lurcher behaviour problems!

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NaomiH
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lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by NaomiH » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:19 pm

Hi
I'm new on here and am hoping that someone can offer me some reassurance about my 19 month old rescue saluki/ greyhound cross Sparky. He's got a lovely nature and is very affectionate and loves cuddles on the sofa. He's our first ever dog and neither of us have ever had dogs when growing up. Little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for! Here are are main issues:

* getting wildly over excitable on walks and barking at us
* barking when we leave the room (we live in a small terraced house so I worry about the neighbours)
* getting very excited at other dogs when out and play-bowing and barking and leaping around them wanting them to chase him
* chasing deer (has only happened once - but very recently) and rabbits
* recently developing an obsession with horses - running to them, play-bowing and barking ( I know this is really bad - we're about to start classes with a trainer who has access to horses so will hopefully train him to get used to them gradually)
* wanting to be entertained/ played with all the time

Sometimes I wonder if it will ever get easier and I worry a lot about what other people must think of his barky, silly behaviour when we're out and about. He's on a raw food diet (that was recommended by the rescue) and has lots of exercise. He goes out with a dog walker 4 times a week. Surely by now he should have started to calm down? Please, someone, tell me it will get easier!

Naomi

ZaraD
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by ZaraD » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:22 pm

There's a few experienced people on here who are lurcher owners , my only suggestion would be to copy everything you have written and then paste it in the dog training section as more people will see it in the dog training section :D

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JudyN
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by JudyN » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:41 pm

Welcome - and relax, he's quite normal for his mix! For some light relief, you might want to read the book Walking Ollie by Stephen Foster, who bought a saluki puppy with no idea what he was letting himself in for. Another great read is Lurchers For Beginners, a blog post by greydogtales: http://greydogtales.com/blog/lurchers-for-beginners/

I can't give much advice at the moment, partly due to lack of time & energy, but also because my lurcher is a different mix and doesn't quite have the 'mad as a box of frogs' gene that salukis add to the mix. But I shall mull it over and see what I can come up with, and in the meantime one of the other experts may well have some input - one has just got a saluki puppy!

Deer & rabbit chasing you may never be able to curb reliably - my lurcher has very good recall (for a lurcher), but if he takes off after a deer I don't even bother whistling. There's a lot of deer round here so I just avoid the places they're likely to appear most or keep him on lead.

Have you done much training working on him focusing on you more? Impulse control training can be great for that, and great for teaching them how to control themselves - have a look on YouTube for a video called 'It's Yer Choice'.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

NaomiH
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by NaomiH » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:50 pm

Thank you for your reply.

I will have a look at Walking Ollie for some light relief! Sparky's recall is generally pretty good - unless there are deer, rabbits or horses involved! I've taken him to a couple of dog behaviourists - the first was a bit ineffectual to be honest but to be fair it was when we'd just got him and he wasn't allowed off the lead at that point. The second cost a huge amount for just an assessment - and the upshot was that he's a normal, healthy, lovely lurcher who's typical for his age. I was given a few tips to help him be calm and I used them but to be honest it hasn't made any difference to his behaviour off lead. One tip was to never use the ball thrower but it didn't lead to him being any calmer so I have recently started using it again - is it really a bad thing to do? I will see how things go with his new dog trainer. I think it's the barking that bothers me most (apart from the terror that we might encounter a horse when we're out, even though I do try to avoid them like the plague). Also, I worry that people will think he's aggressive or a "bad" dog just because of his size and general craziness! He is very loving though ( I have to remind myself of this constantly, especially after yet another embarrassing walk!!)

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Shalista
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by Shalista » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:30 pm

i happen to have a very crazy embarrassing 5 yr old terrier just got back from a lovely walk where he woofed at and then lunged at a tiny adorable 11 week old corgi. i cant say its GREAT but you get used to it. :roll:

as far as recalling off small fluffys (and not so small fluffies) i wish you the best of luck, youll need it. Bax's recall is spotless.... so long as nothing moves. first sign of a cat or a chicken or a squirrel or a rat and hes off like a shot and no amount of calling whistling or running is bringing him back. i solved the problem by just never letting him off lead when hes not enclosed in a fence.

