I can honestly state that after many years of adopting retired racing greyhounds, I can say that they are loving, beautiful dogs who make wonderful family pets. However, they come into domestic life with little to no prior experience in a familiar home setting.
My first greyhound had no concept of stairs, and our most recent greyhound took a long time to adjust to the sounds coming from the television. These greyhounds were bred to compete in races. Because track life is all they've ever known, patience, direction, and training will be required to help them adjust.
The Importance of Training
Greyhounds that have retired from racing are nearly invariably mature dogs who have spent their puppyhood with their mothers and siblings. Adopters should not be concerned about puppy characteristics such as biting, chewing, scratching, or leaping up, but it is crucial to evaluate what training is required.
Some critical aspects of training, including potty training and sleeping arrangements, are frequently taught first. Owners prefer their dogs to urinate and poop outside, and bedtimes are at night, with specific sections of the house designated for sleeping. We don't always conceive of newly learned behaviors as "training," but the dog didn't come into the house knowing these things. Owners have just done an excellent job of establishing these basic cohabiting norms from the moment their new arrival arrived home. The most successful and long-lasting training is constant and repeated regularly. Setting some ground rules can help rescue dogs adjust to their new home and understand what is expected. They are most at ease with routine and parental control, just like children.
Despite having a happy puppyhood, ex-racing greyhounds do not have the same upbringing as family-raised puppies. They've only had minimal socialization with other greyhounds and haven't learned how to read canines' complicated body language. Greyhounds for racing are raised in kennels and know only their handlers. It's safe to say they'd met many people during their job, but it's all very regulated and impersonal, making amicable relationships strange and frightening.
These professional greyhounds have never been to puppy classes or dog parks to play with other dogs. They have not had family, friends, or guests come to their dwellings throughout their lives. They have no idea what to do with a dog toy or a food-dispensing game because household appliances are strange.
Training includes social skills, communication, play, engagement, and fundamental cues. It's critical to gradually teach a greyhound to recognize, appreciate, and enjoy all of the positive aspects of household life.
Positive Training Methods
Positive training is based on rewarding desired behaviors in a dog while ignoring or suppressing undesirable behaviors. Dogs are considerably more likely to repeat a behavior that results in affection, praise, or treats than behavior that does not. Of course, certain behaviors are more complex and require more attention, but dogs do not need to be punished for changing their habits. On the other hand, the punishment could hurt what is taught and encourage more undesirable behaviors.
Greyhounds are a quiet, sensitive breed that does not react well to rigorous training methods. It's critical to work with positive reinforcement and avoid becoming overbearing or screaming. They'll get agitated and fearful. It is far more challenging to train a distressed dog. Additional behavioral issues are likely to arise when the dread of doing something wrong builds, and they try to avoid punishment in the future.
The key to practical training is to offer a worthwhile incentive. That will vary depending on the dog. Praise, food rewards, toys, stroking, and games are possibilities. I've discovered that food is the most effective method with my greyhounds. Praise is also appropriate, but not excessively so. Swift, my greyhound, had been shocked before when I sprang for pleasure after he performed something right. Owners should spend some time determining their greyhound values above everything else and solely use that information for training purposes. Heart, liver, and turkey are all excellent choices that are pretty inexpensive. They should be tiny portions so that a dog does not become bored with training due to overfeeding.
Reward the dog heavily at first until they have a firm idea of what is expected of them. A new skill takes about three months to acquire and condition when practiced every day. Only half the battle is won when they understand what they are being asked to perform. The second half is giving them a reward worth them doing what you want them to do. Once trained, a reduction in the incentive can gradually be implemented. Begin with a 1-in-3 or 1-in-5 ratio. Even years later, I feel you should never stop rewarding people. We want our greyhounds to feel good about themselves. They thrive on receiving positive attention and being appreciated. We all enjoy being praised because it lifts our spirits. You just need to be mindful of over-training your dog since Greyhounds are prone to having corn feet, which could affect their behavior and overall health.
Socialization Over Time
Retired greyhounds must be progressively introduced to new environments, dogs, and people. They will become overwhelmed if placed in these environments too soon, and undesired behaviors will begin to emerge. Worse yet, they may withdraw totally. At first, they may appear fine with these crowded social gatherings, but the shock is stopping them from being themselves.
Ex-racing greyhounds are nervous and require adjusting to a new environment. They learn confidence and trust that the unexpected is not dreaded if new interactions are performed softly and voluntarily. The result is good things like affection, treats, new odors to discover, and possibly a buddy. Wiring in the brain develops due to slowly creating a positive association with all things new, and "new" learn to signify "good."
If all they learn when they are introduced to new things is overwhelmed and terrified, anxiety will develop instead of a good association. As a result, the greyhound refuses to travel anyplace or meet new canines or people. When they are placed into these situations, they may exhibit fear-related behaviors such as snarling, barking, lunching, or snapping in an attempt to warn people away. Adopting a retired greyhound requires a lot of socialization, but it must be done cautiously.
