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Reactive Greyhound, advised to return?


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Hello!!

I'm really hoping that somebody can help here. We adopted our greyhound a few weeks ago. When we adopted him we spoke about the fact that we were first time dog owners, in a busy suburb and that he would be in close contact with other dogs frequently. Since bringing him home it's clear that he is very reactive to dogs - growling, barking and lunging regardless of whether they are big or small (all dogs we have come across have been well behaved and on leash). He starts reacting when they are really quite far away. We've tried reducing his walks to give him less of a chance to come across dogs at close quarters (currently because of this we are just taking him round the block)

I completely understand that this is fear based and he is still settling in. We have been trying counter conditioning by giving him treats when we see a dog coming - if we see the other dog in advance. We decided that we'd like the support of a behaviorist as it's difficult to fully manage interactions in such a busy area and contacted our adoption agency to find out some contacts. They advised us to return him to kennels. We are really surprised by this, but wonder if it's simply the case that reactive dogs shouldn't be in an area that is full to the brim with other dogs at close range, or maybe some dogs just aren't right for first time owners. 

We feel awful at the moment and don't want to let him down - either by keeping him in an environment where he won't be happy, or giving him up if he could overcome this. 

This board seems to be a fount of knowledge so i'd really appreciate opinions, experiences etc. 

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I had a very reactive greyhound. His name was Andy. He even tried to kill a galgo in his first foster home. He was the attack first, ask questions later kind of dog.

I walked him regularly and when we met other dogs I kept him behind me, turned him around so they didn't come up front. In canine behaviour it is very impolite towards a dog  and look it in the eyes. I always say it is like jogging into a group of real mean bikers and tell them they are ugly as sh... Just not the best idea.

A few weeks is nothing. Your new dog is getting used to everything around him. I would walk regularly always the same route for some weeks to increase his feeling of safety. The most important part is blocking his view of other dogs by keeping him behind or next to you or turn him around. And don't react verbally to him. He will think you are reacting to the other dog and increase his behaviour. 

And if you want to give him some Bach's flowers I would recommend Walnut in his drinking water. Walnut is to help with changes in your life.

Sorry for butchering the english language. I try to keep the mistakes to a minimum.

 

Nadine with Paddy (Zippy Mullane), Saoirse (Lizzie Be Nice), Abu (Cillowen Abu) and bridge angels Colin (Dessies Hero) and Andy (Riot Officer).

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My sympathies 

I had to return our boy after just 2 months.For the 1st few weeks he totally ignored other dogs,which I took to him being very calm, but now I think was just sheer nerves as he had severe separation anxiety, After several weeks he became much more relaxed, but then  his prey drive came to the fore and lunged at any small furry animals. He also became very reactive to other dogs and it became quite dangerous for both me and him. I got a lot of good advice from this forum ( I posted under " should I return him" )

I realized he was just not a good match for me and very reluctantly had to return him as outwith the  sudden lunging he was a delightful dog.

 

There are strategies you can take  to help but  you also have to think of your own and your dogs  safety. I nearly ended up in a watery grave when he lunged at the edge of a canal after spotting a water vole. It was also not the most calming experience walking him when you spotted dogs coming the other way, some he would ignore, others- no matter the size or breed was another matter

 

Good luck

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Well I hate to say it but I agree with your adoption group. You should NOT feel bad about returning him.   It doesn't sound like he is in a good environment for his personality to me and he would probably do much better with a lower density of other dogs. IMO you can try everything under the sun with the best intentions and most dog aggressive and/or high prey dogs remain that way their entire life.  It doesn't sound to me like a good match for a 1st time owner or your neighborhood. IMO return him. He will probably be happier in a less stressful (for him) environment with less dogs himself :)

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Definitely don't feel bad about returning him. Just reassure the adoption group that you still want a dog that's right for you, and then everything can balance out with no blame to you and no loss to the Greyhound adoption world.  It's hard to hand one back, but they'll go to a home which can handle them; and you could soon end up with a dog that's calm around other dogs and pets.

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4 hours ago, smurfette said:

 

A few weeks is nothing. Your new dog is getting used to everything around him. I would walk regularly always the same route for some weeks to increase his feeling of safety. The most important part is blocking his view of other dogs by keeping him behind or next to you or turn him around. And don't react verbally to him. He will think you are reacting to the other dog and increase his behaviour. 

