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Anxiety? Aggression?


Guest jacstar
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Guest jacstar

Hello,

We adopted our 3 year old grey in Feb this year. He seemed to settle in well, learnt quickly about toileting outside, how to sleep in his bed which is in our room at night, does not have separation anxiety when we go out, how to jump into the car and to love his walks. He is funny and affectionate and naughty and really very adorable and we love him to bits!

 

About a month in , I took him to bushland where dogs are allowed off lead, although he was on lead ( here in Australia, greyhounds are required to be on lead at all times). He encountered several dogs on that walk, including a group of friendly and inquisitive dogs ( I know the owners). I think he became overwhelmed by this mass greeting and after a time ( I was talking to the other owners and introducing the dog and telling his story) he completely lost it, leaping away and spinning in the air. Prior to this, we only walked him in the streets around our house and he very rarely encountered another dog. Gradually since this incident, his tolerance/anxiety/reactivity has increased; so much so that he will growl and bark and lunge at any dog that comes near him, whether on lead or off. Unfortunately, so many people walk their dogs off lead at parks etc, even in non-off lead areas, and he has been rushed at by barking dogs so many times. His prey drive also seems to have increased (we knew he had a relatively strong drive at adopted) and he 'switches' on and fixates at first site of anything (not even that) small and fluffy.

 

We did seek advice from the group we adopted from. They suggested initially avoiding all contact with other dogs, so he doesn't have a chance to react (cross the street, turn in the other direction to avoid etc) and distract him with a favourite food. We have had varying success with this, not the least because we are a family of four and everyone walks him at some point. They also suggested that after a time we arrange a safe meet and greet with someone we knew with a non aggressive/well behaved dog. We have not done this as we don't know someone with a dog that fits this bill (they re either toy dogs or high intensity dogs).

 

Recently, he has started to bark ( in that chill the bones deep greyhound bark) when people walk past the house, with or without dogs, day or night. Most concerning though is that there have been instances recently when he has barked and growled at friends who have come to the house, rushing to the door and growling when they arrive, barking at them when the walk through the house. His hair stands up all the way down his back. I've not yet talked to the adoption people about this as I first thought he did it with my 18 year old's friend because he wanted him to play ( he previously loved this boy) but just this weekend he has done it with my sis in law and my husband's friend. These people have been at the house multiple times before. He is a big boy, and very strong and muscly, so he is quite intimidating when does this. I do not work so am at home much of the time with him and we have 2 teenagers who play with him when they are home so he has plenty of companionship and affection.

 

I'm trying to understand why he might suddenly be doing this to humans. I could understand the leash reactivity and have the name of a person to call for some help with that (she has worked extensively with adopted greys) but the reaction to people coming to the house is concerning.Fingers crossed that one of you experienced grey owners might be able to offer some insight or tips. I've been reading these forums since we adopted him and they have been most helpful for various little issues that have come up and just for understanding these unique dogs in general. Thanks in advance for any advice you are able to give.

Edited by jacstar
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Everything your adoption group suggested is what I would have written. Whoever walks him needs to be alert and vigilant with his de-sensitization training. Try and avoid other dogs by walking at off hours and changing routes. When you do see a dog, STOP, and begin immeiately distracting him with a *really really yummy* treat. At home when he's calm and receptive, start teaching him a "watch me" command, which will help with this. And find a friend who has been to obedience training with their dog, who can sit calmly during meetings.

 

As far as the barking goes, IMO, it's because he feels he needs to take on the guarding duties at the house, a position which should be filled by an adult human. Unlike many houses with kids at home, it sounds like yours are being great and helping a lot, but that also means he senses a weakness in the power structure of the home. Whether it's you or your husband, somebody needs to be his leader. That person needs to do most of the feeding and walking for a while, and research using Nothing In Life Is Free training (NILIF). Basically it means that he needs to "pay" you with a behavior before he receives any kind of food or reward. Any behavior is OK to use, but if you can teach him to sit that one works best.

 

Also, for the time being, he needs to be away from the front door and windows when people come over to the house. When you let him come join the family, put his leash on and ask him for a behavior (NILIF) before he gets out of the "waiting room." Then bring him out and introduce him to your visitors calmly. If he doesn't respond appropriately, back to his waiting room he goes with a nice kong or something else to occupy him while visitors are there.

 

Your behaviorist should be able to help you more as that person will be right there to observe his behavior. Please make sure this person only uses positive reinforcement techniques in their suggestions and when working with your boy. You can also look up training books by Patricia McConnell. They are short and to the point and offer great help with all your issues, specifically "Family Friendly Dog Training" and "Feisty Fido."

 

Good luck!

Edited by greysmom

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

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

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 jacstar

Thank you so much Greysmom for your words of advice.

 

I have seen the Patricia McConnell books mentioned many a time here so will get onto those. And have also read about the NILIF training and, yes, I agree I need to start that.

 

It's really interesting what you say about my boy feeling like he must take on the guarding duties/senses a weakness in power structure. I can definitely see that. With our previous dog, a collie, he was 'my' dog: i walked him, he went everywhere with me, i fed him, i trained him so i was clearly his pack leader. With this new boy, I felt as though everyone should take more of an active role with him (not the least because the slow slipping away of my collie, his passing and then my grieving without him in my life made me re-think being so attached to a dog. And having written that, I wonder if my darling grey, and i love him so, feels this?) I find dog psychology fascinating.

 

We have a visitor coming over today so will be prepared to start putting your suggestions into action.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to write!

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Hi. Dogs live in the present. For whatever reason (EG: he's settling in, he's feeling more comfortable to show his true underlying emotions&behaviours, from his point of view some people and dogs are scary (or prey) and must be chased away (or preyed upon), family structure, whatever), he's now developed behaviours that are problematic. I'd second getting a professional behaviourist/trainer who uses reward-based meathods, to assess your and your dog's specific circumstances. Cheers and good luck. :)

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