How to Train a Greyhound to Come Back

Hard
2-4 Months
General

Introduction

The Greyhound is what is referred to as a sighthound. They are extremely fast, highly prey driven dogs that were bred to chase small game that come into their line of sight--thus the term 'sighthound'! That is why they are used for racing and trained to chase a lure. 

Many people believe that due to their breeding Greyhounds cannot be reliably trained to come back. While it can be more difficult to teach a Greyhound "recall", many owners successfully teach their dogs to come when they are off leash. Although this may be a challenge it is well worth it, as your Greyhound needs exercise and there is no way you are going to be able to run as fast as your quick canine! Allowing off-leash exercise to your dog will allow him the exercise and freedom he needs. Being able to get your Greyhound to come back when called will give you the peace of mind you need to ensure his safety, and that you go home with the same number of pets you left with!

Defining Tasks

Greyhounds can make very loyal, loving pets, and teaching them to come to you may not seem difficult at first, if you are in your home or fenced yard, or in an area free from distractions.  The problem arises when you encounter small prey animals, cats, and other dogs. Then your Greyhound can quickly become fixated and suddenly deaf to your calls. Training your Greyhound a reliable 'come back' command is vital for his safety, so he does not run away and get lost or worse, run into a hazard like a busy roadway with traffic. To train your Greyhound to come back you need to train him to focus on you, not every moving critter that comes along. Training on and off-leash in controlled areas like large fenced yards or dog parks during off hours to achieve this focus, before exposing your dog to open areas where distraction and encounters with other animals are likely to occur, is an important step.

Getting Started

While training your Greyhound to come back you are going to need to ensure his safety. Because he is so highly prey driven, and because Greyhounds can be easily startled and gone in a flash, you will need to take precautions not to lose control of your speedy friend during training. Use a well-fitted harness with a secure long line, not a retractable line. Have high value treats available, or favorite toys to reinforce “come back” and work in a safe area, free from distractions, such as a fenced yard or even a large room in your house if necessary. You may be able to use a fenced dog park during off-peak hours to train, when other dogs are not present.

The Shape Focus Method

Effective
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Step
1
Start free from distractions
Start in an indoor area free from distractions with your Greyhound. Give your dog a few treats to start so he knows you have them.
Step
2
Reinforce 'look at me'
Hold a treat in your closed fist in your outstretched arm. Do not give your dog the treat. Wait until your dog looks at you, then use a clicker or say “yes” and give him the treat. Repeat frequently.
Step
3
Increase difficulty
Increase the length of time your dog needs to look at your face before rewarding him. Move the exercise outside into a fenced area or on a lead line.
Step
4
Add hand signal
Start moving the treat with your hand to your face. Reinforce when your dog looks at your face with your hand and treat. Now move your hand to your face without a treat. When your dog looks at your face in response to the hand motion, reinforce. Add the command “look” .
Step
5
Add distractions
On a long lead, start practicing in areas with distractions where there are squirrels, dogs, cats, and other animals, and people present. Get your dog to focus on you, use hand signal and “look” then add the command “come” or “come back” when you have your dogs attention. Reward when your Greyhound comes back to you.
Recommend training method?

The Long Lead Method

Effective
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Step
1
Walk on long line
Take your Greyhound out on a walk on a long lead with treats available in a pocket or pouch.
Step
2
Change direction
When your Greyhound focuses on someone or something and starts towards it, call his name and say “come”. Run backwards, or in the opposite direction, away from your dog and the object of interest.
Step
3
Reward follow and come
When your dog runs over to you, produce and provide a high value treat.
Step
4
Touch collar
While your dog is taking his treat, bend down and touch your dog's collar. Repeat this until your dog learns to come and that part of the command means standing while you take hold of his collar.
Step
5
Establish
Repeat, gradually increasing the length of the long line and the level of distraction. Eventually, you can start working off-lead in a safe enclosed area. Once well established, you can reduce treats and replace with play with a toy and praise. When you are in an open, uncontrolled area, the well established “come” command can be used to recall your dog.
Recommend training method?

