Whether you foster a greyhound or you just adopted one, there are some challenges ahead and we’d like to share a couple of training principles to help with settling in your new family addition:
1) Ignore the behaviours you don’t want and reinforce the behaviours you like with treats, toys, cuddles and verbal praise
2) ‘No’, ‘Ahah’, etc. are not behaviours your dog can perform. It may distract your greyhound momentarily from what he/she is doing, but it doesn’t teach him/her what you want him to do instead. Think about what you want your greyhound to do and teach him/her. For example, we don’t want our greyhound to get up before us, we want him/her to lie on his/her bed. So teach him/her to lie on the bed using the verbal cue ‘bed’ (or whatever word you like to use) and reinforce it.
3) Training is not for emergencies. It is not about learning to ‘sit’ or ‘shake’. It’s about teaching your greyhound how to live in our world and is absolutely essential for a relaxed and happy hound.
4) Be clear in your communication with your dog; consistency and patience are key for your greyhound to understand what you want.
5) Whatever your dog is doing and no matter how annoying it is, he is doing his best with the information you provide. Under no circumstance is your greyhound ‘trying to climb up the hierarchy’, ‘dominant’, ‘stubborn’, ‘spiteful’ etc. He/she is simply not understanding what you want.
6) Fear (of the elevator, being home alone, other dogs, men, etc.) is an emotion and not a behaviour you can train a dog to have or not have. Desensitisation and counter conditioning can be slow but please stick with it. Once you have overcome this hurdle with your greyhound, he/she will have so much trust in you and all subsequent learning will be much quicker because of the bond you created by not pushing or punishing.
7) Dogs are learning all the time both the things taught deliberately and those taught unthinkingly. The question is not ‘why does my greyhound behave this way?’ but rather ‘what is reinforcing the behaviour?’
8) Always set your greyhound up for success and break down your training into small milestones.
9) ALWAYS have food available to reinforce the behaviours. Teaching your dog is not something you do in a class on Saturdays for 4 weeks. Our greyhounds are always in training and there are lots of opportunities during the day to reinforce and proof behaviours already taught.
10) Our greyhounds are super sensitive souls and sometimes they wake up early to have a cuddle or need to go to the toilet late at night. Let them. Their entire life before coming to you has been deprived of human contact and was very regimented. A new family addition often needs extra reassurance, attention and love to feel at home.