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Hi there! We just adopted our retired racer, Benny, a month ago, and we're struggling to make progress with training. I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for training programs in Connecticut... concerned that a typical obedience class that isn't Greyhound-specific might be a little less effective because of how uniquely stubborn and sensitive the breed can be (Benny is definitely a good example of this) or if professional trainers can typically work with different breed attitudes. Any online resources that have been particularly helpful would also be appreciated!

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I'm not familiar with your particular area, but we did both a greyhound specific class (just had to get enough interest for our local training place to put on a class) and have done a regular (mixed) beginner class, where we were the oldest/most mature pup there. We had great experiences with both! I'd get in touch with a local, reputable training facility and see if there is a possibility for a greyhound-only class, if they had enough people. Your adoption group might know of places that do this also.

But, let's assume you are stuck with mixed dog classes; I personally wouldn't worry too much about grey's stubbornness and sensitivity, because most beginner class participants (usually puppies) are stubborn too, and you really should be seeking out a positive reinforcement trainer no matter what breed of dog (notoriously sensitive or not). Any good professional dog trainer who uses those techniques is going to be more sensitive to a dog's needs/learning style than a layman anyway. Beginner classes start at the ground floor, so as long your trainer knows what they are doing, the breed shouldn't really matter.

I'd be more concerned about the following:

Is Benny food motivated? That's something that could cause a struggle in a training class if your dog is not motivated by treats.

Is Benny reactive to other dogs? Our current hound was very chill with all the whiny/barky puppies in our class, but we would have worried more about our previous hound around all those littles - he was more prey driven and less discerning of what kind of prey something was. Depending on your dog, the controlled socialization of a mixed class could be beneficial also.

 

If you have a non-food-motivated guy who is freaked out by noises and reactive to other dogs, then ya, you probably need either a grey-only class or a one-on-one setup. But if not, a regular mixed class should be fine.

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I agree with the above.  I've taken my greys to positive-reinforcement-only mixed programs and had excellent experiences every time.  One was sponsored by a city recreation program, the others were private trainers.   I think the size of the class matters, too.  Ask what their top limit of dogs is.  

I also took 2 hounds to a greyhound-only one-weekend agility intro workshop done as a fundraiser for a local adoption program.  All those sighthounds did NOT want to enter the tunnel, except for my girl.  Once she discovered the motherlode of treats inside the tunnel, tossed by other humans trying to get their greys IN, we couldn't get mine OUT.  :lol  

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Ellen, with brindle Milo and the blonde ballerina, Gelsey

remembering Eve, Baz, Scout, Romie, Nutmeg, and Jeter

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where in CT??? white plains, ny has 2 good schools. TEACHROVER.COM portchester obedience club- their best teacher is Mary Elizabeth Simpson. She gets more done in her class than anyone else and they have a reduced rate for rescue. 

Mary Elizabeth is a good resource, look her up on FB. She knows everyone!(A wonderful person, shows and breeds border collies and corgi. I have worked with her since the 90s)

It takes a good 6 weeks for a new dog just off the track to adjust to home life. slow and steady- 

if you are in another part of the state do contact WAG, Nicole. Where did you get your pup?

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Congrats on adopting Benny! Where are you in CT? Pal, my first greyhound, trained at Smartydog with Martha way back in 2002. Since then, I've taken some of my other greyhounds to work with her and with Lorrie. They and Smartydog are the Best. Check out the Adventurescape!

Old Dogs are the Best Dogs. :heartThank you, campers. Current enrollees:  Punkin. Annie Oooh M. 

Angels: Pal :heart. Segugio. Sorella (TPGIT). LadyBug. Zeke-aroni. MiMi Sizzle Pants. Gracie. Seamie :heart:brokenheart. (Foster)Sweet. Andy. PaddyALVIN!Mayhem. Bosco. Bruno. Dottie B. Trevor Double-Heart. Bea. Cletus, KLTO. Aiden.

:paw Upon reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.

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Bonding with a newly retired greyhound can sometimes be a struggle.  They all react differently to new stimuli and situations, and they take their own time in figuring things out and settling into their new living arrangement.  Some are receptive to training right away, and some take months to get there.  Your boy is probably somewhere in between.

