog, she's going to react.

 

So any advice would be much appreciated. It's so hurtful and frustrating that we know she's capable of getting along great with other dogs and is missing out on this important part of dog life.

 

NB, even after the event, it never made her act any different towards Yuuku, she gets on fine with him.

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welcome to greytalk! I'd suggest that you reach out to the group that you fostered & adopted from ... they can help you connect with other greyhound families in the area to see whether Bayley reacts the same way to other greyhounds. You may also find that attending some meet & greets would be helpful, since Bayley would be exposed to other breeds of dogs but within the support of other greyhounds (which gives her more familiar surroundings when faced with these strange little furry things, plus other greyhound owners can help you judge the behaviors you're describing).

 

When you have a moment, check out the instructions for posting pictures, because we'd love to see pics of Bayley as well!

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Guest Scouts_mom

Welcome to Greytalk!

One think that caught my eye in your explaination is that you "reassure" her when she starts to react to other dogs. I would be very careful about this. You don't want her to think that she is right to be concerned or that you sympathize with her concerns. Both will reinforce her behavior. Instead, be very upbeat and cheerful or give no reaction at all. What I would do is try to give her a great treat whenever you or she first see the other dog. Be very cheerful and don't move closer to the dog. As she remains calm, you can let her move closer.

 

I hope this helps. Where are you located? Sometimes walking with another calm greyhound will show the scared grey that there is nothing to be upset about.

Edited by Scouts_mom
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:welcome Congratulations on your adoption of Bayley!

 

It helps to get high value meat (or cheese) treats, and begin teaching brief "watch me" cue practice sessions (less than 5 minutes) while at home (without distractions).

Each time she makes eye contact with you, immediately offer her a reward.

Then practice teaching a "heel" cue (noted below).

After she understands how to heel, combine the heeling exercise with periodic brief "watch me" cues.

Once she's doing well at home, begin practicing outside with a faster pace.

 

Later, when you see a dog during walks, you will be able to ask and reward her for "watch me" while she's actively heeling/walking and ignoring the other dog.

The goal is for you to be able to attract her attention while another dog is in the area.

Generally, it's not desirable to allow new dogs to meet in close contact during leashed walks.

Many other dogs will try to bite dogs that get too close/feel their space is being invaded, or they may try to protect their owner from a perceived potential threat (strange dog/human approaching).

 

Teaching heel is easy. In case you (or others) haven't taken training classes, here's a quick run down.

Hold a Greyhound's leash with right hand through the leash handle and wrap the leash a couple of times, then hold excess leash with the opposite hand.

(This is important because if Greyhounds see something they want to chase, or if a noise causes them to bolt backwards, humans have more control using both hands.)

Remaining leash length between hand and dog's collar or harness should be short (e.g., 1 foot) slack/loose leash, not taut since dog's neck should not feel constant tension (avoid jerking or choking).

 

If you're in USA, dog's right shoulder should be by human's left thigh while walking.

(Pedestrians are supposed to walk against traffic flow, so this keep dogs protected from being hit by a car.)

 

Make it a fun game to "heel" on leash.
Call her name in a happy voice: "Fido heel."
Immediately begin walking, leading with your left leg.
Happily praise and reward while she's walking politely next to you.
Begin doing figure 8's and directional changes to help her learn to stay close to your thigh while heeling.

Practice stops and starts.
Keep training sessions very brief and fun. :)

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Please consider asking your adoption group if they offer "Greyhounds only muzzled play dates" (in a fenced enclosure where ALL dogs are safely muzzled). If your group doesn't arrange play dates, perhaps you could plan a muzzled only play date with one or two other local Greyhound adopters. Having seen similar behavior in many newly retired Greyhound fosters, I'm guessing your girl is just really happy and excited to see other dogs and would enjoy interaction. The shaping exercises posted above, plus time, and more walks should help relax her reactions. Previously, seems she may have been inadvertently rewarded for reactive behavior when allowed to stop and meet other dogs, so increasing the walking pace and ignoring dogs is new for her. Good luck with Bayley. :)

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Guest Raymondinho

Thanks for all the advice, some of which we have been working on. But good that there's a couple of other things to try.

 

Scouts_mom, sorry, reassuring wasn't the word I should have used. I have been doing what you suggested.

 

We'll contact the charity we adopted her from to see about meets.

 

She's the seventh dog I've had in my life and some of them were rescue dogs who needed work on socialising but I've never seen it as extreme as this so thanks again for the help, and the welcome. I will keep you all posted on her progress.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Raymondinho

Sorry for delay on update, busy busy.

 

So, couple of things have happened that have clarified the reasons for Bayley's reactions and given us a clearer picture. These lead us to believe that, as GeorgeofNE suggests, Bayley defo just wants to go see the other dog (but isn't pulling) but is getting anxious because of the lead and because she can't go see. The two things that have happened are:-

 

1) She was out with the wife, seen another dog about 20m away so started whining and jumping up etc. The wife tried to turn her away from the other dog but Bayley slipped her collar. But as soon as she did, she stopped the whining and jumping and calmly jogged / half ran (not sprinted) over to the other dog and said hello.

 

2) Bayley loves meeting new people too, but doesn't go out of her way for them or act different when she sees them. However, we were coming down in our lift the other day when the lift stopped at the floor below. A group of about 8 kids were there and all went "aawww" when they seen her. They decided there wasn't enough room in the lift so we went on down and sent it back up for them so by the time they got outside we were a reasonable distance away but they were all making lots of noise (it was our neighbour's daughter's birthday party) and Bayley started the whining and jumping etc.

 

So it's not solely a dog thing, it's an excitement thing. It's just that one dog = 8 kids in the excitement factor (she actually gets even more anxious when she sees the fox but one step at a time).

 

Anyway, a lot of what we're doing and what has been suggested above is still applicable, trying to teach her that we, the clicker and the treats are more interesting than the other thing but it's slow going. The charity didn't have any meets they were aware of but did give us the names of a couple of one-on-one trainers.

 

Will keep updating and thanks again.

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