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Monday, 14 March 2016

Everyone knows the saying “let sleeping dogs lie”. This is absolutely true – it’s generally best to leave sleeping dogs undisturbed wherever possible. Even the most docile, loving dogs can exhibit sleep aggression (growling or snapping when woken up from sleep). This is quite a common behaviour in all dog breeds, but especially in retired greyhounds.

For humans, being on the receiving end of sleep aggression from a greyhound can be frightening, and may cause concerns about the dog having an aggressive or unfriendly nature. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many retired racing greyhounds exhibit sleep aggression for reasons related to their background, not their personalities. Understanding the reasons for sleep aggression can help new greyhound owners prevent it from occurring, and maintain a loving, trusting relationship with their dog.

When they are racing, greyhounds are often kept in separate cages or kennels. Although there might be many other dogs nearby, they have their own little piece of independent space. Retired greyhounds must get used to sharing household space with other members of the family, including children and other pets, rather than having their own private ‘den’. They may feel that they need to be ‘on their guard’, even subconsciously while they’re napping. If you remember their origins as wolves, keeping subconscious watch against predators in their den, you can see where this behaviour comes from.

A day in the life of a racing greyhound typically involves long periods of sleep between short bursts of activity (a pattern that they typically continue into their life as a pet!) This means greyhounds are used to long periods of uninterrupted rest. Having a human intrude on their sleep, even for something pleasant like a cuddle or a walk, is something that they have to get used to.

If your greyhound exhibits sleep aggression, providing them with a crate to sleep in might be a good solution. Your greyhound won’t see this as a cage, but as a safe haven where they can feel secure. It’s also easier to prevent other dogs, cats or small children entering the greyhound’s personal space. Having said this, the door should never be closed on a crate, whether the dog is in it or not.

Another solution is to establish a house rule that the dog is not to be touched while it’s on its bed, either asleep or not. Remember that some dogs sleep with their eyes open! If your greyhound sleeps in lots of different places, establish a rule that you will always call his/her name before you touch him/her, and wait for a response before moving closer. Once you decide on the right rule for your dog, it will quickly become an easy habit, which makes life safer and more comfortable for your dog and your family.

Like all post-adoption adjustment issues, dealing with sleep aggression involves time, patience, awareness (of yourself and your dog) and common sense. Don’t put yourself or a family member in a situation that may be hazardous, and definitely do not let a sleep-aggressive greyhound share a bed with a sleeping human, especially a child. Ensure your greyhound has their own bed, and discourage them from sleeping on spaces used by humans to avoid territorial issues. Some greyhounds will overcome their sleep aggression as they gain confidence as a pet, but many will always require careful management.

Transitioning a greyhound from racing to pet life is always a learning experience for both the dog and their humans. Coming to understand each other, and how to live together happily and confidently, is one of the great joys of getting to know one of these incredible dogs. Remember that your greyhound wants nothing more than to be a successful part of your family – but it can be hard for them to remember that they’re safe and loved when they’re fast asleep! Following these simple steps can help prevent sleep aggression from compromising your friendship with your beautiful, gentle dog.

Posted by: Tracy McLaren AT 12:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Many greyhounds do not know how to play with toys as adults as they did not get the opportunity to learn as youngsters. Playing with puppies and allowing them to chase toys in a constructive way can prevent a greyhound from learning to chase a prey animal as they have an alternative behaviour that still gives them a feel good factor. A good recall is essential to distract your dog from an opportunity of chasing something that they should not.  Recall training has to be really fun and rewarding to stand any chance of competing against natural instinct.

Puzzle feeders are good environment enrichment and can make mealtimes last longer. There are lots of designs on the market to encourage your dog to use their nose or paws to dispense treats to them. If the device does not provide the treat quickly enough some dogs will give up as it is too much like hard work. The treat inside may need to be higher value to motivate your dog to try to work the puzzle out. Dogs that were deprived when young do not find it easy to express exploratory behaviour around new things and need lots of encouragement.

