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What to do With the Little Nutballs?

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A question about my pups (sort of SA but maybe not really?): I have 3 year old staghound littermates.  They were together their whole lives except for 4 months after they each got adopted; then Potter bounced and we got her.  They get along great--a little sisterly snark when someone gets too rough playing, but in general they share furniture, don't resource guard food, etc.  Kaja had very mild SA at first (mostly whining when DH, who works at home, went downstairs and she was too afraid to follow.)  I'm a teacher; we got Kaja in March and by the end of the school year she was totally fine with my leaving routine, was fine with the 2 of us leaving together, and no longer followed DH around the house.  Enter Potter in July.  Her first house was too noisy for her and she was scared all the time.  At our house, she's had some difficulty getting off her bed to go outside, but we've worked around it and she's doing great.  We have made a great effort to never force or her to go out (never put the leash on her and made her come out, or carried her out like her former owners had to).  She is so passive and submissive that I think forcing her would have really set her back. So we used tricks--take her sister out, rustle a cheese wrapper, etc, all of which were successful at various times; the one sure-fire method to get her off her couch, though, was to open the overhead garage door.  This always brings her flying to the door to the garage, at which point she happily goes out if we attach her leash.  We haven't had to use the garage door trick in a month or so, but her garage door enthusiasm--probably combined with a little SA--has taken on a life of it's own.

I went back to school two weeks ago.  I did a little alone training with the girls but didn't think they needed much; Kaja was already good and Potter seemed pretty calm.  They usually do OK with my leaving routine in the mornings (DH is home but in bed at this time).  But, any other time we open the garage door (coming home or leaving, even if one of us is home), the little nutballs go crazy--for a minute or so. Thundering up and down the stairs, flinging stuffies, sometime snarking at each other when they jump on the same couch.  It truly only lasts a minute or less--when I come home (when DH is home with them) I can hear them yodeling as I get out of my car--by the time I get inside the frenzy is over and they trot upstairs and jump on the couch.  I think Potter's garage door excitement combines with anxiety about leaving/excitement about arriving and they wind each other up.  And even though it's short, it's dangerous--Potter already whacked her knee on something and got a small cut.

So, I need to chill the nutballs out.  I don't want to crate Potter when we leave, even though she was crated at her former owner--I'm afraid that if we have to insist she go in, we will hugely set back her progress on trusting us about going outside.  So...counter condition the garage door? How?  Block them from racing up and down the stairs (if we got an x-pen we could do this)? Separate them into different adjoining rooms (x-pen again) when we leave?  If we get a 4-foot x-pen (they're 50 lbs, small girls) are they likely to try to jump it and, if successful, might they then try to jump our 4 foot fence (though they are always supervised outside)?  (Oh, and Potter has had a couple potty accidents when left alone, so maybe another vote for confinement)?  Should we do alone training in general? Other thoughts?  Sorry--I'm a special ed teacher/behavior analyst and over-thinking is my game!

Here's the nutballs, chilled out and  sharing someone else's bed...Xg226er9YQF-oRRB3KS06iDdO6TYQaSnkjAySRc9iJi_c6Sm_3EmOW4rI1z3pikfzCpNXegIxPHocIwgYV3JGYmzQlKkAPcM4eVDctjlEet7Cnh1OYYeOVy0DzUWKMkVjtjNpVnj_gDrPs3vmifuChkcC4eYaq1CjwcZyG3sdR-cNXf4gNYfIXs3O3nEehDvmfW1beHDtZLPdKwGFASNt5sEcCjfGmvDzN2WsVGxGRCjdFWShwQSgV0tz13ISk__EKOU5aVfvcIiE9Z-zS9Bm7dcrqu6zyFVHciIcnr7kN7QaPa55xkygNG5uuXR4sJVCPWm5S00eA3k8vhFLA6mstdOmfCi5xlJZ0beSGvL4z0ZiSlHPy8uANmrg_75CYF8HF6AGV0CLP5A0eChScnRBU7n4jvIGD4rhcxGjorFeYsLEdYvY-uUlPQmcTejs-pElxivs7Smm9vVzwNZRKvgtYSVozqNGV3uhnOQfOcc7FbacNhDDbvyLzjtVIQf_ju8jBMzpGwCKY41XGUjOfwbQQUkbSmUXdnrPpr6Z3JYsNBXYLWr4kA6Q4Bbulq2QXaaHqJILu7c4g7IRrNjisZiHsBTFw4vP_5p9SHgeunE1Vxg6LigVPDqK2zDmlMlrNrlGw3qrtOu2FEAAoDyhbfLWXEPFlhDI1Md6EpxAqCZ19m_hPIbxwsYtn0=w280-h211-no

