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New Rescue Greyhound Bit The Dog-Sitter


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Hi Everyone,

 

This is my first post here, I'm hoping to find some good conversation as a first-time greyhound adopter.

 

Our newly adopted greyhound is 2 Years old. We assume that he didn't qualify as a racer, he is registered as a racer but does not have a racing record. He has a low prey drive and was turned over to the rescue group at a young age. We adopted him 3 months ago. 2 Weeks ago he bit our dog-sitter, and we have since employed a trainer to help us modify his behavior.

 

Marco has a bit of a bite history. When we adopted him, we were told that he had bitten a young child at his previous home, and returned. They hadn't seen any evidence of this kind of behavior while he was at the rescue facility. We don't have kids, and he got along great with us and our tiny Boston Terrier, so we decided to give him a chance. He is very polite with us, and has shown a lot of trust in us since day 1.

 

His daily schedule:

  • 7AM - 20-30 minute walk
  • 7:30 AM - Breakfast
  • 12 Noon - Dog-Sitter break (while we are at work)
  • 5:15 PM - Dinner when we get home, then another walk later in the evening

 

Here are the events that led up to him biting the dog-sitter:

  1. Marco began to show a lot of anxiety in his crate anytime that we were away from home - he tore off the bars and destroyed his water bowl one afternoon and we feared he could hurt himself in there.
  2. At that point we let him out of the crate for short periods while we left. We monitored him with cameras and he showed far less anxiety. Now he is doing great out of the crate and is no longer anxious when alone, sleeping soundly.
  3. The dog-sitter was aware of the new situation on his first full day out of crate. However, as soon as she opened the door to enter the house, he bit her hand - requiring a trip to urgent care, a tetanus shot, and 2 stitches on her knuckle.

My thought is that this was very much a fear-based bite in a new situation. I take full responsibility for not foreseeing this, but he had never shown aggression toward the dog-sitter when he was crated. She had been working with him for almost 3 months.

 

In the past, he has shown some fearful aggression during feeding time and when new people arrive at our front door, especially food delivery.

 

He is doing well with positive training, no longer allowed on the couch (doggy beds only), and we are working with him on his "WAIT" before feeding and when anyone moves between doors or enters/exits the house. We also installed gates at the entryways so he has plenty of time to see who is entering the house.

 

We are committed to modifying his behavior through training, but we are anxious about future incidents, and creating a safe environment for a dog-sitter. Any thoughts that you have would be greatly appreciated. Has anyone had similar experiences?

Edited by TMag
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Welcome to Greytalk, and thank you for taking the time and energy to work with this pup.

 

I hope when you adopted Marco, you were given a muzzle. Please use it! He should be used to it (even if he doesn't like it), and can eat and drink with the muzzle on. I wouldn't leave him in a crate with the muzzle on (so he doesn't get caught), but that's not the setup that you described. If your dog walker feels comfortable (and you give permission) s/he can take the muzzle off when s/he leaves from the last potty break.

 

Good luck, and please post pictures when you have a chance.

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In the past, he has shown some fearful aggression during feeding time and when new people arrive at our front door, especially food delivery.

 

I think this is your issue. And if he shows a fear aggressive response when you are home to answer the door, imagine the terror he must have felt when someone just let themselves in while you weren't around. He may know the sitter, but he doesn't know her that well yet (one could argue he doesn't know you that well even yet) and it was obviously too much for him.

 

I'd do lots of positive reinforcement practice with people coming to the door. Invite friends, family, neighbours (and of course your dog walker) to come over a few times a week while you're home and work on ringing the doorbell and coming in (I'd sometimes go to the door and let the person in, and sometimes leave the door unlocked and have them just let themselves in). This is a nice controlled situation for you. Positive reinforcement when the doorbell goes off (or someone knocks). Positive reinforcement when the door opens. Positive reinforcement from the "intruder" by throwing treats to the dog without direct interaction. I'd also work on a "place" behaviour with him for when you are home. When the doorbell rings you ask him to go to his place (a mat or bed) while you open the door. The visitor can then throw him a treat from the door to where he is on his bed. Once you feel comfortable that he has relaxed, you can release him and allow him to come investigate the visitor. If your dog has space aggression (guards beds) I'd skip the place command.

