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Refusing to be Trained

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I have a new 4yo ex-racer that we've just adopted a few weeks ago. He's a very sweet dog and I can tell is forming a bond with us as he'll sometimes follow us around the house. His adjustment is taking some time as he really won't do anything but sleep, and hasn't quite figured out how to play yet. I'm constantly reminding myself this could all take time and patience is key. Its tough being patient though, I want him to be happy and its hard to know whether he is. Anyhow I digress.

I wanted to write in to ask about how to successfully get a greyhound into training mode. I've been hoping to start working on some of the basics (i.e. down, stay, come) but haven't really been able to get him to acknowledge us. He'll approach when he wants to be pet, but otherwise we haven't been able to get him responding to his name yet. He refuses to make any sort of eye contact and when I start trying to issue commands or get his attention, he'll either freeze or just turn and walk away. He also seems unwilling to follow or work for treats, even though I know he likes them.

Does anyone have any experience with this sort of behavior and/or know of any techniques to get him to understand that I'm trying to communicate with him?

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Congratulations on your new hound.  He needs more time to adjust to a home and his new schedule.  His whole world has changed and they tend to observe and soak it all in for a long time.  Once he starts to get used to his new environment he will free up brain space for training and learning.  In the mean time I would not even try to do a structured training where you would use treats.  Instead I would use a long line or at least a six foot leash and have him on it with you holding onto it.  Just go about your normal activity and have him follow you that way you can say his name and use the leash to guide him to you give lots of ear scratches/body rubs/treat if he will take it.  Before he gets his meal you can have him stand nicely before he gets his meal.  Just simple house manners.  You will be surprised at how much he will pickup on with consistency.  Then as he gets more settled you can do more structured training, lots of patience, persistence and just a few minutes a day.  Greyhounds are sometimes not good at repetitive training and get bored fast or stubborn so keep it short less than four or five times in a row.  The best is sometimes something like three repetitions two or three times a day.

I wrote about my new dogs training in the introductions.  I feel you we has some issues to overcome,  she learned a lot without formal training just repetition in daily life.  Training came later and in small doses more behavior shaping than treat training.

Some greyhounds really get into clicker training once they figure out how to make it rain treats too.  

Best wishes it just takes some extra time for them to be comfortable and secure as pets in a home setting.   They thrive in a constant highly scheduled environment too much free time can be overwhelming.


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Some greyhounds never do learn to play with toys or only for a few minutes when they are new... I'm looking at you Grace :D and they are happy dozing most of the day so don't worry about his inactivity.

Greyhounds were bred to hunt independently from human input so unlike the herding and retrieving breeds of dogs they are not overly predisposed to training. Try just a few minutes every day before meal times and hopefully he will get it.

Grace (Ardera Coleen) b. 18 June 2014 - Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 - Going grey gracefully
Guinness (Antigua Rum) b. 3 September 2017 - Gotcha Day 18 March 2022 - A gentleman most of the time


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find a school who teaches with clicker training. it's all positive reinforcement and i was shocked how my 1st GH, who sounds like your dog, responded. it was as if someone turned on a light switch. we started w/ basic clicker and once emily found out she had a job she was a happy camper- she had something to do. emily had raced 168 times in her life and was hauled all over the country. so, life in a home was outright boring.

we went straight into traditional training and she was quickly certified by 2 organizations as a therapy dog and had her Canine Good Citizenship title.  She rarely played with toys- but was a great therapy dog and excelled at meet and greets.

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It sounds to me as if your hound is still adjusting to his new home.  Don't feel rushed to get him started in any kind of formal training.  The move from kennel life to home life is a huge transition/upheaval. Relax and give him time to observe the new world he's part of and to get to know you.  All the rest will come.  IMO, this is the time for a gentle, relaxed approach in which you gently "enforce" only the absolute necessities--to me that was always going outdoors to potty. :D  Even that is more your job than his--take him out regularly and frequently.  Praise and treat for the good.  There really is no hurry to learn much more.  Leash walking is a great relationship builder. Talk to him.  Your goal is to give him time to see what you and your routines are about and settle in.  Time enough in a few weeks or months for more formal training.  As others have said, Greyhounds respond best to positive training.  Clicker training has worked well for my hounds.  You may also want to be prepared for a hound's natural independent streak.  My current boy, Nate, enjoys training sessions but he quickly tires of repeating the same command.  

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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You know that saying about the difference between dogs and cats - Dogs have owners, cats have staff?? - Yeah, that's pretty much greyhounds!!!  Most of them couldn't give a rip about what you want!!!  They are, generally, more like a cat than a labrador.

Plus, he's still getting settled into his new home life, which is very different from what he's experienced previously.  I guarantee that the dog you see in your living room right now will not be the dog you see in 3 months.  Or even 6 months or longer.  Some of them take a very long time to unfold all the aspects of their personalities.

As said above, start now as you mean to go on - repetition of daily activities will teach him a lot.  But you still have to set boundaries and rules.  He stands nicely for dinner, not jumping and crazy.  He knows where to potty.  He knows where to sleep.  You'll know when his brain is ready to take on more.  When it is, clicker training, or even just casually shaping/catching behaviors as he does them will teach him a lot.

If you do want to go for more formal training, they respond best to many short sessions throughout the day rather than longer, class-type training once a week.  And finding out what motivates him will be key - whether that's a YUMMY treat, or a toy, or even just praise and attention - getting and holding his attention is what's important.  And you may need to rotate motivators if his attention begins to waiver.

But for now, don't worry about what he is or isn't learning formally.  He's taking in so much right now that he probably doesn't have the mental bandwidth to support much more.

Congratulations on your adoption, and welcome to GT!!


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

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

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, Lilly

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