An item such as a sock or a cardboard tube that can have food hidden inside can create the spark of interest in enjoying toy play.  All you need is a start - toy play can be gradually built up as the dog gets the idea.  A lot of verbal praise and encouragement when your dog looks at, sniffs at or paws at the play item so that they get lots of attention for interacting or showing any interest at all. If you engage with the toy, moving it around, not shoving it in the dogs’ face, sooner or later your dog will wonder what the excitement is about and will investigate further. Be very enthusiastic when they do come forward of their own accord, a few seconds or minutes will improve over time as long as the game is rewarding to them.

The toy may need to be presented to the dog on several occasions until they get the idea, so do not give up just because the dog does not respond straightaway. If your dog is elderly or injured they do not have to be running around to benefit from toy play. Ten minutes a day spent as quality time with you can be very rewarding for both parties. Flowerpots with treats underneath can be setup as a quiet game and not too exciting or energetic.

For active dogs a chasing game can be encouraged with the dog’s most popular toy, something squeaky. You need two of the same toy so that you can encourage your dog to bring back the first toy and trade for the second, the more the dog realises that they will get another toy and the game isn’t over, they will give up the toy more readily preventing possessiveness. You are also improving your recall and having fun together. A squeaker in your pocket can help to get your dog’s attention when distracted out on a walk. Furry and fluffy toys come in a close second place of favourite toys, picking up various textures of items helps with bite inhibition so that they do not grab so hard. Chasing tennis balls or frisbees is the third top choice of toy, providing good exercise and feel good factor for the dog.

Play is an alternative form of instinctive hunting behaviour which fills an innate need for the dog, without unnecessary focus on another (smaller) animal and upsetting other people. Behaviours that cannot be expressed naturally result in frustration for the dog and problem behaviours can develop. Practice in your garden or a safely enclosed area. Work with one dog at a time, as the level of excitement increases with more dogs and can provoke too much rough play between them. Play time is quality, bonding time between the handler and their dog. Have fun and play, play, play!

Posted by: AT 08:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 17 September 2014

All breeds of dogs are interested in chasing cats - greyhounds are so much faster that they stand a far greater chance of catching them! Yet some greyhounds can settle with small dogs  and cats and it is one of the most important issues to deal with when you first adopt a dog. Always be aware that although your dog may be completely safe with his own family cat - off territory he may view anything that runs as fair game - so be prepared!

Your greyhound may be classed as 'cat-tolerant' when he first arrives with you, but it is imperative that sensible precautions are taken until you are confident of your dog's temperament. It is not advisable to leave you dog alone with your cat in the initial stages.

If you have a keen greyhound, it can take some considerable time before you can trust him/her with a cat. Always keep a greyhound muzzled and on a tight collar and lead when you make the introduction. Some cats will spend many months watching the dog from the highest place possible; others might be willing to give the newcomer a blow to show who is boss. It should not be forgotten that we have two temperaments to work with in this introduction.

If a cat is not used to dogs in its home, there is a risk that it might pack its bags and leave home. It is essential to ensure that the cat has a collar, microchip and identity tag to cover this possibility. When you think you are making progress, take away the muzzle, keep the tight collar and lead on, and feed your greyhound and cat together. By doing this they are alongside each other but do not have their minds on each other.

When you are feeling more confident, replace the muzzle and take away the collar and lead. In time, the muzzle can also be removed. Your greyhound will accept your rules, and accept your cat as a member of the family. Nevertheless, a warning should be sounded: Cats outside the home, and those passing through your yard, may well still be regarded as fair game for a chase and possible attack - all necessary precautions should be taken.

