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Whippet behaviour-at the end of my tether.

(35 Posts)
PencilFace Fri 29-Nov-19 11:26:12

I need to vent about this. I have had my whippet since a pup, he has always been hard work and high energy but his behaviour is really getting me down.

He has zero recall despite me trying and trying, if another dog is about he is gone and he is so so rough with them. He will crash into them and try to flip them over (he once flipped a springer spaniel) its awful. So now he can't go off lead around other dogs which has led to the second problem...

He has become leash reactive to some dogs. He will snap and snarl if an off lead dog comes towards him, its generally bigger dogs. He randomly hates some other dogs, such as both my neighbours dogs and I can't work out why.

He goes totally crackers when he sees a squirrel or cat. I know hes a sighthound and it's to be expected. But he has pulled me over before and makes this awful sound almost like baying. He just looses the plot and I can't drag him away until its out of sight.

I am finding the whole situation very depressing. I'm having to pay money I can't afford to take him to a secure paddock every day as its the only time I can let him off lead. Is there anything anyone can suggest? Is this typical for a whippet?!

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MuthaFunka61 Fri 29-Nov-19 11:27:55

How old is your dog now?

PencilFace Fri 29-Nov-19 11:31:09

Hes 3 and a half

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MuthaFunka61 Fri 29-Nov-19 11:55:46

I was wondering if he was going through his teen years,as backward steps in training are usual at this age.
I'd think about calling in an experienced behaviourist in to help figure out what's happening and how to correct this.

Sorry I haven't got any further advice. G'luck

PencilFace Fri 29-Nov-19 12:02:49

No unfortunatley he is past the teen years. Thanks I think that behaviourist is the way to go. Just want to find one that has experience of sighthounds as he is certainly not easy to train.

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adaline Fri 29-Nov-19 16:04:28

What training have you done with him? Has he been to classes or have you tried a 1-1 behaviourist? I think the secure field is a great way to get him to burn his energy for the time being until you can get the other problems sorted.

My dog was leash reactive after he was bitten as a puppy and what's worked for us is not letting him get close enough to other dogs to react in the first place. Sometimes that means veering off paths and turning around abruptly, but if you let your dog react the behaviour is just being reinforced each time - ie. he's barking/lunging and it keeps the other dog away so he learns to bark/lunge every time he sees another dog.

Once we figured out his "safe zone" (he could be about 10 metres away originally without reacting) we got him into a sit and distracted him with a treat while the other dog went past. If he reacted, we just walked away. It took months of work and we had a few setbacks but he's 95% solid now. The only time he reacts is if he sees a big group of leashed dogs - I think he feels under attack but we can walk around and see other dogs and he might look but I can always get him into a sit and distract him if needs be.

SutterCane Fri 29-Nov-19 16:15:44

Teaching good impulse control and giving them an appropriate outlet for their hunting instincts can work wonders for the behaviour of highly prey driven dogs. The “It’s Yer Choice” game (just search for it on YouTube, there’s loads of examples) is a great starting point for impulse control training. I also like Leslie McDevitt’s ‘Control Unleashed’ for something a bit more in depth. I’ve not got round to buying it yet but Emily Larlham (Kikopup on YouTube) has a DVD specifically aimed at training reliability in prey driven dogs.

I use a home made flirt pole (a lunge whip with a sheepskin tuggy sewn onto the end) to give my whippets a way to express hunting behaviours in a safe and controlled way. They absolutely love it and it’s also a great tool for teaching impulse control, again there are loads of examples of this on YouTube.

For the reactivity (one of mine is also reactive) I would highly recommend joining the FB group ‘Reactive Dogs UK’. It’s a hugely supportive community with lots of great advice from professional trainers. They advocate the use of the CARE Method and I’ve had great success using it with my boy alongside techniques from a local trainer.

It’s definitely worth getting some professional input in person if you can. That FB group would be able to point you towards a trainer/behaviourist that covers your area. There’s also another FB group, Dog Training Advice and Support, who could also point you towards an appropriate professional for your dog’s issues.

Scattyhattie Fri 29-Nov-19 18:59:36

Jim Greenwood is a well respected sighthound trainer & a nice guy. I've done a couple of his workshops organized through lurcher rescues that have been helpful.

Elocampane Fri 29-Nov-19 19:34:03

I'd second the recommendation for Jim Greenwood - he's somewhat famous in sighhound circles for having a magic touch with dogs.

