Greyhound Behavior: Decoded!

Have you ever seen your greyhound act odd or refuse a command you know they understand?   If you are like me, you want to find a cause for what they are doing or not doing.  Today I am going to discuss how I analyze my dog’s behavior. 
 
First, greyhounds are not aggressive dogs.  Oftentimes new greyhound owners mistake play for aggression.  Greyhounds are mouthy, they like to feel different textures in their mouths and they also like to use their mouths in play.  
 


 
 
 
You can see based on these photos how someone might mistake greyhound play for aggression; however, it is completely innocent.  The nature of greyhound play can lead to issues, think big teeth and thin skin.  This is why a lot of owners turn out their greyhounds with muzzles on.  This is the safest why to turn out multiple greyhounds.
 
Aggression towards other dogs or humans is rather uncommon in greyhounds, although some tend to have very strong prey drives.  Jethro had some serious issues when he came to our home.  He thought that anything that was small and fluffy was a lure.  We needed serious help with this dog, as I was not accustomed to 65lbs of solid muscle pulling on the leash.  I went to our local obedience class first.  The environment there was overwhelming for Jethro and increased his fear.  I decided that his reconditioning was going to have to be completed at home and gradually introduced in public.
 
 
I am a researcher; I immediately researched the best books and set out on a mission to help Jethro.  These books were extremely useful to us, and I recommend them to other owners who are dealing with very drivey dogs:  On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas, The Other End of the Leash: Why We do What We do Around Dogs by Patricia McConnell, and Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior by Temple Grandin.  After reading these books I started implementing their suggestions.  I changed my behavior to help Jethro feel safe.  One of my Greyhound friends told me to act like a “calm fearless leader,” and this became my mantra with Jethro.  I also kept a toy with me anytime I had Jethro out, as Jethro is not food driven but loves to tug.  I was also focused on his body language to give me cues, allowing me to disrupt his unwanted behavior before it happened.
 
Overall this was very successful for us, but we did have setbacks.  Right after Darla was adopted I was struggling with watching Jethro and her on our walks.  Jethro did mess up and for about four months Jethro and Darla had to be walked separately so that I could keep my eyes on him and try my best to see the world through his eyes.  We have to remember that dogs are dogs.  They are not humans and we cannot expect them to act like us.  We have to look at life through their eyes and then train them to be successful in our world. 
 
Now, Jethro is doing great.  We can take him alone or with the rest of our pack anywhere.  I did not take away his prey drive (just asked our backyard squirrels) but I did enable him with the tools to be a great dog in a world of cats and poodles. 
 


 
 
Not all greyhounds have such high prey drives. The most common characteristic that greyhounds are known for include: even-tempered, gentle, affectionate, quiet, and athletic.  Oftentimes it takes a hound some time to blossom after adoption.   Even after the hound is well established in the pack, they may refuse a command or act odd.  That is when I really investigate what is happening and intervene if needed. 
 
The other day I was trying to get a photo of all three of my dogs laying on a blue quilt in the nice fall weather.  I had Sashi on one end and Jethro on the other.  All I needed was for Darla to lay down in-between the boys.  Darla is my most loyal hound: she comes when she is called, she sits on command, and she is pure awesomeness in a small brindle package.  She would not lie down between the boys, would not do it no matter what I fed her or gave her.  I took a step back, letting go of my photo idea, and got in Darla’s head and thought about these four things: 1. Darla is obedient, so what is the issue with this situation? 2. Darla knows how to lie down, is something bothering her about the position? 3. Jethro is the alpha of the pack, is she insecure about lying this close to him? 4. Is she uncomfortable being in the middle of the boys and would like to be on the end?
 
After thinking about these facts I realized that Darla did not want her space encroached on – it was not OK at that point in their doggy relationship.
 



 
When my dogs refused a command I first think, is something hurting them.  Often times the refusal can be linked to the flooring or to the situation above.  My dogs are not perfect and sometimes they will simply refuse to do something, but I always rule out other factors first.
 
