In a nutshell Italian Greyhounds are not the most cooperative of breeds when it comes to doing what you want them to do. However it is possible to obedience train an Italian Greyhound but it requires a degree more wit and cunning on the part of the human than with many other dog breeds!
Puppy training classes and even adult training classes are a good idea, especially if you are a first time dog owner. Training classes are about training humans to train their dogs. Training is not just about making your dog do what you want though – it’s also a great opportunity to build trust in the relationship between you and your dog, and classes provide a good socialisation opportunity for your puppy/dog.
Please only take part in training classes that use humane training methods e.g positive reinforcement methods such as clicker training. If you are at all unhappy with the training methods prescribed then trust your gut instinct and find another training class. Italian Greyhounds can be sensitive and you need to bear that in mind.
Remember: obedience training should be fun and rewarding, not stressful and frightening.
Many dog owners now crate train their dogs during puppyhood, although adult dogs can be trained successfully also. Crate training is a sensible and humane way of training your dog to tolerate being confined for short periods of time only. We do not condone crating an Italian Greyhound or any breed of dog for long periods of time.
Crates are den-like and dogs are den creatures. Many Italian Greyhound owners who crate trained their dogs as puppies keep crates in their homes even when the dog is an adult, although by this stage the doors may be permanently open or even have been removed completely. Dogs genuinely seem to love having their own little den – one of the reasons it is important to have a dog bed for your Italian Greyhound, even if it ends up sleeping in your own bed at night!
So why might you want to train your dog to tolerate being ‘locked up’? The short answer is : for it’s own safety.
Particularly when they are puppies, Italian Greyhounds can be very accident prone – jumping onto furniture (many an Italian Greyhound will surprise you by springing up onto a kitchen worktop), jumping off furniture, chewing through electric cables, etc. If you train your puppy at a very young age to tolerate short periods of confinement in a crate then you will be able to leave your puppy safe in the knowledge that it can’t hurt itself when you are not there to supervise e.g. when you pop out to the supermarket.
Crates are also perfect for travelling with your Italian Greyhound in the car. A crate secured on the back seat of your car is the safest place for an Italian Greyhound in the car. Why the back seat? Because most modern cars are designed with a rear that crumples on impact which means any dog in the boot of the car is likely to be crushed if the car is hit with force from behind.
If you decide not to crate your dog when travelling in a car, at least ensure that it is secured with a dog seat belt harness. If you have to brake suddenly and your Italian Greyhound goes flying off the seat it stands a very good chance of breaking a leg.
Note a dog should be trained to be confined in a crate – it’s not fair to the dog if you suddenly lock them up for several hours out of the blue and expect your dog to be perfectly content. There are many good training books that give advice on how best to introduce your dog to a crate and how to gradually build up the time that it spends in the crate without causing distress to the dog. Remember too that if your dog is confined in a crate he / she should always have access to fresh water. Water bowls that clip onto the sides of a crate are best so that your dog won’t knock the bowl over.
An alternative way of confining a dog for its own safety is a play pen – just remember that Italian Greyhounds can jump high and even young puppies may have no problems springing over the walls of a play pen.
As your dog gets older and wiser the need to crate your dog when you are not there should disappear, although the majority of Italian Greyhound owners will ensure that their Italian Greyhound does not have free run of the house when home alone even when they are older, restricting them to specific room(s) in the house. See the section on In Your Home.
House-Training Italian Greyhounds
Italian Greyhounds are notoriously difficult to house train. Anyone considering an Italian Greyhound really needs to think this through as it could mean a life time of dealing with puddles by the back door and leg lifting on furniture by both dogs and bitches – bitches mark just as much as dogs do!
There is lots of different advice on how to house train a dog. No one seems to have a magic solution with Italian Greyhounds. Speak to fellow dog owners and seek their advice on what worked for them.
A sound piece of advice is never let your dog pee or poop inside from day one. This is quite a task as it means you have to anticipate when your dog is going to need to toilet and then take it outside to do its business: when it wakes up; when it has eaten; when it has finished playing or done anything else ‘exciting’, e.g. postman rings the doorbell; and then every hour on top of those times. The idea is obviously that your dog learns very quickly that outside is the only place to pee and poop. It is an effective training method but very labour intensive – not practical for many but if you can take this approach it may save you a lot of frustration in the future!