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My Grey Wakes Me Up At 4Am For Breakfast

Guest GreytLulu

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Guest GreytLulu

So the title says it all really. I've had my grey for over 2 weeks nearly and she's great in a lot of ways, I've had good advice regarding my adoption group but this is something they said I'll really need to work on, however because she was not fostered beforehand I think they underestimated how serious the problem is. She's SO food motivated it's a bit too much, when we're cooking she stands by the babygate and watches and if I instruct her "bed" meaning to go and lie on her bed she just totally ignores me and can't tune out from anything else but the food. When we're sat down at the dinner table she gets extremely distressed and rams herself into the gate, she's done it with so much force she literally took it off the wall the first time.


The worst of it though is she wakes me up at 4am whining for breakfast. At first I thought it was a need to go to the toilet, so I'd get up and take her into the back but she wouldn't do anything, so I'd take her back to bed and she'd settle down for a while and then start whining again. I live with other people so it wakes them up and they are really not happy about it, which is causing me added stress. I know it takes greys a while to settle in but this is something I really can't deal with for much longer due to my own anxiety issues, she's so great in so many senses but this at the moment is just causing me so much anxiety I've had to take time off from work due to lack of sleep affecting my anxiety.


I know she's waking me up for breakfast because everytime we go downstairs she practically runs over to her foodstand with her tail wagging manically and then gets confused when it's not there. But I should probably explain the routine: Supposed to wake up at 7am, take her outside to let her relieve herself, and then as I take her outside, my housemate does her morning feed for me because he wakes and goes to work not too much longer after. I don't ask my housemate to do the feed, but he started doing it to feel a bit involved with my dog which was really awesome of him. However because my grey is awake she's started reacting to the sounds of my housemate heading downstairs and turning the alarm off and she can him him in the kitchen and that sets her off whining again. As days have progressed her whining has gotten worse and I have no idea how to curb it. I'm lying in bed whilst she whines and the only thing I can really do is say "No" firmly to her as I can't ignore it due to my housemates/neighbours.


We can't crate her because she gets way too distressed in crates and there's limited space/money on our side anyway. We give her kongs when she's been left alone for short periods but as soon as she finished the kong the whining and distress starts again, so she's got some form of seperation anxiety too, I feel like a prisoner in my own home at the moment, and I know it's only been 2 weeks, but the whining and scratching she does is slowly getting more and worse. Please somebody help a first time dog owner out!

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Several things could be happening. First, racers are on a highly regimented schedule, so she may be accustomed to starting her day very early, especially if she raced in a different/earlier time zone. The first human that arrives in the racing kennel awakens the entire kennel of Greyhounds eager to begin their day. Since your housemate is feeding her breakfast, she's focusing on his movements/schedule. It may help for you to be the breakfast feeder so she gradually becomes less interested in his early morning activities. Perhaps he could feed a dinner meal if he wants to continue being involved. Newly adopted hounds' time adjustments can take a while.


Perhaps she's truly hungry and not getting enough healthy calories per day for her high metabolism. How many meals is she eating per day, and at what times? Different kibbles require different amounts to feed. (Check the feeding guideline label on back for her healthy weight, then watch her body condition.) Our hounds' daily portion is divided into breakfast, dinner, plus a bedtime snack of about 1/3 cup of kibble to satiate them through the night. (A bedtime snack is key to help them sleep later and avoid excess bile.)


Racing Greyhounds have never been alone in their lives prior to pet adoption, so naturally it can be a challenging transition for them. Some early anxiety is very normal. Given time and patience, they can adjust smoothly. Very important to continue practicing short sessions of "alone training" daily. Ideally, it's best to return to the room before she goes over her comfort threshold; meaning return to her just before Kong is finished, then pick up Kong treat immediately. Repeat very short sessions. When she's ready to handle slightly longer time increments, do so gradually staying under her threshold. Treat filled Kongs can be frozen so it takes longer for the dog to finish. (Food Kongs should be washed with soap and warm water, and rinsed thoroughly every day.)


Perhaps your adoption group might loan you a crate for your bedroom for a short time. Most hounds will settle in a crate when they can see their person quietly sleeping next to them. Any time a dog whines, the first consideration is whether they need to eliminate outside. If not, ignore whining and don't encourage it during other times.


