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Over-excitement on walks due to prey drive


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Hi folks

So we've had Sully for two weeks now, 3.5 year old retired racer, he only retired about 5 weeks ago.  He's pretty much been great in every way, can't fault his behaviour 95% of the time, he hasn't even bothered with the sofa and just prefers his own bed.  Gentle as anything, no sign of startle stir and invites people to pet him in his bed and cuddle him.  I've even got him coming to his new name already and I'm in the process of training him to lie down on command, baby steps but positive progress made today.

The ONE thing that he certainly has an issue with though is his prey drive.  He goes quite bonkers on his lead if he spots rabbits in a field on his walk, yelping, whining and spinning around on his lead and trying to wriggle out of his harness.  Today he had the same reaction when we walked near a pond and he startled a mother duck out of some reeds with two older ducklings, he went crazy and tried to pull me in to the pond after them yelping and whining frantically.  Once I'd pulled him sufficiently far away he lost interest and walked on normally.

He also reacts a little this way if he sees other dogs playing off their leads, he really wants to join in and gets very silly.

Just looking for suggestions on how to calm him down with things like this and stop him being quite so desperate to chase and act stupid.

thanks

Graham

Edited by GreyKnight
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Yes... Two weeks is nothing!  

He is overwhelmed by things he has never seen ....and of course these dogs are bred to run and chase.

'Wait' is the most important skill you can teach your dog.  As well, teach him the 'watch me' command with super tasty treats.  Once he's really learned these inside the house start with short walks outside, just in your yard then venture short distances from home.

Covid has made going to training classes difficult, but a small class will offer him exposure to and the distraction of other dogs in the safety of a class.

Be patient with him while he learns all about his new life!

NSK-Winter.jpg.a6ea578c2e544932c5222b81cda3216d.jpg

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

 

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I second the treat trick. You must be on the alert for potential triggers for him, and start giving him the goodies before he spots the item, and then you breeze right past. My boy learned to look at me for treats in tricky situations!

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Thanks guys.

Yes I'm well aware that 2 weeks is no time, my point was that I want to know how to start reducing this behaviour ASAP rather than let it get embedded in his behaviour.

I've been watching videos on how to maintain the dog's focus on you rather than on distractions, I'm going to give some of those a try.  I fully expect it to take a long time, but you have to start somewhere.

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You've had some good tips here. My first greyhound Doc had a very high prey drive and it felt at times like a steep learning curve!  One thing that was crucial was me learning to "think greyhound"  as we walked, spotting the rabbits or ducks or whatever before he did. Then I could walk another way/ position myself in his line of view/ even eventually say "look, bunnies! And now look at me ... good boy! Treat!" 

It was much easier to get his attention back on me and those treats *before* he went crazy. If Sully does kick off, please try and stay calm and authoritative and grounded yourself - literally, standing firmly on both feet and balanced, so he can't pull you around, let alone over. If you start squeaking and pulling and shouting yourself, you reinforce his sense that he has just spotted something worth getting excited about.

With time it does get easier, I promise. Here I learnt what would set Doc off, and he learned that he was no longer *expected* to chase it, and even eventually to go offlead in some spaces.

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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you've got a live one! training, good equipment and training will be your answer. basically he was bred to go after small moving objects- and you can learn to manage this well but it takes consistency and the right tools. most likely group obedience classes have not resumed(if you are in the states). so, invest in a private trainer who has experience w/ a sighthound.

best of luck- the AKC has listings of sanctioned obedience clubs. that can be a good starting point for you. btw, is this your first dog?

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This book will help you as well.  It's mostly for leash reactivity with other dogs, but will have some good tips and techniques you can try.

Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash Reactive Dog

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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1 hour ago, greysmom said:

This book will help you as well.  It's mostly for leash reactivity with other dogs, but will have some good tips and techniques you can try.

Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash Reactive Dog

I used this to help with Buddy for reactivity and it does work. Buddy started to look to me before I could distract him when he saw another dog, and now he does it after he has a good interaction with another dog. It only took a few weeks but we had already got a noise we used which he associated with getting a treat (in place of ‘watch me’), so it’s entirely possible!

Buddy has quite a high prey drive too, (squirrels, cats, rabbits, hedgehogs, small dogs and crisp packets!) and I wouldn’t trust him to chase a smaller dog in play. You will have to make that call yourself but (and you probably don’t need me to tell you this) I would have a very low threshold for intervening if you decide to let him chase other dogs. We learned that the hard way and I wouldn’t wish anyone to experience the way we felt after extracting another dog from Buddy’s jaws. 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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My boy was the same. The screaming when he saw a squirrel and I wouldn't let him get it was horrendous. People genuinely must have though I was torturing him. And small dogs were a huge challenge - darting and trying to grab. Not good when trying to socialise :-)

I switched to a good strong harness as the pulling and twisting was worrying, I didn't want him to damage his neck. That has helped a great deal, I have more control and can pull him quite firmly without worrying about him back flipping. 

I also spent a lot of time with 'leave it' training indoors - a LOT! Six months in and he's not perfect by any stretch (nor would I expect or want him to be) but we can now walk near a squirrel, small dog, other fluffy creature without him creating a huge fuss. He will still zone out, ignore treats and fixate a little but nowhere near as badly as he did. 

It takes time, and also takes a while to work out all the triggers and reactions. But once it all clicks it's much easier. 

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Thanks again folks.

To be clear, he's actually very good with other dogs (of any size) when they are on leads or just on their own plodding along off lead.  He only reacts if there is a group of dogs off lead playing, then he wants to join in.  I already use a harness as it just seems kinder on his neck.  He leads very well, doesn't pull or anything, he's excellent.  It's literally small fluffy things that make him hyper.

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