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First Time Growling & Aggression on Walk

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Hi All,

My partner and I adopted 6 1/2 year old Max just over a month ago.

Max is a retired racer (retired in 2018) and since that time, he's been living with 2x other greyhounds before being put up for adoption again (due to the owner leaving the country). I'm not sure how long he was in that home (as we weren't told), but it's obvious that for at least the last few months prior to us adopting him, he was moved around a lot between a lot of different foster homes.

For the most part, Max has settled in well (sleeping through the night, establishing a good toilet routine etc). We engaged the help of a dog behaviorist a few weeks ago after Max started freezing on walks (which we have now learnt is pretty normal for newly homed greyhounds) and we almost never have this problem anymore now that he is more familiar with his surroundings and smells. One of the things the behaviorist suggested is to not treat the walk like exercise (as we were) and instead let him go at his pace and sniff around. We have since been doing this and it has really helped. This morning when I was walking Max alone (without my partner), he started sniffing in a spot he is always quite interested in as there is a dog that sometimes sits behind the gate in the afternoon. I let him sniff a little but when he got too close to the gate i said his name firmly and said "this way" and pulled on the leash a little. He ignored me and continued towards the gate so I moved closer to Max and moved him away by the handle on his harness and he immediately growled and snapped at me (he is always muzzled when we walk). This is the first time he has done anything like this and it caught me off guard. As we had just started our walk and we were only around the corner from home I walked him straight back home hoping that he would understand that we went home as a result of his actions.

It's obvious that he lashed out because he wanted to investigate near the gate and I didn't want him to. Whilst I want him to feel like he can explore, I don't want to be completely submissive as he needs to know that there are certain places he isn't allowed to go (i.e. right up near peoples doors and near gates where I know there are other dogs). I get the impression that he is now settling in and trying to test the boundaries regarding whose the boss (me or him). I'm now concerned that he might start showing this behavior in the home when he's not muzzled/on a leash and I wont be able to as confidently control the situation.

Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

Note - Max is extremely reactive to other dogs/cats (he is ok with other greyhounds).
Note - I walk Max alone quite frequently in the afternoons as my partner is at work, so this wasn't new to him.


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Can you walk a different route for a bit and only go past that gate with your partner? Has Max been neutered? I just wonder if the other dog had come into season and Max was just being a boy.

Being reactive to other dogs and cats, also squirrels and anything else that moves is common with most greyhounds but most learn to leave them alone and that other dogs are really funny shaped greyhounds.

Grace (Ardera Coleen) born 18 June 2014
Raced at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton UK - 68 Races, 9 wins, 5 second places
Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 

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Hey @HeyRunDog,

Thank you for the reply.

Max has been neutered. I can definitely walk him another way, we were just trying to keep the route consistent to help him with his earlier freezing problem. I could walk him on the other side of the road but there are two houses with cats so I tried to make crossing the road a habit. We were told that Max was most likely trained with live bait so unfortunately, I'm not sure whether his instinct to chase other animals will ever go away completely. It hasn't bothered me before because he has never shown aggression towards people (and is only replicating a behavior that he was once praised for when racing), however, I'm just really hoping that his behavior this morning was a once off and isn't something he thinks is acceptable behavior.

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4 hours ago, Tiahn said:

I'm just really hoping that his behavior this morning was a once off and isn't something he thinks is acceptable behavior.


10 hours ago, Tiahn said:

I moved closer to Max and moved him away by the handle on his harness and he immediately growled and snapped at me


When you grabbed his harness, did you do it from behind in a way that might have startled him? In other words, did he see you coming?

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Hi @stevevt,

Thank you for the reply.

Max definitely knew I was there because i was trying to hold the lead firm to stop him going closer to the gate from early on and also saying his name. We walked that same way in the evening yesterday and he again showed interest near that gate, however, this time I was able to stop him going too close by doing some "touch" training (getting him to touch his nose to my hand with a treat in it) and that seemed to distract him enough to get him across the road away from the gate. Whilst I don't think he's cured, I'm hoping it was an isolated incident that I can monitor and reinforce my position with further training.

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