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Guest TheWeskells

We have recently adopted Toby, a 2.5yr old retired grey from the Greyhound Adoption Program in South Australia. He was part of the TAFE program (veterinary course) and was therefore fostered for around 10 weeks with two different families before coming to live with us. He has been green collared, whereby they test the dog with other dogs, small dogs, cats, hugging, removing food etc. He passed and showed no sign of aggressive/reactive behaviour. This was in April.

 

Since he has been with us (just over three weeks now) he has been very reactive to other dogs when we go on walks. Barking, growling, and if they are close (5-10meters) jumping and lunging. We told the GAP crew and they weren't sure why he was doing this. They told us to bring him back so that they could see his behaviour. He did the same with them as with us, but after 20mins of carrying on, he actually sniffed butts with the other dog and had a little walk together. Since then he is still reactive to other dogs on our walk, even other greys. Can we train this behaviour out of him? I really want to be able to walk him without other dog owners giving me dirty looks.

 

He also seems to have developed separation anxiety (again when we adopted him he apparently didn't have this problem). We both have the luxury of working at home, but when we did both leave to get coffee (10 mins max) he was barking and whining the whole time, and he urinated inside. He is very good at night, sleeps in the lounge room on his own bed until 7am. He is also very good in the car. I've left him in there for 15-20mins (with the window open of course, and it's winter in Aus, so not too hot) and no problems. He isn't very good at stay, if I move out of eye shot he just follows me. Otherwise, he is such a great dog. He is really affectionate with people, has a goofy personality with heaps of energy and loves belly rubs. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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When we brought phog home he "reacted" to dogs on walks -- we think he just was curious or wanted to play - but I am a scrawny 60ish woman and he is a big boy - here is our solution(that I have to say works awesome). We carry snacks in our pockets - when he would see another dog coming and started to "react" we reached in our pocket and kept the treat in hand just out of his grasp until we got by the others. Then he got the snack if he walked focused on the treat not the dogs coming. It took him about one time to get trained perfectly :). The boy loves his treats! We've had him a year and a half and he has perfect manners now :). Yep - as soon as he sees another dog coming he starts turning around and asking for his 'good boy treat'.

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When we brought phog home he "reacted" to dogs on walks -- we think he just was curious or wanted to play - but I am a scrawny 60ish woman and he is a big boy - here is our solution(that I have to say works awesome). We carry snacks in our pockets - when he would see another dog coming and started to "react" we reached in our pocket and kept the treat in hand just out of his grasp until we got by the others. Then he got the snack if he walked focused on the treat not the dogs coming. It took him about one time to get trained perfectly :). The boy loves his treats! We've had him a year and a half and he has perfect manners now :). Yep - as soon as he sees another dog coming he starts turning around and asking for his 'good boy treat'.

 

Sweep is very reactive to non-greyhound dogs (barking, hackles up, lunging), and this is exactly what we do. Hopefully your dog is as food-motivated as she is. :) Adding a command like "watch me/look at me" can also help redirect their attention to you.

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Rachel with Sweep and kitties Olive and Momo.
Always missing my boys Mud and
Henry

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Guest PackMomma

I will say that treats combined with "watch me/look at me" and consistent effort will help. I have three dogs one of my non-grey dogs is also very reactive to other dogs and to men. We have consistently been working with her on this and we can walk in peace now without having to be nervous. Just last night a large man came out of his truck he had just parked on the street next to where we were walking and she didn't even bark.

 

On the separation anxiety I have been making a concentrated effort to have times we leave for short amounts and then return. I was worried because with it being summer we are home a lot more right now than we will be in the fall so I've been trying to leave for a bit every day.

