Last week we looked at five behaviors that our Greyhounds wish we wouldn’t do. Continuing on, today we consider five more actions to avoid or modify.
#6. Changes to Routine
Greyhounds thrive on routine. When a dog is on a consistent schedule each day, the dog gains a sense of stability and a better idea of when they'll be fed, potty time schedules, walks, playtime. Whenever possible, these things should be done at the same time of day. If you randomly change her dinner time, take her out later than usual, or even leave or arrive unpredictably, it can stress your Greyhound and result in behavioral problems. As much as possible, stick to the same routine, the same diet, the same ritual play activity—whatever is working. On days off, try not to sleep in too late. And, even if you’re tired, take her for that walk each morning before you go to work.
When we have a change in our routine or schedule, we often don’t think about how this can affect our dog. Here are some ways to help them cope with the changes:
- Try to make the change gradually
- Don’t make a big deal of it (leave calmly and same when you come home).
- New toys help distract and playtime is great for diffusing anxiety.
#7. Strange Dogs
Although Greyhounds almost always welcome other Greyhounds, new dogs will not always be Greyhounds. Your Greyhound may be wary of new animals entering your home. It’s a result of his natural, normal instinct to protect his home turf. But some people, thinking that all dogs instinctively love other dogs, let friends bring their dogs over for impromptu visits. This can annoy even the most congenial dog and might incite a skirmish.
Instead, first introduce any strange dog while on a walk. Pick up toys and chews beforehand to minimize arguments. Then bring the new dog into your home on leash and have them both hang out for a few minutes. Reward with treats when they calmly interact. If you have a fenced yard, let them them go out and burn off some social steam.
#8. Tight Leash
Many dogs today seem to drag their people down the street, the leash stretched tight behind them. This means that not only is the dog not paying attention, but also has constant tension on his collar or harness, which can lead to health problems. Though the dog technically creates the tension, it nevertheless is annoying to both of you.
Loose leash-walking shows that the dog is paying attention and focused. A simple way to help your Greyhound learn to walk without pulling on the leash is to stop moving forward when he pulls and to reward him with treats when he walks by your side. If your dog is not very interested in food treats, then you can use a favorite toy in place of feeding a treat. You’ll soon have a focused, happy dog at the end of a loose leash.
#9. Interrupted Sleep
There is a reason why that old saying “Let sleeping dogs lie” endures. Just like us, dogs hate to be awakened suddenly. Older dogs especially, who tend to sleep more deeply, and those whose impaired hearing might not allow them to hear someone’s approach might be frightened by a person suddenly touching them. Dogs dream and sleep much like humans, with similar REM patterns. Although most dogs sleep 14 to 16 hours a day, they still need some of the deep, uninterrupted sleep we do.
Let your dog wake up naturally, without touching them or sneaking up. You wouldn’t like being shocked out of a good dream. Why would your dog? If you do need to wake your dog, do so slowly, quietly, and gently.
#10. Inadvertently Aggressive Greetings
We tend to believe that because we love dogs, all dogs will love us too. Unfortunately, this is not always true, at least if the dog is unfamiliar with us. Remember that the best way to greet a strange dog is not at all. Here's why:
The dog doesn’t know if you are greeting or attacking. Most people crouch, stare, stretch their hand out, and talk in high-pitched baby talk. This is a threatening way to greet a dog. First, the person’s crouch mimics a predator’s pre-attack posture. The stare is the second threat, only to be topped by the outstretched hand reaching into their space, ratcheting up the stress. Not only is this an annoying way to greet a dog, it’s possibly dangerous.
When meeting or greeting someone else’s dog, first ask the person for permission to meet their dog. While doing so, the dog will sniff you and interpret that his person seems to be at ease with you. If the dog seems at ease and his person says it’s okay, you can then casually reach down and give the dog a quick pet on the head. That’s it.
In summary, do not assume that other dogs will love to be treated the way you treat your own dog. Most aggression in dogs is due to anxiety or fear. Research suggests that people, especially children, seem to have difficulty reading signs of stress and anxiety based on their dog’s body language. It’s worth taking the time to learn your dog’s body language in order to understand them and likewise for us to clearly convey what we want to say to our dogs. The better we can communicate with our dogs, the less likely misunderstandings will occur.
If you would like to learn more about communicating with your Greyhound, check out this informative book called HOW TO SPEAK DOG, Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication. It is full of helpful information and detailed drawings depicting the subtle differences in dog body language. You can find it here http://bit.ly/HowtoSpeakDoggish
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