Sighthound Charity Snood


Dizzy Lily: A Snood For a Hound 
knitting pattern is available from
Here on Erssie Knits or Ravelry 
All pattern proceeds go 
to Galgos del Sol

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Hidden Pages

Toilet Training A Greyhound


For many years now I have been giving all my revenue from knitting patterns designs directly to a greyhound charity. Currently it goes to the charity for rescuing Spanish Sighthounds; without any revenue for me. This means you can donate and get something in return. I make up the cost of listing the patterns and any tax from my own pocket money. You can see the designs I have available for both dog and human on
Since I posted last time we adopted a new little girl, Jive Mistress (racing name) or Missy (pet name). She is our beloved Lily's niece and has a lot of similar but worse behavioural problems that Lily had. I often find it difficult to give people the full details they need for benefitting from our experiences with rescuing and retraining dogs (as there is rarely a problem we haven't experienced here with the 4 greyhounds we've adopted since the mid noughties) . We choose difficult greyounds that have been returned with behavioural problems so I'm always answering calls for help online, and repeating myself, or I take notes and can't share them because of the details or  moderator thinking it isn't relevant. I've started to keep notes and will post them here and link to them. I'm not an expert and would always encourage someone to take a dog to a vet to rule out medical causes but here are my notes on what we have done for our dogs. 

Advice on Toilet Training From A Non Professional
Firstly double check with the vet that the dog is in full health with no urinary infections, no inflammations inside the urino-genital openings nor fever or excessive drinking. Take a sample to the vet of pee done first thing in the morning before food and hand to a reception nurse to run a test so there are at least some immediate results as soon as you get called in for your vet consultation.
Discuss all the physical or behavioural reasons your dog is not learning your toilet training with the vet or behaviourist, they might help or suggest something. 
About  7 days before visiting the vets, chart the time and circumstances in which your dog peed. E. G. 
Did they pee while left alone?
Did they pee with you supervising? How close to their last garden trip? 
Did they pee when any visitors came, or when a family member entered a room? 
Did they pee when entering a new or different room? At night with you in bed? Was it muddy/raining/cold/windy outside? 
How much wee? Was it concentrated or odourous, watery or thin?
Where did they pee, was it near an entrance/exit? Where you last sat or stood? Any other significance to that spot like a previous wee or previous pets?
DIARY: I would write down every pee incident. From experience my OH was too close to the problem and anxious and in his perception thought it was getting worse as every new pee incident just negated any previous good/dry days. A scientific record showed that actually after several pees a day within 7 days, we had one pee a day for a couple of days then 5 dry days, followed by another pee incident. But my OH said "she's doing it all the time, it's never going to end! ". In my experience (although we've only trained 8 dogs total, 7 of whom were adult) if there is a dog behaviour problem that is improving often you can't quite see the tiny steps of improvement right up close and it means you only see it in retrospect and it's hard when you're going through it to see whether your training is working. If it's not working, and you have a clear record of statistics then at least if you have to get a consultation with a pro behaviourist you save weeks of them trying to get you to repeat a process you've already tried. 
PETCAM: When making a record of peeing it is very useful to use a pet cam. Without that we wouldn't have been able to understand why our girl was doing it but the time she was doing it was a giveaway. You can mistakenly think it's a case of them being left alone for a few hours and going at the end of the period because they just can't hang on any longer. However most dogs who pee/poop when left alone do it near to the time the owner left rather than at the end of a longer period.  It's the event of leaving that upsets a dog with SA. As we could see on our PETCAM, our girl peed:
-Around 90.secs after we'd gone to bed
-2 to 3 mins after her last bedtime pee, but we realised she was doing a short pee to satisfy us she'd been, but was not fully emptying due to anxiety
Our boy though, was sprinkling and saving up his pee to mark. That improved over time with positive reinforcement and as his hormones settled as well as clearing up his penis sheath infection. It can take 18 mths to 2 years for adolescent boy hormones to settle down after neutering too. Marking can settle  in a neutered dog. 
At the foot of the stairs where we exited out of sight
Missy was peeing because being a new girl, she was anxious about us going to bed but peeing comforted her to appease us/her and diffuse the situation. Dog logic, not human logic. You can't guess what's in their doggy brain but you can record the incidents and see a pattern. We were able to keep taking training back to absolute basics. 
And if you use a webcam you can retreat to a different room and if you see them sniff, circle, or build up to a pee you can interrupt them and take them right outdoors. 
My girl learned that if she wants to go, she can ask me. In weeks she went from peeing everywhere every day indoors to going and scratching on a piece of wood to make a noise, and coming to get us. 
We have a routine that has worked for my previous 6 dogs, and my partners previous 2 dogs. That routine stands even if a dog is coming from a different home where they had training. New house means new rules. Its all about reducing the opportunity to have an accidental pee and forming good habits. Greyhounds love to please and they like routine. They're happiest when we communicate what we need and so here we don't leave things to chance and hope. Our hounds though are ones that got returned and ones with known behavioural issues and they can relapse on their training but that's OK, we just step back a stage or two and reinforce good habits as if they're new again and they pick it up.
DAY 1:
Before putting a new dog right in the car we walk them. If we have 2 dogs, the new one gets introduced to the old one away from the car outdoors in neutral territory a few times before we ever bring them here. Then we ask our older one to pee/poop in front of the newbie so they get to see how excited we are when dogs do their business outside. Greys are good at copying other greys. When Newbie has had a pee/poop they're praised too. Then we open the back of the car, allow oldie and newbie to get in together and sit with the back open. On adoption day it's the same process but then we make the journey home but we stop off at the local park that newbie will go to daily if our journey is longer than a few mins.

