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amystella

Our new girl growling/showing teeth at other humans

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Hi, all - we have had our 3 yo girl for three weeks now and we think she's done an amazing job fresh off the track. She's on a routine, gets along with our smaller dog and is OK when we leave the house. We go on walks every day, and lots of people want to say hi. She is still hesitant towards other people petting her or getting too close. Sudden noises from cars or other dogs make her jump at times. She doesn't like being approached by a jogger or biker. This was all to be expected and I just pat her, tell her "it's ok" and we keep going. We have had two human friends come to visit since we got her - the first friend, a female, came a week after we had her. She barked a few times, not aggressively, and did not go right up to her but she was interested. We gave her a few treats from my friend's hand and in a while she was laying in the grass with us getting pets from my friend. Enter our second friend a few days later, a male, whom she first met out on a walk in the neighborhood. She stood barking at him frequently, also not aggressively but not in a way that you want to approach the dog and try to pet her. We gave him a few treats to hold and she came up to take them, but didn't really want pets. After that she was fine. I was gone yesterday, but my partner was home. The same male friend came over for a bit and apparently as he came in, our girl started barking, growling, AND showing her teeth! My partner says it was a lot to calm her down and get her to go lay down, and our friend was nervous since she is big and has jumped up in excitement a few times. 

Obviously we want to control this and discontinue it ASAP. I wish I had been home, because I keep a spray bottle of water to use on her. My partner used a firm voice, but I think a spray would have been helpful too, which he didn't have on him. I reached out to the foster family who kept her for the first week as she still had her stitches in and they helped her adjust to a home/stairs, etc. The foster family had people over and never had any problems. 

We hope we aren't doing anything that has led to this behavior - we don't have people over very often, but we almost always walk by others on our walks. She is getting better at just walking by someone else. A note about our smaller dog- he is not good with strangers, so he is often kept in a separate room where he whines but is otherwise fine when people are over. He knows our male friend and is OK with him. We wondered if she was possibly picking up on any of his tension. 

Any ideas/suggestions are most welcome!!

Thank you!

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Hi Amystella,

I'm still finding my way as a first time greyhound owner - we’ve had our boy for just over a year. I can’t help much with the growling /barking issue,  but I did pick up on the info about approaching cyclists and joggers - I remember reading early on in our mutual ownership that telling your dog ‘it’s ok’ or ‘good dog’ when they’re in stressful situations kind of reinforces the behaviour - you are petting and talking to them to calm them down, while they see it as ‘oh, she does this when I’m being good, so it must be alright’. It’s so hard and against all your instincts as a caring doggy mummy as all you want is to provide them comfort, but the advice I read was to ignore that behaviour- stick your nose in the air and keep walking and your dog will get over it. There are plenty of people with tons more experience here than me so they can confirm or refute that advice, and hopefully help you with the other behaviour. Good luck!


Living with Buddy Molly b. 5 November 2010. Welcomed home 16/6/2018 ❤️

Won 17/112 races at Romford - our champion Essex boy

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Only 3 weeks in is a really short time. So much new stimulation. Go slower. Earn her trust. Having friends offer treats is ok but ask them not to pet her until she is more comfortable. That your other dog is whining in his own discomfort or alarm could be affecting your girl's reaction to the male friend. I say no to the spray bottle. Your girl is leery or scared and is trying to tell you that. You don't want her to stop warning you because she may nip to prove her point.

This board has others who can give you behavior and training suggestions. Hopefully they will post too.

 


 

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She sounds a bit like my 12 y/o Spirit--he's not comfortable meeting people and it takes several introductions before he learns to trust and accept anyone.  Until he reaches that point of trust and familiarity there is a lot of loud barking.  Makes having repair folks in the house or yard a real "joy".   I find that he does better with strangers if he's leashed with me holding the leash.  I think that then he looks to me to be responsible for keeping us both safe from stranger danger.  He's never turned into an overtly friendly dog who just loves meeting new people, but its been a joy to watch his circle of friends expand through the years.  Once he's comfortable with someone, Spirit just LOVES petting and attention and can be a real pest about it.

What has worked for him is to take introduction  s l o w l y .  Don't push for having your girl be buddies yet.  Perhaps don't add to her fear quotient with spraying or a loud response.  I'd consider having her leashed when you have company.  My goal for intro visits with Spirit is to have him settle on his bed and be quiet.  He makes it clear when he's ready to be buddies with someone.  I suspect this will all come in her own time.  Right now everything in her life is brand spanking new so her energy for adapting and adjusting is being spent in almost every waking hour.  She'll get there.


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Lucy with MoMo (FTH Chyna Moon), Spirit, and Miles the slinky kitty (OSH).
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 I think that then he looks to me to be responsible for keeping us both safe from stranger danger. 

This is what I was told by a behaviorist when my first grey died and the surviving hound suddenly didn't have his confident "sister" leading the way.  The behaviorist told me to maintain a confident attitude when walking him, or when guests the dog wasn't comfortable with came to the house.  Not to force him to be friendly, but for me to take charge in an obvious way, step up to greet the approaching person (if they were coming to say hello) and lift the responsibility off of the dog.  The behaviorist recommended using a Halti collar (another brand name is Gentle Leader) on walks.  That gave me more control over the dog's head/teeth.  It would also be a visual signal to strangers that they shouldn't rush up into your dog's space, and give you time to explain briefly that she is new to pet life.  If she feels comfortable with the new person, she'll probably take a step closer, and that will be your signal to praise her.   Spraying her with water, as posted above, may make her associate strangers with punishment.  

I was skeptical of the "confident attitude" approach, but to my amazement it worked immediately.  In a few weeks I actually did feel confident enough to stop using the Halti collar, and at home I allowed Bazzy to keep to his own space, and praised/rewarded him when he showed friendly behavior.  

I don't know what to suggest about your other  dog -- I only had one dog to deal with.  


Ellen, Milo, and Jeter

remembering Eve, Baz, Scout, Romie, and Nutmeg

 

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I want to add that many greyhounds are not very accustommed to men when they come home to us.  I guess most of the kennel workers are women.  So men can be scary  especially if they are big and loud.  So give your pup time to realize that men can be just as nice as women (and maybe nicer when they get wrapped around a grey paw!).  So just go slow and let your dog adjust in her own time.  I had a lovely dog, Henry, who was just terrified of men when he came home (and garbage cans, bicycles, stop signs etc.)  It took time but his "Uncle" Don became his favorite person.  How I miss that boy.

Edited by Scoutsmom

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Thank you everyone for putting my mind at ease and sharing your stories with me!

She has done great with several friends/family, both male and female. We wonder if she has had any experiences in the past where a male approached her in a way that caused her stress or harm. She seems genuinely interested in people unless they approach suddenly. 

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2 hours ago, amystella said:

Thank you everyone for putting my mind at ease and sharing your stories with me!

She has done great with several friends/family, both male and female. We wonder if she has had any experiences in the past where a male approached her in a way that caused her stress or harm. She seems genuinely interested in people unless they approach suddenly. 

It is more likely that their size and deep voice is unsettling to her. I heard this from someone awhile ago and it makes sense. It also depends on how people approach her. If they come barrelling down on her, she’s sure to be a little fearful.


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Dogs always approach each other from the side, not straight on. When she has settled more in your home if people need to approach, have them go to the side of her, do not look directly into their eyes and let them sniff the back of a hand. This is a much more polite greeting for dogs.

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