Now that you’ve adopted a retired racing greyhound, you will have to help him or her become more comfortable in the new environment and training can ease the transition substantially.
Greyhounds are highly intelligent creatures and with a little bit of effort, you will build a lasting and rewarding relationship.
1. Learn to Speak Greyhound
Firstly, take the time needed to figure out how retired racers think and how they respond to the world around them.
The more you understand about the greyhound breed and how his/her previous life will affect present behaviour, the better you will become at interpreting what he/she is trying to tell you.
2. Greyhounds are Highly Intelligent
Your greyhound will learn whether you’re actively teaching him/her or not as learning will happen every moment that your retired greyhound is awake. Your greyhound will learn from every experience so try and take advantage of this fact.
3. Build a Strong, Trusting Relationship
Training isn’t just about commands and obedience, but is really about building a strong relationship with good communication.
It’s imperative that you train your greyhound early and often in order to strengthen the relationship and open the lines of communication.
4. Manage the Environment Well
It’s important that you manage your greyhound’s world while he/she is learning a new set of behaviours. Use gates and leashes to keep him out of trouble and be sure to keep appealing but forbidden items out of reach or entirely out of sight.
Reward good behaviour and use environmental management to prevent behaviours you don’t want.
5. Use Positive Reinforcement
It’s easy to focus finding mistakes and correcting them, but many of us won’t even notice our greyhound quietly chewing a toy as opposed to a slipper while we enjoy real money slots.
Be sure to let him/her know when they’re doing something wrong, but rather pay close attention so you can reinforce positive behaviours with rewards instead.
6. Be Patient
Don’t be fooled by celebrity trainers – there are unfortunately no 10 minute cures for dogs with problem behaviours.
You have to be committed to training your retired racer and if he/she is doing something wrong it’s because your training is falling short. Be patient and committed.
7. Make Training Fun
Your retired racer has plenty of ingrained, natural behaviours and you should draw from these in order to make training fun.
Find ways of incorporating their love for running, chasing, and his response to prey-like noises. Act silly and watch your dog become more interested in you than anything else around them.
8. Keep Training Simple
It’s important that you break down behaviours into smaller pieces – if your greyhound is not doing it right, chances are you’re moving on too quickly or trying to teach too much all at once.
Keep it training simple and teach each piece separately.
9. Keep Training Short
Greyhounds get bored easily and after 3-4 repetitions of the same exercise, you’ll see their attention start to wonder. If he/she is doing something correctly, repeat it just once or twice and move onto the next exercise. If he/she isn’t ‘getting it’, move onto a simpler exercise and circle back at a later stage.
10. Keep Training Sweet
Negative corrections or ‘punishments’ have no place in the training of your retired racer and being a bully will not build the trust required for a successful relationship.
Rewards – and plenty of them – are incredibly important to the success of a retired racer. Happy training!