I believe its a lot easier if you can, to pick up a dog as early as you're allowed so there is a good amount of time to start good habits before it's bedtime. That first night can be awkward. The preparation before coming home is so important to us because how the newbie feels entering a house with strange smells of previous people, pets or current dog will affect their alertness or anxiety level and drive a need to pee. As soon as a newbie arrives, one of us opens the front door, goes through the kitchen and unlocks/opens the back door. One of us stays near the doorstep, letting the dog have a sniff of the air and when the back door is open and the route is clear, we walk Newbie and Oldie into the garden on their leads then let them off in the garden, encourage to wee and praise using the words "Good Boy/Girl, Wee Wee!" .
We note the time of the last pee, then we take newbie out for a pee every single hour. If we feel it's necessary we might keep them on a double length lead and let them explore the house with us attached. I even take them to the loo with me. It helps to bond. 
As I have a med condition, and need quick access to go to the loo downstairs multiple times at night plus our stairs are too steep, it's not practical to have dogs in our bedroom. They stay downstairs and there is a gate. First bedtime is usually  just before1 am, and if I can go upstairs fine but my girl was awake all night, had Separation Anxiety and my neighbours chose her 1st night to rip off their doors and windows and gut the house of floorboards without warning and she was terrified. We had weeks of "the world is ending" types of renovation noise at evenings/weekends as the neighbours didn't live there and had work done in their spare time.  I had to retreat slowly up the stairs, a few at a time and provide my girl with toys and supplements (more below about extra help help). 
I'm sometimes amazed when I hear that adopters got their dog at a weekend, slept in until 9 am but they wondered why there was a puddle on the floor on Day 2. Kennels I adopt from start waking dogs from 6 am, it varies but dogs are used to having a morning wee and sometimes they'll do it at the door of their Kennel which "magically has cleaned itself" by the time they get back from a paddock (by staff of course). If you want a dog that lies in a bit later you have to try to increase the waking time a couple of minutes every day. Some respond to that, my boy can lie in til 9, but my girl is still an early riser (7.30 am but gets disturbed by neighbours shift work). 
DAY 2 of a newbie's routine they go into the garden every 2 hours
Newbie goes every 3 hrs. 
If at any stage there are accidents and they're not getting it, we go back a stage or two. Sticking to the plan, not getting overconfident reduces accidents. 
DAY 4 onwards. Inc time of between pee intervals.
From the, moment our dogs arrive they are taken into the garden immediately and when they do go, we give them a huge fuss and a small treat. They know peeing in the garden, on the lawn, makes us very happy. At the same time we attach a word to the act "Good boy for doing a Wee Wee!" or "Good Girl for going a Poo Poo". Firstly they learn that it's right to go n that place and secondly they pick up the words you use for pee and poop. It's so useful because I can take her anywhere and say "Do a wee wee" and she goes. 
She doesn't get a biccie all the time now, but she always gets a cuddle, a kiss. She even waits by the back door, puts each paw in the air while I wipe them.
Its easy to reason that when dogs are good you praise them, so equally if they're bad they should be told off. It's also easy to get your wash bucket, Bio Washing liquid and sponges out with a face like thunder and look at your dog with a "Yes, you did this to Mummy you little nuisance" face on, or even have a fed-up body posture of annoyance. But in the case of a separation anxiety pee dog, us being even mildly put out and exasperated, or shouting at the OH cos he's making ridiculous comments that don't help,  just makes an anxious dog want to piddle more to stop Mummy being angry.
We never reprimand nor even look from pee to dog as if we've connected it and are annoyed with their peeing, we act like we haven't noticed it. I sometimes get my OH to take a dog out so they can't see me clearing it up. The dog then doesn't attach anxious emotions to the act as, ironically, they will pee again to appease you. It's natural for dogs to pee in stressful situations in order to release stress busting pheromones that appease anybody present. A peeing dog can be like a tearful human.. That can be observed in Wild packs. One dog might snap at another to establish dominance or show displeasure often, everyone in the pack starts cowering, cringing and piddling to diffuse  the situation. Scientific thinking has moved away from the one pack, one top dog, rigid hierarchy and submission etc. It appears that relationships are dynamic and leadership isn't forced but dogs do squabble a bit and if they see anger in another member, they'll pee and say "smell that, it's not me who's angry, I concur" etc. Obviously we have to communicate what we want and show leadership as humans, and we do control food and environment so that is going to make a dog a bit anxious already "oh no, mummy is angry,  have I blown my chances of getting dinner? What's going to happen?".  Hounds are, more sensitive than other dogs. They easily think you just don't like them peeing at all so will then do secret peeing indoors and be too shy to ask. 