If you look at all these photos, Darla does not have issues being close to other dogs but needs to be one the end.  The photo would have worked if I would have put her on the end and the boys together, oh well! I called off the photo shoot and everyone went back to his or her normal behavior. 
 
The point of this is that most of the time obedient dogs are not trying to ignore us.  There maybe something wrong with the situation in their minds.  It is not our job to make them do uncomfortable things but figure out that is the issue and try to find a fix to allow them to flourish.  
 
Being a dog owner and training my dogs is the hardest job I have.  I always need to be on and be a leader for the pack.  By analyzing your dog’s actions and getting into his head you will create a better environment for you and your hound. 

 

 

 

 

 

My Greyhound’s leg is broken, now what?

About 10 months ago Jethro broke his leg lure coursing.  It was a beautiful December day and we were in Moreland, Ga.  Jethro ran his first course and looked very strong and was having a blast.  I decided to run him in his second course because he looked so good and was having such a nice day.  During the end of the second course, he came up lame.  His left wrist was extremely swollen and he was not bearing weight.  I was very concerned by to looks of the injury but tried to tell myself it was OK.  I examed his wrist and felt crepitus (boney cracking) and my fears were certain he had broken a bone in his wrist. 

 Photo credit: Cindy Frezon

 

I called my vet and told him that I thought the leg was broken.  He advised me to stabilize the leg and come in the next morning. 

Overnight the swelling had increased and was causing Jethro a lot of pain.  We went to the vet and had x-ray.  His stopper bone was broken.  We discussed an experimental surgical technique to stabilize the bone with a small screw or splinting and stabilizing the joint for 8-12 weeks. 

I decided to splint and stabilize the joint.

Jethro is a very headstrong dog.  He had other plans than lying around the house for 8 weeks.  He wanted to be running and playing with his pack.  Keeping Jethro calm was incredibly hard and we ended up have to give him trazodone to keep him calm as he busted out of two crates and wrecked multiple x-pens.

While he was in the splint he developed a pressure ulcer on his elbow.  I was at my tipping point!

The pressure ulcer was extremely painful for Jethro.  I called the vet thinking we were going to have to begin antibiotics ( I am a nurse after all) but dogs are amazing creatures and their infection threshold is much stronger than humans.

I read all I could about pressure ulcers in dogs and found this article about a “doughnut dressing”.  This was a dressing shaped like a doughnut causing the pressure of the splint to be distrusted evenly around the wound allowing no pressure to be on the ulcer.  After a week of using the doughnut dressing the ulcer was healing and you could no longer see bone.

Jethro was such a good patient and supper lucky to have two nurses taking care of him.

After nine weeks in a splint, Jethro was free!  Clint and I were pushing getting the splint of ASAP due to the pressure ulcer.  I was so glad to hear the bone had nice regrowth and looked stable.  

After the splint was off Jethro still walked like he was splinted.  It took him about a week to resume a somewhat normal gait. 

After the splint was off the hard part began.  We had to rehab a dog.  He had lost a lot of muscle and was was stiff from the splint.  We began doing stretching and strength training.  I knew that the rehab was key in correcting Jethro’s gait. 

This video shows some of the rehab techniques I used to help Jethro to regain strength and balance in his leg. 

Jethro had a great outcome due to a great vet, serious human support, and his will to be able to run again.  If you are ever in the situation, I hope this post helps you and your hound. 

 

Photo credit: Cindy Frezon

 

 

 

The Peanut

I admit I struggle to get my dogs exercised when it is raining.  I hate being outside when it is wet and I hate them getting so dirty.  I dislike rain.

So what is a savvy greyhound owner to do with her hyperactive and under stimulated hounds… Well, my friends, that sounds like a job for the peanut.  
The peanut is designed by FitPAWS.   It is an oblong shaped ball that the dog stands on to help increase their core awareness.  Just like core training in the human world, this is hard work.  I ask the hound the stand on it for three minutes at a time repeating three times.  This gives them a brain and core break and allows them to focus when it is their turn.  

