Whippets on leads(8 Posts)
Hi all - thinking of getting a whippet, and just wanted to know about recall/prey drive. If a whippet is well trained, can you ever let it off lead in a park (not a dog park), or will it always be carried away chasing a squirrel or small dog? Could I let a whippet off its lead in a big wood? Is it bad etiquette to let a dog off a lead in a public park anyway? If it can be trained to be off-lead on a walk, how long does this take?
Thanks very much, everyone.
Some whippets and greyhounds etc don't chase at all.
I used to work with racing greyhounds and they would come from Ireland to be schooled and a few would'nt have any interest and so would go to the rehoming centre to hopefully become pets.
I personally took one home that retired from racing due to injury and once she learnt her name she was great off the lead. Never any issues with recall and she loved to chase squirrels but never caught one. Lived fine alongside cats too.
I would start with a 10m long line attached to an escape proof harness once the dog had settled in and learnt its name.
*wouldn't. I know how apostrophes work, honest!
Whippets are very much at the trainable end of the sighthound spectrum and although there's always the odd exception they can generally be trained to recall reliably enough to go off lead.
When, where and with whom you let them off lead depends very much on the individual dog and their level of prey drive. My three range from moderately prey driven to absolutely ferocious so I don't let them off lead anywhere they could potentially chase something and end up putting themselves in danger. So livestock free countryside away from roads? No problem. A town park where they could potentially chase a squirrel or cat across a road? On lead.
Going off lead around other dogs also depends on the dogs involved and the situation. Mine are all used to playing with each other which means fairly roughly (don't let their appearance fool you, they can be little thugs) and at very high speed. In general I don't let them off lead with strange dogs much because many dogs understandably don't appreciate or aren't used to that sort of play which means there's a risk of injury or it potentially escalating into something more serious if someone takes exception to a pretend "kill bite" to the back of the neck. Again it's pretty situational. If I've got all three with me and they're raring to go for a run then I'm definitely not going to let them off lead to play with other dogs. If we're at the end of a walk and they're fairly tired then I might let them mingle with some chilled out dogs.
I've never yet had any issue with them seeing a small dog in the distance and reacting like they think it's prey. I'm even more careful around small dogs though purely because of the damage mine could potentially do completely by accident, especially if the other dog isn't used to running with sighthounds. I'm not small (I'm 5'10" and play at prop forward for a women's rugby league team) and I've been knocked clean off my feet by a glancing blow from my smallest whippet as he went belting past. A tiny dog running into the path of a whippet going flat out could be very badly hurt.
How long it takes to train a reliable recall depends on the dog in question and whether you get them as a puppy or an adult. Mine all came to me as puppies having had a good grounding in recall from their breeder and were pretty quick to get reliable on walks, especially as I've always had older dogs for them to learn from as well. A lone adult dog who hasn't been taught recall at all is very likely going to take longer to get to the same point.
I've always had retired racers and Total Recall by Pippa Mattinson works well.
I start it as soon as they land with me from rescue, when the poor things are desperately casting about for rules to follow though.
Works a treat.
I have a whippet (6 months old). We didn't do a great job of training recall and I had a real scare when he ran out of the park (to be fair I didn't actually call him but I got such a shock).
Like others have said - I bought the total recall book and did almost all of the exercises. He now comes when we whistle almost every time. He doesn't come if he is mid-chase or full on playing with other dogs but I am still training him - maybe one day he will.
I think he's better than most dogs we meet - and definitely better than all the similar aged dogs we've met.
Now it gets on my nerves when people can't get their dogs to come back to them on a cue. I think it's irresponsible - what if the dog chases a child? What if it runs out of a park and onto a road causing an accident? Runs into farmland with livestock? Anyway, I'll get off my soap box.
Whippets are great - ours is just the sweetest natures calmest most loving dog ever AND he can be trained to come back!
Ours was amazing,I did a long whistle and back he came...we started teaching recall very young.cant remember a time we didn't let him off lead..he needed to run to exhaust himself...we paid to use an airfeild which was miles and miles all enclosed..but that wasn't for long.to expensive..try to find somewhere enclosed or at least a long way from cars to practice whistling and give him a treat when he comes back to each time
We are only 6 days in... It looks like we have got lucky though and he (at 5 monthsish) is VERY good at recall. I kept him on the lead for the first 4 days (intending to be sensible and keep him on until he was rock solid) but couldn't resist the temptation to let him run in the empty park and he was a star, coming back like a rocket. The kids can use a whistle and he responds to that too. Like i say, lucky as hell but it proves it can be done!
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