Don't be overly concerned if he seems standoffish or more of a loaner than the snuggle bug you want.  The dog you have in front of you is not the dog you wil have in three months, or six months, or a year from now.  Slow and steady, time and patience.  You're not seeing his true personality - yet!  Time.  Patience.

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

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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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Can we get more specifics? Stubborn about what? Is there a problem? What are you trying to train the dog to do exactly?

Of course anything that makes the dog's life happier and more interesting is a good thing and training regardless of need can accomplish this. However, there are other "philosophies" of greyhound ownership that are worth considering. If you do not have a behavioral crisis on your hands, why not start from the position that you are now the custodian of a fully mature and proud animal that knows what it is, knows what it wants, and maybe even knows better than you what is best for it. After all, he has been a dog all his life.  

Maybe if you just focus on doing a good job of looking after its physical health with nutrition and lots of exercise, and it's mental stimulation with fun play and by taking it to different, interesting places, interacting with other dogs, other people etc.,  you my find that in time a very special bond will form naturally. When this happens your dog may have a great interest in trying to do what you feel is the right thing - to please you. While you are waiting for your greyhound to become a good companion to you, try to be a good companion to it - he really needs that at this stage in his life.

 

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1 hour ago, KickReturn said:

However, there are other "philosophies" of greyhound ownership that are worth considering. If you do not have a behavioral crisis on your hands, why not start from the position that you are now the custodian of a fully mature and proud animal

^This :)

It depends on your hound, and if he's having behavioral issues (not related to settling in) that you need to solve, but lots of greys (who raced) don't need or get the formal training you're used to with other dogs that people get as puppies.

Our first hound knew something like 3 "commands" if you could even call them that, mostly for fun and weren't particularly useful. I don't even think my SO (this hound came before I did) formally taught them to him, just captured and named behaviors he was already doing. But he was such a great dog, he didn't need to be taught how to behave and he spoiled us for any future hounds (including our current one).

The current hound is higher energy, needs a bit more behavioral guidance, but most importantly enjoys the stimulation (and treats) of training (especially during the winter). We'll probably go beyond the basics with him, because all three of us have a lot of fun with it.

As much as these dogs have some similar personality traits, each is very different. It'll take more time to figure out yours :)

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On 7/15/2019 at 4:44 PM, Bizeebee said:

I'm not familiar with your particular area, but we did both a greyhound specific class (just had to get enough interest for our local training place to put on a class) and have done a regular (mixed) beginner class, where we were the oldest/most mature pup there. We had great experiences with both! I'd get in touch with a local, reputable training facility and see if there is a possibility for a greyhound-only class, if they had enough people. Your adoption group might know of places that do this also.

But, let's assume you are stuck with mixed dog classes; I personally wouldn't worry too much about grey's stubbornness and sensitivity, because most beginner class participants (usually puppies) are stubborn too, and you really should be seeking out a positive reinforcement trainer no matter what breed of dog (notoriously sensitive or not). Any good professional dog trainer who uses those techniques is going to be more sensitive to a dog's needs/learning style than a layman anyway. Beginner classes start at the ground floor, so as long your trainer knows what they are doing, the breed shouldn't really matter.

I'd be more concerned about the following:

Is Benny food motivated? That's something that could cause a struggle in a training class if your dog is not motivated by treats.

Is Benny reactive to other dogs? Our current hound was very chill with all the whiny/barky puppies in our class, but we would have worried more about our previous hound around all those littles - he was more prey driven and less discerning of what kind of prey something was. Depending on your dog, the controlled socialization of a mixed class could be beneficial also.

 

If you have a non-food-motivated guy who is freaked out by noises and reactive to other dogs, then ya, you probably need either a grey-only class or a one-on-one setup. But if not, a regular mixed class should be fine.

Thank you for the thoughtful response! Benny is decently food motivated and not particularly reactive to other dogs (occasionally statues but has never been reactive). Not worried about him around the littles, so we may be able to just start off with a mixed beginner class and see where that takes us. 

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On 7/15/2019 at 7:50 PM, cleptogrey said:

where in CT??? white plains, ny has 2 good schools. TEACHROVER.COM portchester obedience club- their best teacher is Mary Elizabeth Simpson. She gets more done in her class than anyone else and they have a reduced rate for rescue. 