INTRODUCING YOUR NEW "CAT-TOLERANT" DOG TO YOUR CAT

  • Use the muzzle provided and have the dog on a lead.
  • Make sure the dog and cat meet from the start, preferably in a small room.
  • Ensure the cat cannot run away during the introduction, as this will promote a chase instinct before they are both aware that they are members of the same family and need to get on.
  • Stroke the cat then the dog, you are passing the scent from one to the other.
  • Keep introducing the cat to the dog to gauge his interest, try to allow the cat to walk through his legs, and then raise the cat to eye level so as they can make eye contact. Ensure the safety of the dog’s eyes if the cat is showing any signs of aggression.
  • At this point if all the signs are right, e.g. the dog has acknowledged the cat, but is either frightened of it or gently wagging its tail it is time to remove the muzzle, but keeping the dog on the lead and going through the previous steps again.
  • When you are happy with the reaction again, then reverse the process and have the muzzle on without the lead.
  • By this time the cat and dog should be getting the message that they are going to need to get on as they are both or all part of the same family.

Remember cats will be fair game if they are out of their home environment. It is all about the dog recognising the cat as part of its family. This bonding process has to still take place even for a dog that has lived with cats in a previous home. Do not shut the cat away as this promotes great interest.

The cat's reaction is also important and can make or break the situation. Dogs have been returned to rescue groups because they are being terrorised by the cats!  Do not let the dog and cat go out in the garden together at first.  This should only happen when you are fully happy with their reaction to each other. If a cat comes hurtling over a fence the dog may not recognise it as the family cat, and a chase situation could occur.

As the other key fact is the dog recognising the cat as part of its new family, it must be remembered that the dog is not going to get on with other people’s cats unless they are introduced in the correct way.

If you are worried about neighbour’s cats, check the garden before letting the dog out, and make a noise which the cats will learn to associate with the dog being around, i.e. lightly banging an object, or ring a small bell. The cats will soon avoid the garden when they know of the dog’s presence. If your street is full of cats use the muzzle provided, especially at first when you need to gauge the interest of the dog on walks.

Remember, most dogs do not get on with all cats.  If you went to a pound there would be all breeds types and many of those dogs would not be suitable to live with cats.

Posted by: AT 07:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A dog crate can be made of wood, plastic or metal, or a combination of these. However, metal is preferable as it is indestructible and easy to clean. Metal crates normally fold up when not in use and are easily portable. Many have a plastic tray in the base so that during training any soiling does not leak on the floor. The crate needs to be big enough for the dog to have enough space to stand up, turn around and lie down.  Dog crates are not at all cruel if used properly and are of an appropriate size. It can help the dog fulfil its natural need to have a den of its own.

Dogs in the wild will find either a cave or dig a small, secluded pit in the ground in which to sleep or just relax, away from the world. The crate will become his den – it will be a safe place for your dog to be – it is his retreat from the world. It is a safe place to leave him when you are out, until he is housetrained and can be trusted not to destroy your home. Even after he is trained and trusted, you may find him curled up happily asleep in it if he has free access to it. The crate should never be used as punishment.

We would suggest that initially the crate be positioned in a well-used family room. This means that you have to make comparatively little effort when training the dog to use the crate. Once accustomed to it you will find your dog will settle happily in it wherever you put it. In the case of a newly adopted dog, the crate should be used until the dog understands the house rules and until you feel you can trust him. If you are using the crate because the dog is suffering from separation anxiety, we would suggest that you use it on a long-term basis. The dog will grow to like the cage and look for it in its moments of need.

In the first instance set the crate up in a well-used area of the house - the lounge or the kitchen are good places. Leave the door of the crate open, put a comfortable blanket or bed inside. Let the dog wander in and out, and have a general explore. Do not force the dog. If he is reluctant, put a few treats just inside the door. See what happens. Do this throughout the day. Progress to putting treats further into the cage - watch what happens. Do not rush things - take it slowly. Praise the dog when he makes moves in the right direction, make a fuss of him when goes in fully. Once the dog will happily go in and out of the crate, you can begin to add a command.

The next step is to start feeding the dog in the crate. Once he has had several meals in it, think about closing the door whilst he is eating. He is unlikely to play up if his food is there! Do not let him out while he is making a fuss. If he thinks crying means that you will let him out, he will do it all the time. Only let him out when he is quiet. In the beginning try to keep the time brief so he is caused little or no distress. Gradually lengthen the time, as you do when you leave a dog. When leaving him, always make sure that he has got something nice to do, that he has had a good amount of exercise and has been to the loo. Your dog will try very hard not to go to the loo in the crate, but if you leave him for too long he will have no choice. Do not blame him if he has an accident.

