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Guest PackMomma

Big Dog, Small Dog (Bite)

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Guest PackMomma

Hello fellow Grey Talkers;

 

I will apologize in advance in case this message gets too long. I am trying to provide as much detail as possible so that you can get an accurate impression and hopefully provide me some experienced insights and guidance.

 

I own 3 dogs and 2 cats. Willow (greyhound) is the most recent addition to the household and has been with us almost 4 months now, (yes I know that she is still very new to all this and her personality is still emerging). She is 3 years old. She has shown no aggression that is concerning to me during that time until recently.

 

About three weeks ago she got a skin tear while running and needed sutures she did not enjoy slowing down and her activity restrictions during the recovery and healing process and has rebounded with very high levels of energy and playfulness now that she is healed up.

 

Our other dogs are small dogs (mixed breeds) approximately 10-15 pounds. One has some minor food aggression issues which we monitor by supervising playing with toys and crating during feeding times.

 

The two small dogs like to play and wrestle. Willow has recently in the last 4 days, been much more energetic and playful as she is settling in and beginning to feel safe. Whenever she tries to join in the play the little dogs get anxious , which results in warning barks and one time the smaller of the two tried to snap at Willow. They also get anxious when she plays with us, (it's almost as though they think that they are protecting us even though we are playing and having fun), In my estimation their behavior is not ok, problematic and very annoying to Willow. It is always corrected and stopped.

 

In the last 4 days, Willow has also started to try to run towards the little dogs in the yard too which scares them but she always stops short of them and turns before she actually reaches them, it is just as if she is trying to play chicken with them. Willow has also started to try to chase the cats in the last 4 days or so although a sharp call of "Willow, NO" has always stopped her right in her tracks. It seemed strange to me that after several months of doing ok with each other that this is just now starting to be an issue.

 

Fast forward to today, I was in the kitchen washing dishes and the three dogs were in the adjoining room with my 19 year old son. The two little dogs were playing and Willow was nearby and very suddenly with no warning just grabbed one and tossed her in the air like a stuffed animal. My son yelled and she immediately dropped the other dog. (Eevie the little dog has a puncture wound on her ear as a result but is otherwise ok.)

 

I do not believe this was mean spirited aggression, I believe it was over aggressive play. But I am hoping you all may have some insight into that.

 

For the time being I have said that unless my partner or I am there directly supervising, then the dogs either need to be in separate rooms with a closed door in between or we either need to have Willow crated or the two small dogs crated but they cannot just all be loose together, when my partner or I am there I plan to have Willow muzzled. Finally I have also said that they cannot be out in the yard at the same time at all period they will get turned out in shifts. Is there anything else that I should be aware of or be doing?

 

 

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With seeing the interaction it's incredibly difficult to tell if it actually was aggression or play. My immediate advice is for you to contact a certified animal behaviorist who specializes in positive reinforcement training to help you with strategies going forward.

 

FWIW, it sounds like normal greyhound play, which *is* fairly rough. When my guys get going it sounds like a WWE match interspersed with a horse race. Even same size dogs can become intimidated in that environment.

 

Why is she doing it now? A couple factors, probably. One, she's been kept fairly quiet at a time when she would normally need a lot of exercise to wear her out. Now that she's feeling better and the restrictions are off, she's going all out! Second, she's now comfortable in her new home and with her new companions and wants to play with them. In any of the situations you described, if she had wanted to kill the cats or little dogs, she certainly could have.

 

Monitoring them is fine, and it's something that all multiple dog households should do. The added complication of having mixed dog sizes and play habits means added management issues for you. Again, something that many people deal with when they have more than one dog. I would probably make sure that playtimes were separated - the littles get play time and then your big dog.

 

Aafter a few corrections, she should get the message about the leaving the cats alone. Reward her when she interacts appropriately with them by being calm and quiet.

 

I really don't think she was being mean or aggressive. It's more about managing her energies and interactions to make sure she doesn't hurt something smaller than herself.


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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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Guest Amber

Not sure but I never let any of my hounds near high energy 'wrestly' play-fighting small dogs. I mean, not with greyhounds who I generally trust with small dogs, as I think the wrestling/play fight behaviour of the small dogs could trigger something; the grey becomes over excited and clearly, they cant wrestle with a tiny dog safely !

