Former racing greyhounds come with adult size if not with adult brains. They come knowing what they need to make it through work day life. Freedom is a new thing for them. After the initial few days that it takes to realize that this is not Florida and that there is a whole lot of opportunity and a slew of stuff to learn, you can begin teaching them what they need to know.
The first lesson is to look to you for guidance. As they absorb that one, you can begin to teach them the other things they need to know. Like when it is meal time, that your meal is not theirs, that they remain calm while meals are prepared and served, that other dog’s meal is not theirs, to take treats calmly and that other dog’s treats are not to be intercepted. We don’t quite have meal time down but, the remaining meal time and treat time house manners are coming nicely.
Rocky is continuing to mellow and settle in. As he becomes secure in the Dismal Manor Way, he is becoming gentler and more patient but he remains an early riser and won’t settle until his belly has been filled.
The first thing I tried was to divide his meals to feed him more frequently, and to give him a bedtime snack. That didn’t work. He got shouty more often rather than less often. So we went back to the recommended 2 meals per day, morning and evening.
I’ve never raised a puppy before but in some ways Rocky is a big overgrown puppy. I have to teach him things he would have learned gradually while growing up in a home environment. Things he did not need to learn to live in a racing kennel.
Tricia is an excellent behaviorist and animal trainer. Her dogs compete in herding and agility and over the years, she’s encountered and developed training techniques to solve behavioral problems she’s encountered in her dogs and in client dogs. She sells pamphlets covering specific training topics and her puppy manual is one of the best.
So, It’s in the Manual?
Well, guess what, there isn’t much of a manual for bed time issues other than to have a stable routine, make sure they’ve had enough exercise, and to crate or otherwise limit their freedom to manage night time mischief. Eventually, they mature sufficiently to be able to sleep through the night.
Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies is silent on this topic. Probably because it is rarely an issue but Rocky and Freddie (Norfolk, UK.) are early risers and won’t wait quietly for Jeeves to bring breakfast in bed.
So You’re on Your Own?
When it is not in the manual, use your dog knowledge to find a way out of no way.
More food was not the answer. Dividing meals was not the answer. Back to puppy time basics to teach bedtime manners?
- Stable daily routine
- Stable bedtime routine
- Limit accessible space
- Stable morning routine
In the past, my new dogs joined the manor while I was working. Work life constrained the routine and I had to get up earlier than I do now. Rocky is really the first to arrive after I retired. He is also the first who would rise before I did. My other dogs could always take their cues from my work a day morning routine.
Crating won’t work at Dismal Manor. The bedroom is too small to place a crate for him. If I put him in the lounge crate, he yodels. So no sleep going that route.
The next thing I tried was the baby gate. He’d dislodge it and pace between lounge and bedroom.
So the next thing I tried was to put him on lead and burn the rest of the night’s sleep restricting him to the bed side alley in my bedroom. He paced and yodeled the first night. After a couple of nights he got the idea that he should settle and is now settling reliably.
Where we are today
Using this technique, he’ll settle and we can both go back to sleep. But eventually I wake up for whatever and he ambushes me for a meal. If it is close to sunrise, I might as well get up as either my fussy sinuses or my bowels won’t let me back to sleep. So we’re sort of playing it by ear. I usually feed him because, at this time of day, I’m not getting back to sleep.
I want them to get me when they actually need attention
I want them to wake me if something is not right like there is smoke or fire. I want them to ask to use the loo. I want them to back up the weather radio when there’s unscheduled jet noise.
My girl dog is good at asking to go out and returning to sleep after she’s done what is needed. That’s just the way she works. She usually waits until she hears me roll over to ask to go out. But if the need is urgent, she comes to get me, usually bumping the bed to get my attention. If that doesn’t work, well the old Wet Willie never fails. Rocky has learned the same lesson. If you need master up, lick the face. The old puppy standard that mom taught.
So to delay the morning meal?
One thing that may work is to get up, dress, and read the paper until feeding time. Or to teach stay which I’ve not done. Maybe it is time to teach down and stay. Greyhounds will sit for treats but that’s about it. Given the space, they’ll go into a sphinx down to wait for whatever is next. Rocky has a spontaneous sphinx down so the trick is to put it on cue.
Ready to learn?
I’ve been holding back on classic obedience training as Rocky is a pushy consumer of treats. He needs to work on waiting for the marshmallow before we can use food rewards to train him. This is a large part of puppy training guides and puppy training, how to recognize what they are able to learn when. It is pointless to try to teach a behavior that their mental and physical development is unable to support. With Rocky, it is less an issue of physical development than one of guiding his mental development to support learning the companion arts.