Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Turning the corner

Bless him, Peter's getting calmer and more sensible all the time.

GRA Peter
I found the off switch. It's called "a pillow."

I hoped to work with him some this weekend, but wound up being diverted into a search for a lost greyhound. (Chloe, who got loose on Friday night, was caught on Monday afternoon.) So poor Peter spent a lot of time muzzled in his crate while I was gone, which he wasn't happy about--to the point where I'd have to get behind him and push to get him in the crate the next time. (He has an excellent braking system that kicks in about 3 feet from the door of the crate.) But when I came back home after he'd been left, he was sound asleep in the crate and not making a big fuss to get out. After he was crated so much of the day, I let him spend the evenings out, although I still muzzled him at bedtime, so that if he got up and wandered around while I was asleep, he'd be limited in what damage he could do.

But he behaved at night, so I've left him out of the crate while I've run two errands (I've been absent a couple of hours each time). He's muzzled so he can't eat anything he shouldn't, but he hasn't done any damage. He's even ignored a loaf of bread sitting out on top of the stove in the kitchen.

Some things I'd like to test further or see improve:
  1. He needs to leave people alone while they're eating. In this case, "No!" doesn't stop him. He'll keep pushing ("pushing" is a euphemism for "planting his entire face in your dinner"). I don't let him have any of my food--or let him lick my plate when I'm through. A future adopter will need to be careful about this, because if you give in to him, there may be no going back.
  2. He needs to leave other dogs alone while they're eating. At mealtimes, he's been hooked to the Dog Anchor so he won't bother Silver, and she's good about not bothering him. But he just tried to "help" Silver with her Kong, and she told him off. I'd feel more optimistic if I thought he'd learned his lesson.
  3. We need to practice stairs. I don't have any idea if he knows how to do them. There's a local library branch with ramps and sensible concrete stairs out front, and I think we'll go there soon.
  4. He still wants to jump up on everyone he sees. Until he gets past this one, he's a bad candidate for a meet and greet (unless you want a whole row of bodies on the floor). Between this and his feelings about non-greyhounds, he may never be a good meet and greet candidate, which is too bad, because he's a very sweet boy.

GRA Peter

But there are some things I don't think will change:
  1. He needs to leave yarn alone. He'll ignore a ball of yarn if you say "No!" But he needs to be told about each ball of yarn he encounters. But he does leave it alone if you say so. (I'm a knitter, so this is fairly high on my list.)
  2. He panics if he gets his back foot caught on something. He just hooked an electrical cord with his back foot and yanked and screamed bloody murder. He's not hurt, and he didn't even manage to unplug the clock that he'd snared, but it really scared him. If he's going to be out and about in your home, keep foot-traps to a minimum. This tendency isn't peculiar to Peter--or even to greyhounds. Dogs have no sense about their back feet or about what to do when tangled. Peter is just more vocal than most greyhounds I've met. And he got his foot caught about 10 minutes after Silver snapped and growled at him over the Kong, so he's feeling really put-upon right now--so scared he's decided to lie down and take a nap. ;)
  3. He's not cat or other-dog safe. He might eventually learn to leave a larger non-greyhound alone, but I don't think I'd ever risk it. He is getting marginally better about animals he sees on walks, but I still need a firm grip on his leash. The other day, when there was a Boston Terrier and two Yorkies in sight at the end of the street, I walked him in circles for five minutes while they pranced around down at the corner. (We never got closer than 30 feet.) It took a few trips around before he stopped fighting the circling and stopped trying to watch the small dogs over his shoulder. He did calm down, and I'd bet he can be desensitized to the sight of them so you could walk him down the street safely, but I wouldn't ever expect him to be a buddy to one.
  4. He wants to be with you--the closer the better. He's not going to tolerate being shut in one part of the house while his people are in another part. You can crate him, but you'll need to muzzle him as well to keep him from damaging his teeth on the crate.

If you're not home with him, he still needs to be muzzled. He might be okay in his crate without a muzzle, but he hasn't shown that here, and he has a history of chewing on furniture when he's anxious. If he can reach anything chewable when he's home, he'll need to be muzzled because what will draw his attention when you're home and can correct him (or remove temptation) bears no correlation to what will attract him when you're gone. (For those of you who don't know, baseboards, doors, and sheetrock are all chewable by stressed dogs. So is furniture.) Giving an anxious dog something appropriate to chew (like a Kong or a deer antler) is no guarantee that he'll stay away from inappropriate items like the rungs of your antique dining room chairs. Do yourself a favor and muzzle an anxious dog. You'll be doing him a favor, too, as you prevent damage to his teeth or the consumption of something that would be dangerous.*

And if you have another dog at home who's left uncrated, that dog may need to be muzzled along with Peter. I'd never leave one dog with a fighting advantage the other doesn't have. If you don't want to muzzle both dogs, then crating at least one dog is advisable.

I do want to add: One awww trait he has: when he shakes his head, his tongue dangles out the right side of his mouth, and sometimes it takes him a few seconds to realize it and pull it back in. It's one of those things that's hard to catch on camera, and it's a uniquely "Peter" trait.

*I had a dog who lived with me from 5 October 2002 to 8 August 2013. He was muzzled every time I left the house. He once pawed and clawed at a new bag of dog food until he tore it open. Then he spread kibble all over my condo. But if he'd been unmuzzled, he'd have eaten enough to bloat; I'm quite sure his muzzle saved his life, and saved me a fortune in emergency-vet fees.

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