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I forgot the verbal part - "just walk" is what we say :). And then "phog is a good boy". Any time the words good boy are uttered by anyone in our home he is there in a flash :). Chow hound extradinaire

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I have no idea how much if any you will be able to improve his 'reactivity.' Whatever you do please do not push him into 'socializing' with other dogs as that will probably just make matters worse. And please do not use punishment-guaranteed that will make things worse. Please muzzle him for his safety. You MUST keep him from getting involved in anything that could get him negatively labeled in an official capacity. Check out this article-perhaps it will help. And try to communicate to him that YOU will protect him from other dogs and/or people if he feels uncomfortable with them. That is probably the single best thing you can do-build engagement with him and show him that YOU will protect him -not thrust him into what he considers uncomfortable situations. Step between him and other dogs etc. When he sees that he can trust you he probably over time will react less negatively. Right now it is making him uncomfortable and then when he is pushed into the situation even more it just gets worse. Its a wonder the poor guy has not exploded. It takes time. Sometimes lots of time. But probably your best bet is to prioritize building engagement and trust. When he truly knows he can trust you to protect him and not to put him into uncomfortable situations then he may feel less need to respond as he currently does.

http://www.drjensdogblog.com/can-i-pet-your-dog-why-its-always-okay-to-say-no/

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Guest TheWeskells

Thanks for the advice everyone. We have been doing a version of the watch tactic (after reading Feisty Fido by Patricia McConnell). When we see another dog, I say his name for him to look at me and he gets a treat. This is working very well and sometimes he doesn't bark at the other dog at all. Although we have never been on the same side of the pavement when we have done this (baby steps). We are also practicing calling his name in the house so that he has it 100% down pat. Interestingly, when we took him to the vet the other day (we requested a time were there would be no other dogs) but we were in there a long time, and when we came out a small dog came right up to Toby and he didn't bark. At first he seemed a bit nervous or scared by the little dog, but then he sniffed her butt and they were fine. My partner said maybe it was because the dog was just right there, Toby didn't seem him in the distance like on walks. This reminded me of when we first got Toby (and at that time I didn't really realise about the reactivity), we were at traffic lights and these 2 x medium size fluffy dogs just appeared from behind us, but he didn't make a fuss. Later that night my partner took Toby to meet his brothers greyhound and that meeting went well too. So I think he is starting to trust us, but we will take it very slow and won't force him into situations with random dogs.

 

Haven't really done any real work on the anxiety, any advice? I've been leaving the house (as I would if I was actually going out) then I come back inside after 30 seconds. Should I just keep going with this strategy and increasing the time I'm away? He always runs to the door when I leave and just seems to stay there standing until I return. Or should practice getting him to stay on his bed when I leave? Also when we are practicing stay, when should I treat him?

 

Final question, we have an open plan living room kitchen, and ideally we don't want him in the kitchen, but I know it must be hard for him as there are no doors. We have been saying "out" when he gets behind the kitchen island, but it doesn't seem to be working we have to say it 2 or 3 times before he does it, and then he just goes back into the kitchen again after a few minutes. He only really does this around dinner time or after he's been fed but he has stolen a few items from the top when my back is turned.

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I'm not an experienced trainer, but here's my thoughts:

<<Haven't really done any real work on the anxiety, any advice? I've been leaving the house (as I would if I was actually going out) then I come back inside after 30 seconds. Should I just keep going with this strategy and increasing the time I'm away>>

Yes, this is called "alone training." Search for more info on it here on GreyTalk and elsewhere on the internet. Also think about leaving radio or tv on so house won't seem so empty, and leaving a long-lasting treat when you leave. Stuffed kong toys are favorites on GreyTalk.

<<when we are practicing stay, when should I treat him?>>

When he looks totally relaxed (or resigned :) ) to staying. Or, when you give the release command, which should be when he looks totally relaxed. When I had one of my greys in a large basic obedience class and we would have to wait a long time for our turn, she would flop over and take a nap while she was doing a down stay. The trainer said approvingly, "That's a dog who knows she's not going anywhere until she gets the okay." :)

On the open kitchen, I allow mine in most times, but have also established an imaginary line behind which they are to retreat when told "out." I've never set up a monitoring camera, but I'm told that's one good way to train a dog to stay out or off the counters when you're not there. You'll also have to do your part and train yourself to consistently keep food off the counters.

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Ellen, Milo, and Jeter

remembering Eve, Baz, Scout, Romie, and Nutmeg

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Definitely search "alone training" on these boards and do that. Despite your dog being fine somewhere else he needs to learn that he is also safe in your house, and I bet he learns quickly after a few days or along-weekend of intentionally leaving and returning.

 

We do mini-alone training with our dogs the first few times we take them on trips to grand-mom's house, so that they know we will also come-and-go from this space.

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

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