The Emergency Touch Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Use a tasty treat on your hand
Put some peanut butter or cream cheese on your fingers. Start inside your house, in the same room as your dog, where there will be no distractions for your Greyhound.
Step
2
Associate touch command
Give the command “touch” as your dog comes over and licks the treat off your hand.
Step
3
Increase distance
Move to another room away from your dog,. Say “touch” and when your Greyhound comes to you from another part of the house, let him lick the treat from your hand. Touch his collar and pet him while he is licking off the treat so he knows this is part of the call.
Step
4
Switch treat
Switch to a less messy treat, but still high value, like a piece of chicken or a hot dog. Keep saying "touch". Always reward the 'touch' command, it is an emergency recall command that will be reliable when needed.
Step
5
Add distractions
Take the show on the road! Take your Greyhound out in the yard or in dog parks and practice 'touch', always providing a high value treat. If your dog does not respond to 'come' or other off leash recall commands that are rewarded with play or praise, you can use 'touch'. Your dog will always expect a high value treat, as he has always been provided with one in the past.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 03/06/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Amber
Greyhound
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Amber
Greyhound
5 Years

She's a rescue dog, ex racer. We have problrms with recall off the leash. Sometimes she plays and comes back when called, sometimes we have to walk after her... Please advise

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you information on how to teach recall. Recall: STAGE ONE – 'Catching' or Charging Up the 'Come' Cue Start in a distraction free environment so that your dog can focus only on you. Whenever your puppy or dog is coming to you on his own, wait until he is a couple of feet from you and then say his name and the word 'come.' When he gets to you, make a big fuss. With this exercise, your dog will learn that coming to you is a really good thing. After a while, you can lengthen the distance between you and start using the word when he is coming to you from a greater distance. Coming to you should always be rewarded, whatever the circumstance and no matter how long it took your dog to respond. Motivate your dog to come by being exciting, running away from him, waving a toy, or having delicious food for him when he gets to you. This will show him that coming back to you the best thing he can do. STAGE TWO – Solidifying the Cue Through Play Make sure you play the Back and Forth game with another person that your dog is comfortable with. Start the game in a quiet environment so it is easy for your dog to focus on you. Hold your dog back while the other person calls him excitedly. Try not to use his name or the cue word but talk excitedly to ‘gee’ him up. Do not release him until the person calls his name followed by the cue word “come.” When the cue word is given, release your dog and let him go running to the person calling. As soon as he reaches them they should praise and reward him with a game of tug or a food reward. When your dog has had his reward, have the other person hold him back as you call him and release as you say his name followed by the cue word. When he comes to you reward him with another game of tug or food reward. Repeat this game back and forth but only do a few repetitions so your dog does not get bored or too tired. Keeping it fresh means the game is always fun to play. STAGE THREE – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Inside Now your dog knows what the word “come” means you can use the cue word to call him to you while adding a hand signal to the word. Hand signals are always good to build with vocal cues so that even if your dog cannot hear you he will understand what the hand signal means. This is good if your dog is a distance away from you. Start in a quiet environment. Walk away from your dog and call his name followed by the cue word and a hand signal. Praise and reward him when he comes to you. Start increasing the distance you call him from and praise for his compliance. If he does not respond, go back to the previous distance and repeat. Only practice this cue for a few minutes so your dog does not get bored. The secret to success is to always keep it fun, exciting and fresh. When your dog recognizes the hand signal, try calling his name and using the hand signal by itself without the vocal cue. You will then be able to use a combination of vocal cue only, hand signal only and the two together. Now your dog knows what the cue word means you can start to call him from different rooms or from areas where he cannot see you. This will encourage him to respond even when you are out of sight. STAGE FOUR – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Outside Now your dog is consistently coming to you in a distraction free environment you can proof your recall cue by taking it outside. Practice the recall in your yard and then gradually build up to the point where you can use it in the park or similar environment. The ultimate test is to use the recall when your dog is engaged in a different activity. Wait for a lull in that activity and then call your dog to you. Praise his decision to comply.

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