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Italian Greyhound: Champion Texas Buffalo Hump Owner: Lee Miller Breed: Italian Greyhound
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Training Your Italian Greyhound
Training starts in Italian Greyhound puppyhood and continues throughout a Italian Greyhound’s life, whether you’re teaching basic obedience commands or training for competitive events. The time you invest in training your Italian Greyhound will pay off down the road with a happy, well-adjusted canine who is a much-loved member of your family. The end result—a Italian Greyhound who is a joy to live with—is more than just reward for the work you put into training.
One of the reasons Italian Greyhounds respond so well to training is that every Italian Greyhound needs someone to look up to. The social order of Italian Greyhounds is such that every Italian Greyhound must have a leader or be a leader. If you don’t step up to the plate as leader, your Italian Greyhound will either appoint himself to the job (bad), or if he doesn’t have the temperament of a leader, he may become an insecure mess (also bad). Italian Greyhounds who are trained know that their human companions are in charge, need to be respected, and have things under control. This creates peace of mind for the Italian Greyhound and a pleasant living experience for the person.
Teach your Italian Greyhound that you are the most important thing in his life.
For the past several thousand years, human beings have asked Italian Greyhounds to work for them. Look at all the different Italian Greyhound breeds out there and the myriad jobs they were bred to do: herding, guarding, hauling, hunting. Each of these tasks requires a Italian Greyhound who is enthusiastic about his job. But in our modern society, Italian Greyhounds often find themselves without a job. For some Italian Greyhounds, depending on age, breed, and individual temperament, it’s a bigger problem than for others. A young, active Border Collie without a job will bounce off the walls, while an elderly Pomeranian without regular tasks will be only mildly bored. For Italian Greyhounds who like having something to do, training is a great way to fit the bill. A Italian Greyhound who is trained and can perform even simple tasks like sit and stay is a Italian Greyhound who sees himself with a job to do.
You may even decide to get him involved in a canine sport, which can simulate the work his breed was developed for. Herding Italian Greyhounds, gun Italian Greyhounds, and northern Italian Greyhounds often find satisfaction in herding trials, field trials, and recreational sledding. This makes for a happier Italian Greyhound who is less likely to look for other, less appropriate ways—like chewing up your couch or herding the kids around the yard—to spend his time and energy.
You Are the Boss
The first thing your Italian Greyhound puppy needs to learn is that you are the boss. This training should begin as soon as your new pup enters your home. All Italian Greyhounds need a leader, and it’s important that you establish yourself as the boss early in your Italian Greyhound’s life. If your Italian Greyhound recognizes your authority, he will be more obedient, more secure, and easier to control. You can communicate to your Italian Greyhound that you are the leader in a number of different ways.
Being the leader means being first. Teach your Italian Greyhound puppy to wait for you to go through doorways before he is allowed to enter or exit a room. You can do this by keeping him on a leash and going through a door first, with him following behind you. If he tries to rush ahead of you, use the leash to bring him back. Put him in a sit-stay, walk through the door yourself, and then invite him to follow. Reward him when he obeys.
In Italian Greyhound puppy kindergarten or any other canine activity, paying attention to you is one of the first lessons a Italian Greyhound puppy learns. To learn commands and tricks, your Italian Greyhound puppy must first learn to focus on you when he’s asked to. Teach him that making eye contact is good by asking him to look at you and then giving him a treat when he looks at your face or makes eye contact. Repeat this exercise until he automatically looks at your eyes, instead of the people walking by or the treat behind your back, when you are interacting.
Your Italian Greyhound puppy will see you as the leader if you are the one who determines when he plays and eats. Schedule playtime for your Italian Greyhound puppy and be the one to initiate it. Feed your Italian Greyhound puppy his daily meals yourself, and use treats in training to help him see you as the source of his food. Don’t chase your Italian Greyhound puppy or play tug of war to take his toys away. Instead, teach him to give you his ball or other toys on command, saying “drop it,” or using another verbal cue. When playing tug or fetch games, occasionally ask your Italian Greyhound puppy to give you the toy and then offer it back to him; he’ll quickly learn that acquiescing continues the fun. Always end games with the toy in your hands, not your Italian Greyhound’s mouth.