Lovely bloke too

MOOloo123 Fri 29-Nov-19 20:24:44

Poor Dog is totally frustrated it needs a lot of work put into it from as young age as possible trust me I know as I have an ex racer and a Longdog whippet x greyhound who has a ridiculous chase and preydrive! Took near on 2 years to get mine to be able to go for a pretty much stress free run and for me to be able to snap her out of that zone u need to make ureself more intersting to respond to than any other dog or prey ie birds squirells i use the whistle as that is a consistent command along with throwing stick treats and also a raggy toy that she can grab and pull on with me all positive training reinforcement all fun and happy to get that distraction needed at that moment in time now have 98% control need eyes in the back of ure head to be able to react accordingly to approacing dogs at the dog park ie whistle raggy toy treats throw that ball to regain excting engaging actions from urself so the dog in time becomes desensatised to other dogs in the park joggers etc so you have that control I used distraction whistle treat training would be up and out and first light over the park and fields every single day aswwll as as late as poss I'm the eves before dark to give her a good run woth as little distractions as possible as i only went at quiet times to enable her to totally focus on me this took near on 2 years to do only answer is Google learn you will find you're way that's works for you it will take time patience and routine you nees to put the time in day in day out but is doable but I'm afraid you need to put the work in to reap the benefits.. good luck I hope you find a solution but it will take a lot of time day in day out routine and positive reinforcement my girls now 4 and I am proud of what me and her have achieved at the local park etc but I had to be totally selfless with my time ie getting up crack of dawn first light be out in rain snow gales aswell as brining up a young family aswwll as working just had to really manage my time and give it 100% eveeything i had has been a hard journey but she is part of the family no less important than my children or husband

Silasboot Fri 29-Nov-19 20:56:48

They are mad but gorgeous you need to find something much bigger than a paddock find a public right of way and let him run he will chase birds and rabbits blowing leaves bits of paper ect but it's a sight hound. By putting on a lead it knows you anxious and it's affecting the dog it's picking up on your tension. Let it run away from roads livestock ect take home feed and love and enjoy! They quite down after about their 3rd birthday when they mature xxx good luck and happy walking

Starbelle Fri 29-Nov-19 21:52:14

There's a wonderful trainer called Jim Greenwood. He's got the nickname of 'The Lurcherman' because of his stellar work with lurchers, but works with all sighthounds. He works in Cheshire but does travel.

Ooh, just seen someone else has posted him. Go for it - he's helped our lead-reactive lurcher no end.

PencilFace Sat 30-Nov-19 06:34:00

Thanks for all your replies. Jim Greenwood sounds amazing, he is just the kind of trainer that would be perfect, however he is so far from me that even though he says he travels it would be too expensive I imagine, but I may contact him anyway incase he is ever in this area of the country.

I keep trying to figure out what has caused all this. Ddog is my first whippet and my first dog I have had since a puppy and I feel I have made so many mistakes. I let him off lead right from the start but instead of encouraging him to stay with me all it seems to have done is condition him to run up to every single dog and chase them. Then he became so rough that he had to go back on the lead and now the reactivity.

Honestly without meaning to sound woe is me I thought a whippet would be easier than this. I've had terriers before and my last one in particular had a high prey drive, but it was in a 'nose to the ground' kind of way which seemed to make it easier. The sighthound prey drive is like nothing I have experienced before.

Also, I feel like I must have picked the naughtiest whippet in the world! I don't see other whippets acting like this. Still its the weekend now and we can go to a nice quiet spot away from cats/dogs/sheep/squirrels and hopefully have an enjoyable walk for once.

OP’s posts: |
Django122 Sat 30-Nov-19 09:58:35

Hi how old is your whippet?

PencilFace Sat 30-Nov-19 10:09:20

Hes 3.5

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Loiloi Sat 30-Nov-19 10:48:27

Whippets can be hard, they are sighthound so chasing is in their nature and they're mischief makers.
They do need a few sprints a day but actually don't need really long walks.
Do you live in a town/city? Is there any countryside nearby you can let him off?
We feed our raw diet, sometimes the kibble has all sort of stuff in it that can cause behavioural issues I know bakers is a dreadful make for dogs.

Suki2019 Sat 30-Nov-19 10:57:04

Hi, I have a 10 year old Whippet x Staffie who has boundless energy even now, and she has a heart problem too! I can't after with the poster who said your dog will calm down now, he's barely even in his prime for a Whippet. Our dog is a bit like yours in that she is selective with the dogs she likes, having been attacked numerous times, and also has a high prey drive. We were able to let her run off lead in an amazing place we have nearby, where barely anyone goes, but now she has a heart problem she isn't meant to be running at top speed. Apart from giving her an hour's fast walk on lead, I also bike about 7 miles (in the countryside) with her and she fast trots in front on an extending lead (and harness). She absolutely loves it and particularly more so if we go even further! It's the best way to expel her energy, she ignores other dogs if we see any as she's too busy thinking about going forwards and people will usually put their dog on a lead when they see the bike. We didn't start doing it with her until she was about 6 and she soon learnt what we were doing. Could you start doing this with him (safely)?