Could she have been ignoring your (human dinner time) cue to go to her bed because she doesn't fully understand the action yet? (She's only been in a family home barely 2 weeks.) From dogs' perspective, dogs do what works for their benefit. If the reward for her to go to her bed wasn't of high enough value to her, she wouldn't be motivated to complete the exercise. Also, every time racing Greyhounds smell food, it's their food. This time, she was loose in a home for first time in her life (behind baby-gate vs. in a secure kennel crate) eagerly salivating like crazy while smelling delicious dinner. It's really not too surprising she's reacting so eagerly to get into the kitchen/dining area. Keep practicing with positive treat/meat reinforcements when no one is cooking/eating dinner, and don't expect too much too soon. Generally, when communicating a behavior cue, avoid requesting any action if you can't follow through to assist the dog in that moment. "Stay" as in staying on her bed for any extended time is much more advanced, especially with distractions like human meals. Remember that racers have never been taught any obedience actions -- it's a completely foreign concept to learn to respond to a human. Catching and rewarding Greyhounds natural behaviors is the best way to teach them new cues (e.g, teach verbal "down" and be prepared to offer immediate reward when hounds are naturally in process of lying down on their own).


This is a start, others will chime in too... :)

Edited by 3greytjoys
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We have an early riser here, 5h30 AM was his time at the foster home and 5h30 AM was his time here. He *can* now sleep in until 8 AM on a good day, but usually he is awake by 6 AM. Mind you, my schedule gets me up at 5h30 every morning, so he is "used" to me waking up early.

You do not say when is the last feeding, maybe she IS hungry! That is why my hound was waking up. It has been really helpful to shift his meal time. So instead, when I come home from work, he gets a light snack and then eats his meal later in the evening. So instead of doing a 12h-12h feeding schedule, we eat in the morning around 5h30-6h and at night around 7h-7h30. Or you can spin this around, and give her a snack before bed. 1/4 cup of kibble or a big cookie, something like that.

Also, a tired hound is a good hound! Try giving her a nice long walk before bed, maybe it will help her sleep longer.

Another effective trick is to use an alarm (and be prepare to be thorough with this one!) Set it up to BEFORE you hound wakes up. When the alarm goes off, immediately wake up and proceed to normal schedule. Do that for a few days and then start to set it forward. Your girl will start to associate the alarm with going up. And on those days where you want to sleep in...You will be able to!

I have found out that Charlie sleeps longer if he is in bed with me. So the more comfortable she is, the longer she will sleep!

Another trick is to give in, wake up, feed her and go back to bed, this has worked wonders for me :lol 100% success rate :rofl

Regarding the staying out while humans are eating, I found it works better with 2 persons. Hound lying on the bed, one person feeding treats while the other person is having dinner. I know it sucks, but you have to do what you have to do and usually they get the message pretty quickly. I was gonna suggest crating while you are eating, but I see this is not an option for you ;)

A question for you, when you guys have dinner, has she already eaten? If not, she might be going crazy just to be fed. Try feeding her before you eat :)

Finally, how is her poo? As 3greytjoys mentioned, If she has worms or other parasite and food is passing right through her, she *might* not be getting enough nutrition. But if everything looks good and she is not pooing more than she ingests, it is probably a behavioral issue, but just keep that in mind ;)

Edited by locket

Cynthia, with Charlie (Britishlionheart) & Zorro el Galgo
Captain Jack (Check my Spots), my first love

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First dog? Oh, yes. I see it is.


Well, I'm not sure where you got the idea that adopting a greyhound meant adopting an animal that could POSSIBLY understand what you mean when you say "bed" is actually "leave here and go lie down on that padded thing I bought you." Retired racers know some words, sure, but I guarantee you no one ever taught them that begging is annoying and they need to stay out of the way.


I have never met any dog, ever, that wouldn't beg for food while I'm in the kitchen handling it. I don't consider this even a small issue. If they get in my way, the way to TEACH THEM is to show them. I wouldn't use a word like "bed," I'd make it a bit more instructive, such as "go lie down." You teach this by gently leading the dog where you want it to be, showing them what you want them to do, and of course rewarding them with loads of praise when they do it.


I don't know how many times your particular hound will need to be shown things like this, but if you expect a dog you've had for two weeks to be jumping to when you give a vague command, you might be expecting a wee bit too much. Strongly suggest you read up on some basic dog training. Because in her former life, mostly what she needed to know was run fast, turn left, don't fall down, and no fighting.