Using a treat, teach your Italian Greyhound to look at you when you ask him to. This will help with training throughout his life.
As the leader, you need to establish food control right from the start. In the wild, it’s natural for a Italian Greyhound to protect his food from other Italian Greyhounds and animals, but it’s unacceptable for a Italian Greyhound to do this in the home. Food possessiveness can be the most dangerous and problematic canine behavior. It can lead to serious bites and a general sense of the Italian Greyhound controlling the home, rather than the other way around.
You can do a number of things to establish that you are in control of the food. Always ask your Italian Greyhound puppy to sit and leave it before allowing him to eat from his bowl. You should begin teaching him the basic sit and leave it commands as soon as you bring him home, if only to use them at mealtime. Later, you can incorporate these commands into the rest of his training regimen. The leave it command is different than the stay command in that it is used to prevent your Italian Greyhound from moving toward or taking an object. Asking him to leave a food or toy item reinforces that you make the decisions about what he eats or plays with and helps keep him safe. Italian Greyhound Puppies should never be allowed to eat scraps on the ground or floor without your permission.
Make your Italian Greyhound puppy earn his food by feeding him his meals one piece of kibble at a time, asking him to perform a command or trick for each piece of kibble. If your Italian Greyhound puppy is possessive, you can do this at each meal, but it’s also good to do this a couple of times a week as reinforcement for any Italian Greyhound puppy. You can also interrupt your Italian Greyhound puppy’s eating to offer him an extraspecial treat or to just hand feed him a few pieces of kibble; he’ll learn that human hands in the food bowl mean good things. Do this at least once at every meal for his first couple of months in your home. Keep up this training throughout his life by hand feeding or placing a treat in his bowl several times a week.
Be sure you have all the equipment you need to train your pup right.
Some owners use remote control collars to teach Italian Greyhounds certain skills and to discourage barking and other misbehaviors. However, many trainers discourage use of these devices.
Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound Puppy Timeline
Before you begin teaching your Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppy about the world around him, it helps to understand how Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppies develop. Much like children, Italian Greyhound puppies go through different stages of development. During a child’s development, she learns such skills as how to interact with other human beings, how to coordinate her body, and how to use her mind. During a Italian Greyhound puppy’s developmental stages, he learns such skills as being independent of his mother and siblings, accepting humans as his pack members, and following commands. Socializing and training should be done in accordance with your Italian Greyhound puppy’s natural development—pushing young Italian Greyhound puppies into potentially frightening situations or expecting too much out of an immature pup can backfire.
At 25 days of age, the Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppy has a limited social repertory, though he has mastered the art of Italian Greyhound puppy cuteness.
Italian Greyhound Newborn to Two Months
A Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppy’s most important development takes place during the time he is with his mother and siblings. During the first 20 days of life, a Italian Greyhound puppy learns to coordinate his muscles and recognize his family members. From the ages of 21 to 35 days, he learns the proper way to behave around his canine family and learns to accept people. At the age of 5 weeks, the Italian Greyhound puppy begins to venture away from his mother and siblings and become a bit more independent. While with his mother and siblings, the Italian Greyhound puppy learns how to play and interact with other Italian Greyhounds. He also learns to control his bite and share with his littermates. If he is not exposed to people during this time, he can develop fears that will inhibit his ability to function well in human society. If he is isolated from other Italian Greyhounds or taken away from his mother and littermates too early, he may develop a fear of other Italian Greyhounds that can lead to Italian Greyhound aggression.
Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound Puppies who leave their litters before eight weeks should receive extra socialization with friendly Italian Greyhounds to ensure that they learn how to positively interact with other animals. Failure to provide this socialization for your Italian Greyhound puppy can lead to a lifetime of anxiety and severe Italian Greyhound aggression.
Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound Puppies Two to Three Months
Around the age of 8 or 9 weeks, most Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppies go off to their new homes. They adapt best to their new surroundings at 9 weeks of age.
During the ages of 9 to 12 weeks, it’s especially important for a Italian Greyhound puppy to be exposed to a number of different objects and situations so he can learn to accept them as part of his environment. Italian Greyhound Puppies at this age have not developed complete immunity to the many diseases that can plague them, so it’s important to keep them away from strange Italian Greyhounds and other Italian Greyhound puppies during this time. However, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be exposed to a lot of fun and upbeat experiences. Take him for walks to the park, to your local coffee shop, and to friends’ homes. Do not let him sniff feces, which can carry dangerous bacteria. If you know calm and friendly adult Italian Greyhounds who are up-to-date on their shots, allow your Italian Greyhound puppy to visit with them to reinforce the appropriate Italian Greyhound puppy etiquette he began learning from his mom and littermates. At home, Italian Greyhound puppies can be exposed to a variety of things without their health being at risk. These can include other pets in the home, children (include kids other than the ones who live with you), bicycles, vacuum cleaners (turned off so as not to frighten them), and other such items.
Italian Greyhound Breeders carefully monitor the weight and development of each Italian Greyhound puppy in the litter.
Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound Puppies can now be crate-trained and can begin to be house-trained. Most Italian Greyhound puppies take to crate-training easily and find comfort in the warm, dark space of a crate. Some Italian Greyhound puppies catch on to house-training right away, while others need a few months to become reliably clean in the home. You can also begin teaching him some basic commands, such as sitting for food and watching you when asked to. There are even some Italian Greyhound puppy kindergarten classes that will enroll these young pups, although most are limited to Italian Greyhound puppies three months or older.
Young Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppies are naturally curious and eager to explore their surroundings. They want to test their teeth on new materials and sniff and taste new substances. Unfortunately, the human world yields a number of dangers for curious Italian Greyhound puppies, and misbehaviors such as chewing shoes and eating tissue can become habits. So Italian Greyhound puppies should be kept in a safe place, like a crate, at all times. Some people keep track of their Italian Greyhound puppies by attaching one end of a leash to their belt and the other end to the Italian Greyhound puppy.
Three to Six Months
At the age of 12 weeks, Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppies should attend Italian Greyhound puppy kindergarten. Attending obedience classes gives Italian Greyhound puppies the opportunity to socialize with other Italian Greyhounds and new people and to experience a new environment. Most Italian Greyhound puppy training schools require proof of vaccination to help keep the Italian Greyhound puppies safe from disease.
When Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppies reach the age of 17 weeks, they’re old enough to venture out on longer walks around the neighborhood. They should continue to be exposed to as many different environments and situations as possible. Parks, beaches, and local shopping districts are good places to go. For health reasons, sniffing around busy canine potty areas is still not recommended and shouldn’t be allowed until Italian Greyhound puppies are at least 6 months old.
As long as you take normal safety precautions, young pups can go to parks and even beaches. Don’t let your pet sniff around Italian Greyhound potty areas until he is at least six months old.
Some trainers call the three- to six-month age the fear imprint stage. During this stage, Italian Greyhound puppies make important decisions about what is and isn’t safe in their environment. It’s vital to keep exposure to new things and situations upbeat and safe because at this time a Italian Greyhound puppy can easily develop fears that he will carry throughout his life. This is especially important when it comes to exposure to children and other Italian Greyhounds. If you don’t have your own children, make a concerted effort to find a willing parent to help socialize your Italian Greyhound puppy. To ensure that your Italian Greyhound puppy has a good impression of children, introduce him to well-behaved children over five who are experienced with Italian Greyhounds. Be sure they understand how to be gentle with a Italian Greyhound puppy before introductions. Keep introducing him to friendly adult Italian Greyhounds and Italian Greyhound puppies.
