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Can Greyhounds have PTSD?

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Sorry for the vague/possibly inaccurate title, it's the closest thing I could come up with for an explanation to my problem. 

I have a three year old greyhound/galgo, who we'll call Toffy. Today is his "birthday", actually.

I adopted him as a small, malnourished rescue-puppy, and he was the runt of his litter. Someone had thrown him & his sisters into a ditch. I got him neutered around 6 months, and he was a very well-tempered dog. He grew up with my family's dogs (not other sighthounds), and he got along with all three of them. Shortly before he turned one, I moved out and he was very lonely. He caused a lot of trouble because he missed his friends, so I adopted another dog.

Toffy was somewhat timid, so I specifically asked for a friendly, gentle companion dog. I was given Duchess, a mutt who was living with multiple other dogs at a foster home. Getting her was a massive mistake. I did everything: I had their first visit outside the house, all of their interactions were supervised, they slept & ate separately, etc. Still, Duchess was very insistent on getting in his space, bothering/bullying him, and dominating him.

They had a few petty squabbles over the course of the month, and I started having doubts. The foster pressured me to keep her, saying it would be cowardly to "give up", and a few days later Duchess viciously attacked him while I was supervising their yard-time. Toffy hid behind me at one point, and Duchess mauled me to get to him. She bit me in two places on my hand/wrist, but I managed to herd Toffy inside and lock her out. 

I called the foster and begged them to take her back, but they refused. She spent two nights at my house while I tried to figure out what to do, and at one point, she managed to shove past me in the doorway and attack Toffy AGAIN. They were inside, so I was able to split them up faster this time. Distraught, I told the foster that if she didn't take the dog back, I was going to be forced to put her down, since the shelter didn't accept dogs with a history of attacking people. She arrived the next morning to get Duchess, and called me some mean names before leaving with the dog. 

Now, that's a long story, and I'm sorry I couldn't shorten it. 

Here's my problem: It's been two years since that horrible experience, and Toffy went from a happy-go-lucky, submissive youngling to a defensive, high-strung adult who only gets along with puppies and people. When I visited my family, this switch in behavior led him to fight with the dogs he grew up with. 

After seeing that he liked puppies, I introduced a baby galgo who we'll call Bambi, and he likes her. She respects his limits, and she's quite playful and sweet. They have a wonderful time running around together and laying in the grass. Toffy has some resource-guarding issues when indoors, but Bambi is sensitive & avoids conflict with him. She's the perfect buddy, and he's grown fond of her. They even sleep in my bedroom together, and she likes putting her paws over his back when they're standing around. 

However, he's difficult in all other regards. I can hardly take him out without him becoming stressed and defensive. He doesn't mind people at all -- it's just other dogs! I muzzle him before taking him anywhere, but I don't like seeing him upset. He's better behaved when I'm not around, but I think that me being present exacerbates his protectiveness. 

My neighbor has two giant Spanish mastiffs, and he doesn't mind them -- he actually tucks his tail and boops noses with them through the fence. (I think he's intimidated by their massive size.) But he recently started dogsitting a Cane Corso, and Toffy goes INSANE when she comes around. He becomes very aggressive, and sprints the length of the fence while barking furiously. Usually, he's a quiet dog, but something about his occasional neighbor lights him up! 

My question is this: can I work on this? Are there training techniques to work on his defensiveness? It's okay if he's going to be like this forever, it just makes me a bit sad to think he could have doggy-PTSD for the rest of his life :(

TL;DR: A traumatic incident with a foster dog gave my formerly-friendly greyhound/galgo defense issues. Can I fix this, or should I accept his new temperament? 


Edited by Calico
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First off. I think it was totally irresponsible of the  foster home not to take Duchess back as soon as you had problems. I bet they had been trying to get Duchess off their hands for ages but that doesn't help you now.

It'll take time for your Toffy to readjust but remember dogs take behaviour cues from their owners. Try and remain calm and ignore the cane corso, don't suddenly panic and call your dog in but calmly carry on. Also Toffy might be trying to protect you. How friendly is this dog? Could you make friends with it and let your hound see that this dog is OK?