Absolutely this 

Can I be the odd one out and suggest you don't *have* to return him if you feel you can handle him, ie you are confident that when he's lunging you are strong enough to hold him without him either of you being put at risk?

A good muzzle (again - mixed views on this) ensures that he can't do any damage, and may help you feel much calmer when walking him knowing that he can't hurt another dog. This can give you the breathing space and confidence to work on his issues. Time, patience and training when you've built a bit of a bond can work wonders. 

We live in London in a busy area. Ours was terrified outdoors and that, mixed with a strong chase drive, meant walking was not a fun time for any of us initially. But a good strong lead/harness, lots of leave it training and slowly building up his confidence/tolerance with other dogs (they usually haven't met other breeds and don't understand them and their signals) has worked wonders over time. Now (8 months later - it's slow progress!) we can walk cheerily amongst dogs, people, children, squirrels...etc etc and not worry too much at all. Had we lived in the country he wouldn't have had the exposure he has here, and the chance to get used to it all. 

And do bear in mind even if he were to be rehomed in a rural area he'd probably still be reactive and on alert - lots of wildlife running around and more off lead dogs likely to dash over.  

It probably depends a bit on his behaviour indoors too - how is he at home when in his comfort zone? Ours was (is) such a lovely, chilled boy at home so that gave us hope that in time we could get him to be the same outdoors

However, obviously it's completely your choice and you have to do what your gut instinct says is best. If he does get rehomed you really shouldn't feel bad about it!

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Whether you return him or not depends on how hard you want to work with him.  Anxiety and leash reactivity are a difficult combination, but they can be overcome with (lots and lots) of time, patience, and constant attention to training for a few months.

First, it's no bad mark against you to return this dog.  Hard - because you've already bonded with him - but it doesn't sound like it was a good fit in the first place.  There should be a better personality out there for living in the busy city that would fit the bill perfectly.  I always tell people to consider NOT that you're returning a dog, but that you were his first foster home, and now the group has a much better idea of what kind of living situation he will do well in.

But if you are *really really* committed to this dog, you can work with him to help him become comfortable and less anxious living in a busy town environment.  A good, positive reinforcement only, certified animal behaviorist can help you with strategies and training after observing you and your dog in person.  There's also a really good author/trainer named Patricia McConnell who has written booklets (and ebooks) address most common dog behavior issues.  Her one for leash reactivity is "Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash Reactive Dog."  She gives clear and concise guidance for how to handle the problem day to day.

It's not an easy behavior to deal with, so make sure you evaluate your ability and interest as objectively as possible.  Good luck!

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

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

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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Thank you so much for all of your kind and thoughtful responses. After some hard thinking we have decided to take him back to the adoption group - who have been very good about it, and are viewing it as a 'first foster' situation where they are now more informed about what he needs in a home.

We are heartbroken and will take a bit of time to recover before we think about adopting again but we will be back to it! Potentially looking at an adoption group where the hounds go into foster first so that it's more of a known situation. 

Thank you again :-)

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It sounds like this was the right choice for you and your family, and also your dog.  He will now have the chance to find a home where he can thrive, and you have a chance to have a dog who loves living in the city.

FWIW, our first greyhound, Libby, would have been perfect for your situation.  She *loved* the hustle and bustle of city life, but she loved meeting the people we met even more!  She would  - quite literally - accost people walking towards us by stepping in front of them and making them stop to pay the "petting toll" before she'd let them go on!  She'd stop in the middle of the crosswalk to poop (how embarrassing!!)!  She got along well with every single dog we met.  She didn't care if there was a blade of grass in sight and as long as she got her walks she was perfectly fine with city life.  So there *is* a greyhound out there for you!

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

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

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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17 hours ago, SCW said:

Thank you so much for all of your kind and thoughtful responses. After some hard thinking we have decided to take him back to the adoption group - who have been very good about it, and are viewing it as a 'first foster' situation where they are now more informed about what he needs in a home.

We are heartbroken and will take a bit of time to recover before we think about adopting again but we will be back to it! Potentially looking at an adoption group where the hounds go into foster first so that it's more of a known situation. 

Thank you again :-)

No shame in that.  I whole-heartedly agreed with going with a group that fosters before adoption.  I had 1 grey that wasn't fostered and it was ROUGH - and I'd already had a grey of my own that was fostered.  To have a first grey that wasn't fostered is very, very hard.  

You seem like a kind and thoughtful family.  You'll find the right dog!    

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