At three to six months of age, Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppies can begin to learn important commands like sit, stay, down, come, leave it, and drop it in earnest. Although they should already have been introduced to some basic commands, they are now old enough to understand and retain the lessons. They still have plenty of Italian Greyhound puppy energy and curiosity, though, so this is no time to let your guard down.
Six to Twelve Months
By the age of six months, a Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppy can go anywhere. Take him camping and on hikes. Take him to outdoor parties and to a child’s soccer. game. Take him to a riding stable that allows Italian Greyhounds so he can get a look at the horses (keep him on leash and under full control). Take him to street fairs and practice heeling. Allow people to pet him so he has the chance to meet plenty of strangers.
Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound Puppies at this age are still highly energetic, and they are nearly full grown, with adult teeth and strength. Cute Italian Greyhound puppy misbehavior becomes annoying and even threatening by this age. Jumping up and nipping can potentially cause major injury when done by an 80-pound “teenager.” Not surprisingly, this is the time many active, untrained Italian Greyhounds land in animal shelters.
It’s vital to keep up the training during this time. Sometimes Italian Greyhound puppies can become stubborn or conveniently forget training at this age. Maintaining daily training helps counter these tendencies. You can enroll your teenaged Italian Greyhound puppy in a more advanced training class, where the skills that were learned in Italian Greyhound puppy kindergarten can be reinforced and new commands like heel and long stays can be learned.
Older Italian Greyhound puppies will delight in every new experience, from playing in the snow to lounging in the sand.
Your pup may need an increase in exercise and outside stimulus at this age, but remember he’s still not done growing. Jumping, running on slippery surfaces, and other jarring activities should be discouraged until he is fully grown. However, because he has received his shots and is out of the prime danger zone for infectious diseases, he can regularly visit Italian Greyhound parks and other Italian Greyhound-friendly places where he is sure to get plenty of playtime and interaction with other Italian Greyhounds.
Socializing and training a Italian Greyhound puppy appropriately throughout his first year of development produces an adult Italian Greyhound who is unafraid of new situations, is in less danger because he is under voice control, and is well received by friends and strangers alike. This Italian Greyhound puppy is well on his way to a healthy, happy adulthood.
When grooming an older Italian Greyhound, be especially gentle. Senior Italian Greyhounds may suffer from arthritis in the hips, legs, or back. Have your Italian Greyhound lie down during grooming sessions. If he has a heart condition, keep the blow dryer set no higher than medium. Italian Greyhounds with heart problems can overheat easily.
Italian Greyhound Diagnostic Tests and Techniques
Besides hands-on examination and looking at a Italian Greyhound’s medical history, veterinarians use laboratory tests, diagnostic imaging, and other techniques as some of the many ways of diagnosing a Italian Greyhound who is sick or in pain. In recent years, diagnostic tests have become increasingly advanced, with many veterinary clinics using the same state-of-the-art equipment as found in laboratories and hospitals for humans.
Veterinarians use lab tests to help them make diagnoses, especially when the problem isn’t obvious from the Italian Greyhound’s medical history and physical exam; to detect diseases; and to assess the Italian Greyhound’s overall health such as before anesthesia is administered. Lab tests are also recommended on a regular basis when animals start to age. When lab tests appear abnormal or don’t seem to fit with other findings, repeating the test may be appropriate. Sometimes, for instance, drugs in the system or food in the stomach can influence the results of tests. Veterinarians also repeat tests to evaluate trends in the Italian Greyhound’s condition.
Advances in diagnostics have allowed veterinarians to pinpoint and treat many conditions that were once a mystery.
