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Behavior Part 5
By Judy Kody Paulsen
Cats (and Other Fuzzy Things!)
As most of you know, greyhounds
can learn to live with and respect cats and other small furry creatures.
Although racing greyhounds have been trained to chase a lure, they can
be taught to coexist with live, furry things. However, a responsible person
must teach them. The belief that greyhounds trained on "live lure" cannot
learn to accept cats has been disproven time and again. It is true that
these dogs are more likely to present a challenge initially, but common
sense and patience go a long way in overcoming their intense interest
in small furry things.
Cats vs. Outdoor Cats
When indoors, the greyhound sees the cat as part of the family, although
there may be times that a game of chase will ensue if the cat initiates
it. However, even a greyhound that lives compatibly
with cats in the house can show a desire to chase and capture a cat when
outdoors. The message here is that cats running outdoors can
provoke a greyhound's prey instinct, especially if it is a cat that is
not regularly encountered inside the home. Neighbor's
cats or stray cats will most certainly be viewed as intruders in the greyhound's
yard, so never assume your greyhound has learned to accept all fuzzy things,
just because he sleeps with one in your home.
Trusting a greyhound
alone with a cat in the initial stages of adaptation can be an invitation
to disaster. Always be sure a person is present
when greyhounds are learning to interact with other animals in your home.
Do not leave greyhounds unattended with the other animals until you are
certain that they have learned to view them as part of the family rather
than part of the "main course". If you
introduce new furry members to your family, do not assume the greyhound
will understand this is a counterpart to the existing family of "furries"
until you have supervised their interaction often enough to feel confident
that there is harmony among them.
Keeping a greyhound on a leash indoors during
the introduction phase is wise, even if this has to be done
for several days or weeks to ensure the safety of the other members of
your animal family. Each time you walk through the house with the greyhound
on the leash, there should be some interaction with the other animals,
even if it is just a glance in their direction as the greyhound acknowledges
their presence. Any act of aggression by the greyhound should be discouraged
with a firm "NO." Pause to let the greyhound continue to observe the other
animal, but always discourage lunging, growling, or any other indication
of aggression. When the greyhound turns its head away from the other
animal, always praise him this is a good sign that he is beginning
to understand he is not to further pursue the animal. Allow the
other animals to approach the greyhound, but keep a firm hold on the leash
and be prepared to prevent any sudden move toward the other animal.
Having other persons present, if possible, can hasten the introduction
if they can keep the cat or other animal from retreating quickly from
the greyhound. A rapid retreat almost always encourages the greyhound
Cats can be
especially effective in laying their own ground rules for allowing the
greyhound to approach. Cats that hiss, spit, growl, and/or arch their
backs when being approached will dissuade the greyhound from wanting to
approach the cat. After all, a greyhound has never experienced a "lure"
at the track that defiantly stands its ground! This could be a most distressing
sight for a dog that has always been the pursuer!
especially vulnerable to the greyhound, as they are often curious and
certainly not capable of escaping a predator as fast and nimble as a greyhound.
Take great care when introducing kittens to greyhounds.
Through the Window
Introducing a greyhound to cats or other small
animals by way of letting them see one another through fences, gates,
or windows will almost surely produce an agitated greyhound that may never
overcome the urge to want that particular animal. This is especially
true of the situation where a cat peers through the window from the outside,
then dashes quickly away upon sight of the greyhound. This situation is
similar to the training methods used when the greyhound is teased from
puppyhood with a small fuzzy lure. The idea is to never let the greyhound
get hold of the lure, but to produce frustration in the continued attempts
to do so. This intensifies the desire to continually pursue the object
that keeps escaping. The likelihood of creating a peaceful coexistence
between a greyhound and a cat is considerably diminished if the first
sighting is through a window.
at a Time, Please!
Introductions should be done with one animal
at a time. Don't bring a greyhound into a room with numerous
animals and expect him to learn the look, smell, and behavior of each
individual and then to remember upon the next encounter that this one
is part of the family. Let them meet one on one, before doing a "group
therapy session"! Each animal may behave differently which will be
producing multiple signals from you as you respond to the signals you
are receiving from the greyhound. Once the initial individual introductions
have been done, you can get the group together under controlled circumstances.
you will find that a greyhound on lead tends to be more aggressive toward
other animals, especially dogs. This possibly could be that the greyhound
on lead feels vulnerable and incapable of defining his boundaries to the
perceived intruder (another animal off lead). If you feel the other animal
presents no threat to the greyhound and vice versa, remove the lead. Keep
your hand on the collar briefly so that you can intervene in case the
greyhound becomes aggressive. If you step away, you often will witness
a mutual acceptance between two dogs.
Another common obstacle to a peaceful introduction
between animals is the tension in the people doing the introduction. Animals
are exceptional detectors of nervousness in people, and they can respond
by duplicating this tension. If the people are
tense, then the animals will be tense as well. This is not
to say that a complacent attitude will accelerate acceptance between pets,
because you must supervise. But supervision with a calm, patient approach
will aid in producing calmness in the animals.
Many times, a greyhound will show little or no interest in cats. This
is a most welcome occurrence, especially for the overly concerned cat
owner. Predicting which greyhounds will behave this way is almost impossible.
Greyhounds that have lost interest in the lure at the track (which means
immediate retirement) will usually have no desire to chase anything else.
If you can obtain a history from the trainer on why the dog retired, and
if this history indicates the dog quit chasing the lure, you can assume
this dog will be easier to train to accept cats or other "furries".
training, prior to competing on the track (up to 18 months of age), a
trainer can identify the dogs that don't exhibit much prey drive. These
dogs will never make it on the track, but they will usually be exceptional
pets. It is unfortunate that many of these dogs are destroyed only because
they wanted to run to the trainer rather than to the lure.
Some of the most rewarding experiences we have with our pets are in observing
them relating to one another. It's a great source of entertainment and
the only admission fee is the time you invest in the proper introduction
of all the characters. Enjoy!
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