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Guest KateandDoug

First of all I realized I accidentally spelled aggression with one g, but I dont know how to change it, so sorry. We got our greyhound a few days ago. I have had dogs all my life and I have fostered and volunteered for a dog rescue for many years, but this is my first grey. Her name is Genevieve (Jenny) and she is ordinarily very sweet. She loves attention and she loves people, but a couple times now she has really come after me and the last time she left the side of my head bleeding. The biggest problem is that she will be totally fine with something or even like something again and again and then all of a sudden it will set her off and I dont know why. The first time she was down on the floor in front of the couch because she wanted to be by me when I was watching tv, so I got down next to her and I was petting her and she loved it and snuggled up next to me and put her head on me and fell asleep. Some time later, I slowly tried to get up so that I wouldnt wake her and she all of a sudden tried to attack me without a warning growl. Another time she was fine and she was looking at me and I was petting her and she was fine and then all of a sudden she attacked me and scratched the side of my head with her teeth. If she had attacked me when I was near her face I would have understood that, but I wasnt and I dont know what I did to provoke her. It also scares me that she doesnt growl to let us know if theres something we do that she doesnt like. Her fosters said that she loved getting kisses and snuggling with them and their grown kids and never mentioned any aggression at all, so I really dont understand. I know she still needs to get to know us better and she still needs a lot of time to adjust, but Im worried to try and get her comfortable around me or to even get near her. And I dont want to let her near kids either even though she supposedly loves kids.

Edited by KateandDoug
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This is not aggression.

This is space/sleep startle.


Please! Do not disturb your dog when she is laying down.

Even if she is awake, she is used to...and needs ... her own space. Greyhounds have never ever been touched when they are laying down. They always have their own private space in their crate.

As well, many Greys (3 out of my 4) sleep with their eyes open, making it difficult to tell if they are awake or sleeping.


I'm sure others will chime in with their experiences and advice, but for now I,will just say that the expression 'Let Sleeping Dogs Lie' is not some sort of old wives tale. It needs to be taken at face value.


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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Sleep startling dogs very seldom growl, because - duh! - they are asleep! ;) Greyhounds just aren't used to being near anything that moves while they are sleeping, and it can cause them to wake abruply and be snappy. If she had really *wanted* to bite you, she definitely could have.


Since she is so new to your home, and this is your first greyhound, institute a rule of only giving her attention when she's on her feet. Call her over to you, off her bed or wherever she's sleeping. You can use treats to lure her over to you if necessary - call her name, make sure she's awake, and see if she want to come to you.. Don't try and snuggle with her on the floor or couch - in fact, I would probably keep her off the furniture for a few months. If you have kids or have them over, especially during the holidays, just have a hard rule - don't approach the dog when she's on her bed. And give her someplace to go if she needs to have a people break.


You can search the forum for older threads on "sleep startle" for more ideas on how to help get through this initial adjustment period.


I imagine, if the foster home was an exerienced greyhound home, they probably followed all the rules about sleep startle, so they wouldn't necessarily know if she had it or not.

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

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

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, Lilly

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Agree with the above. This is sleep startle I had a boy with sleep startle for 10 years. Only pet when standing, no snuggling on the sofa or floor etc, and anytime someone approaches they should make their presence known just by saying something like "coming by" or call the dog's name. Remember, greyhounds also sleep with their eyes open, so it is imperative that all guests, children etc follow these rules with no exceptions, as it can look like the dog is awake when she's not.


My boy would wrap his paws around my legs while I was in my chair and he would be sound asleep. I simply would say "move please" or call his name gently and it was enough to wake him up to know I needed to move. I also called his name while walking by his bed in the middle of the night and never had a problem there. He did bite twice while we had him, and both times were the fault of the humans who knew he had this issue (I was one of them).


If your group didn't have you read the Greyhounds for Dummies book or one of the others greyhound books that groups usually require, they did you a disservice, as this is normally covered in them.


Camp Broodie. The current home of Mark Kay Mark Jack and Gracie Kiowa Safe Joan.  Always missing my boy Rocket Hi Noon Rocket,  Allie  Phoenix Dynamite, Kate Miss Kate, Starz Under Da Starz, Petunia MW Neptunia, Diva Astar Dashindiva, and LaVida I've Got Life


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Yeah, sleep startle and she likes her space all to herself. It's possible she wasn't "fine" when you were petting her the second time and you misinterpreted her signals. It happens! Especially with a new dog you don't really know yet.


Agree with instituting the "pet only when standing" rule for a while. That'll prevent space/sleep startle incidents and give her a change to learn to trust you. She may, in time, be a snuggler, but it's also possible she never will. One of mine was so determined to have her own space that I couldn't stand near her bed when she was laying on it. Her growls lessened over the years, but she never did want to snuggle, and that was fine. She was super sweet when she was standing and she was a great pup otherwise!