EDIT: i dont mean to say that so you despair, just saying that if ive had bax for five years and not murdered him in his sleep yet..... youll survive :lol: :lol: :lol:
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

jacksdad
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by jacksdad » Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:59 pm

NaomiH wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:19 pm
...hoping that someone can offer me some reassurance about my 19 month old rescue saluki/ greyhound cross Sparky. He's got a lovely nature and is very affectionate and loves cuddles on the sofa. He's our first ever dog and neither of us have ever had dogs when growing up. Little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for!
First, how long have you had Sparky? can you provide a over view of his day? example, 30 minute walk in the morning, then breakfast. Mid day 1 hour walk, another 1 hour walk before dinner, and a final 30 minute walk before bed. what kind of training you have been working on, loose lead walking, basic skills such as sit, down, recall etc. a few more details would be helpful. want to make sure your expectations are realistic.

As far as training a Saluki goes, the basic concepts and principles of animal training are NOT breed or species dependent. They are fairly universal be it a rat you want to train, a bird, cat, dog, dolphin etc. There maybe species or breed (if working with dogs) factors you have to account for and adjust how you implement the principles and concepts, but they don't change simply because your have a Saluki, or a pit bull or a dolphin.
* getting wildly over excitable on walks and barking at us
There are many reasons why this could be, but if you aren't sure why, that is NOT a problem. Hopefully your new trainer will guide you to focus first on what you do want. Break down what you want into the small steps your dog needs to get it right, earn reinforcement and not do the unwanted behavior, then build up towards your goal. While we never truly ignore the unwanted behavior, if you focus on training, reinforcing, and managing your dog such they they are learning and practicing the wanted behavior, the unwanted often fades to a level it is rarely seen.
* barking when we leave the room (we live in a small terraced house so I worry about the neighbors)
Is your dog not allowed free roam of the house? there can be valid reasons for not allowing that so don't automatically assuming I would say your wrong.
* getting very excited at other dogs when out and play-bowing and barking and leaping around them wanting them to chase him
I just went through this with a dog I am working with. we put in two weeks of prep, training him some behaviors to do other than go after the other dog to try and play. Then practiced with a couple of known dogs, then took it out to the real world.

when it isn't play time with other dogs, your dog NEEDS an alternate behavior that can earn reinforcement in place of running after/up to other dogs. And you need this alternate behavior to be SUPER reinforced so your dog finds it MORE reinforcing to stick with you vs run after other dogs. alternate behaviors can be as simple as a "look at you" and hold that while passing the other dog, to just being in a heel.
* chasing deer (has only happened once - but very recently) and rabbits
* recently developing an obsession with horses - running to them, play-bowing and barking ( I know this is really bad - we're about to start classes with a trainer who has access to horses so will hopefully train him to get used to them gradually)
this can be a challenging issue to deal with. often you are competing with genetics and with hunting dogs this can make it even more of a challenge. Not impossible, but a serious challenge. First and foremost prevent the opportunity to practice the behaviors. if that means staying on leash for now, then your dog stays on leash. When your dog becomes aware of the thing to chase (rabbits, deer, horse etc) they are given an alternate behavior to preform that you SUPER reinforce so that they find it worth while to stick with you. this is a matching law (one of behavior's laws) issue.