How to Begin
The ability to maintain concentrate on the subject is critical in any training. Working on maintaining their attention is an excellent place to start. Use a treat or toy to capture their attention, and then place the precious prize by your side. Dogs will nearly always stare at the treat for a long time before looking up at you. Once they've done so, use a marker like "Yes" to signal that looking at you was the correct behavior, and then reward them with a treat. Rep this process 5–10 times more, marking and rewarding them each time they gaze into your eyes. They'll realize that just by gazing at you, they'll be rewarded.
Extend the length of time they maintain your sight as you continue this attention exercise. Repeat at least once a day. The objective is to teach your greyhound that good things will happen if he concentrates on you. This simple practice does not require verbal commands. If you practice often, your excellent greyhound will want to make eye contact with you regularly without being asked. If you are looking for the ideal pet for your family, you can consider taking care of an Italian Greyhound.
Cue training provides numerous advantages. It not only gives dogs a signal on how to behave but also establishes communication and fosters a link between the owner and the greyhound. When you make eye contact, oxytocin is released, and when praise, treats, or stroke follow it, the love hormone is reinforced. It's a win-win situation.
Although the terms "cue training" and "command training" are frequently used when discussing dog training, it is essential to understand the differences between the two.
'An authoritative order, dominate' is what command means. A cue is defined as "anything said or done that indicates to another or stimulates an action in response to a stimulus." Working with dogs by providing clues to follow rather than directing them to do something is far the more effective strategy. Owners may build a closer relationship with their dogs by thinking like this when training. Greyhounds, in particular, benefit from cue training since they learn faster. They want to please and succeed, so they are far more likely to interact with a compassionate, patient, and encouraging trainer.
Most dog cue training begins with the basic command "Sit." The greyhound's body structure, on the other hand, makes them uncomfortable in this position. It is not natural for them to put their rumps on the ground like many other breeds. Even those who succeed can appear clumsy as their bellies collapse in on themselves as they lean to one side. Those who can sit on their haunches have done exceptionally well. Moving straight to a "Down," as I did with my first greyhound, could be more feasible. He couldn't sit at all unless he were leaning on the sofa's back.
Greyhounds are an intelligent breed that may be easily trained if done correctly. As previously said, their light, pleasant nature necessitates a gentler approach. Retired racing greyhounds have never analyzed human signals due to their upbringing. It's as if you've been placed into a foreign nation with a completely different language and culture.
When the movement you're attempting to elicit is complex for them, or they become frustrated because they don't comprehend what you're asking, capturing is an excellent approach to train them. Capturing essentially captures the instant they make the movement in the first place and then uses it. For example, if you want to teach a greyhound to go to their bed on command, wait patiently for them to approach it and then say "go to your bed" while rewarding them with a treat and praise. Do this every time, and they'll quickly learn to equate the command "go to your bed" with sitting in their bed and receiving a treat and praise.
This approach is one of my favorites since it works so well. I'm now working on teaching my grey to paw. Greyhounds do not sit easily. Thus this is a complex movement for them. Instead, I set out 30 minutes each day for this activity, take some sweets, and sit in front of him. He understands that we will learn as long as goodies are involved, but he has no concept of what "paw" implies. We've begun by merely touching his paws. I say "paw" and give him a treat if he moves them. He's already tapping his paws on the floor after three days. He knows that wiggling his paws gets him rewards, so now comes the fine-tuning. This will take me weeks to teach, but it will be enjoyable. During the day, between walks, we spend some quality time together, and his brain gets a workout.
Retired greyhounds are more likely to spend their adoptive days on a leash since they still have strong hunting instincts, which could lead to them fleeing into danger if they see prey. However, teaching a greyhound recall is not impossible. It took two years and a lot of effort before I was able to let my first greyhound go free, but it was well worth it. My newest greyhound is younger, more alert and recall takes longer. The idea is to keep practicing until you have faith in their capacity to hear your voice over the instinct to pursue the prey.
All recall practice should begin at home. It is well essential to establish and stick to a single cue signal for memory. Whistles, which are louder and may pierce through the concentration on the hunt better than voices, can be effective for greys that are hyper-focused on prey. You'll also require a high-value incentive. Race trainers have taken advantage of a greyhound's natural hunting drive. When most people sense prey, the instinct to pursue it is so strong that it is no longer a conscious thought. This is the situation faced by retired greyhound owners. These greyhounds need to be re-trained to react differently when they see prey, which goes against everything they've learned.