 

I'd have the dog walker come over and spend some time with you guys all together. Go through the above with her coming over, then all go for a walk, or just hang out at your house, or sometimes get him leashed up and hand him over to her, and sometimes go outside and meet her then escort her into the house (you go in first to make sure you can control the situation). Mix it up. And if you have to have her come over when you're not home during this training process, make sure to put a muzzle on him before you leave in the morning. But if it's not completely necessary, I would skip her visiting while you're not home until you've gotten him more comfortable with her.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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Everything Kristie said above is good.

 

It will also help you if you adjust your attitude towards what is occurring a little bit. Yes, he growls and has bit someone, but it sounds to me (from very far away, granted) that he is not "aggressive" so much as he is anxious and fearful and acting out in the only instinctual way a dog has to express his anxiety. He's really afraid, and not aggressive, in other words. It helps you to visualize him recovering if he has something you can fix, versus a mental state that you can't understand as well.

 

He is very (very) new to your house and retirement in general, so he is getting used to every single single thing in his life being new and scary. He doesn't need his crate anymore - great! - but that doesn't mean he doesn't need to feel safe and secure in his own home. If you haven't already, fix him a spot that is his with a nice bed, out of the walking paths but somewhere he can see you and be with you. You can use baby gates to restrict his house access, and also to keep him away from the door when people are coming and going. Having a sort of "airlock" around the door will also help prevent him from bolting out the door in case he gets spooked by a visitor. He should be sleeping in the bedroom with you at night to help him feel more bonded to you.

 

DAP diffusers for your home and a DAP collar he can wear will help him feel more relaxed. A longer walk in the morning might also help him work off some nervous energy and be calmer during the day when you're gone. He's really still a puppy, and will be for a couple more years, so exercise will be your friend. Leaving him a stuffed, frozen Kong and/or a treat puzzle game will help with his mental stimulation and keep his mind off the fact that he's alone.

 

You should look up Alone Training and do this conscientously with him. He's never had to be alone before so he needs to learn this too.

 

Good luck and keep us updated on your progress. The dog you have right now will not be the same in a few months - once he settles into retirement he will be a joy for you both!

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Welcome to GreyTalk. Many good suggestions in all three posts above.

 

I'm curious about what your trainer is suggesting to modify your new Greyhound's behavior?

 

Using the Greyhound basket muzzle could be especially helpful. If you haven't already, please dog-proof the room/s to which he has access, and ensure there aren't any hooks or levers that might catch his muzzle.

 

When entering another dog's home, and without making direct eye contact, immediately gently tossing high value treats towards the dog while happily and confidently talking to the dog often helps. (Assuming the dog is food driven enough to eat treats.) If hound is too fearful of visitors, it's often better to remain silent while tossing treats -- without direct eye contact, and front of human's body should be turned away from dog.

 

One quick mention re: your hound's outings: If he's not getting an outing after eating breakfast, I would add that important potty opportunity to his daily routine. :)

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You need to consider changing the walking schedule.

 

Do a quick potty break first thing. Feed him immediately after. Then in about 30-40 minutes, do the longest walk you can stand. Most dogs need to move their bowels after they eat, and you should not feed him and not give him another change to go out until noon.

 

You should also take him out IMMEDIATELY upon coming home. I cannot even imagine him being crated from 12:30 to 5 and then not getting to go out again until after dinner/before bed.

 

I would skip the dog walker, personally, and spend more time walking your dog yourselves.

 

Doesn't seem like he is getting a whole lot of exercise with his own humans, and that's really important and a great way to bond and build trust.

 

Good luck!


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

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Thanks everyone for your advice and encouragement.

 

Just off the bat - I did simplify the schedule a bit to keep the posting size down. He does get a bathroom break first thing in the AM (usually wakes us at around 5:30), and then the very first thing when we get home (before dinner).