The only time we would acknowledge an indoor pee is if they are interrupted and just about to do one. We would say "No, no, not there, in the garden..." very cheerfully and lead them out to the garden to finish and praise there.
Our girl was a genetic "spook" not suited to racing. She'd had her side ripped open by her racing kennel mate but was locked in with him all night afterwards. On her first night we had our neighbours completely gutting the house. She was too scared to empty her bladder completely in the garden due to noise and was peeing in the house but even outdoors needed to go too frequently. And there were fireworks constantly after she arrived. Despite training we worried about the peeing forming an entrenched habit. So we did the following in partnership with vet advice. 
- Tested her pee. Ruled out any medical reason for frequency
- Put her on natural supplements that with behavioural training supported it without drugs. She had Valerian and Skullcap, natural calmer. She also had Zylkene, a milk extract Tryptophan that acts as a natural tranquilliser (sends babies to sleep!). It actually worked but takes about 10 days to be fully effective. My vet felt the need to advise these herbal remedies in order to get her over the anxiety and avoid peeing becoming a bad habit. We tried weaning her off after a month trial and she had a little relapse in behaviour so as they weren't  medicine, my vet said keep her on for 6 mths if necessary. We kept her on Skullcap and Valerian for a mth, Zylkene for 3½ months then weaned off and she was fine. 
- Temporarily changed her diet. We reduced the amount of protein in her diet. This is because proteins can increase urine frequency as out of all basic food groups proteins are not converted to fat to be stored under the skin, some that is needed that day is extracted and used, then the rest is waste and peed out in urine. Also proteins increase the rate at which Seratonin, the "happy" hormone in the blood is depleted and can lead to anxiety or a state of being too alert. Our vet got us to remove about 15-20% protein and replaced with carbs. She had a dog muesli mixer for a couple of mths then got weaned off as ideally my dogs are on grain free diets. 
I am careful about treats too. For a while she had no food, nor any treats, after 3pm and no water down between 1am and 5am. She was lapping up water from a habit and needing to pee not long afterwards between 12am and 6 am. 
- Exercised her a little more and on her own. I took her to see something new every day. It helped cure her anxiety of new things, mentally tired her and so she was more snoozy and less active indoors. A lot of behavioural problems stem from lack of exercise or stimulation. 
-Devised intellectual games. Missy was disqualified from Romford track because she kept playing like a puppy. I noticed she used play as a comfort activity. So I left her for short spaces of time on her own with a Kong ball filled with kibble. She learned to redirect her nerves into an enjoyable game. I also taught her new words and she's a clever little thing. Her favourite command is "Go and lie on your bed and ill put your blankie on" 
Missy was my most difficult case with regard to anxiety peeing. She gradually got better and she's been with us about 18 months. Her last pee accidents were once on holiday in Feb 2017 (didn't understand the layout of our cottage 1st morning there as windows were doors), once on hols Sep 2017 (was a massive electrical storm outside) and once on hols Oct 2017 because she sneaked into a room unnoticed while we were asleep, shut the fire door, then couldn't get out, didn't bark as she got to sleep on a cosy sofa all night and had a pee in there in the morning). 
My partner collapsed and was unconscious at home with blood and vomit all over the floor and Missy and Harry were so freaked out when Daddy got carted off on a stretcher by 6 paramedics with flashing lights, they peed and pooped on top of Daddy's vomit and blood... 
Here is Missy being Pissy caught on the Petcam the little Minx! 
So although I'd still be a bit wary if circumstances are stressful, day to day Missy is very good.  It was driving us potty and we used to feel like we'd never get there but I felt like all the effort we made came together and did make a big difference. When you've had 6 dogs with mild wee problems, and then a dog like Missy, you can easily think "Why on earth could I cure the others quickly but not her!? " But in retrospect, it was not that long before dramatic improvement I just couldn't see it close up and was getting so little sleep. 



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