You can transfer it into the garden if you have a good recollection at home. Try recalling between the house and the garden and from the garden into the home (where there are more distractions). If you don't have access to a garden, find an enclosed space to practice in. The United Kingdom has begun to construct more enclosed facilities for dogs, and some small enterprises rent out enclosed rooms. Long training leads are commonly used during recall training with dogs, but I advise against using them with retired greyhounds. In just six steps, they can achieve speeds of 45mph/72km - a matter of seconds. Attempting to keep hold of the training lead will likely cause harm to both the owner and the dog.
Seek Expert Assistance
I strongly advise dealing with a professional if a retired greyhound has a high prey drive easily aroused on walks. Canine behaviorists and trainers have the knowledge and experience to direct owners to the most effective methods for achieving long-term success.
Experts can not only provide helpful advice on how to train a dog, but they can also relieve some of the stress that owners place on themselves by providing clear directions on what to do. This can be beneficial, especially if the couple disagrees about approaching the training. There are no hard and fast rules for training a dog. They are all unique. What works for one person may not be the ideal solution for another. Greyhounds are sensitive and do not respond well to more robust, assertive techniques, as established earlier in this essay.
On the other hand, the high-prey-driven dog requires a more complex tone because they are pretty intense. An expert can offer the ability to read a dog and suggest what is working and where training tactics should be tweaked. Spending some time with them can provide years of pleasure and is well worth the investment.
Furthermore, you have to take extra attention to your dog when it comes to its health and fitness. Make sure to follow care tips for your Greyhound to prevent health issues in the future. Being mindful of this will ensure excellent performance in the field.
You can visit this site to learn more about training your Greyhound.
Frequently Asked Questions About Training Greyhounds
Greyhounds are an intelligent breed that may be easily trained if done correctly. For example, if you want to teach a greyhound to go to their bed on command, wait patiently for them to approach it and then say "go to your bed" while rewarding them with a treat and praise.
Greyhounds are not push-button obedience dogs eager to please, but they can be trained with constant gentle methods and rewards. For ages, they've been bred and appreciated for their ability to work at a distance from their master, making them a somewhat autonomous breed that doesn't wait for the following command.
Sprinting drills and trail races are held regularly at tracks and are a great way to get started. They usually begin with around 250 meters (273 yards) and gradually increase with time. It takes a lot of patience and trial and error to train a greyhound.
Remove your pet from the situation as quickly as possible while remaining calm. If it's a dog, don't just muzzle it and charge ahead, hoping it'll get used to it, it won't, and it'll only become worse. Reward your pet with a murmured "good dog" when they are lying calmly on a mat.
While their pedigree suggests they wouldn't make good first-time dogs, the reality is that they do. Greyhounds can run. They are friendly, lovely dogs who are sensitive to their owner's feelings. They get along with both children and adults and are unafraid of strangers.
The sit position is difficult to adopt due to the greyhound's excellent aerodynamic form. The majority prefers the sphinx pose or simply lying down. A complete set is impossible due to their long spines and powerful hindquarters.
On walks, your greyhound may suddenly stop and refuse to go, indicating that they are afraid and overwhelmed. If this occurs, allow them some time to relax, please talk to them, and then seek help from a veterinarian behavior consultant.
Say something like "how do you do!" and give your dog the treat when they touch your hand with their paw. Hold out your other hand in an open position towards the leg you want your dog to lift while holding a goodie in one hand. Say "How do you do!" and treat your dog as soon as their paw meets your open hand.
Your Greyhound Must Be Fed Each adult should take turns feeding your greyhound to assist your new dog bond with the rest of the household. Place the bowl on the table and encourage your dog to wait a few seconds before eating. This reinforces your place as the dominant one(s) while also winning respect and love of your dog.
Training a Greyhound is usually a pleasurable experience, and the dogs usually pick up basic commands fast. A Greyhound you adopted as a puppy from a caring breeder may respond to training in a very different way than a retired racing dog you adopted from a kennel.
Fear, anxiety, and the uncertainty of a new environment are at the root of most problematic behaviors in greyhounds. This is partly due to heredity, but primarily to a lack of early and proper socialization in the home. This includes folks for many paddock-raised, non-chasers.
Is it possible for greyhounds to learn to sit? Yes, absolutely. Greyhounds should not be forced to sit for extended amounts of time since their massive thigh muscles make it difficult for them to sit. But, except one, all of them over 70 foster children who have been through our home have learned to sit (the remaining one performs a "down" instead).
The activity of some Greyhounds is known as "knitting." When a Greyhound is overjoyed and adores their "human," they may use their front teeth to chew on their arm or side (or any exposed skin). It's a happy smile, yet it could be mistaken as aggression. That is why it is ideal to give your Greyhounds dental chews to keep their teeth healthy.
Ignore him and get on with unpacking your belongings. When he appears to have settled down a little, go outside and practice your greetings. Another alternative for dogs who enjoy playing is to have a few toys or a ball near the gate or back entrance and throw one as you enter the yard.