 

We will do longer walks. During this week I have been taking him for 1-1.5 mile weeks, but that seems to be his limit before he gets tired.

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I would also suggest if you can put a gait to prevent him from going to the door when you walk in, so that he can have a little breathing space and see who it is and acclimate to the person and the person can talk to him without contact. Also if he has some anxiety with the door opening, who is to say he won't try and run. Just some thought for prevention.

Kathy, Bo (SK's Bozo), and Angels Storm (Greys Big Storm), Grace (Rise to Glory) and Sky(Greys Sky Dove),

My dog believes I go to work for their food and treats.

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Everything Kristie said above is good.

 

It will also help you if you adjust your attitude towards what is occurring a little bit. Yes, he growls and has bit someone, but it sounds to me (from very far away, granted) that he is not "aggressive" so much as he is anxious and fearful and acting out in the only instinctual way a dog has to express his anxiety. He's really afraid, and not aggressive, in other words. It helps you to visualize him recovering if he has something you can fix, versus a mental state that you can't understand as well.

 

Thanks greysmom,

 

This helps me to put me in the mindset to better help him adapt to his new world, and be happy, comfortable and confident.

 

I have an extremely strong sense that he is not an "aggressive" dog. He is perfectly sweet and gentle except in certain situations. I'll move forward with confidence knowing that fearfulness is the root of the problem (not a latent aggression inside of him).

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Here is some more detail. I am really thankful for the support that you have all offered.

 

Training

The trainer has given us several exercises for situations that stoke his anxiety.

  • Dinnertime: No rushing the bowl. He must wait while we make dinner and place it down. He must remaining waiting until we give him permission to eat.
  • Furniture: No furniture privelleges - but lots of treats when we goes to his doggy bed. He is excellent responding to the command "go to bed". We have a bed in every room so he can be near us, but not on our couch or bed.
  • Doors: Almost exactly the same exercises that krissy recommended (thanks krissy)! Im glad to see the same approach recommended here. It gives me confidence that the trainer is using good techniques. We also make him wait for us to move through any entry door before he is given permission to go through. We need to practice with strangers more often, but we are working up to trusting him for that.

Muzzle

Regarding a muzzle. We did not receive one from the rescue group, but I will purchase one today. I hope tolerates it well, we will test it in short increments.

 

Gates

Good idea to move the gate to create a larger vestibule. Our main entrance is through the kitchen, He loves to look out the kitchen window and watch us leave, then he goes to his bed to nap, but I'll try to gate off the kitchen as a vestibule and see how he reacts. Trainer also recommended this. I think that it would certainly give him more time to adjust to any incoming people and action, and relive a bit of stress for the humans as well.

 

Exercise

I'll start to do longer walks with Marco. I'd say that 95% of our lives outside of work are spent at home with our dogs, lounging around, hanging out, going in the yard, nosing around while we do chores. But we'll put more hours into walk time.

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He's beautiful. Stick with it!

 

All of the above suggestions are great....

Be sure the muzzle you get is similar to what would have been used in the kennel. He is used to that and they are safe. I use them any time I am in doubt to protect all involved (cats, little dogs, or humans) depending on my hounds.

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Robin, EZ (Tribal Track), JJ (What a Story), Dustin (E's Full House) and our beautiful Jack (Mana Black Jack) and Lily (Chip's Little Miss Lily) both at the Bridge
The WFUBCC honors our beautiful friends at the bridge. Godspeed sweet angels.

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He's beautiful. Stick with it!

 

All of the above suggestions are great....

Be sure the muzzle you get is similar to what would have been used in the kennel. He is used to that and they are safe. I use them any time I am in doubt to protect all involved (cats, little dogs, or humans) depending on my hounds.

 

:nod Here's a good source for kennel muzzles (and proceeds go toward greyhound adoption): http://www.gemgreyhounds.org/GEM-Store/kennel-muzzle/

 

Good luck to you and Marco. He's gorgeous!

Edited by ramonaghan

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Rachel with Sweep and kitties Olive and Momo.
Always missing my boys Mud and
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He is beautiful!