Suki2019 Sat 30-Nov-19 10:58:21

That's meant to say "can't agree", sorry x

Oyoysaveloy Sat 30-Nov-19 11:36:13

It's back to basics in afraid. Lots of praise and reward when he finally comes back and as much interaction with other dogs as possible. It's so depressing when your dog ignores you or behaves in a bad way. Having his plums cut off made a real difference with mine and he is now a great dog, whippets are not good as solo dogs and need other sighthounds to really run with,Where abouts do you live? Try to find someone with another lurcher or sight hound may help.I feel your pain but whippets are lovely dogs, so good luck.

SutterCane Sat 30-Nov-19 13:58:52

The objectionably rough play is so, so common with sighthounds. Mine are all complete thugs and almost never get let off lead with other dogs, particularly in a group. It's not fair to the dogs that (understandably!) don't enjoy it and the risk of accidental injury or play tipping over into something more serious is higher than I'm comfortable with to let them play freely with dogs they don't know even if they're willing.

If he's been ok (other than being rough) with other dogs off lead then the reactivity could be frustration rather than aggression. I've got one of each; my eldest is reactive because he's worried about rude/pushy/overly friendly dogs invading his personal space and my youngest can occasionally be a frustrated greeter if he's particularly hyped up. The Reactive Dogs UK FB group has been a fabulous source of information and both have made a lot of progress with that alone. I've also had a trainer/behaviourist out for the older one (who gave me lots of valuable insight and we've progressed even more since her visit) and the younger one had really benefitted from attending some classes with the same trainer.

I don't see other whippets acting like this.

It's so easy to compare yourself and your dogs to others you see out and about but really all you're getting is a snapshot of what they're like. I took all three of mine out together the other day (something I rarely do unless we're going to a secure field as I prefer to do one-to-one walks with the older one) and the people we passed saw three whippets in matching coats trotting along daintily looking like butter wouldn't melt. Thankfully nobody saw me having to literally drag them into the house shrieking and wailing at the end of the walk when they collectively lost their shit because one of the local cats sauntered past blush

PencilFace Sun 01-Dec-19 07:08:11

Suki2019 Your dog sounds very similar to mine, I've never seen a whippet x staff before, I can imagine she is high energy but very loving. The biking sounds amazing, unfortunatly I can't ride a bike blush but I am glad you have found something that works for you.

Oyoysaveloy I'm in south devon. Wish I knew someone else with a sighthound, they are the dogs he gets on best with, they just seem to 'get' eachother. They are lovely dogs and honestly apart from his 'issues' he is such a soft, gentle, sweet dog and so so good with the kids.

SutterCane Thank you your post made me feel better! I can relate the shrieking and wailing. With my boy its more like a deep baying sound that foxhounds make. It's o so loud and has the ability to stop passers by in their tracks to see what on earth is going on. I do tend to compare myself to every other dog owner and then berate myself for not being able to sort these issues. Despite his wayward behaviour I am very fond of him, he does have such a lovely nature and whippets are still my favourite breed despite everything.

I had no idea that the rough play was so common until I got a whippet. I read so much about them but mananged to bypass that. When he sees another dog running around he gets such a focused look in his eyes that I just know if I let him off he would bomb towards them full pelt and try and knock them over, which seems to be his favourite thing to do.

I will join that facebook group now. I think getting a trainer after xmas will be the right thing to do. Honestly if you saw him in the house you would think he's a pointy faced angel, its just outside of the house he changes, very frustrating...

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Tatiebee Sun 01-Dec-19 09:57:42

Neutering might be a good start if you haven't already had this done?

Suki2019 Sun 01-Dec-19 10:25:16

Here's our Suki, when she was younger, having been pelting up and down huge sand dunes for about an hour, looking for rabbits!!

And yep, she is hugely loving, adores everyone particularly children, and is masses of fun. We love her more than I could ever describe. I hope you can find a solution to your problems x

Silasboot Sun 01-Dec-19 19:59:56

Good luck you have loads of great advice given I have been reading it and learnt a lot myself. Just enjoy your gorgeous whippet and take it one step at a time

PencilFace Mon 02-Dec-19 07:15:22

Suki2019 She is lovely and sounds very sweet.
Tatiebee He is neutered, it didn't really make much difference but he wasn't done til age 3 so perhaps I left it too late.

Went for a walk yesterday in quite an isolated place where you rarely see anyone. He was off lead all the way and had an amazing time leaping and sprinting around. Out of nowhere someone appeared with two off lead dogs, my dog actually stopped and looked from us to the other dogs and for a moment seemed like he was going to listen and come back but then changed his mind and off he went. He did his normal crazy behaviour of chasing them round, luckily the other dogs joined in and it became a bit of a free for all, but I had to catch him as he sprinted past to get hin back. Apologised to the other dog owner who wasn't at all bothered.

My point is he was totally non aggresive and full on but friendly. However if he had been on a lead and one of them had approached him it would have been a different story, but then off lead he is fine but I have no control if he sees something. Feel like I am going round in circles!!

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