the chasing something is like earning $25 dollars each time. sticking with you might earn just $1 (per treat), but in the time it takes to pass the deer, rabbit, horse etc your dog earns $50 dollars. matching law says whatever has more reinforcement between two very reinforcing activities, the one with the more reinforcement is the one more likely to be seen/performed. history factors in too. you can't just have one encounter, your dog be successful earning that $50 and think your good. They may have a bank of $5000 dollars from chasing so the "pull to chase" can be strong for a while until the new way is habit. But the more history they build NOT chasing by doing something alternate and earning some SUPER reinforcement, the greater the odds in time they won't chase...much. or at least while on leash. in time is relative to the dog, your consistency etc.
* wanting to be entertained/ played with all the time
this is always an area where we start by making sure we are meeting our dog's needs. are they getting enough exercise, play time with us, mental enrichment etc. If yes, then it is time to train a dog to relax and a have a cut off signal. you can start with teaching them to relax on their dog bed. when they do this to start, they get a yummy stuffed kong, or a dog safe chew item that REALLY gets your dog's attention and these things ONLY happen when on their bed while you get a break.
NaomiH wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:50 pm
I've taken him to a couple of dog behaviorists - the first was a bit ineffectual ....


Don't just accept someone's word, ask what makes them call them self a behaviorist. in the US, there are only about 200 actual behaviorists between two groups that are actually trained and certified. Vet behaviorists and CAABs. The rest of us are more correctly called behavior consultants. and we run the spectrum of dumber than a box of rocks, to pretty sharp and basically a CAAB without the PhD. don't be afraid to ask questions. if the perspective trainer gets offended...find a different trainer. I recently had a client give me a quizzing about my education, while I don't have anything formal such as a college degree in behavior, I have been buying the right books and since this client was behavior trained ...for humans ... and knew the science(it isn't species specific) very well there was no way to BS my way though the questions. I passed the "sniff test" and got the job and wasn't the least bit upset or offended. Ask, ask, ask questions..if the trainer gets frustrated, offended, upset etc, then they aren't the one to work with.

Having said all that...sorry for the novel... keeping your pup on lead for now is probably a VERY GOOD idea anytime you even suspect his triggers to case are going to be in the area.
NaomiH wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:50 pm
....I was given a few tips to help him be calm and I used them but to be honest it hasn't made any difference to his behavior off lead. One tip was to never use the ball thrower but it didn't lead to him being any calmer so I have recently started using it again - is it really a bad thing to do?
I can think of a couple reasons one might give this advice, but unless they are a factor I can't imagine why you would take away something like the ball thrower. I can't assess your dog over the internet, but this advice seems a little odd if the issue really is about being calm.

Calm is generally achieved by meeting a dogs needs. some dogs need FAR more physical outlets than we might realize, particularly when just starting out as a first time dog owner. just some food for thought.

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Nettle
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by Nettle » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:29 am

You have good advice already. I have to be brief as I am going out, but will craft a longer reply later. Are you based in UK? If so, roughly where (north, south, midlands)? There are some good lurcher specialist trainers about. while Jacksdad is right about the basics of training being the same whatever the breed/type, there are some things you cannot train out of some types and therefore you have to manage theminstead. He must never be in a position of chasing deer because he can and will kill them, which is illegal as well as upsetting for you.

Read "The House Lurcher" by Jackie Drakeford - it's the Bible for pet lurcher owners.

Back later. :wink:
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NaomiH
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by NaomiH » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:03 pm

Thank you so much for such detailed and comprehensive responses - I will do my best to provide all the information you asked for...

Monday, Tuesday and Friday: Breakfast at 6.30 - then sleeps on sofa. Out with dog walker from 11 - 3. We return home from school/ work from 4 onwards. He has games with a ball, tug toys etc indoors plus some activity toys. Eats again at 5.30. Quick play when my husband returns at 7.30 then settles down for the night.
Wednesday: Breakfast at usual time. Walked by dog walker for an hour from 11-12. I walk him for 1 1/2 hours when I get home at about 3.30.
Thursday: My day off and husband works from home on Thursdays- so we take him for an hour and a half mid-morning and the same in the afternoon.
Weekends: Same as Thursdays

We live in Surrey UK and have had Sparky for a year. He was not allowed off lead for the first 2 months. Once off lead we were surprised by (& often complimented on) how good his recall was. It's only in the last month or so that problems seem to have developed. When Sparky was on-lead all the time he was taken out by a dog walker who had lots of other dogs off-lead. This caused him to become very frustrated - he would bark constantly for the whole walk and scare the little dogs - and be riled up and snappy once we came home. In fact his behaviour used to upset me so much that I thought we might have to return him to the rescue but we persevered. Once he was off-lead he became a different dog at home and, as I said, was really good when out. We always used to take the ball-thrower and this used to maintain his focus on us throughout every walk. However, he could still be pretty full on at home (not snappy any more - just vocal and very attention-seeking) so that's when I got in touch with the behaviourist who said his excitability at home was probably as a result of using the ball thrower on walks - hence the decision to stop using it.