I want to check one item with you as I have found it to be a common mistake with new owners whose adoption groups do not supply a muzzle. DO NOT use the cloth kind that pet stores sell--they are designed to keep a dog from biting and cannot be worn for long periods of time. Make sure you are using a "Basket" or "Greyhound" muzzle. They are made of plastic or wire and allow the dog to open his mouth, pant, and drink/eat. They can be worn for long periods of time as long as there is nothing that they will catch it on. Grey's will try to convince you that they are torture, but they really aren't. They are used at the kennels anytime greys are turned out to make sure they don't nip each other.

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:nod Here's a good source for kennel muzzles (and proceeds go toward greyhound adoption): http://www.gemgreyhounds.org/GEM-Store/kennel-muzzle/

 

 

Ditto for GEM's Greyhound basket muzzles: http://www.gemgreyhounds.org/GEM-Store/kennel-muzzle/

GEM ships orders quickly, but another option is to ask your local Greyhound adoption group for a muzzle. (Most groups provide one for each adopted Greyhound.)

If you don't have a convenient place for a baby-gate, a free-standing exercise pen is an alternative option. (We place ex-pens around doorways and fence gates in a U-shape as an air-lock divider system. Our ex-pens are 48" high for our tall Greyhounds.)

Exercise pen examples: http://www.midwestpetproducts.com/midwestexercisepens/exercise-pen-sizes

 

Your training goals look excellent, assuming it's strictly based on positive, reward reinforcement methods. (Definitely no physical force or dominance methods.)

 

You're smart to watch Marco's own walk duration limits. If he wasn't walked much previously, he may need to build his endurance gradually.

 

Great canine family photos! Marco is a handsome boy! :)

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Thanks for the new replies.

 

An update on Marco's training session today. We had a good walk before training.

 

The trainer arrived at the back door and knocked - I've never seen Marco sprint through the house until today. He jumped up and rushed the back door barking the whole way. He had never done that before. He jumped up on the door glass and barked and growled with hackles up. It looked like he was ready to maul the trainer - who is always a treat dispenser when here. Luckily he didn't break the door glass.

 

We called him back to us, got him as calm as we could and hit the restart button. Tried the door knocking again with lots of treats. He got better at it with a few repetitions, but he was scatter-brained through the rest of the training session.

 

It was my mistake for leaving the baby gate open but he still would have rushed the gate it if had been closed.

 

We did a lot of door training during the week, but after today it looks like we have A LOT of work ahead of us!

Edited by TMag
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That's OK. I'm sure the trainer told you - two steps forward, one step back! Time and patience and consistency!

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Thanks for the new replies.

 

An update on Marco's training session today. We had a good walk before training.

 

The trainer arrived at the back door and knocked - I've never seen Marco sprint through the house until today. He jumped up and rushed the back door barking the whole way. He had never done that before. He jumped up on the door glass and barked and growled with hackles up. It looked like he was ready to maul the trainer - who is always a treat dispenser when here. Luckily he didn't break the door glass.

 

We called him back to us, got him as calm as we could and hit the restart button. Tried the door knocking again with lots of treats. He got better at it with a few repetitions, but he was scatter-brained through the rest of the training session.

 

It was my mistake for leaving the baby gate open but he still would have rushed the gate it if had been closed.

 

We did a lot of door training during the week, but after today it looks like we have A LOT of work ahead of us!

 

 

Think of this as a positive (I know - hard to do that), you now know what the issue is and you can work to resolve it and actually see the progress that you make. In this case, he gets very worked up when an out-of-routine incident happens and as you noted, it also took time to calm him down after. One of the keys is to not let him escalate, so a point here is to catch it before it gets to an uncontrollable point. If I had to ascribe feelings - the dog probably thinks that he has to protect the house from "intruders". You might consider adding the word "HOLD" or "WAIT" which means to stay alert but stay in place - it's different than "STAY". As strange as it seems, you might also want to use the word "FRIEND" when people that are OK to come in arrive.

