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It is not usually so clear what a dog was made for at first glance, but a Greyhound shows its purpose in every line of its body: Greyhounds were made for speed. Greyhounds originated in ancient Egypt and developed as hunting dogs that operated independently of their handler. They hunt by sight, keeping their fast-moving quarry in view as they chase it down across wide expanses. It is no surprise that these speedy dogs were then used, and have been used until modern times, for racing.
With all this speed, your Greyhound should be a natural at fetch, right? Not necessarily. Greyhounds are not retrievers, and getting your Greyhound to bring back a toy can be challenging.
Greyhounds, like all hounds, sometimes struggle with call back training. Once a Greyhound is locked in on a quarry, it can be difficult to break her focus. If you throw a ball but your Greyhound sees a rabbit--she may be gone before you know it. Get ready for a long pursuit, you're not going to catch up to her. For this reason, you should only play with your Greyhound in a fenced area. Greyhounds were made to see and follow motion, so stationary objects can be hard for them to focus on. If the ball falls before your Greyhound sees it she may have trouble finding it. Similarly, she may have trouble finding you again if you are standing still, so try waving your arm while you call her back.
To encourage your Greyhound to return a thrown object, have better things available to motivate her. Keep plenty of yummy, highly desirable treats and good toys on hand and make sure she knows you have them. Frisbees and other relatively slow-moving, long flying toys are best, as your Greyhound will be able to stay focused on the toy until she catches it in midair.
Throughout training, remember that fetch is a fun activity, though one that Greyhounds may not be particularly well suited to. So be patient and have fun with your Greyhound, whatever her fetching abilities.
The Fetch the Treat Bag Method
If your Greyhound is very unmotivated to fetch, reluctant to even pick up the object or catch it from the air, try packing a hollow toy with treats to encourage your het.
Choose a toy that is easy to throw and for your Greyhound to carry, that you can pack treats into and get treats out of, but that your Greyhound cannot easily get treats out of.
Show the treats
Show your Greyhound that there are treats within the toy and give her a few before sealing it and letting her see that she can't get them out easily herself.
Toss the toy a short distance. Your Greyhound will go to it and try to get a treat out. Call her to you, encouraging her to pick it up even for an instant.
As soon as your Greyhound picks up the toy, reward her. Step back and encourage her to bring it closer. Keep increasing the distance you throw and encourage her to bring it to you until you are playing fetch.
The Lure, then Fetch Method
Motivated to chase
While Greyhounds generally aren't motivated to fetch, they are motivated to chase. You can use this motivation to teach fetch.
Set up a lure
set up a lure by running a string through posts with eye holes. Connect a cloth or stuffed toy with velcro so it will break away when your greyhound catches it.
Lure your greyhound
Run the lure, encouraging your greyhound to catch it.
Reward the catch
Reward your Greyhound with a good food treat as soon as she catches the lure, and then reattach it.
Increase the distance you are from the lure before your Greyhound catches it, and encourage her to bring it to you for a reward. Soon you can move onto throwing it.
The Fetch 'n Tug Method
Tug teaches to hold on
If your Greyhound won't carry a toy but enjoys tug, you can use tug to teach her to hold onto a toy.
Name the pick up
When you offer the tug toy and your Greyhound picks it up, name the behavior something like "fetch" before rewarding with the tug game.
Toy on ground
Set the toy on the ground and give the word for "fetch". If your Greyhound picks it up, reward her with tug. If not, wiggle it some to encourage her until she gets it.
Toss short distance
Toss the tug a short distance and encourage your Greyhound to get it. If she does, play tug to reward her. If not, go back to having the tug at your feet.
Toss longer distances and vary toy
Once your greyhound understands the principle, you can toss the toy long distances and try other toys.
Written by Coral Drake
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/21/2018, edited: 01/08/2021