“My Italian greyhounds don’t behave. I must be a terrible owner.”
“The other day I was walking in a park and saw a woman walking with a Poodle like they own the place - confident & calm. That Poodle was so well trained! I will never be like them with my iggies.”
“Every time I put my dogs off leash, I pray for them to come back on my cue.”
“Walking dogs and having lovely take-away coffee? Yea, right, never happened.”
Sounds familiar? You’re not alone!
When I brought my first Italian greyhound Harvey home 5 years ago, I knew I'd be the best dog mom on the planet. I haven’t had a dog in my entire life but I have prepared for him so carefully! I mean, I even took the series of live training for ‘future dog owners’. Seriously, I was that dedicated.
Anyhow, the day we brought Harvey home I already knew how I’ll train him, to which puppy school we’ll go and that he’ll be the most obedient dog. Dream on, Ula.
Fast forward to when Harvey was almost 2 years old - he knew the basic commands such as sit, lay down, high five, yoga, lambada (I think invented this one!), turn around, and a few more. That’s nice, you might say. Well, he knew how to give me a high-five but was still peeing at home. Does it sound nice now?
One more fast forward to 3 more years or... today. Now I have two incredible Italian Greyhounds, Harvey & Oliver. Harvey still knows a few cues but Oliver… Well, I’m proud when he does the sit part. What a terrible dog mom who doesn't train their dogs! Or am I?
What cues are essential for dogs?
Actually, now I think I am a great dog mom (except this one time I accidentally left baby Oliver in a stairway in our building. An hour later our neighbour came asking if it’s not my dog crying out loud. But that’s the story for the next time). My iggies may not entertain you with cool tricks like Bang! Play dead! But they’re trained to behave in (most of) life situations. IMHO, this wipes out all of the standard cues.
So what can they do?1. Sit & wait for their food. May it be breakfast or a treat, both iggies are trained to immediately sit and look you in the eye until you say the magic keyword - YES. Other words don’t count and this rule makes it very fun to test their patience :)
Is this post about how cool I am as a dog mom?
Um… I wish I was this cool but life is not as Instagrammable as I’d like it to be. We are still struggling with some of the behaviours. What is still there to learn?
1. Calm walking on a leash. Harvey is usually nailing this one but I can’t imagine walking both of them in one hand and having a cup of coffee in the other. Oli has an unbelievable attraction to smell e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Step-by-step, we’re learning to have stress free calm walks where I am the lead, not them.
2. Coming when called. This is the weakest spot of Oli’s. And it drives me crazy. He is very well aware about the command, yet he still thinks he has a choice whether to come or not. It’s really dangerous and makes me super anxious. I know he won’t run away but he may wander away, see a bird or a dog and then… Bye bye, Oli and bye bye, my patience.
3. Barking at the other dogs. This is Harvey’s weak spot. Apparently, he was scared off by a bigger dog when he was a puppy and since then he has a motto - scare your enemy before it has a chance to scare you. This means that every time he notices a dog, he starts barking like crazy. This is super embarrassing and we’re working on it really hard. The strangest part is that he wouldn’t ever want real physical contact, so he just barks and runs around to scare the other dog but never comes close or tries to bite. Yet, we never know how other dogs feel about it. Now I always have treats in my pocket and trained my eagle eyes to spot the other dogs before Harvey does. My goal is to have his full attention on me when there’s a stranger-dog around and show him that no one is going to hurt him! Good luck to us!
Let’s be the best versions of dog humans
Everyday I am grateful to have my dogs. They’re not perfect, nor am I. But that’s the real magic of the human & dog relationship. It doesn’t really matter how many commands your dog recognises, it matters how it feels when being with you and if they bring the best out of you.
Work on the behaviours that would improve both of your quality of life and don’t judge yourself if your neighbour’s Beagle can walk on two legs and clap their paws.
Remember - though Italian Greyhounds have very special personalities, ground rules are crucial for their well-being!
I’d love to hear from you if any of the aforementioned wins & challenges sound familiar. Please share in the comments section or drop me a personal message via Instagram @harvoola or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep it up, stay warm & cozy!