 

You are lucky to have two people to do the training - you can have one person hold the dog back with the command and the other person open the door. As you make progress, you can then switch so one of you is ringing the bell and see if the other person has control of the dog. I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet but, greyhounds have a limited attention span - they usually won't last for an hour training session, they get bored and then won't listen so, best to sessions short.

 

I started using the "WAIT" command when I walked my dogs and we would approach situations like a street to cross or a loose dog coming towards us .. although I use the Ukrainian and not the English word. I didn't want my dog to sit or stay as I needed the dog alert and ready to move however, I didn't want any action until I precipitated it. As a note, when you use words like this, you also want to have a release word - if we were ready to cross the street, I would use the Ukrainian word for "FAST" and it would indicate that we would be double-timing it across the street.

Edited by MaryJane
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you have some wonderful, time proven suggestions above. since your dog is so young, i would also include more exercise. a 2 year old greyhound is still a pup, they are coming into their prime energy and strength wise. it's the older dogs that lounge around. work your way up to 3-4 mile walks to tire him a tad. you might be starting your mornings earlier and dinner later, get that exercise in, it's something that people forget to mention when working with young dogs.

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MaryJane - I understand what you're saying, it was a very clear signal of the problem that we are going to be training to correct.

 

We had a good WAIT scenario today with my wife entering the house.

 

He did a good job - staying in his bed while I told him to WAIT before she got to the door, and continued to give the WAIT command as she entered the house. Then we proceed to the door, stopping and waiting and treating between each room. It's not quite the same scenario as a stranger arriving, but it was encouraging nonetheless. Im glad that he is responsive to the WAIT command.

 

Understood on the exercise. We'll start earlier int he AM. He lounges a lot but certainly does have pep. He ran in the yard more often in the fall, but now that its cold, I think the ground is too hard and he doesn't run very much.

Edited by TMag
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I don't know what your trainer teaches as a release cue, but the word "release" works well since it's rarely used in everyday language. "Okay" is not desirable because it's used too often. (Example: Dogs may hear their humans conversing in a parking lot and mistake hearing "okay" as the dog's cue to exit... in front of a moving vehicle.)

 

If you haven't stumbled upon the Greyhound seminar excerpt below, it's an excellent read to help understand Greyhounds' previous kennel life. Your trainer, and dog-walker might appreciate reading it also.

 

 

Thoughts of a Greyhound

By the late Kathleen Gilley

 

"This breed has never been asked to do anything for itself, make any decisions or answer any questions. It has been waited on, paw and tail. The only prohibition in a racing Greyhound's life is not to get into a fight--or eat certain stuff in the turn out pen.

Let us review a little. From weaning until you go away for schooling, at probably a year and a half, you eat, grow and run around with your siblings. When you go away to begin your racing career, you get your own "apartment," in a large housing development. No one is allowed in your bed but you, and when you are in there, no one can touch you, without plenty of warning.

Someone hears a vehicle drive up, or the kennel door being unlocked. The light switches are flipped on. The loud mouths in residence, and there always are some, begin to bark or howl. You are wide awake by the time the human opens your door to turn you out. A Greyhound has never been touched while he was asleep.

You eat when you are fed, usually on a strict schedule. No one asks if you are hungry or what you want to eat. You are never told not to eat any food within your reach. No one ever touches your bowl while you are eating. You are not to be disturbed because it is important you clean your plate.

You are not asked if you have to "go outside." You are placed in a turn out pen and it isn't long before you get the idea of what you are supposed to do while you are out there. Unless you really get out of hand, you may chase, rough house and put your feet on everyone and every thing else. The only humans you know are the "waiters" who feed you, and the "restroom attendants" who turn you out to go to the bathroom. Respect people? Surely you jest.

No one comes into or goes out of your kennel without your knowledge. You are all seeing; all knowing. There are no surprises, day in and day out. The only thing it is ever hoped you will do is win, place or show, and that you don't have much control over. It is in your blood, it is in your heart, it is in your fate--or it is not.