Grace (Ardera Coleen) b. 18 June 2014 - Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 - Going grey gracefully
Guinness (Antigua Rum) b. 3 September 2017 - Gotcha Day 18 March 2022 - A gentleman most of the time


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I'm so sorry for all you've been through. Toffy is lucky to have you.  Toffy had a traumatic experience with Duchess, as did you, and it will take time for him to readjust.  I had a greyhound a few years ago (he has since passed away from kidney disease) that had a difficult/traumatic experience.  It was a bit different from what you went through.  I did get the help of a certified canine behaviorist (at Tufts here in MA) and he guided me/helped me with ways to work with my boy and help him to readjust. Star (my boy) was always a bit anxious around vets because of the painful injury he had even after working with the behaviorist, but he got much better in time. Is there a behaviorist near you?

(The behaviorist I worked with said greyhounds (dogs) CAN get PTSD).

Edited by phall
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Hi. I'm not a certified professional, but PTSD in humans is a specific condition that is diagnosed by a doctor. Dogs show fear and stress behaviours when they interpret something as scary (for whatever reason). Every dog is different. A dog's history is important, but deal with the Toffy that's in front of you now.  I'd recommend finding a good face-to-face rewards-based trainer/behaviourist to assess your situation and suggest changes to help you and your dog to reduce it's stress. Fear reactions may never be 'fixed' but it can be made less with management and Positive Reinforcement type training.  In the meantime, keep your dog feeling safe and avoid triggers that cause reactions as much as possible IE: dog parks, meeting dogs through a fence, meeting dogs nose to nose, barking dogs,  meeting dogs he doesn't get on with, etc., everything that causes a stress reaction. Cheers and best wishes.

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If you're in the US, please post your general geographic area so one of our behaviorist/trainers can recommend someone in your area.

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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I'm wondering how much of the behavior change is really tied to the events with Duchess. Toffy was one year old when you moved out of your parents' house. That is a big change for a dog, and you say he caused a lot of trouble at that point, which is why you adopted Duchess. So there may have been some personality change going on at that point. While the very negative experience with Duchess during the transition may not have been helpful, the change in housing situation, going from being a member of a pack to a single dog, along with Toffy simply getting larger/older probably also changed his temperament. As a larger, older dog who is now an only dog, he may have just become more assertive and more strongly bonded to/protective of you, especially with a Cane Corso about his size encroaching on "his" yard (cowering before the giant Mastiffs is just being sensible :-)

It sounds to me like Toffy is acting quite normally. Dogs have different reactions to different dogs, some better than others. Toffy is fine with the two Spanish Mastiffs and with the young dog, but has an issue with the Cane Corso and maybe some other dogs. He may just not like the Cane Corso, for some reason us humans can never understand, or maybe running along the fence barking is his way of trying to get the Cane Corso to play. My Logan tends to be reactive with larger dogs, is fine with (or annoyed by) small dogs, cowers before very large mastiffs. But, there is one brown eskimo-type dog in the neighborhood that makes him go nuts - I have no idea why. Dogs have different personalities which can change over time, just like people, and if Toffy has a more high strung personality as an older single dog than he did as a one-year old living with a pack of other dogs, I would not jump to the conclusion he has PSTD.

Logan (April 7, 2010 - July 9, 2023) - LoganMaxicon15K.jpg - Max (August 4, 2004 - January 11, 2018)

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Thank you so much for all of your replies! Sadly, I don't live in South America, and the only behaviorist I know is associated with Duchess' foster family. I'll keep an eye out in my local dog group for another one, though. 

And rsieg, you have a point. I'll never know what kind of adult Toffy would have grown into, but it's possible that some of this is just his personality. My veterinarian mentioned that this behavior might tie heavily into protection as well. The day that Toffy was found & rescued, I took him home and raised him. I am also a young woman living alone, and he does everything with me. On the occasion when we do go out, it makes sense that he would be nervy and protective. 

As for the cane corso, she is half-blind and shy, and she belongs to someone else. I don't want to do anything without her owner present & consenting. For now, I'll limit his exposure to her and stay calm when she comes by the fence. Despite the frenzied, angry barking, Toffy does wag his tail, which leads me to think this isn't entirely aggressive. It's just such a hassle when I'm trying to talk to my neighbor, and Toffy is losing his mind next to me, haha. 

Again, thank you all for chiming in, I really appreciate it. Here's a picture of Toffy and Bambi as a thank-you! 


Edited by Calico
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