Owner Induced Anxiety –
We are going to talk about the elephant in the room – where the new owner is, inadvertently, causing inappropriate behaviour in their new dog. When a dog is anxious – the behaviour can manifest itself in a variety of ways. What your dog is doing is not the point – why he is doing it, is much more important. And often his behaviour is linked to you.
Often the human expectations are mismatched with what the dog knows and can offer his new owners. His life has changed from a working dog in a kennel environment to a pet dog in a home environment – and not all dogs know how to cope. This can lead to anxiety, restless behaviour, aggression, or reactivity. IT IS YOUR JOB TO HELP HIM UNDERSTAND HOW TO COPE.
- Greyhounds are emotional sponges, and they read human body language very well – therefore if you get stressed at him being stressed – you have made him 10xs worse.
- You need to have a calm, confident approach – your new dog will look to you for guidance. If you are nervous – you are telling him there is a problem – so now he is anxious even though he doesn’t know why.
- Treat your new dog as though he is a small child – and he knows nothing. Don’t make assumptions.
- Don’t assume that because he wants to be near you – that he wants lots of fuss from you (at first).
- New dogs are often starving and will steal food – NEVER challenge your dog if he has done this. Instead district him and then praise him when he leaves the food. If you challenge him, he may bite you – it is better to let is go this time and then train him not to do it.
- As he can read your body language – you need to be telling him there is nothing to worry about – if you are stressing about this try to sing or dance or laugh – that’s changes your body language. That then sends him a different signal – a one saying there is nothing to worry about.
- Every time he is good – give him lots of praise and/or a treat.
- Do not over think everything or complicate it – greyhounds are simple creatures – they want a simple life. Often the problems they have are changed by you changing your ways.
- If you don’t stay calm – it will be a downward spiral until the dogs does something totally unacceptable and then he is returned.
Greyhounds – especially the ones under age 2 – have NO life experience. They may not have even been to the track or met many people.
This greyhound – who may or may not have lived with other dogs have no idea what you want from him or why you are being nice to him. If he is restless don’t assume it is separation anxiety – it could be general anxiety because he does not what is expected of him.
In a nutshell he may not have the ability to cope with trying to work out what you expect of him in his new home. YOU as the human and the owner must show him- and you do this by staying calm, confident and by offering him routine, consistency and praise.
Often when dogs are returned to us because they are so badly behaved in the new home – they are placed in foster homes and they are as good as gold. These foster homes do not have trainers or behaviourists on hand – the reason for the change if owner confidence (and by default dog confidence – and therefore the anxiety disappears) . It can often be that simple.