As to the morning wake up, ask your roommate to stop feeding her. If you have a schedule you want her to be on, then put her on it. Unless your roommates are extra wanker-ish, they'll understand that it's going to take more than two weeks for your dog to adjust to a totally new life. Your just encouraging it by having someone else who is up earlier than you feed her.


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

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Guest GreytLulu

Ah, probably would've helped for me to tell you when I'm feeding her/what/how much, sorry everyone! She gets fed at 7.30am and then at 6.00pm. Her walks are about an hour after she has been fed both in the morning and in the evening and each last 35 minutes. In the evening we cook and eat in the hour after she's eaten/before her walk so then I can spend some quality time playing with her in the garden after we get back from our walk. I checked with the adoption group and feed her on exactly what she was fed on before which is Burns pork and potato and the same quantity which is 1 and a half cups of it each meal aswell as added fish such as sardines or pilchards. I triple checked with my adoption group that I was feeding her enough as she seemed so hungry and reassured me I was, I double checked on the bag too. So she does get fed before us to try and stop her getting so upset, it has only improved her behaviour a tiny bit though so although I'll continue to do that, there's definitely a lot more to be worked on.


The thing is when I walk her, she's so placid, she often lags behind just observing everything unless obviously she sees a squirrel or a cat, then the ears come forward and she's straight up the front! She seems to get tired out by the end of the walk but then soon after has a huge burst of energy and takes a toy into the garden and goes crazy, which at first was surprising but now I'm getting more used to it. She just seems to have tonnes of energy at home but when I take her outside to try and tire her out she shows me signs that she's had enough by slowing down a lot, or in the garden stopping chasing her toys and going and lying down.


Is there anything anyone would recommend putting into a kong or will it just be trial and error to see what my dog really enjoys?


I definitely agree I'm probably expecting too much too soon, I think maybe she hasn't fully understood the bed command yet especially while there's such huge distractions, so I'll definitely try and make the bed become a high value place for her to be during times when we are eating so she gets used to it. I probably sound ridiculous expecting her to just ignore the food we're cooking, I was just so concerned she'd injure herself by ramming through the gate, it was a huge shock the first time she did it.


I haven't used an alarm yet so I will try that definitely, hopefully that might help, even though it might be a bit tough going at first, as long as it helps her get into a routine, or should I say a more "normal" time routine for me, it will be worth it :)


Her poo is fine, a little bit soft but definitely not enough to worry about according to my adoption group, they said it was like that beforehand. :)


Sorry if I sound like a total idiot expecting too much from her, I think it doesn't help that I'm not particularly a patient person, so while she's learning I'm also learning to be patient. I did spend a good amount of time with her before adopting her btw as I helped out the adoption group to learn a bit more about the breed in general, I didn't just go into this blindly, I did spend time getting to know her, I just think because I've never had a dog before the sudden realisation only hit me after I'd had her and started to become aware of what being a greyhound owner really meant!

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So many options for kongs! You can put kibble and yogurt, pumpkin, low salt broth, chicken/pieces of meat, peanut butter...and freeze everything!

You will have to do some alone training for the whining/scratching. She has never been left alone, so it is most likely a big deal for her. Search for alone training on the forum you will find plenty of information.

Don't worry about walks, she might not be super at ease to go out and venture just yet hence the lagging behind. Keep walking her and she will grow to like and look forward to them, it is a great bonding activity! My first hound was the same and each time we came back home, it was a party because he liked it better at home :lol eventually it tempered off and he was DEMANDING walks and snoozing upon coming home.

You can do it, it took about three months for my first grey to settle in, just keep addressing issues and being in contact with your group is awesome. And we are here if you need more help :)

Edited by locket

Cynthia, with Charlie (Britishlionheart) & Zorro el Galgo
Captain Jack (Check my Spots), my first love

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My solution for the very early risers is to ignore them.


Pretend you are dead. Do not move a muscle.

Ignore her and Do. Not. Give. In.

Do not even open your eyes....


Yes... she will continue her whining/barking/scratching becasue up to now that has been an excellent way to get your attention.

But talking to her.... 'Go Lay Down' ... 'Shut Up' .... Stop that" ....is a reward for the whining/barking/scratching.

She does not understand these words.


And of course it will take more than one session for her to get the idea that her whining, etc Does. Not. Get. a reward.

I have had several large breed dogs over the past 30++ years and this method has worked on all of them.


And of course....your housemates will also need to refrain from talking to her.


The extra treats at bedtime and lots of exercise will also contribute to a tired hound.

Patience is a virtue.....


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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