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Lurcher Help

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by MrCW, Aug 20, 2018.

  1. MrCW

    MrCW New Member Registered

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    Hi everyone, new here as i need help with my 2.5year old lurcher, probably greyhound/whippet/saluki Elsa.
    She is a rescue that we got when she was about 1yr old to go with our 5 year old Saluki x lurcher Libby.
    We had some early teething problems with food possessiveness toward Libby but not us that we managed to correct her on.
    I started her her home training as soon as possible, i am no expert but have had rescue lurchers for about 20yrs.
    This seemed to go well apart from the usual difficulty's with recall, this i am still improving on, great at home in the garden but not so much on a walk.
    The real problem started after about 6 months and that is lead aggression, i don't know what started it but i think its really a nervous behavior more than anything.
    What i can't understand is i thought it may be a socializing issue and to help, as often as possible take her to country/agricultural shows with a lot of people and a lot of all different types of dogs... we always have an excellent day out with not a single noise from Elsa.
    I can then get home she sees another dog out on a walk and then reacts aggressively towards it, this i try to stop with a check on the lead and a positive NO, if she calms down i praise and treat her then continue to walk, its reading the signs of her getting stressed before it turns into barking, to reassure her there isn't a threat, the stages are a tensing up, puffing out her cheeks ,low growl and then into loud growl and barking if it gets that far,it happens quickly sometimes and is to late to stop until the dog has gone.Not every dog this happens with, if the dog is with someone she knows well and never met before can react like they were separated at birth and couldn't be more pleased to see it.
    Sorry for the long post but i am at a loss with what to do to the point that sometimes i get worried myself before going out at who we may meet on a walk.
    I have always had very sociable dogs with people and other dogs and always enjoy meeting other walkers but not in the last year added to the fact that we lost Libby at the beginning of the year due to health problems.
    Thank you for your time reading my post, any help greatly appreciated.
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Hi. I have a couple of thoughts but I don't have much time just now -

    Is it possible she is a little more anxious and keeping quiet out of self preservation? You know about fight or flight: there is a third status which is freeze (rabbit in the headlights). She isn't actually in that but could be metaphorically keeping her head down.

    For normal walks I have suggested the technique below to people - I have pasted it in as I am a little pressed for time, please adapt accordingly

    She likely feels anxious but being on lead, she can't get away so has to put on an even bigger display of 'I'm tough and scary, don't mess with me'.
    She will have an invisible radius of space around her where she feels secure . Find out what that is and keep her far enough away from other dogs that she is relaxed. Reward this calm behaviour. Gradually, over weeks and months, not days, work on reducing the distance. But - be aware that if your dog has had a stressful episode the stress hormone can stay in the body for up to 48 hours so a distance she was comfortable with the day before might be too close that day. So the safe distance can change, watch her body language.

    Trainers describe behaviour like this with reference to the three Ds. Distance, as above but also be aware of Duration (your dog might be tolerant for 10 seconds, but not 15) and Distraction - how distracting the stimulus is; a calm dog might not trigger any reaction at a given distance but a bouncy one might.

    Alongside that you could train a 'watch me'. As your dog looks at you, mark and reward the behaviour. Ask for longer periods of watching. Then if a dog approaches, after you have worked on the distance issue, you can get your dog to focus on you and not the other dog. BUT - some dogs find this scary as they cannot see the thing they are anxious about so you need to judge your dog.
     
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  3. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Elsa may feel quite overwhelmed at the agricultural shows so she shuts down - she's still anxious about other dogs but doesn't feel able to respond as she should normally. So when she gets home and goes on a normal walk, she's just about ready to explode at the slightest thing.

    Checking the lead and telling her NO won't help - it just heightens her level of anxiety. The trick is to try to avoid these situations as much as possible. If you see a dog she might not like, give her a treat just for seeing it and then keep your distance, or turn the other way. You want her to be in her comfort zone all the time and then build a connection so she thinks 'I see a dog - yay, I get a treat'. Gradually, you should be able to reduce the distance you can be from a strange dog, but don't rush it. You might also find that there are certain dogs she doesn't like, e.g. black, heavy-set, entire, bouncy...