You will find that in time, if you leave the crate with the door open, he will begin to use it when he fancies a snooze, or he has taken something and wants to escape from you or when he just wants some quiet time! In fact, given the opportunity, many dogs will choose to use them as their sleeping quarters even when fully house trained and in such cases, the door need not be secured.

Posted by: AT 07:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Some dogs do not cope well with being left at home alone, resulting in "separation anxiety". If you come back to a pile of poo, or irate neighbours who have been deafened by a crying dog, or chewed up furniture, please, please do not chastise the dog. He did it because he could not cope and he will be even more stressed the next time you leave him - then the results will be worse.

1.  You can deal with this by treating the symptoms.

Put him in a damage limitation zone, like an indoor kennel/crate or a laundry room when you go out. Give him toys - or better still, toys like kongs stuffed with treats. Leave the radio on.

2.  Or you can be really clever and solve the underlying problem. Is he suffering from anxiety at being left alone, or is he bored?

If it is anxiety, treat the symptoms as above and make sure you make no fuss on leaving him. Just pick up your keys and go. Say nothing. When you come back in, do the same. Ignore him completely until he relaxes (yawns, stretches, blinks or lies down) then reward him by making a fuss of him. This way you are informing him that you are the leader in this home and you do not need his protection. You are strong enough to come and go as you please.

If it is boredom that is causing the problem, take him for a long walk and make sure he has been left with plenty of games. Greyhounds are bred to hunt, chase, catch and kill.

Games

Some dogs take a while to understand the games but they will increase in fun and excitement once they have got the hang of it. Some favourites are;

  • Hide and seek. Get someone to hold him while you hide, then keep calling him invitingly until he finds you. Repeat.
  • Hunt the treat. Hide treats around the garden and encourage him to rush round finding them.
  • Fetch a toy. You will need to work on teaching this.  Eventually he will get it.

3.  Or you can be totally clever by avoiding this becoming a problem from the start!

From day one, build up separation in small steps. Pop out of the room and shut the door. Wait silently until he stops fussing for a few seconds then go straight back in and reward him. Next time make it a bit longer and so on, until he understands that you will be coming back as long as he waits quietly. Now build up into leaving the house for a few minutes and gradually lengthen the time you are away. Never come back in if he is making a fuss. Always wait until it is quiet, then give immediate praise. If there is a poo or damage do not make a fuss. If you are calm, he will learn from you.

4.  Or you can be a total genius by doing all of these things!

Whatever you think, remember dogs do not know when they have done wrong - they just act as if they do because they sense you are angry. Dogs do not understand that chewing something is wrong, they are just comfort eating. Dogs do not sulk; they just sense your mood. If dogs were that clever they would be running the world.

Posted by: AT 07:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 17 September 2014

If coming from the racing industry/a trainer, chances are your greyhound will likely have spent all of his life only with other greyhounds. greyhounds are not fighting dogs. Any greyhound that shows a tendency to fight is banned from the race track for life.  But, it is likely that your greyhound will find other types of dogs completely new and different, and even something to be scared of or to growl at.

This Fact Sheet will help you if you already have another dog and are homing a new dog, or if your new dog is worried about meeting other dogs.