As I said, we start work with a new trainer tomorrow to work on his recall and especially his behaviour around horses. I am avoiding all the "horsey" areas we used to take him and I do my best to avoid places where he's likely to meet deer. I am now taking the ball thrower which keeps his focus on me, so much so that the other day he ignored a whole field full of rabbits because he was chasing the ball. With regards to not allowing him off-lead - my issue is that he was so frustrated and snappy around the house when he wasn't allowed off-lead that I dread the thought of returning to that behaviour. Also, he was born to run and loves it so much. To be honest if we could never let him run I think it would be kinder to rehome him to people who had lots of land or an enclosed field, even though that would break ours and our children's hearts. There isn't really anywhere totally enclosed that I can exercise him. Believe me, when we first got him I spent ages researching enclosed fields that we could hire and it turned out there weren't any locally and the nearest ones (about 30 minutes drive away - not really possible to do every day after work) were booked up months in advance. I really did try everything which is why we were so relieved to find that his recall was so good. Is it not possible that this is just an adolescent phase which, with expert advice, can be fixed and so long as I either keep him well away from triggers or muzzle him so that he could not hurt anything he can continue to be allowed off-lead?

Many thanks for your interest and advice.

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JudyN
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by JudyN » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:43 pm

NaomiH wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:03 pm
I am now taking the ball thrower which keeps his focus on me, so much so that the other day he ignored a whole field full of rabbits because he was chasing the ball.
That's awesome :D
Is it not possible that this is just an adolescent phase which, with expert advice, can be fixed and so long as I either keep him well away from triggers or muzzle him so that he could not hurt anything he can continue to be allowed off-lead?
I think it probably is a teenage phase - he's getting to be a bit more independent and selectively deaf. Though as you know, the horse thing really does need to be nipped in the bud. It is possible - my lad used to play bow to cows and try to get them to chase them, and was very interested in horses, but he's fine with both now. We just used a combination of putting him on lead, distracting him from them and saying 'not for you', a phrase he seemed to pick up and understand quite quickly. It helps that we have docile cattle grazing on open heath round here, and one section of heath with a few ponies.

Personally, and Nettle may well disagree with this, I accept a certain degree of risk when it comes to deer, because the only real alternative would be walking Jasper on lead the whole time. There are enclosed fields round here, but he doesn't tend to run 'for the fun of it' and would be bored stiff in minutes. It helps though, that his stamina is pretty rubbish and he's clingy enough that after he's given up the chase he would crawl back to me however exhausted. I've often heard of salukis going awol for a good couple of hours. There are areas I don't let him off though, such as one where there's a high deer population, and a lot of barbed wire fences and irate golfers... :lol: I know a couple of saluki x lurchers who are kept on lead most of the time now because they are dog reactive or just too boisterous for other dogs, and the more they're on lead, the more frustrated and reactive they get.

When Jasper was that age, if he had to stay on lead for a few days (because of injury) he would be a nightmare and would have tantrums. Now he's older, he's much calmer and as long as we go to interesting places and he gets to sniff and explore he's fine on lead. He can even cope with spotting a deer in the distance and being told 'not for you' :D
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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JudyN
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by JudyN » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:48 pm

Oh, I meant to say - have you come across the rescue organisation Southern Lurcher Rescue? They often arrange group walks - the closest to me (in East Dorset) are around the New Forest area but I think they may have a South East walking group too. If so, it would be a good opportunity to meet up with other owners and their dogs, and swap embarrassing stories. Plus, Sparky would have a wonderful time playing with like-minded dogs whose owners understand lurcher play! Their forum's here: http://mimsmum.proboards.com/ If you want, I can log on tomorrow and check details of walks near Surrey.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

NaomiH
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by NaomiH » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:50 pm

Thank you - you have really cheered me up when I was at my most desperate!!