Mary Elizabeth is a good resource, look her up on FB. She knows everyone!(A wonderful person, shows and breeds border collies and corgi. I have worked with her since the 90s)

It takes a good 6 weeks for a new dog just off the track to adjust to home life. slow and steady- 

if you are in another part of the state do contact WAG, Nicole. Where did you get your pup?

We're down near the Portchester area occasionally - might be worth the trip! We're actually in the same town as WAG, but adopted from a different organization. I'll reach out to WAG and see if they have any other recommendations. Benny was in a foster home for two months after retirement so he's definitely had some time to get accustomed to home life, but it's definitely taking some time to get him accustomed to our rules and routine. Making progress, just need to be patient :) Thank you for the input!

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On 7/15/2019 at 7:51 PM, FiveRoooooers said:

Congrats on adopting Benny! Where are you in CT? Pal, my first greyhound, trained at Smartydog with Martha way back in 2002. Since then, I've taken some of my other greyhounds to work with her and with Lorrie. They and Smartydog are the Best. Check out the Adventurescape!

Thank you! We're up near Hartford, so only half an hour away from Smartydog. I'll reach out and see if that could be an option - thank you! 

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On 7/16/2019 at 2:47 PM, KickReturn said:

Can we get more specifics? Stubborn about what? Is there a problem? What are you trying to train the dog to do exactly?

Of course anything that makes the dog's life happier and more interesting is a good thing and training regardless of need can accomplish this. However, there are other "philosophies" of greyhound ownership that are worth considering. If you do not have a behavioral crisis on your hands, why not start from the position that you are now the custodian of a fully mature and proud animal that knows what it is, knows what it wants, and maybe even knows better than you what is best for it. After all, he has been a dog all his life.  

Maybe if you just focus on doing a good job of looking after its physical health with nutrition and lots of exercise, and it's mental stimulation with fun play and by taking it to different, interesting places, interacting with other dogs, other people etc.,  you my find that in time a very special bond will form naturally. When this happens your dog may have a great interest in trying to do what you feel is the right thing - to please you. While you are waiting for your greyhound to become a good companion to you, try to be a good companion to it - he really needs that at this stage in his life.

 

His stubbornness seems to come from a place of uncertainty, as far as I can tell. For example, he'll be a pro at going up and down the stairs one minute, and then a few hours later he will absolutely refuse to go back down. No amount of tugging or tempting will convince him, and we eventually just close the upstairs doors and come downstairs until he decides to join us. He'll do something similar outside - one day he'll be all for walking, he'll pop outside and trot around the neighborhood like he owns the place. The next day, he'll refuse to step outside, and if he does, he'll refuse to do his business (even when we're certain he must have to go). He'll pull with all his might to get back inside. Trying to balance being understanding about what he wants to do with making it clear that we're in control and make the decisions. I'm such a softy and would rather follow his lead, but don't want to set the tone of him being the alpha in our home.

Definitely no behavioral crisis (thank goodness), but there are many times where just being able to have a reliable "wait" command would make life much easier for all. We have two cats who are struggling to adapt to Benny's arrival, so rather than having to keep them separated or keep him leashed, it would be immensely useful to be able to quickly stop him him getting into their food or personal space or what have you. He's gotten pretty good with "look at me" which at least distracts from his interest in the cats. 

That said, I love your perspective on the alternate philosophy. I had never considered that - almost thought I was doing him a disservice by not providing successful mental stimulation through training - but maybe you're right that it's enough to take care of him and help build his confidence and interest in new and different experiences (he's not a huge fan of anything new and different, but realize how important that exposure is)... we're definitely trying to be the best companions possible for him - just want to find the best ways to keep him entertained and engaged (when he's not snoozing away on the couch). Thank you for the thoughtful insights! 

Edited by sarpin
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how about the tether method.

keep him tied to your waist. everywhere you go, he goes. give him security, no decisions for him to make, just hang with you and you can treat him when a command or an obstacle is over. just keep it as this is what i do, this is what you do and that's it. no over thinking, just do it. if you need to go upstairs, he goes with you- a treat at the top of the stairs. when you go downstairs, he goes with you - a treat at the bottom. when you sit down to eat- he downs on a bed next to you and is not allowed to beg. at the end of the meal a treat, and so on. 

he's not ready for off leash time yet from what i have read.  don't worry about mental stimulation  you will know when he is self assured and can go on to basic training. often the adjustment period is longer than one would think it is. greyhounds are like onions- many layers to get to the center. 

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