Jump to section
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.
The Chase Method
Secure the leash
Make sure your Greyhound’s leash and collar are on him properly so that he can’t slip away.
Let your dog wander
While keeping an eye on your dog, let him drift away from you for a little bit. Do not overuse the recall, as your dog may learn to ignore you. Keep it a rare occurrence.
Call your dog
Using his name, call your Greyhound to you.
Use a verbal command
Use a command that will be unique to your dog’s recall. Don’t use a word that you use often in the house or around your dog casually. This word should be a non-optional recall.
Take some quick jogging steps backwards and away from your dog. This should encourage him to run towards you with interest, as Greyhounds love to chase.
Reward for coming to you
Stop when he catches up and reward your dog for coming to you. Make sure the reward is a good one.
The Condition Method
Get your dog’s attention
Use a sound or an item like a treat or a toy to get your dog to look over to you.
Keep your Greyhound’s attention for some time while she comes over to you.
Use a unique word
Choose a word like ‘come’ or ‘here’, which can be used solely for your Greyhound’s recall. This should be used as she’s in the process of coming towards you.
Reward for appropriate recall
Always reward when your dog returns to you and be sure that the reward is worth the effort. The higher value the reward is, the more likely she will return to you every time.
Over time, introduce small distractions like other people, dogs, nearby cars, or other similar daily occurrences. Practice holding your dog’s focus around these distractions and reward when she makes positive progress. Take a step back if necessary and try again if she struggles.
The Collar Method
Encourage your dog over to you
Use a toy or treat to get your dog to focus on you and come your way.
Use your verbal command
Use your command for recall, such as 'come' or 'here' while he is coming to receive the reward.
Place a hand on the collar
Get your hand securely on your Greyhound’s collar and maintain a hold on it. Your dog will get used to you taking and holding his collar whenever you call him over.
Reward only when secure
Offer the reward to your dog once you have a firm grip on his collar. He will soon learn that he only receives the reward once you have a secure hold on him.
Keep rewards high in value
Make sure that the rewards you give your dog for appropriate recall are always very high in value. Tasty treats like real chicken or a particularly fun squeaky toy can all be very useful in teaching appropriate recall.
By TJ Trevino
Published: 03/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021