    As my dog is relatively large/strong (I'm small and weak!) I find him hard to hold if he kicks off so if he sees a cat and tenses up, I'll just hold the lead firmly and tell him it's not for him and eventually he'll calm down and walk on - and then get a treat. The calmer I am, the sooner he'll calm down - if I told him NO he'd be more likely to kick off. But it's taken him a long time to get to the point where he'll self-calm! Being able to lead Elsa away calmly is much better than pulling her away kicking and screaming, hence the need to stay in her comfort zone.
     
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  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    @JudyN, we should do shifts!
     
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  5. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I know, it's getting ridiculous! But at least we usually agree;)
     
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  6. MrCW

    MrCW New Member Registered

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    Thank you for your quick replays.
    I must say that i have been torn between the NO approach and the calm.
    This is what i have understood along the way.
    To me by saying No in that situation is to say what she is doing is unacceptable and for her to stop.
    For me to have the calm approach talking to her" its ok don't worry they won't hurt you" is in a way saying carry on what your doing and reinforcing her bad behavior.

    That being said i should also know having had a whippet and a saluki they are both either timid or aloof, nervous breads.
    That together makes for a more anxious type and sterner training wouldn't help.
    The calmer way should be the only way to get the most out of this type of dog.
    It will be difficult to avoid other dogs but i understand what you mean as i do tend to cross the road as soon as i can to avoid other dogs whenever possible.
    The confusing thing was once she met the dog after a minuit or so it seemed as she was calm and happy to be there, from that i thought that meeting as many i could was the answer.
    I totally agree with what you are both saying, the "watch me", i have been trying that for a while but thinking about it from your explanation she is too anxious when too close to another dog and therefore to train her when we are alone to gain her confidence.
    You think you have learnt a lot for having dogs for so many years but as we know they are all different and we continue to learn.
    Elsa is different in so many ways to all my other dogs but where she struggles she makes up for in so many other ways that i went through with the others.She is great with people and once she gets to know another dog you couldn't ask for more.
    I thank you again, for a lessen learnt i will come back to this post to remind me of what i should of known already.
     
  7. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Lurchers are put on their planet to confuse us... My lurcher is generally 100% fine with other sighthounds but he had a go at one this morning. The main reason, I think, is that we were on a bit of heath where we hardly ever meet other dogs. Plus they were both on lead, the other lurcher was bouncy, but I think the main problem was that he doesn't expect to meet other dogs there. But I'm guessing, really - he might just have got out of bed the wrong side:D

    As far as telling a dog that their behaviour is unacceptable, a lurcher expert once said to me that a dog doesn't care what you want, they only care about what they want, and your job is to bring what you want and what they want closer together. I think that's more true of lurchers than most other dogs, and more true of saluki x lurchers than other lurchers! You don't want to try to make Elsa think 'I ought to do this' because saluki xs aren't big on ought.

    My gut instinct on the 'watch' is that if the other dog is 'interesting' enough that you want her to 'watch' you, she's not going to want to turn away from the other dog and if she does obey you, she won't be any less anxious about the other dog. So I think you're not aiming for a 'command' that she obeys despite her feelings, but a default response (cued or not) when she sees another dog, if that makes sense.
     
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  8. MrCW

    MrCW New Member Registered

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    A friend of mine got a new rescue galgos greyhound which came from Spain, about 10 months old and at that age 25kg, 5kg larger than Elsa, so i thought maybe more threatening being that much bigger.
    Elsa had met my friend before and took to him straight away but also when she met his new dog it was if they had always known each other, every time now wherever they meet lots of licks around each others faces and couldn't be more pleased to see each other, twice that has happened now, with another friend also and his bedlington.If she knows them first it seems to put her at ease,but....
    When we had Libby as a test i got my wife to walk libby around the block one way while i went around the way with way with Elsa, it got to the point of meeting and straight away Elsa got defensive before she even thought about that it was Libby on the other side of the road, i couldn't believe it, i looked at her and calmly said its Libby and walked over the road to her and my wife and only when we got half way across did she suddenly realise who it was and started to wag her tail,they are totally sent to test US i think.
    I should of joined the forum a lot sooner as there arn't many lurcher owners around here and they seem to be a breed to themselves with the complexities of having the different mixtures to confuse the issue.
    Any of your experiences greatly received.
     
