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Alone Training

Ideas from Lee Livingood with additional comments from GAGR:

Why is alone training needed? Your greyhound is not used to being alone. He has spent his whole life, so far, with people and other greyhounds.

Tips:

  • Start the alone training the first day you get your dog.
  • Keep your dog's first few days with you low key. Limit the amount of guests and amount of attention. It can be overwhelming for your dog if there are too many people around. Also, you don't want your dog to get the idea that life is full of people and excitement and then you go off a day or 2 later and leave him alone when you go to work. That quiet house could be a big shock.
  • Create a safe haven for your dog. This might be its crate. Put the crate in a well-ventilated, well lit part of the family's living space. (In other words Lee said- not the garage, not the basement!) For the crate my suggestions would include: drape a sheet over the back part of the wire crate to crate a den-like atmosphere; put a soft blanket or comforter in the crate; feed the dog in the crate; toss treats in the crate every time you put the dog in. Lee says to put the dog in its alone space and make special things happen there (Kong toy/special treats).
  • Once the dog is used to its safe haven, start the alone training - the first day. Start crating and leaving the dog for short periods of time. It will get used to the idea that you go away, but always return. Make leaving and coming back boring. Lee suggested acting as you would if you walked out to get the mail and came back in- no big deal. You can start the alone training by leaving it just a minute at a time.
  • Lee is a big fan of the Comfort Zone DAP plug in. This is a product that plugs into the outlet and gives off a dog appeasing pheromone. It is supposed to mimic a natural comforting pheromone produced by dogs. She feels this product can help with separation anxiety. You plug it in the room most used by the dog (where the crate is). She says it won't work with all dogs, but it works with many. It can be purchased through pet catalogs (Drs Foster and Smith) and at PETCO. It costs about $25 for a month's supply
Things Lee didn't say in her talk, but I would suggest to adopters (your opinion may vary):

  • Don't fall into a guilt trap about the crate. 
  • Just because the dog has been crated at the track doesn't mean he will get into it willingly at your house. You might need to give him some encouragement (maybe a physical push!!) to go in.
  • Always give a crate treat when he goes in and that helps make it a positive experience.
  • Crate the dog when you are home and can't supervise him. Don't crate only when you are leaving. That way he won't associate the crate with only negative things (you leaving).

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