Owning a dog means knowing the typical behavior of the breed of dog that you have. While mixed breeds and mutts can be a bit of a mixed bag, you usually know what you’ll get when you have a purebred. For owners of working dogs, awareness of the high energy and exercise required is critical. For owners of toy breeds, behavior issues and fear aggression might be things to keep in mind. However, for the owner of what is known as a “sighthound”, the biggest challenge is the breed’s prey drive.
Sighthounds are typically tall, lean dogs with acute vision and the ability to run at high speeds. These dogs rely on their sight to hunt and chase, rather than their nose. Well-known members of the sighthound group are the Whippet, the Borzoi, the Saluki, and the popular Greyhound. Bred for hunting large animals like deer and antelope, the Greyhound has a heavy desire to run and chase, making it difficult to get his attention if he’s in mid-sprint towards something interesting. For this reason, teaching Greyhounds to come when called can be difficult, especially for dogs with high prey drives and stubborn temperaments. However, as with all dogs, a safe and effective recall is necessary to avoid accidents and injury to both owner and dog.
Teaching recall should begin as soon as you bring your Greyhound home with you. The sooner you get him into the appropriate habits, the better, though there are appropriate cautions to be taken during this training period. Puppies as young as eight weeks can begin to learn recall and mastering the command should take two to three weeks with the right amount of repetition and persistence. Be prepared, however, to continue to reinforce the recall even after your Greyhound has a proper grasp of the command.
The foundation of a good recall relies heavily on being more interesting than whatever is drawing your dog’s focus. This means that there are a number of ways to teach your Greyhound a reliable recall. The method you choose should depend on your dog’s behavior, history, and temperament.
Before anything else, your Greyhound will need a sturdy and safe leash. Training on-leash can help maintain control of the situation while your dog is still learning. Whether you decide to take training off-leash after the initial learning period is up to you, but a good leash is essential for starting out.
Second, you’ll need to find out what motivates your dog. Most dogs can be heavily swayed by treats, but others may prefer toys. Run some tests to see what will keep your Greyhound’s attention for longer and use that to begin your training.
Mr. Applesauce gets very easily distracted or zoned out when outdoors. He also gets very VERY scared of other dogs. I’m worried that he will never be able to learn recall as whenever we go to a park or fenced in area he immediately jogs toward the opposite direction I am in and doesn’t listen even when I have REALLY stinky treats for him. I’m just frustrated that he doesn’t seem interested or is too scared or distracted to learn anything.
Hello Thomas, Mr. Applesauce will need a lot of help addressing his fears and socialization before I would recommend trusting him off-leash without a secure fence, but even so, a recall is still important as a safety measure when he does happen to get away from you or when he is in a large fenced in area. I would recommend counter conditioning him to his fears by going somewhere with him on leash where he can see other dogs or distractions from a distance. Stay far enough away from the dogs for him to still pay attention to you when you give him a command and help him to do the command though. Work on his obedience from that distance and also work on his fear by rewarding him with happy, excited praise, affection, toys and games, and treats. Reward him whenever he looks at you, looks at the distractions but then looks back at you, looks at the fearful thing but then relaxes a bit, and generally when he remains calm or acts confident. By working on his obedience and his focus on you, you will be increasing his attention on you while also taking his mind off of his fears. By rewarding him for relaxing looking to you for direction, and focusing on you while around something scary, you will be making the experience more pleasant for him and build his trust in you, to decrease the fear overtime. As he improves, then gradually decrease the distance between him and the other dogs or distractions overtime. It also might be extremely beneficial for him to work with a trainer who has experience with fear, and who has resources such as other dogs and people that he can utilize as distractions during the training. Working on the fear should make training him in other areas more effective. For the recall for Mr. Apple Sauce, I specifically recommend using "The Reel In Method" from the article I have included bellow. Most methods depend on fun and games and treats to teach recall, but this method depends most heavily on building a habit of coming, and on using your dog's own desire to get somewhere as a reward. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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