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.