I am looking forward to meeting the new trainer tomorrow and working on impulse control. I also know one or two people whose Saluki crosses aren't allowed off lead due to aggression and thankfully that's not a problem with Sparky. Like Jasper, he has had to stay on lead a couple of times for a fortnight due to injuries and it was hard-going! The meet-up walks sound great, thank you. As you say, lurcher play can be a bit rough!

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement - much needed and much appreciated!

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JudyN
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by JudyN » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:13 am

No worries - some days when Jasper was young, OH would come home, ask me how he'd been, and I burst into tears :lol: I've just checked on SLR and they seem to have started a regular walk in Maidstone, which is the nearest I've found to Surrey. Depends whereabouts in Surry you are, and how desperate to meet like-minded dogs and owners :wink:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Nettle
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by Nettle » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:53 am

PM Emmabeth - she knows two trainers in Surrey that have a safe enclosed area for hire, are used to lurchers and use reward-based training.

Otherwise - sounds as if you have a perfectly normal adolescent saluki type lurcher. :wink: Take heart - it gets better. They are the most wonderful dogs.
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jacksdad
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by jacksdad » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:51 pm

NaomiH wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:50 pm
I am looking forward to meeting the new trainer tomorrow and working on impulse control.
Often it's not so much an "impulse control" problem, but a "the other activity is MORE...MUCH, MUCH, MORE reinforcing" problem.

Reinforcement is what maintains a behavior. It is what makes it much more likely to see a behavior again.

Even though your dog has exercise needs that require off leash time. IF you are in an area where you can't afford a mistake such as your dog chasing a deer, chasing and killing a deer, or some other game animal. OR where you can't afford a recall failure, your dog MUST be back on leash. But then you find places you can go to provide that off leash time safely with no to low risks.

If your dog isn't calling away from something, that is a sign you haven't trained for that situation. Recall is easy to train in concept, what makes it hard to train is patience to train the various situations you may need to call a dog away from, and setting up the scenarios that you will need to be able to call away from.

Many dogs can be trained to come when called within minuets, and in just a few day to a couple weeks you can build a darn good recall worth betting money on....when there are NO distractions. it is training to come away from all the other things in life that are VERY reinforcing such as people for attention, dogs for play, deer for fun and so on that is the challenge that takes time. and until you train for those challenges we don't set our dogs up for failure by having them off leash when there is a risk they will do the "wrong thing" ...defined as not coming when called.

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JudyN
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Re: lurcher behaviour problems!

Post by JudyN » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:09 am

jacksdad wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:51 pm
it is training to come away from all the other things in life that are VERY reinforcing such as people for attention, dogs for play, deer for fun and so on that is the challenge that takes time. and until you train for those challenges we don't set our dogs up for failure by having them off leash when there is a risk they will do the "wrong thing" ...defined as not coming when called.
It's difficult to train for recall from deer though as although you might be able to find a 'stooge' horse, you can't find a stooge deer. And if you keep your dog on lead until enough deer have popped up at just the right distance to work with, he'll probably be on lead his whole life. So I guess all you can do is to work on recall with absolutely every distraction you can, and hope that it generalises enough to work with deer too?

Also, maybe a minor point or maybe important: I wouldn't say that lurchers (particularly those with deerhound in but I'm sure it applies to many others) don't chase deer for fun. With Jasper, balls are for fun, squirrels are for fun, cats are vile and deserve to be exterminated, but deer are serious business, his whole pupose in life, his raison d'etre. He can't help be switched on by them any more than he could help his brain state if he took a drug. I can still control him if he's on lead when he sees one, I think because it's a 'work' situation and we're a team, and he's grown out of silly frustrated behaviour, but he is still very much switched on. And that's quite a lot to work against when you can't manipulate deer to create training situations.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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