Friday, May 29, 2009

toys, Toys, TOYS!

This is a post in two parts. This first part is written by Helen Hamilton, the breeder of this litter. She is also mom to Echo. The second part is written by Tamara, Tanner's mom.

Can a puppy have too many toys?

Some greyhounds are very toy oriented, others could care less. Most of the “toy” dogs love to carry soft fuzzy squeaky toys in their mouths. Surprisingly they are very gentle on toys and rarely chew them. I have some toys from 20 years ago. A little washing and patching and they are good as new. Performance people love a dog with toy/prey drive. To me this type of toy/prey drive appears to be a very different behavior. Lyric has the strongest prey drive I have ever had in a greyhound. Indeed it is still hard to get her to leave the cat(s) alone.

She also loves to carry large soft toys in her mouth-she runs to the door to be let out with a toy in her mouth, will run out potty and return with the toy firmly held in her mouth yet I can’t use this to reward in training, she just doesn’t care enough. I use a lunge line like a lure for her to chase as a training reward. I have also seen her run up and down the fence line with a toy in her mouth after squirrel and once a jack. Spirit also really enjoyed carrying toys around.

Whisper and Lyric would often play together with a toy.

Now we hear from Tamara, Tanner's mom.

I love how much puppies love to play with toys. I love watching them play together and I love watching them play with their mom. This is Winnie playing with Whisper. Winnie would tug really gently and let Whisper think they were an even match.

I love how easy it is to interact with them and pique their interest. As my previous greyhounds aged, they seemed to be less and less interested in playing with toys on their own. My first greyhound, Tigger, had a Ty ball that he loved to carry around.

Even when he was 14 years old, he would get up in the morning, go out in the living room and pounce on the Ty ball! He was also very motivated by his frisbee. Winnnie, on the other hand was not as motivated by toys. I learned to use the frisbee in training with Tigger. It was great to be able to pull it out (or even say the word) and bring some energy into our training. I did not have that with Winnie due to her low toy drive. Eventually, I purposefully taught Winnie to tug with me and it made a great difference in our training. I learned that this drive can be taught!

With Tanner, I am working on teaching him to enjoy interacting with me and to tug with me in training.

I am particularly working on teaching him to tug with me everywhere! Too often dogs will tug well at home but not so much anywhere else (just like obedience performances!). I am using a piece of sheepskin scrap that I picked up at a leather store in town. He seems to be able to grip it more easily than other things. I keep it put away when we are not playing together. I try to keep our tug sessions very short, when he gives a really hard (for him) tug I let him win.

When he brings it back I interact with him. After a few go rounds, I put it away. In the back yard, we sometimes tug on whatever toy is back there. He has a nice retrieve and one way I reward that is by tugging. It has been tough to find toy that he can get a good grip one!

The most important thing about tugging with your dog is to set rules and stick to them. The dog should let go immediately when I ask and only grab it when given permission. No cheating by grabbing my hand or arm to get me to let go (this offense causes an immediate and abrupt end to the game). It takes a lot of self control on the dog's part and toys area great way to teach self control!

I also leave toys out for Tanner to amuse himself and there are several toys that he and Shine like to play with together. Actually, any toy that Shine has is the one that Tanner wants!

Here is a link to one of my favorite blogs with an article that Fanny wrote on using toys to increase play drive.

Of course, we haven't talked about chew toys. That's a whole other subject in and of itself!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Greyhound tails are awesome. They are long, they are wavy, they have a life of their own. They serve a very useful function as they are the balance for the blazing speed and turns the greyhound is known for. However tails and puppies go through some changes as they grow. When I had Spirit and Apollo's litter a golden retriever friend Kathy helped whelp the puppies. I told her all puppies are alike when they are born, they change when they start growing. Her comment on the first puppy Winnie was….oh my gosh look at the length of her legs, body and THAT tail. The tail doesn’t end -yes it really does but the tail is quite a bit longer than a short golden tail.

As adults the tail should be able to wrap between the legs and cross the midline.

A good puppy tail will drag on the ground when they are babies.

Somewhere around 3-6 months old the puppies “discover “ their tails and it becomes a play thing to be enjoyed. Chased and bitten like any other toy.

As adults the long tail begins acting as a rudder or balance for their turns.