Thanks for any ideas!

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I'm not exactly sure what you are asking...

It doesn't sound like SA is the issue. Are they being destructive when left alone? Crying/whining non-stop?

Are  you just troubled/worried about their extra exuberant behaviour when you first get home ?  You say this behaviour only lasts a minute or two and then they calm down, but you are worried about injuries.

My three play rough. Quite rough. And they are noisy, but we use 'Quiet' or 'Settle'  and the nonsense usually stops.

Perhaps your girls need to learn some key calming words as well. 

And if their exuberance only lasts a minute or two I would not be at all concerned. Embrace the happiness! 

Putting a barrier at the bottom of the stairs 'may' help but I'd be concerned that they might jump it, causing an injury worse than just letting them rip up and down the stairs. 

Or they'd jump up and over, but then be trapped and injure themselves trying to get down and over it.

As much as we think our hounds need to be bubble wrapped, they are DOGS... And dogs like to play!


Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Mario (2nd Chance Rescue).   Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) and especially  Nigel (Nigel), waiting at the Bridge




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Not a greyhound owner, just a fellow overthinker/nerd! I think Patricia McConnell (my favorite dog psychologist of all time) would recommend teaching your girl a separate, incompatible behavior when she hears the garage door. Something like lay down on this mat -- or sit on the couch -- or go get my stuffy and sit by the door -- or even run into an open crate. It would take a lot of small step conditioning -- basically just making it rain treats when she is in the desired "spot" and then syncing it up with the audible trigger. I have to give you so much kudos with how well you care for and look after your girls! They sound like a bit of a handful, but they're absolutely with the right human for them! <3 

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Thanks for the thoughts!  BatterseaBrindl, good point!  I do need to keep things in perspective; our last 2 dogs (and DH's only 2 dogs) were very mellow "only" dogs, so we had 20 years of "oh hi you're home, let me open one eye in greeting" to compare our current two to. Our girls really aren't that rambunctious, but DH is convinced they're going to kill themselves/each other (and Potter's bloody knee didn't help).  In reality, though, they do stop quickly and to some extent I need to relax (and convince DH to relax).  

Kightfam, good thoughts!  I think that's a good approach if things get more out of hand (I think that's what I'm also worried about--that they're going to egg each other on to more and more crazy behavior).  And thanks for the kind thoughts--they're such sweeties, and for the most part are doing so well...I just want to do everything I can to help them be happy dogs!

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What is your DH doing when he's home with them and you come home??  He could be doing a lot to counter condition them in the moment.  The easiest is to distract them from excitement zoomies by offering a longer lasting, really yummy treat.  This will work best if you can call/text and give him a heads up.  He can also try and take them outside, or into another - safer - space for their fun time.

But really, this is a good - great! - sign!  I would try to just be happy with and for them!

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


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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Good point, Greysmom!  DH comes the door to greet me when I come home (he works from home). It is cute, I must say--my whole family waiting for me when i come in the door :heart  but he's not skilled at doggie interventions nor really interested in "having to do something" with the dogs when I come home.  So I guess for now, it's just "enjoy the little nutballs"--they really are doing well, and you're right, it's fun to see them excited (plus that "garage door obsession" of Potter's does come in handy--after a thunderstormy night last night I couldn't get her to go out for morning potty...until I opened the garage door and then she just couldn't resist running to the door :) and I was able to get her out.  So maybe I don't want to counter-condition that behavior after all...

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