Activities For Italian Greyhounds

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Introduction

Italian Greyhounds are small, agile dogs with a desire to run and be active, but they can also be calm and gentle indoors and are known to be sensitive and affectionate. They have a high prey drive, which can be harnessed for dog sports like flyball and lure coursing and a gentle nature, making them equally suitable as therapy dogs. There are many activities that you can do with these small sighthounds that can help them to satisfy their natural inclinations and keep them healthy, balanced, and fit.

Lure Coursing

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 120 min
Items needed
Water
Dog Crate
Muzzle (if required by the specific club)
Activity description

Italian Greyhounds, like other sighthounds, have a strong desire to run which is generally coupled with a high prey drive. Lure coursing is a dog sport that was designed as a way to recreate the experience of chasing “prey” in a safer, more controlled environment. The “prey” in this case is most typically a white plastic bag which is attached to a series of pulleys and pulled around the course as a way to mimic fleeing game. This activity was custom made for sighthounds like the Italian Greyhound, although more types of dogs have been trying their paws at it in recent years. 

Step
1
Prepare your dog
While this particular activity was developed with sighthounds like the Italian Greyhound in mind, not all Italian Greyhounds are in good enough condition to participate. If your dog is older or you have any doubts about their fitness, it’s best to have them examined by a veterinarian prior to running the course. It is also important to ensure that your dog has a well established recall method so that you don’t have to chase down your dog at the end of the run.
Step
2
Find a club
There are several lure coursing clubs and groups available for you and your dog to join. There are four official sanctioned coursing clubs: the American Kennel Club, the FCI, the Canadian Kennel Club, and the American Sighthound Field Association. There are also several smaller local clubs that can be found throughout the United States, many of which accept both sighthound dogs and other types of dog. It may be a good idea to take your dog to a lure coursing session or competition, both to give the dog more familiarity with the sport and to evaluate the dog’s behavior in the lure coursing environment.
Step
3
Learn and compete
This particular dog sport doesn’t require much training for your dog as the drive to chase animals tends to be instinctive rather than taught, but there is a little bit of learning to do on your part. Each club has their own rules and regulations, some may even require muzzles to be worn or crating of competitors until it is their turn. While many clubs allow intermingling of different breeds, Italian Greyhounds are only allowed to compete with other Italian Greyhounds or similarly-sized dogs to prevent other coursers from viewing them as prey. When you first enroll to compete, be sure to let them know it is your first competition as many clubs will allow your dog to run the course by themselves first and will take the time to ensure you know how to properly use the slip lead and coursing blanket that are typically required to compete.
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Therapy Dog

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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
30 - 120 min
Items needed
Leash
Activity description

The job of a therapy dog is to provide comfort and unconditional love to people who are in need of these qualities. These dogs typically make visits to hospitals, schools, and nursing homes, and on occasion, they will even visit the site of recent tragedies to try and help those that were directly affected by it to cope. The sensitive and quiet nature of the Italian Greyhound makes them an excellent candidate for this important job and while service dog training takes many years, a dog suited to therapy work can often start making visits after just a few months of training.  

Step
1
Socialize
The first step in preparing your dog for the role of a therapy dog is to help them feel comfortable in as many different situations as possible. This can be achieved by introducing them to as many scenarios as you can, including different types of people, sounds, and surfaces. This helps your dog to remain calm in a greater variety of environments and improves their ability to give comfort.
Step
2
Training
In order to be classified as a therapy dog, your canine companion needs to have good manners. An AKC Good Citizen award is required, and the dog should consistently display polite behaviors such as loose lead walking and not jumping up uninvited, and dependably respond to basic obedience commands including sit, look, and leave it. Your dog can then attend classes specifically designed for aspiring therapy dogs which also typically evaluate your dog at the end of classes to ensure that they are suited to the job.
Step
3
Register and visit
In order to get information, insurance, and support as you begin your adventure as the handler of a therapy dog, you will need to register your dog with one of several National Therapy Dog organizations, who will then help you find new locations where you and your pooch are needed and you can begin making visits.
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Canine Parkour

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Sunny Day
Free
Normal
30 - 120 min
Items needed
Treats
Water
Harness
Leash
Activity description

 Parkour is a training discipline that was originally developed in France in the 1980s but has quickly taken the world by storm as an inexpensive but highly effective exercise method.  Participants in this inventive sport utilize various objects in their immediate environment to create a constantly shifting obstacle course utilizing objects such as fire hydrants, logs, and park benches. This activity, although originally developed for human fitness, can be modified for your canine companion and often involves activities such as jumping up or down from objects, climbing, crawling under, and balancing - all of which are activities that the Italian Greyhound embraces. 

Step
1
Safety first
Parkour is an active and ever-changing sport. Some Italian Greyhounds may require a little convincing but most will take to this activity rather quickly. If your dog is resisting too much, don’t force the issue as anxious dogs may be more likely to get injured. A sturdy harness that fits snugly around their chest is required to allow you, as your dog’s spotter, to provide the needed support if your furry buddy happens to make a misstep while exercising. Parkour should also be avoided when the weather is causing slippery or otherwise dangerous conditions in the environment.
Step
2
Learn and compete
There are several basic moves that your dog will want to learn before they embark on their first parkour excursion. A backup command or something similar can be useful in improving the muscular strength and balance of the dog’s hindquarters and teaching them to put all four of their paws on one surface improve their balance and muscle tone as well as improving their awareness of their own body, also known as proprioception. Balancing on curbs and logs helps improve proprioception and balance as well and jumping gaps in the environment may help your pooch with the ability to work without distractions. Treats, while useful as a reward, should never be used to lure your dog into an uncomfortable position.
Step
3
Go!
Once you have everything together, and your dog knows the basic moves that they are going to need for their adventure, it’s time for you and your dog to pick a nice day to start. One of the factors about Parkour that appeals to many people is the fact that it can be done anywhere and just about any time of day, there is no need to wait for a gym to open or get any particularly special equipment to get fit, for you or your dog.
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More Fun Ideas...

Canine Freestyle Dance

Italian Greyhounds are agile and eager to please, making them first-rate canine dancing partners. In this relatively modern dog sport, dogs are taught specialized dramatic routines that they perform with their handler to musical accompaniment. 

Flyball

This dog sport is essentially an advanced competitive form of fetch in which teams of dogs race over hurdles to retrieve a tennis ball in relay teams of four. Due to their speed and agility, Italian Greyhounds often excel at this activity.

Conclusion

Italian Greyhounds are fast and active animals outside with a high degree of agility and a very high prey drive, but calm and affectionate companions in the home environment. These traits can be used for several types of activities which are particularly well-suited to these small, quick-moving canines.