And when it is not, then suddenly you are expected to be a civilized person in a fur coat. But people don't realize you may not even speak English. Some of you don't even know your names, because you didn't need to. You were not asked or told to do anything as an individual; you were always part of the "condo association"; the sorority or fraternity and everyone did everything together, as a group or pack. The only time you did anything as an individual is when you schooled or raced, and even then, You Were Not Alone.

Suddenly, he is expected to behave himself in places he's never been taught how to act. He is expected to take responsibility for saying when he needs to go outside, to come when he is called, not to get on some or all of the furniture, and to not eat food off counters and tables. He is dropped in a world that is not his, and totally without warning, at that.

Almost everything he does is wrong. Suddenly he is a minority. Now he is just a pet. He is unemployed, in a place where people expect him to know the rules and the schedule, even when there aren't any. (How many times have you heard someone say, "He won't tell me when he has to go out." What kind of schedule is that?) Have you heard the joke about the dog who says, "My name is No-No Bad Dog. What's yours?" To me that is not even funny. All the protective barriers are gone. There is no more warning before something happens. There is no more strength in numbers. He wakes up with a monster human face two inches from his. (With some people's breath, this could scare Godzilla.) Why should he not, believe that this "someone," who has crept up on him, isn't going to eat him for lunch? (I really do have to ask you ladies to consider how you would react if someone you barely knew crawled up on you while you were asleep?) No, I will not ask for any male input.

Now he is left alone, for the first time in his life, in a strange place, with no idea of what will happen or how long it will be before someone comes to him again. If he is not crated, he may go though walls, windows or over fences, desperately seeking something familiar, something with which to reconnect his life. If he does get free, he will find the familiarity, within himself: the adrenaline high, the wind in his ears, the blood pulsing and racing though his heart once again--until he crashes into a car.

Often, the first contact with his new family is punishment, something he's never had before, something he doesn't understand now, especially in the middle of the rest of the chaos. And worst of all, what are the most common human reactions to misbehavior? We live in a violent society, where the answer to any irritation is a slap, punch, kick, whip, or rub your nose in it. Under these circumstances, sometimes I think any successful adoption is a miracle.

He is, in effect, expected to have all the manners of at least a six-year old child. But, how many of you would leave an unfamiliar six-year old human alone and loose in your home for hours at a time and not expect to find who knows what when you got back? Consider that if you did, you could be brought up on charges of child abuse, neglect and endangerment. Yet, people do this to Greyhounds and this is often the reason for so many returns.

How many dogs have been returned because they did not know how to tell the adoptor when they had to go out? How many for jumping on people, getting on furniture, counter surfing, separation anxiety, or defensive actions due to being startled or hurt (aka growling or biting)? So, let's understand: Sometimes it is the dog's "fault" he cannot fit in. He is not equipped with the social skills of a six-year old human. But you can help him."

 

End quote.

Source: http://www.northerng...ghtsOfAGrey.php

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Thanks 3greytjoys - that's a good article that we discussed with the trainer today. It really puts things into perspective. She said that's similar to something called "Kennelitis" with other dogs she has worked with who need a lot of work adjusting to a domestic scenario.

 

Marco had a good training session today! Much more relaxed and far less anxiety. We were much more prepared.

 

We built a good air space between him and the door and he was much calmer during door training! Lots of treats today and he was more relaxed and friendly with the trainer. He is extremely food and snack driven.

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Guest nnamdismom

Ugh biting is a fear response, I wonder why he is so afraid. This will definitely take time. Does he growl before he bites? It's good that you are being patient with him not knowing what he went through before he met you and why he is afraid. You have some good suggestions. I would definitely use the muzzle for socialization, and socialize him as much as you can with people you trust. Keep the atmosphere calm if you can, he probably is just taking longer to settle in and feels insecure. Maybe he doesn't like the sitter for some reason! That would really stink but sometimes we gotta trust what the dog wants or doesn't want is best for him. Small kids sometimes can be rough with dogs, you never know why he bit the child. He is still a puppy, he will be okay :D You're doing great.

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