 

Sounds like a lot of management, hope it works out OK. Agree about getting a good behaviourist in. Such a person may be able to help you desensitise Willow to the smaller pets; for instance if they were separated by a gate when the small dogs are playing and you could do distraction techniques with Willow so that she learns to ignore them and not try and 'join in'.

Edited by Amber

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Unfortunately I think you have had a wake up call regarding what Willow is capable of. Some greyhounds would never put another dog, not matter how small, no matter what the situation, in their mouth. Willow has no such inhibition, and it is a very small step to a fatal shake. IMO in Willow's mind the small dogs are play things. Maybe she won't ever kill them, maybe she can be corrected so that she doesn't touch them, but there is some real risk that things can go badly. To complicate matters, Willow is still young and rambunctious and more likely to "make a mistake". Proceed with caution.

Edited by KickReturn

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Yikes!

 

GreysMom always has good advice.

 

IMHO, this is what "prey drive" really is. An irresistible urge to chase and catch. It MIGHT be that you can manage this, but it also might be a disaster waiting to happen. I can't even imagine the stress of having three animals you need to protect from a fourth. Truthfully, even if I'm wrong and she IS just playing, what does it matter? She could still cause serious injury or even death faster than you could get to her.

 

The behaviorist is a wonderful idea.

 

Good luck. And I love the name Willow. So appropriate for a lady hound!



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

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I would just manage as you are for a bit. Without seeing what led to the incident it is hard to tell. My take is that it probably wasn't aggression but who knows who was to "blame." As the dogs get older you may be able to relax and all enjoy each other. Young rambunctious dogs can lead to a lot of rambunctious play. Good luck and nice of you to take care of all these animals.

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Guest nicky604

Personally, I can't imagine the stress of having to protect 2 little dogs AND a cat from a greyhound after this incident.

Because she picked the little dog up in her mouth and tossed it up in the air, it shows how her prey drive instincts can be triggered

depending on the circumstances and what the little dogs are doing.

 

Triggers are usually barking, jumping (triggers to pick up in the mouth) or running (triggers chase).

 

Thank goodness she didn't shake the little dog!

 

3 years old is better than 2 or 1 but it's a full year until she will really start to mellow out (age 4).

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I agree with everything listed above, and will also throw in that behavior inside and outside the house aren't always the same. I have a rat terrier, 9.5 pounds, not cat-safe, who ignored my cats inside, and has apparently come to a truce about the neighbor's cat when she is in the yard. But if we see a cat when we are out on walks, she will try to chase it, and if she caught it, it wouldn't be good. So just be aware that, even if your grey is good with the littles inside, that may not transfer over to outside.


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My blog about helping Katie learn to be a more normal dog: http://katies-journey-philospher77.blogspot.com/

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Guest Greyhound1988

Our greyhound used to play in this fashion with our Akima mix, but our Akita is a much bigger dog and enjoyed the behavior. The Akita would run as fast as he could, trying to entice a chase. Our greyhound would watch from a distance and then take off full speed to track him down. The greyhound being faster, our Akita would attempt to make sharp turns to throw the greyhound off his path. Most times, he would be caught by the greyhound by the neck, but he has a ton of scruff, so there were never any puncture wounds or pain. The greyhound's next move would be to body slam the Akita, which he seemed to strangely enjoy.

 

The greyhound also grabbed and tossed our pitbull mix when she was a puppy. She tried to play with him while he wanted to sleep, so he grabbed her and tossed her across the room. I wasn't there for the incident, but my wife witnessed it and described it as comical rather than frightening. The pitbull screamed, but she was fine and thereafter never bothered our greyhound when he was taking a nap. She was also a puppy, so she was fairly squishy and malleable, and pitbulls are pretty muscley, even when young. Therefore, she handled it well.

 

All this being said, I think the chasing and grabbing by the neck is prey drive-type play. They love to chase and the goal is to take down the quarry. If its a similar sized dog who does not mind rough play - no problem. But, if its is a tiny, fragile dog, it could be really bad.

 

To curb this type of play, I would try a squirt bottle. I try to practice positive reinforcement as often as possible, as I think it imprints faster and better. However, startling a dog in a bad act works well too, and the spray bottle startles. If you see her going for the neck during chase, give her a spray with the bottle and yell "no." But, I do think this may be partly prey drive, so it may take some work to correct, if it can be corrected.

Edited by Greyhound1988

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