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Hello - newbie with a Springer x Saluki here

Nikki Thompson

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Hi everyone

I'm Nikki, and I've just adopted an 11-month-old Springer x Saluki called Alto.

I'm trying to find a trainer and some classes in our area, but also wanted to see if I could find anyone who has a Springer x Saluki that I could ask a few questions of too! I've had Labs and Staffies before, but never a cross and never one as seemingly 'rare' (for want of a better word...) as Alto.

I feel like I'm learning everything for the first time - looking forward to reading through all the interesting threads here and contributing to the discussions where I can
If you want to say roughly which area you are in, it's possible someone may have recommendations for trainers.

And even if nobody has the same cross, we do have some good collective knowledge (even of 'special' dogs) so ask away!
Springer x saluki.... you're a brave person! :eek:

I don't know any of that cross, and though I know several saluki crosses I haven't had one. I love them to bits though.

It's really good that you feel that you're learning everything for the first time, because sighthounds in general and salukis in particular are very different to other dogs and respond very differently to training. I would only take on a trainer who has sighthound experience and was 100% positive - if you are in the slightest bit heavy-handed with these dogs you can easily break their already fragile brains.

We would love to see a photo of Alto - I bet he's stunning.
Thank you both for your quick replies!

I'm in Guildford, in Surrey. Any recommendations, especially for trainers with sighthound experience as Judy says, would be really appreciated.

The sighthound behaviour is difficult to know how to manage, I must say. Research and reality are two very different things! He is very 'Saluki' in temperament - independent and gentle, very affectionate but not too touchy feely, and he can sleep for hours on end. He has some Springer crazy in him, which I love, although he's very gangly thanks to the Saluki side, so he often gets a bit crashy!

The main issue we have with him at the moment, not surprisingly, is on the lead. He goes for absolutely everything, and his ability to spot another dog/a car/a jogger from a distance is staggering. He strains and then when that doesn't work, drops to the ground so we can't move him, and then the lunging and barking starts when they get closer. Really awful! He's not super responsive to us yet, so distracting him is almost impossible.

Anyway. Sorry for the ramble! He's absolutely amazing and I only want to use positive, reward based training with him - I don't want to harm him physically or emotionally in any way. He's been passed between about 4 homes so far, and develops a different issue in each one it seems, so I just want him to be safe and happy with us.
Oh, and here he is!


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He’s just gorgeous! Poor lad having so many homes, no wonder you’re finding issues :( well done for taking him on , hoping he’ll settle happily with you forever now, he needs stability and good training which it sounds like you’re planning for him. I’ve had many Springers over the years and they are truly a wonderful breed so hoping he has a few of their traits :)
Judy's lurcher can be reactive so I'm sure she will have more to add, but just to start you off here are some thoughts.

Dogs have an invisible radius of space around them where they feel secure. It's called flight distance, anything within that space triggers the fight or flight stress response, which you may have heard of. So, if he is reacting, the people/dogs etc. are already in that space. And, you trying to deal with his behaviour is a little bit like applying the brakes after you have driven the car off the cliff edge - it's too late.

But, you didn't say when you got him. Stress is cumulative, and if he is already stressed, he will be quicker to react. The stress hormone cortisol builds up, think of it like a bathtub having buckets of water poured in periodically, at every stress trigger, but with only a tiny plug hole for draining away. If too many stressful events come in quick succession, the cortisol doesn't drain away, and you get overflow in the form of a meltdown.

So if you have only just got him, that will be really stressful for him - and something that he might have been able to cope with on an empty stress tank becomes unmanageable for him.

I hope that made sense.

If you think that is the case, you could try having a few really quiet days, even just sniffing round the garden, so when you do go out you are starting on zero cortisol. In humans it can take 72 hours for it to drain down, it isn't so clear in dogs how long it takes.
Thanks Joanne - yes, that definitely makes sense, and we got him last Saturday so all still very new to him and he certainly does seem stressed every now and again.

We've got loud neighbours out in the garden all of a sudden (always the way!) and people knocking on the door with post and things, all if which sets him off barking, so he has hours of being relaxed and then moments where he is clearly reactive and stressed.

Trying to soothe him and give him reassurance when these things happen and its slowly getting better so far, but I can absolutely see what you mean about seeing a cumulative effect when dogs are in his space on walks.

Thanks so much for your help - I'm going to do some more research :)
He is gorgeous. .lots of saluki in there...can i ask what you feed him .....
Thanks! And yes, the Saluki is even more obvious in those photos :)

So, at the moment he is on Naturo dried food - he had food guarding issues at his last home (high value raw food diet + young kids allowed to take food from him = guarding), so when he got back to the rescue centre, they switched him to kibble to try and get rid of the impulse to guard it.

It's worked so far, and we haven't had a hint of any kind of guarding with us, and we just leave him to it when his food goes down. I'd be interested to hear any suggestions for when we transition him off it, once he's settled in though!
With any sighthound they are better with protein less than 18%in kibble as this can affect their behaviour. .like a kid on smarties although it may be a very good food it may not be right for him ...
My lot have been fed raw for years and all my lurcher fosters have had raw ....
My sister has a saluki whippet 9 mths who was starting to be very difficult (lack of socialising due to coronavirus )
She was feeding her kibble of 25%protein .....she didnt want to feed her raw so is feeding burns at 18%protein and has noticed a real difference. ...
Thank you, thats really good to know - we're starting to think about transitioning to a long term diet so that's very helpful.

This is probably a stupid question but as he's got the Springer in there too, do we need to adjust the levels or account for more/less protein because of that?
If he were mine i would be switching him back to a raw diet that way it would suit both breeds ;)
My dog is a resource guarder and raw fed, so it would be possible to transition Alto back to raw. We just let him get on with eating it, only give him bones that he can eat in a few minutes, and don't even think about taking food off him. There can still be dodgy moments, such as if he has a dodgy tum - he'll guard his food even if he won't eat it!

Further to what JoanneF said, I think the trick is to tap into the 'thinking' part of his brain (which is a very small part right now). After giving him some stress-free time, take him for walks, but try to avoid all triggers - people, cars, dogs, whatever. When one appears, you want him to be at a comfortable distance where he won't kick off, then you let him look at it and give him a treat. You want him to think 'Yay, there's a dog, half a mile away - I get a treat!' and turn to you. Gradually, over time, you reduce the distance to the trigger, always trying to keep him in his comfort zone, and rewarding calm behaviour. If he's slightly anxious, you may be able to wait him out and as soon as he shows calmness and is ready to walk on nicely, you praise and treat.

Of course, sometimes, it all goes wrong and you're standing there with a dog trying to wake the dead and go into orbit. If you can, walk him away. My dog is large, and I'm not, and on a number of occasions I just had to stand there, calmly looking at the clouds, till he realised that behaving like this wasn't achieving much - then he'd self-calm, then I'd praise and treat. Over time, he would control himself much faster - he was using the thinking part of his brain. I would expect this to take a bit longer with a saluki x though, due to the box of frogs they all have between their ears.

A good video for teaching impulse control is 'It's Yer Choice' on YouTube. As with all training, though, remember that your dog won't want to do any boring repetitions - if he can't see the point, he won't bother - so you'll need to adapt it to him.

There's a member who comes on here sometimes with a saluki x with similar issues, @NaomiH. Hopefully she'll see this post but if not, you might want to search through her posts.
Thank you so much Judy, that's all really reassuring and helpful advice for us, and I'll look at the YouTube video you've mentioned this evening.

And I'll definitely have a look at Naomi's posts as well.

You've all been really kind and helpful, thanks so much!

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