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5 months post-adoption, ongoing issues


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Hi everyone! I'm so glad I discovered this forum - have spent the last several hours reading through a lot of great (greyt?) threads.

We adopted our boy in October 2020. He is a retired racer from FL and recently turned four years old. We live in NYC and he is our first pup.

Generally, we've seen a lot of the great sides of greyhounds through him - he can be very affectionate, goofy, and a big couch potato. However, we've had a few significant ongoing issues with him. We've done a lot of training and see some improvements, then major regressions which can be difficult to overcome. I'll try to keep it brief:

  1. We wound up with probably the most vocal greyhound in existence. His main form of communication is barking - for pretty much anything. Excited to see you? Bark! Hungry/thirsty? Bark! Needs to go out? Bark! Wants attention/play? Bark! We don't want to give him any attention when he does bark so as not to reinforce, but it can be difficult to figure out the underlying reason. For example, if he's barking because he needs to pee, I obviously want to take him out right away to avoid accidents - but this reinforces that he can get to go outside if he barks. His barking is also quite loud.
  2. Like many greys, he has some resource guarding issues. It's thankfully tapered off as he's gotten to know us, and is less of an occurrence/less drastic (also in part because we understand his cues/body language). However, my main concern is his resource guarding over our (human) food. We cannot have our meals anywhere near him. It's almost as if he thinks he's entitled to our food (especially if it's meat). We have been doing a lot of "leave it" training with more and more valuable treats by placing them on the kitchen table and having him ignore it - he's been doing better, but he gets scarily possessive over our food. (He's generally extremely food motivated.) When he's resource guarding his own bed or his own toys, we are happy to walk away and ignore, which calms him down and (I think) teaches him that we aren't a threat. However, he obviously cannot have our food, so we're not entirely sure how to deal.
  3. Also like many greys, he's had some pretty intense statuing. This definitely seems rooted in anxiety as he doesn't show interest in even the most high-value treat. We live across the street from a park and take him on the same, short route every single walk, but he will still sometimes statue. I can take 30+ minutes to get him home when we are just across the street. I'm not sure if this is just one of those things that takes time, but he's done the same route for 5 months, so I'm wondering if there's anything more we can do.
  4. His separation anxiety is not too bad, and we've done lots of practice (utilizing many recommended tricks, like a frozen filled Kong, calming music, not making a big fuss when coming/going, etc). By all accounts, he whines/cries for a bit at first, but does settle down. While we've practice separating, my SO has been working from home this whole time with the pandemic, and will now be returning to his office soon. We are planning on hiring a walker for our boy, but I'm very nervous about such a huge transition for him. Any tips on setting him up for success would be appreciated.

If you're still reading, THANK YOU! Any tips, resources, advice, etc. is so appreciated. Like I said, it feels especially exasperating when we make a lot of progress and then he regresses. I try to remind myself that even though we've had him 5 months, he's still pretty new to the environment and to being a pet. I'm also interested in trying some anti-anxiety remedies (like the diffusers or CBD), if anyone has experience with those.

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2. Mine was pretty similar, but probably to a lesser degree. I put him in his crate whenever I was cooking or eating. Eventually, it was the crate with the door open and him not popping out. Then, it wasn't too long before he didn't need to be in the crate. Now he's really great about not begging for food past the first sad-eye check-in, at which he always gets a "not for you" and then he picks a bed to lay down on.

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Welcome and congratulations a few tips/ideas for you.

1.  You can teach him to bark by setting him up, say bark when he does give him a treat.  Then once he has that down you can teach him to be quiet and to bark softer.   I had an over zealous barker, taught her to bark on command, do a little bark softer not so ear piercing, and to be quiet.  Also an off guard just meant thanks for letting me know a leaf fell off a tree I will take over for now you just be quiet and play.

With time you will pick up his signals and be able to know what he wants.  

2.  This could be part of your issue: have you feed him off of the table for the leave it?  By any chance are the things he is leaving on a plate?  He may view things on the table/plate as treats food him.   If it is good and happens once sometimes that is all it takes to form a pattern for them.  Mine has learned the dog walker text before coming and the text noise.  She gets excited every time the text makes a noise which leads to whining and pacing.  She’s slowly learning not all text are for her.

Try not giving him anything while you are at the table or off your plate.  If you give him your food save it / give it to him in his bowl after you are done eating. Put him in a crate, behind a baby gate, while you eat.  When he learns stay/ go to his place use that while you are eating.  You and he will get there it just takes a lot of repetition to get there and if you give in it just takes more time to undo the behavior especially when food is involved.

3.   Work really hard on leave it, there will always be something moving and interesting at the park.  It will take time for all the new things to get to be background noises for him.  If you can get him to leave it, look at you and move on then get the treat/side scratch/ear rub it will be easier to refocus his attention.  This will improve with exposure and time for now he is just overwhelmed at something new that has caught his eye.  I find if I am able to use leave it right when something catches Journeys eye and not after she gets fixated by it she will keep walking.  When she is in the yard I often say that is just kids playing (whatever it is person on walking trail) and tell her to leave it she does and will move on to something else.  Or as we approach people on a walk she is told leave them, they are not here for you.  It stops her from what I am sure to the stranger looks like a 70lb dog trying to wiggle like a fish out of water over for some long lost love slow motion running towards you on a beach scene.   That is mostly unwanted by people out for a walk.  Leave it is one of my most used favorite training tools.  Works well in many situations.  

4.  Try working up to a full day before your SO starts working at the office. If you can ease into it you should do ok he will realize you will come back.  If he is used to having someone around all the time then everyone is gone 8 hours for 5 days it will be harder.  If you use a crate just a increase the time he is in there with no attention.  