  • When first bringing your greyhound home, make sure he meets the other family dog/s on neutral territory, by walking outside - with all dogs on leads.  Do not walk them side-by-side initially.  Let them gradually come together to walk side-by-side when they are comfortable with each other (do not force it).  Never bring the new greyhound into your house unless he has spent time walking down the street/around the block with your other dog/s first.
  • If your dog is not green collar approved or living in a region where muzzling a greyhound is not required, always have a muzzle on him when in public. If you dog is green collar approved or lives in a muzzle-free area, initially have him muzzled when meeting other dogs in public, until he is used to meeting them calmly.
  • Never “Introduce” your dog to other dogs. If you stand back and let your dog investigate the other dog you are putting him in the front line. It’s like saying “There you are, there’s another dog. What are you going to do about it? It’s your problem”. Instead, shorten your lead so your dog is close beside you. Put yourself between your dog and the other dog and keep walking purposefully ahead. This way you are being a role model. Your body language is saying “I am not bothered about this other dog so you needn’t be”.
  • If another dog is coming to your home, make sure the dogs first meet on neutral territory. Again do not “introduce” your dogs. Simply put yourself between the dogs and go straight into walking together. Make the walk purposeful; give your dog something else to focus on (i.e. the walk). When you get back to the house go straight into the garden and if all is going well, let the dogs off the lead in the garden but keep the muzzle on. They may chase each other wildly so make sure there is nothing lying around that they can hurt themselves on. There may be a few grumbles while they are sorting out the pack order, do not worry, it is normal.  If they come into the house, the dog that already lives there might find that stressful. Give them plenty of space. Do not give out treats (that is often when fights start).  Do not take the muzzle off until you are happy that they have settled together.
  • If at first your dog is stressed and seems aggressive when it sees other dogs out on walks, and walking purposefully past is really difficult to do, turn and walk away until the other dog has gone. This will help your dog to realise that you are not going to put him in the front line, but that you are going to help him deal with the problem.
  • Do not expect two dogs to live together happily immediately. If you are going out or leaving them for the night it is best to leave them in separate rooms until you are sure they are ok together.
  • Do not expect dogs to be able to share treats or toys until they know each other very well. Just like children, 2 dogs and one toy causes arguments and they always want the toy the other one has! 
Posted by: AT 07:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Your new dog may never have lived in a house before. Everything will be new and strange. Imagine you have just landed from the moon and seen televisions, vacuum cleaners, glass doors and mirrors for the first time. Naturally it will take your dog some time to settle down.

When any dog enters a new home, whether it is a puppy that the parents have bought, or whether it is an older rescue dog, it is important that parents put the following rules in place to help keep their children safe.

  • Children should know that they must not go near a dog when it is eating – either its meal or a bone.
  • Children should know that they must not go near to the dog when it is in its own bed – or what it may regard as its own bed i.e. a particular chair or sofa.
  • Children (and adults) should never touch a sleeping dog.  Some greyhounds can suffer from sleep aggression and become alarmed when touched while in a deep sleep.
  • If the child wishes to play with the dog, instead of invading the dog’s space he/she should invite the dog into his/her own space. The child should keep the play short and end the play by turning away from the dog - before the dog has to find a way of ending the play.
  • The child must know to move away immediately after a warning growl.
  • Young children should never be left unsupervised with any dog.

Just like us, dogs sometimes do not like to have their space invaded.

Just like us, the nicest dogs can have an off day.

A dog that walks away or growls has had enough interaction. If we do not notice these subtle requests, a dog has only one more way of asking us to leave him alone.

Ask children to respect your dog’s space and help keep them safe.

Posted by: AT 07:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Bedding

Your greyhound will like a soft thick bed, such as an old doona. They like to stretch out, so they sometimes find basket type beds too constricting. They will make a beeline for the sofa, so if you do not want them to use it you will need to set some ground rules early. Putting obstacles on the sofa when you are not in the room will often help.

Teeth

Due to a combination of food provided by trainers and genetics, greyhounds have a reputation for bad teeth, which is why tooth brushing and maintenance is an important part of owning a greyhound.  Chews will help to keep teeth healthy, and we recommend you use special dog toothpaste and gently brush his teeth clean. Do not use human toothpaste. 

Fleas

Fleas can be difficult to shift if a dog has had a large infestation, so do keep re-checking and make sure you use a good flea preparation provided by your vet. 

Feet

Greyhound claws need regular trimming. If this is neglected the dog will walk awkwardly causing further problems. It is best to let your vet do it at first while you watch before attempting to do it yourself.   As with all dogs, Greyhounds should not be walked on bitumen, sand or concrete on excessively hot days in Australia, as their pads can be scorched.  If the ground is too hot for you to walk on bare-foot, then it is also too hot for your dog.