 

 

My boys adore the peanut, as soon as I get it out excitement erupts with barking, running, and all together spazzing-out.  Darla, is not a peanut fan.  The upside for her is the food; girlfriend is a foodie and will do just about anything for salmon.  
The good thing about the Peanut is, that it works the dog physically and mentally.  This gives you a nicely exercised calm dog that will not wreck your home when it is raining, snowing, or just icky outside.  

When all else fails, just move the coffee table, throw a toy down with a squawker, and let them go!  As you can see, the Diva loves her stuffed toys and NO ONE is getting on her bed

 

 

 

 

Have a good weekend and enjoy those nice, calm, happy hounds!

LGRA

I am always ready to get the dogs out and let them play.  I was planning to attend the ASFA region 7 invitational; however, I had an engagement that could not be rescheduled.  Fortunately, there was a LGRAmeet within a day’s drive on the same weekend.  I loaded up the hounds and we decided to try racing.  

I have to admit that my dogs adore this sport.  I am partial to lure coursing, mostly due to the location.  I love being out in the country, but the hounds love racing.  I think it has everything to do with the lure that is used in racing.  Jethro and Darla thought the squawker lure was the greatest invention on earth.  Sashi was a little unsure, but after some training, he loves the squawker as well.  
This was Darla’s first time running this season.  I was very impressed with the Diva.  Darla’s running can be very capricious.  She loves to run but on her terms.  If something irritates her or she is just not feeling like it she will not give it her all.  I have talked with my vets and trainers and we feel that that is just her.  I never know what I am going to get, but girlfriend came prepared for this race.  She did excellently against a very nice and very fast bitch.   She came in second and I was very pleased with her.
Jethro on the other hand, had bloody nail beds after his first run.  The ground was really hard and he is not accustomed to that, so he lounged in the car the rest of the day… Yeah right… He acted like a spoiled brat because he was not getting to run.  He ripped open a pack of cashews, spilled a bottle of water, and coffee over the seat of the car.   He was highly upset!
Overall, out first LGRA outing was a lot of fun.  Thanks again to great friends like Carl Doby and Jennifer Ng for their help and the wonderful photos!
Photo credit: Carl Doby and Jennifer Ng

ASFA Greyhound Speciality

 

ASFA Greyhound Specialty 2014

 

After much deliberation and my on-call schedule aligning with the stars, I was able to attend the ASFA Greyhound Specialty.  The Greyhound specialty is a wonderful event hosted by the Southeastern Greyhound Club, the main event is ASFA lure coursing.  There is an informal conformation show as well, which can be a lot of fun for the dogs.  My dogs feel that anything that evolves food and attention it is fun!

 

Unfortunately, Darla decided that she needed to wrangle with an opossum the week prior.  She lost a tooth and had to have surgery on her mouth, she was unable to run, but enjoyed an abundance of treats and smells within the show ring.  

 

 

I also brought the kid, he loved getting to play show dog.  As you can see he is an excellent sitter.  Unfortunately the judge did not find this as cute as I did.   

 

I am so biased about this little cutie! Really, isn’t that the cutest face ever!

 

I did run Jethro in the Lure Coursing trial.  I was very pleased with his performance.  Jethro always runs with a lot of heart.  He loves the lure and loves being out in the field.  He broke his hock during his pro career and his rehab continues.   I am quite sure he was the oldest dog entered in the open stake and he tied for 4th place.  He was very stiff after his two runs, so I opted out of a run-off and we happily accepted NBQ.  He always thinks he is the best and I enjoy spending time with him.  It was a win-win.  His stiffness resolved within a day, he was demanding his hike the next morning.  

 

 

 

 

I greatly enjoyed this event and the dogs had a wonderful time as well.  It is always nice to be in a field full of greyhounds, doing what they are best at.   Hopefully we will return next year.  

 

 

Photo credit: Cindy Frezon