Hope you find something helpful here.  They are so much a creature of habit schedule.  Once they learn a habit it can take time to change it.

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9 hours ago, nycgrey218 said:

Also like many greys, he's had some pretty intense statuing. This definitely seems rooted in anxiety as he doesn't show interest in even the most high-value treat. We live across the street from a park and take him on the same, short route every single walk, but he will still sometimes statue. I can take 30+ minutes to get him home when we are just across the street. I'm not sure if this is just one of those things that takes time, but he's done the same route for 5 months, so I'm wondering if there's anything more we can do.

They do get over statuing, usually just after you threaten to take the b****y minded thing back and some of us have been seen carrying a greyhound home :D. Vary your route otherwise when they do get over the statuing they will only go for a walk on that route. At one stage Grace would only turn right out of the driveway.

You could try the bowling ball technique which is how the trainers get the hounds into the traps at race meetings. Have both you and your greyhound facing the way you want to go, in a no nonsense manner put your fingers threw the dog's collar and using a similar motion as if bowling, give a forward and slight upwards motion on the collar while taking step forward. I also used the command "lets go." I only had to do it three or four times with Grace.

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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15 hours ago, 1Moregrey said:

2.  This could be part of your issue: have you feed him off of the table for the leave it?  By any chance are the things he is leaving on a plate?  He may view things on the table/plate as treats food him.   If it is good and happens once sometimes that is all it takes to form a pattern for them.  Mine has learned the dog walker text before coming and the text noise.  She gets excited every time the text makes a noise which leads to whining and pacing.  She’s slowly learning not all text are for her.

Try not giving him anything while you are at the table or off your plate.  If you give him your food save it / give it to him in his bowl after you are done eating. Put him in a crate, behind a baby gate, while you eat.  When he learns stay/ go to his place use that while you are eating.  You and he will get there it just takes a lot of repetition to get there and if you give in it just takes more time to undo the behavior especially when food is involved.

Thanks for the advice! We have never let him eat "people" food - off our plates or otherwise. It seems to be only with certain foods he really wants (usually meat). If it's a bowl of cereal or something, he'll definitely sniff around, but respond to "leave it."

Right now we eat in our living area, where he can see us but doesn't have access to the space. However, each time we try to go back to eating at the table, it inevitably results in resource guarding behavior. I think he just thinks he's entitled to it? He's extremely food-motivated. We might have to try crating while we eat at the table for a bit.

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8 hours ago, HeyRunDog said:

They do get over statuing, usually just after you threaten to take the b****y minded thing back and some of us have been seen carrying a greyhound home :D. Vary your route otherwise when they do get over the statuing they will only go for a walk on that route. At one stage Grace would only turn right out of the driveway.

You could try the bowling ball technique which is how the trainers get the hounds into the traps at race meetings. Have both you and your greyhound facing the way you want to go, in a no nonsense manner put your fingers threw the dog's collar and using a similar motion as if bowling, give a forward and slight upwards motion on the collar while taking step forward. I also used the command "lets go." I only had to do it three or four times with Grace.

I've heard about this strategy - always worried about hurting him. He wears a Martingale collar (obviously) and a 2Houndz no-pull harness.

Good idea to vary the route though. I don't want him to become so inflexible that we can't take him anywhere else.

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You may get all the wonderful advice you need from the wise, experienced Greyhound owners here.  However, if you decide you want/need professional input, I'll offer a resource that has worked wonders for me and my hound.

Nate, almost 4, has PRA and is pretty much completely blind.  He's actually quite amazing in his confidence and ability to get around but he also developed a really snarky, growley approach to interacting with his humans.  I wanted help and, because of his sight issues, I specifically wanted the input of an animal behaviorist as well training help.  There is nothing remotely like a behaviorist anywhere near me but I found a great resource for long-distance help: Behave Atlanta  There is a certified animal behaviorist and a trainer whom I worked with via Zoom meetings.  They are wonderful to work with--knowledgeable, thorough, and insightful.  Working with them has made an almost revolutionary difference in our relationship with Nate.  

gallery_2398_3082_9958.jpg
Lucy with Greyhound Nate and OSH Tinker. With loving memories of MoMo (FTH Chyna Moon), Spirit, Miles the slinky kitty (OSH), Piper "The Perfect" (Oneco Chaplin), Winston, Yoda, Hector, and Claire.

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On 4/9/2021 at 6:32 AM, HeyRunDog said:

They do get over statuing, usually just after you threaten to take the b****y minded thing back and some of us have been seen carrying a greyhound home :D. Vary your route otherwise when they do get over the statuing they will only go for a walk on that route. At one stage Grace would only turn right out of the driveway.

You could try the bowling ball technique which is how the trainers get the hounds into the traps at race meetings. Have both you and your greyhound facing the way you want to go, in a no nonsense manner put your fingers threw the dog's collar and using a similar motion as if bowling, give a forward and slight upwards motion on the collar while taking step forward. I also used the command "lets go." I only had to do it three or four times with Grace.

I agree with the bowling ball technique (or the suitcase technique as I've also heard it described!). I tend to have to drag him a bit via his collar (martingale) and after 2 steps he'll get going. I did have the same issue as you though when I first got my grey (same time as you, incidentally), as he'd freeze out of sheer terror or bewilderment for ages. Now he only does it when he's having a strop, or if something hurts. I hate dragging him, but it's the only way to snap him out of it. I should add though that bowling balling him didn't work when I first got him, it was only later when the freezing started to be strop related and not fear related that it started to work. 

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