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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20222
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Dear XXXXX, We have recently adopted a "whippet/lurcher".

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We have recently adopted a "whippet/lurcher". She was found by the local dog warden, and after neutering, necessary jabs and microchipping, we brought her home with us. Our vet reckons she is about 18 months old. We know absolutely nothing about her background.

In the home she is an obedient and loving pet, and wonderful and gentle with our two young grand-children, but we have two problems for which we would appreciate advice.

When we first had her (beginning of February) and took her for walks on the local common, she was terrified of other dogs (she was kept on a lead for two weeks on the advice of the vet following her operation), but recently has come to realise that they can actually be quite fun. Although, with no dogs around, she is very obedient on her walks, she becomes uncontrollable for about two to three minutes when she meets one. To the extent that if I see one coming I now put her back on the lead. The other dog walkers are very tolerant because they know her circumstances, but it is becoming very trying. I don't really want to have to keep her on a lead when we go for walks - no fun for either of us.

The other, and possibly more worrying problem, is her barking in the garden. We recently had a hedgehog in the garden at night, which took Tess by surprise, and since then, every night, she rushes around the garden, frantically barking, looking for the hedgehog. My husband has now got (his ambition) a budgie aviary, and Tess is throwing herself at this aviary and barking every time we let her out, night and day. She is barking and jumping up at the aviary and creating a real nuisance both to our neighbours and to the birds. And is in danger of hurting her mouth by biting at the wire-mesh netting.

I have tried taking her around the garden on a lead, but she just pulls towards the hedgehog run, or the aviary,and she won't "perform" on the lead - and we don't live in an area where I can walk her elsewhere at night in the dark.

We have kept dogs for 50 years, and they have nearly all been rescue dogs, but we have never had this particular barking problem before. We love her a lot. Help.

Marigold Jackson
Hi Marigold,
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
Thanks for all that wonderful detail. However, in order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
Since you have had the dog, have you done any obedience work with her?
It sounds like she ignores all commands when she sees other dogs?
What behavior is she exhibiting then?
How is she when meeting other dogs on leash?
She only eliminates off lead?
Or is it only off lead if in the Garden?
Do you have a crate?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you -


Yes, I have done obedience work with her in the house, in the garden and when out walking. If there are no distractions she comes straight to me and sits (without now being told!). I pat her, tell her how good she is, and send her off again.


As you surmise - she loses all this when she sees another dog - or she might start to come back and then change her mind. It is pure excitement and delight at being able to rush around (the whippet in her I expect), and even when the other dogs go back to their owners, she still wants to play, until I manage to grab her collar.


She shows the same excitement and delight when either she or the other dog is on the lead - but of course, I can control her then. Actually, where we walk most of the dogs are totally under control, but not on a lead!


She will eliminate off the lead when we are out walking - but not in the garden (as yet)!


No, we do note have a crate. Don't like the idea I'm afraid.


I look forward to your further response - but I might not be able to get back to you until tomorrow, as my husband hads a hospital appointment this afternoon.


Marigold Jackson

It sounds like you are doing a great job of training him. Right now it also sounds like you are using praise as your reward. I'm going to suggest a different reward for the "come" or Here command. Try using vienna sausage slices or raw liver slivers. Do this first in an area where she won't be distracted. This will let her understand she gets the treats only when she comes on command. Many times they don't come on command when called because they know it is the end of "fun" time. So you will be first calling her to you even when you don't want her for no other reason that to give the treat and so she no longer associated it with the end of fun. Then start calling her to you when there is something she likes like another dog.

Perhaps there is another owner that is willing to work with you. If so, call your dog to you, reward with the treat and give the release command allowing her to return. Do this over and over again. This may help her calm down quicker and at least get her coming back to you easier. You just have to remember to let her go back to playing as often as you don't let her go back.
For the garden, you should set up boundaries using little flags or even a string. I would use a long lead for this or a light weight rope. As she is running around the garden, if she goes toward the off limit areas, give a little tug on her leash and a firm "NO". It is going to take multiple reprimands of this sort before she hesitates and doesn't keep trying to get to them. When that happens, use the special treats to reward her along with the praise. This is an effective way of teaching a dog boundaries using a balanced approach to training.
You can also get an underground or instant pet fences that can keep him out of areas. They have spray models as well as static shock models. Both are effective when coupled with other training. You can see some here:

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links, so to view the supporting websites, you will need to copy and paste the link into a new browser window or tab.
They also make backpacks for dogs. You can add cans or bottled water to the backpack to help tire her out quicker. You might also get an automatic ball thrower to help tire her out more. The breed is energetic and very active and keeping up with that can be difficult. If you find any activity your girl enjoys, use that to help tire her out. Look into some agility training even if just in the garden. You can do tunnels and jumps and even teeter totters. She will enjoys these types of activities and will keep her mind stimulated as well as tiring her out.
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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