Mom of bridge babies Regis and Dusty.

Wrote a book about shelter dogs!

I sell things on Etsy!

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The seminar excerpt below might be helpful in understanding a newly retired racing Greyhound's previous life. Their background is very different from other pet dog breeds, and often takes longer for humans to earn the Greyhound's trust in a new home environment.


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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Give your new Greyhound her own personal dog bed "safety zone". Let her simply observe the family from afar (e.g., across the room completely away from busy foot traffic areas) without the family invading her personal space. Give her plenty of time to simply watch the family. Your Greyhound will determine how long she needs to feel more comfortable (weeks, months, etc.). She has multiple people to watch to determine if she deems each person trustworthy. I agree with others to let her stand up and walk across the room when and if she wants to be petted. Many new hounds only stand up from their bed when needing a potty outing or at meal time. Many newly retired racers don't ask for petting.


A human can sit on a chair some distance away, body turned away and eyes looking away from the dog (direct eye contact is threatening to dogs) and gently toss treats near (not on) the dog as a little game for humans to slowly begin to earn the dog's trust.


Review dog language calming signals to understand human actions that appear threatening in canines' language:

Let resting dogs lie undisturbed.

Again, wait for dog to stand and walk away from dog's bed.

Avoid leaning over a dog.

Reaching over a dog's head to pet top of head is considered threatening in dog language.

Usually better to gently pet from the side of a dog on dog's shoulder, side or thigh

while human's body is turned slightly away from dog (vs. head-on facing the dog, which often makes a dog feel trapped).

Pet in same direction as growth of fur.

Please do not hug or cuddle a dog, it feels very threatening, especially to newly adopted dogs.

Do not rub a new dog's belly if she's lying on her back.


There are many stress signals of canine discomfort of which to be aware: a dog yawning, turning head or eyes away, mouth frozen in semi-open "C" position, dog's frozen body position (vs. soft, wiggly and happy), etc.


Here's one link (of many) with photos on calming signals:



Greyhounds blossom slowly over time and become wonderful pets. :)




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Just out of curiosity, is it common for a space aggressive grey to "grow out of it" once he gets used to people?


The reason I ask is because I'm thinking of adopting a second one and don't think I could put up with space aggression issues in the tight quarters of my apartment. I'm very lucky with my current guy, he's super sweet and will let anyone in his space or his bed. He was even sleeping on his bed with a dog he had been with less than a day when we had a Rover sitter:



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Cute picture!

The key there is that your dog has no issues with sharing his bed.

You will not know anything about a new companion for him unless that dog has been fostered. You could always foster a dog with intention to adopt.


Our Ruby came to us with space aggression and SA.

Even now, after living here for 7+ years and at nearly 12 years old, she can still show mild signs.

We never sit down beside her on a bed unless we speak to her first. She is usually fine with the boys approaching, but they also can 'read' her moods quite well!


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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Just out of curiosity, is it common for a space aggressive grey to "grow out of it" once he gets used to people?


The reason I ask is because I'm thinking of adopting a second one and don't think I could put up with space aggression issues in the tight quarters of my apartment. I'm very lucky with my current guy, he's super sweet and will let anyone in his space or his bed. He was even sleeping on his bed with a dog he had been with less than a day when we had a Rover sitter:




My grey had mild sleep startle when he'd doze off with me on the couch. I followed the advice of others here (no couch when human is occupying couch) and in 3-4 months reintroduced couch time. Have had no incidents since. I think he was used to waking up in his own space and had to learn it was okay to wake up in a shared space.


This was in a very small apartment as well.

Edited by fastpointydoge

Sarah with P Kay Ruger "Rogue"


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Maybe--Johnny has decided, after 3+ years, that sharing with Mom is awesome! But it's been a process, letting him decide where he'd like to be. I allowed him to sleep on the extra bed when we travelled, or to sit with me on my bed while the light was on, or to get in my lap on the couch. He's really mellowed out lately.

Current Crew: Gino-Gene-Eugene! (Eastnor Rebel: Makeshift x Celtic Dream); Fuzzy the Goo-Goo Girl (BGR Fuzzy Navel: Boc's Blast Off x Superior Peace); Roman the Giant Galoot! (Imark Roman: Crossfire Clyde x Shana Wookie); Kitties Archie and Dixie

Forever Missed: K9 Sasha (2001-2015); Johnny (John Reese--Gable Dodge x O'Jays) (2011-19); the kitties Terry and Bibbi; and all the others I've had the privilege to know


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