One downside to such a long tail is it frequently gets caught in doors and or broken. Be careful of low objects on tables in reach of a wagging tail, they are coffee table cleaners! They can also hurt you if you are behind the greyhound that is happily wagging it's tail. The tail is skinny and bony and much like a whip. Some greyhounds are prone to what we call "Happy Tail". They wag so effusively that the tail will hit a wall or other object and split open, spraying small droplets of blood everywhere. You also have to be very careful when shutting the car door with your greyhound inside. Their tail can easily get caught!

Still, I think the tail is one of the best parts of the dog!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My! What big teeth you have!

Bite inhibition is one thing we all want our dogs to learn. From the time they are born and become aware of each other they begin learning how to control their bite/teeth. They start as youngsters but the lessons go on for quite some time. That is why it is so important for puppies to play with other puppies and adult dogs. It is inappropriate to take puppies away from their littermates too early (before 7-8 wks old). When this happens, they never get a chance to learn how to control their mouths. This can lead to serious bites with dogs and people in the future.

It is important to make sure that puppies get to play with other puppies and adult dogs on a regular basis. It is also helpful for them to play with other breeds of dogs so they learn to read the body language of dogs that are different sizes, shapes and colors. However, it is also important that there is a person present who can make sure that all individuals are benefiting form the play session. Some dogs/puppies will bully those that are less dominate or have a less active play style. There is nothing wrong with letting puppies bite and play rough as long as both participants are having a good time and multiple dogs aren't ganging up on one. The best way tot tell if both puppies are having a good time is to hold one puppy back and see if the second puppy comes back and tries to initiate play.

It is funny that as the dogs and puppies play with each other you really don’t see the teeth until a picture captures one point in time. In the below pictures all dogs were unscathed and having a grand time.

Echo and Whisper have frequent romps on the lawn. The older dogs in Echo's household are teaching her how to play appropriately.

Becca and Sterling have regular play dates where they practice "brotherly and sisterly love".

Tanner went to puppy play time at Pup-A-Razzi to get experience playing with other puppies. Here he and an Irish Terrier look possessed but in reality, had a perfectly normal play session and nobody got hurt. At home, he has his very own Belgian Malinois, Shine, who has taught him the rules of play.

Friday, May 8, 2009

How They Grow

As puppies grow they all go through different growth phases. Long time breeders feel that the best age to grade them/judge them is somewhere around 8 wks. They should look like little replicas of what they will become. After that they start going through big growth spurts. With some their front grows out of proportion to their rears, with some it is just the opposite. The backend is higher than the front end. Fronts go easty westy(toes point out), hopefully they never pigeon toe as I haven’t seen this correct. Some puppies are lucky and are just little replicas of what they will become as adults. They grow up in proportion to the rest of the body and over the next few years muscle out. It is fun to try to guess what they will become in the years to come.
Lyric and Merlin’s litter is now 5 months-below are their pictures.

Aragon Aroi Silver Lining aka Sterling wt 58 lbs

Aragon Black Ice aka Echo wt 51 lbs

Aragon Silver Oak aka Tanner wt 58.5 lbs

Aragon Mystic Pearl aka Pearl wt 52 lbs

Aragon Morning Mist aka Becca wt 52.5 lbs

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Puppy Ears - You gotta love 'em!

When I first got into greyhounds I started with a little 8 wk red greyhound puppy named Z. She had the most perfect face and ears that I had ever seen. One day I noticed one of her ears were looking strange, they were flopped over her head. The next day it was normal. The next day it did another strange behavior. They then started going all over her head in unusual positions. Not knowing what was going on I started gluing them in position like the collie/sheltie people do. A fellow resident I was working with asked me what I was using all the glue for. When I told her she started laughing and asked me if I really didn’t know that puppies did that when they teethed. Well they didn’t teach us that but she was right. I stopped gluing and when she finished teething her ears were perfect!!

Lyric's puppies have been teething for some time now. Here are some photos of the different crazy ear positions we have managed to capture.

"The Cap"

"Fox Terrier"

"The Flip"

"The Flop"

"The Rabbit" or in this case "The Half Rabbit"



"The Half Prick"
This is the way the ears are supposed to look when a greyhound is alert.

This is "Z"