We work nearly exclusively with sighthounds, mostly galgos and podencos. Many of them with severe deprivation syndrome and general fears for having been mistreated.
EXERCISE? Of course!I it keeps them healthy and happy. Normal well balanced dogs want to run and play. In Spain we had a 60m² (aprox 600sqf) dog room with old sofas and beds and a possibility to go in and out when ever the door was open. It was only closed for special reasons such as having a handyman working in the finca etc. They ran miles every day in our 10acres fenced finca and they loved it. Never any severe fights nor major injuries! Sighthounds are energetic and need to run (not for hours but at least every day) and they enjoy long walks. their body is made for speed.
FOOD AGGRESSIONS? All our hounds have always food 24/7 in several areas of the house , it reduces tummy torsion risk and the food aggressions dramatically. Many galgos came obsessed with food and even growled at people to protect their resourses. By leaving them food always available, they learn fast that there is no need to protect food as it’s always there.
SOCIALIZING? In our pack I have had in Spain two very obedient dogs , my personal hounds. An female irish wolfhound and a male huge ibizan hound. They helped me a lot with socializing newbies so we could personally foster over 800 hounds in the last 20 years. We also rescued, fostered and rehomed over 100 Chinese crested and other hairless breeds. They all lived as a pack. Dogs love to meet other canines and humans and we should let them do it and not overprotect them because Dogs are by nature social animals and we need to help them if they have issues. Avoiding any canine contacts is not the solution.
SEPARATION ANXIETY AND DESTRUCTIONS? Except one day when I was gone and the heating stopped in a very cold afternoon and my big peruvian hairless to prevent getting too cold, had made a huge hole in my matress to keep him warm. He needed to do it to survive, it was freezing outside and inside. Well entertained and exercised dogs are balanced in their personality and do not suffer such disorders frequently because they are mostly caused by us, the humans.
CRATING? Is not an option for us! Using common sense, for example keeping their environment free of possible hazzards such as electric cables, breakable things, poisonous plants etc, is the way to go. I dont freak out if they shredded a roll of toilet paper or my shoes because if they cought something its my fault for not being careful. By nature, dogs are NOT den animals, only very frightened would they hide and when their are about to have puppies. They need space and freedom and we can not lock them away in crates to avoid a shredded pillow or dog hair all over the house. If people can not live with such things, they should not have a dog.
SPOILT ROTTEN? We should treat dogs as dogs, even though they sleep in our bed, they are animals and enjoy to be outside as long as it does not rain. Galgos and pods don’t do rain 🙂 For me spoiling a dog is not giving him more treats, it giving him quality dog playing and exercisinge time surrounded by other hounds. Observing them running and chasing each other is so much more satisfying than seeing them bored on sofas.
EDUCATION? I was lucky to have 2 very obedient dogs in my pack, they were my assistants. Just had to call one them and the others immediately copied as one is my pack manager. Newcomers sleep in my bedroom so they learn to trust me. I don’t work with goodies. I use cuddles, ear schratches and positive enforcement but I would definitively shout aloud NO if I catch one doing BS or being bossy to others.
And even with so many dogs, I still had antique furniture etc. I just would not let a teething pup alone with it. I don’t believe in domination but in education and my dogs know perfectly well when my voice gets into “the boss is pissed” pitch.
Humans tend to humanize dogs too much and I want them to be dogs and I adapted my life and surrounding so we can live together without one reducing each others freedom too much but still setting up boundaries. (Don’t laugh but I can go alone to the restroom! No dog follows me…) 🙂
PACK DOGS / DOG PACKS?
When you have big packs it probably only works with sighthounds. I could not do the same with an alsacian pack as I dont know the breed enough. As I lived all my life with sighthounds and know how they are, I can read their body language and sometimes even their mind when I have food on the counter 🤣
DOGS NEED OUR GUIDANCE Hounds need us to tell them what we want them to do and it’s only working if we create a good bond with our dogs. Long walks and fun games are very helpful to achieve this goal. In general, and my dog behaviourist/educator/trainer friends say the same. There are too many dogs that are not dogs anymore and too many dog trainer who use the crates as the easiest way to keep owner happy and dog out of trouble.
Educating dogs takes time and effort, and using a crate for transport reason is a necessary tool. But today’s society is lazy, does not want to commit to exercising dogs not taking them to dog parks. Any excuse serves for not having to go for a nice walk or even hike. But people keep forgetting that in the end, their dog will oay a high price for it, such as boredom, health issues, behaviour problems…
WHY DID I WRITE ALL THIS?
After having studied in the early 80′ Konrad Lorenz theories, it was immediately clear to me that these theories do not work much for sighthounds as they are not showing so many wolf behaviours so I started to read books, attend seminars and courses but the most I learned from what the dogs taught me and from observing my pack. I am lucky to have lived all my life with greyhounds, galgos, Podencos, iggies, afghans, wolfhounds etc. Thanks to these wonderful 4 legged partners I can continue help other hounds with our rescue work and sometimes their families to turn their stressed, anxious and often hysteric “fur babies” back into what they should be: happy normal dogs.