  9. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Active Member Registered

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    Did you get Elsa from Rescue Remedies. ...
     
  10. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    You need to read this guide to lurchers: Lurchers for Beginners - greydogtales ;)

    Sighthounds (as a generalisation, there's always exceptions) love other sighthounds - they spot each other from quite a distance, and greet each other like long-lost friends, even those as unlike each other as a whippet and a deerhound.
     
  11. MrCW

    MrCW New Member Registered

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    Thank you for the link JudyN, reading now :)
    Elsa came from the RSPCA in February 2017 having been abandoned in Maidenhead.
     
  12. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Active Member Registered

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    Gosh ..i asked because she is the image of an elsa that i fostered for RR ...she is lovely
     
  13. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Active Member Registered

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    Has Elsas behaviour changed since you lost your other dog ...
     
  14. MrCW

    MrCW New Member Registered

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    Thank you, she is like a double size whippet in shape with those Saluki size ears and lovely oval eyes, she was renamed by the foster mums daughter who liked frozen
    It started about 4-6 months after getting her when we still had Libby, almost like she realized shes got her forever home as was being protective of us but really i think shes come out her shell and rather than keeping quiet is saying stay away until i know you to dogs, fortunately though fine with people including children which Libby didn't like and would back away from or run up the garden.
     
  15. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Active Member Registered

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    I have a lurcherwell a longdog really as he is a mix of sighthounds victor deerhound saluki X whippet. ..very similar in character. ..some rescues change after they have settled ...he would go mad whilst onlead seeing other dogs ...unless they were other sighthounds or dogs introduced at home as he loved all the foster dogs ...after 2 years he did get better but i found that i couldn't really change his behaviour that is fear based ....so i changed my routine and i walk at 430am every morning so I know that he can have a 90 minute offlead walk without him being stressed by meeting other dogs ....his recall took 3 yrs to master;)
    Now 8 yrs after adopting him he leads a stress free life....
     
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  16. MrCW

    MrCW New Member Registered

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    A marathon not a sprint, nice to see a dedicated owner but 4.30am! that is commitment :)
    I go at 6am at the weekends and is mostly ok but during the week not doable due to work but has two 1 hour walks with my wife keeping her company during the day out in the garden if not too hot, which has kept her from not to many"zoomy" times lately.
     
  17. MrCW

    MrCW New Member Registered

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    If i may go back to the subject of the country shows i go to with Elsa.
    You mentioned JudyN that she could be overwhelmed which is why she is quiet,thinking about her behavior, yes she keeps quiet but appears to be calm, her ears are forward and she lies down at my feet if i stop for a cuppa even nodding off for a bit.
    I am keen to go to more shows thinking it would help but if its just adding to anxiety then i don't want to do the wrong thing.
    This may seem an obvious question but would you think getting another dog would be adding to the problem or help in the long run?
    We have mainly had 2 dogs together with about a year gap if we lost one until we get another.
    This would probably be a smaller dog than Elsa of any age from 2yrs upwards.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
  18. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I have heard of lurchers being much more settled when another dog comes along - and I've seen lurchers on rescue sites where the rescue specifically says they need to go to a home with other dogs. But I'm not sure it's that likely to help with this specific problem - and you could end up trying to hang on to two barking, lunging dogs who are feeding off each other's emotions. So I would certainly suggest trying the approaches suggested above, persevering for several weeks and seeing how you progress, before considering that step.

    Have a read-up on behaviour adjustment therapy, or BAT, which might help: Behavior Adjustment Training: A New Approach to Problem Behaviors
     
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  19. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Active Member Registered

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    We have always had lurchers and jack russells (a pigeon pair ....)they just seem to gel :)
     
  20. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    What's a pigeon pair Kara?
     

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