Collars

Your dog should wear a Martingale collar, which is specifically made with Greyhounds in mind.  Greyhounds have tapered necks and tiny ears so a loose collar can easily slip over their heads which is very dangerous when out on a walk.  Make sure that the collar is adjusted whilst it is at the top of the neck and cannot slide off. If in doubt, or if you have a nervous greyhound, use a harness as well. You can get a lead which will clip to both the collar and harness and keep your dog very safe.

Injuries

Your dog may have been retired from racing through injury. The centrifugal forces of the sharp bends on a track put enormous strain on the dog’s joints and toes. Injury may be caused by falling or colliding with other dogs at speed. This will not always be obvious but just like us, your dog may become prone to arthritis later on.

Coat/Skin

Greyhounds often come our of racing kennels with their coats patchy and scurfy. You will find that once in a home, they will lose this kennel coat and a beautiful shiny, sleek coat will appear.  Grooming and good feeding (see Fact Sheet 3 “Feeding Your Dog”) will help speed this process up.

There is much conjecture in relation to the hair loss that appears around a greyhound’s rump, flank and back of legs.  Schools of thought in relation to the hair loss include mites, skin bacteria, thyroid condition and living on concrete floors while in trainers’ kennels.  Some dogs will remain this way for years, whereas others will have hair return after several months in your care.  We recommend you discuss with your vet. 

Worming

Please remember to worm your dog regularly.  A vet will best advise you on a suitable product.

Heartworm

We recommend you discuss with your vet in relation to whether you provide monthly tablets and an annual injection.  Either way, preventative treatment for this disease is an important consideration of owning a greyhound (or any dog for that matter).

Vaccinations

An annual vaccination booster should be kept up-to-date at all times.

Posted by: AT 07:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Please remember that your dog must be microchipped and have an identification tag at all times.

When you let him out into the garden off the lead the first few times, pop his muzzle on. This will give local cats and wildlife a chance to register that a fast dog has moved in. Even if your dog is cat friendly he will regard other visiting cats in his garden as easy game.

When you walk him in public, be aware if he may be required to be muzzled according to council laws in your area. Remember, he may have recently come from the race track where he has learnt that chasing small furry things with a view to kill is the right thing to do. It will take him some time to learn that you want a different response. If people you meet seem frightened by the fact that he is wearing a muzzle, do take time to explain that he is not a dangerous dog, but that you are a responsible dog owner with a rescue dog.  

Please note that many councils throughout Australia are removing the muzzling laws.  As a responsible owner, we recommend you contact your local council to ascertain the current requirements in your specific area. If your dog has achieved green collar status, muzzling will not be required. 

Never let a child hold the lead. These dogs can have huge power and acceleration; they could, on seeing a cat, rush onto the road dragging your child into danger.

Please spend time on teaching your dog recall. He may never have learned his name. He will never have been off the lead except on the racetrack. However good his recall is at home, when he is out, and he sees small animals running, there is a strong possibility he will forget all that he has learned.  So, it will be some time before you will be able to let him off the lead. When you finally feel he is ready to be let off the lead, find a safe, enclosed space where you can do it. Keep his muzzle on in case someone’s cat should wander across his path.  Have treats ready. He will be very fast and it is very scary to see the speed with which these dogs can disappear into the distance.  So if in doubt – do not let him off. When he returns give him a treat and let him mooch off again, otherwise he will soon learn not to come back if it means being put on the lead straight away.

We are not great advocates of dog parks as too many things can go wrong for your dog.  We believe “bad things happen to good dogs” in a dog park.  Examples of situations we have heard about time and again are:

  • Uneven surfaces, dog agility platforms and jumps, together with holes dug into the ground by other dogs, can all present a very real danger to your greyhound when he is running at top speed around a dog park.
  • Muzzling your greyhound in a dog park can leave him vulnerable to attacks by other dogs – he will be unable to defend himself.
  • Your greyhound may be best friends with your small fluffy dog while inside your home and in your backyard, but other small fluffy dogs running around a dog park can sometimes be far too tempting – often leading your greyhound to become more “serious” about the chase, followed by panic from small dogs and their owners.

