We’ve recently rescued a 15-month-old Lurcher. His training in the house is going really well, but when being walked, he continuously whines and at times howls loudly. This is whether he sees another dog or not. We’ve tried walking him on a short lead, long lead, tried distracting him with treats, rewarding during the times he doesn’t whine with treats and also tried to just ignore the whining.
Kirsten Dillon advises…
A Lurcher is the term used to describe the result of crossing a sighthound with another breed. Intentional crosses were often made with the pastoral or working dogs, such as terriers, retrievers or collies. This was to get the working traits from one dog while increasing the stamina of the fast-running sighthound.
It is not unusual to get a Lurcher that has been crossed with another sighthound – for example, a Greyhound-terrier cross bred with another Greyhound. This means we might see the genetic predisposition of all of the breeds that are present, and some traits may be exaggerated.
I am telling you this because I see in your dog a real desire to perform his breed-specific traits, manifesting itself as a frustrated vocalisation. There are several things you can do to help him with this frustration.
Although we do not know exactly what breeds are in his make-up, it would be fair to say that he has a high predatory drift, a desire to chase small furry things, and a desire to scent or track these small furry things too.
You are absolutely doing the right thing by keeping him on a lead until you have had a chance to work hard on a reliable recall cue, but this won’t allow him to satisfy his desire to run.
My advice would be to find a safely fenced field and let him off-lead. The site www.dogwalkingfields.co.uk has an extensive list of fields nationwide for hire by the hour.
In addition, you could always employ the use of a flirt pole with a rabbit skin attached to really help him perform his natural chasing behaviours. You can buy both of these things online. It may also be that he has spent the early part of his life with other dogs, so a play date with another Lurcher may be just the ticket. Make sure that everyone is friendly first, of course.
If you are really keen, you could always do a DNA test to find out specifically what you are dealing with, and you may find it interesting to research what each breed was bred to do and how you can fulfil that need in your pet dog.
Try the Facebook page Lurcher Appreciation Society, but most importantly of all, have fun experimenting with what it is that really floats his boat.