If you do want to exercise your dog in a dog park, we recommend doing so outside of popular hours when the park is not being utilised by others.

We do not recommend greyhound ever being off lead outside fenced locations - it is highly dangerous to the safety of your dog, along with other animals.  However, if you do decide to take this approach, much time is required to rehabilitate ex racing greyhounds to being safe off the lead, so patience is required.  Do not worry if your dog is only getting lead walks.  This is what they are used to.  The world outside kennels is a big scary place and they feel safer on a lead beside you.  They are sprint dogs and do not need lots of exercise. Their favourite past time is sleeping on a nice soft bed.

Please arrange pet insurance for your dog. He may get ill or injured and you could be suddenly faced with huge vet bills. He could also cause an accident and therefore liability insurance is essential.

Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop or unattended in your garden.  Pet dogs are far too frequently stolen as “bait” dogs for dog fighting rings or specifically in the case of greyhounds, as hunting dogs.  It sounds melodramatic but it does occur.

Posted by: AT 06:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, 09 September 2014

Your new dog may never have lived in a house before. Everything will be new and strange. Imagine you have just landed from the moon and seen televisions, vacuum cleaners, glass doors and mirrors for the first time. Naturally it will take your dog some time to settle down.

A rescue Greyhound may have been starved, dumped on the streets or in the bush. Dogs like this face the fear of death through starvation every day. We have no idea what that must feel like. They can become very possessive / greedy about food. If this is not handled properly aggression over food may develop, which can have sad repercussions for both owner and dog.

Please follow these rules to help your dog learn to be around food safely:

  • When you are preparing food for yourself or the dog, if he tries to jump up and snatch it, always move your body firmly between him and the food to block his way. Do not look at him or say anything. That is confrontational.
  • Always eat before he does. Before you prepare his food put a little piece of food out ready for yourself. When his food is ready, eat your food.  Do not look at him or speak but make sure he can see what you are doing. If he tries to jump up block him with your body. When you have completely finished, put his bowl down and walk away.
  • Keep everyone in the family, especially children, well away while you are preparing his food and while he is eating.
  • NEVER touch him or his food bowl while he is eating.
  • Never make him ‘sit’ or ‘wait’ or do fancy tricks before he has his food. It means nothing to him but just increases his stress levels – and why would you want to do that?
  • He is not a thief.  He is a pack animal that is terrified that he will face starvation, particularly if he has faced it in the past.  So if he takes food, do not be cross with him. Be cross with yourself for leaving it within reach. The same applies if he raids the bin.
  • If he has got hold of something you do not want him to have, distract him with a treat while the item is removed from his reach. Avoid confrontation.
  • Do not eat snacks down on his level i.e. on the sofa.  Sit at the table to eat until he really understands that your food is not for him, and block him from getting under the table by using chairs or your legs.
  • Do not feed him treats from your own food or give him your plate to lick. We are trying to help him learn that your food is not his and this will only confuse him.
  • Do not let children wander around with food/sweets this will make them vulnerable.
  • If you have a toddler eating in a high chair make sure all food spills are cleared up before you lift the toddler down.
  • If you already have another dog please be careful with treats in the early stages. It may pay to avoid them all together initially
  • Remember that it may take him years to realise that there will always be food tomorrow.  So make these rules a habit.

Some greyhounds coming out of racing may display these problems. They are kept at minimum weight to race. Every piece of food in their kennel has been for them. So they have to learn that you are the person who makes decisions about what they eat and when they eat.

Most of this is common sense. Imagine how your behaviour would develop if you faced constant threat of starvation and had to compete for food. Help your rescue dog to live happily for the rest of his life by following these simple rules.

Posted by: AT 01:48 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
 

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