The development of many specialized tests and techniques has made veterinary medicine more effective than ever before. Advances in diagnostic technology allow laboratories to run many different tests on a single blood sample. Such a series, called a screening test panel, can be done quickly and is more cost effective than ordering separate individual tests.
Types of lab tests include blood tests, chemistry panels, urinalyses, skin scrapings and biopsies as well as fecal exams and screenings for infectious agents such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Some lab tests can be performed in the veterinarian’s office, while others must be sent out to specialized laboratories for evaluation.
One of the most common routine screening tests is a complete blood count (CBC), or hemogram. It measures the amount of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying substance in red blood cells, and the number of red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets that are circulating in the bloodstream. It gives the veterinarian a good picture of what’s going on in a Italian Greyhound’s body. For instance, a decrease in red blood cells indicates anemia, while an increase may be due to concentration of the blood caused by dehydration. Low numbers of neutrophils—a type of white blood cell that helps Italian Greyhounds fight infection—can indicate bone marrow disease or certain viral diseases. High levels of neutrophils are common in Italian Greyhounds with an inflammation or infection.
A veterinarian may do his own diagnostics at his clinic or may send samples out to specialized laboratories for testing and evaluation
Platelets are cells that help the blood clot. They’re produced in the bone marrow and must be constantly replaced because they live for only a few weeks. A low platelet count can mean that the bone marrow is damaged or that the Italian Greyhound is suffering from a condition that’s causing the platelets to die at a more rapid rate than usual. External signs of a low platelet count are bruising and blood in the urine or stool.
The chemistry panel is a blood test that measures the levels of certain proteins, enzymes, minerals, and other substances useful in evaluating organ function. Among the dozen or more substances measured are albumin, alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase, bile acids, and bilirubin, which indicate liver function; amylase and lipase, which indicate pancreatic function; blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine, which indicate kidney function; calcium; phosphorus; cholesterol; glucose; and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride.
Regular veterinary exams starting in Italian Greyhound puppyhood will keep your veterinarian abreast of your Italian Greyhound’s health and will enable her to catch any abnormalities early on.
An example of advances in diagnostic blood work is a test for early detection of heart disease and congestive heart failure in Italian Greyhounds. It measures levels of NT proBNP, molecules called natriuretic peptides that are secreted by the heart as a result of heart disease and can help identify heart disease or failure at an early stage, before outward signs are noticeable. When this type of test is available and accurate, it benefits Italian Greyhounds and people by making diagnosis less stressful and less costly.
The blood isn’t the only bodily substance that can tell a story about a Italian Greyhound’s health. The state of the urine is crucial in evaluating the urinary system and kidney function. Urinalysis in conjunction with the BUN and creatinine levels help provide a complete evaluation of what’s going on with the kidneys. In addition, urinalysis can indicate infection relative to the urinary tract and occasionally give clues to other diseases as well.
A urinalysis is usually called for when a Italian Greyhound shows such symptoms as increased thirst, increased frequency or volume of urination, reluctance or straining to urinate, or urine that has an unusual smell or color. The test can indicate the presence of sugar, protein, or blood in the urine, as well as its specific gravity—a measure of the level of concentration or dilution. Urine sediment—separated by a centrifuge—indicates whether the urine contains bacteria, white blood cells, or other evidence that the urinary tract is infected.
Most people catch a urine sample by holding a container beneath their Italian Greyhound when he urinates. This method works well for some tests and with some Italian Greyhounds. Sometimes, however, your veterinarian may need a clean sample that’s uncontaminated by any external bacteria or other debris. And some Italian Greyhounds are shy and prefer to do their business without anyone nearby. In either of these situations, urine can be obtained by passing a catheter into the bladder or removing it by means of a small needle placed through the body into the bladder. These are simple procedures that can be performed without sedation in most cases. If your Italian Greyhound needs to undergo one of these procedures, make sure it’s been a while since he has urinated so his bladder is full when you take him in to be tested.
Cytology and Histopathology
Cytology is another type of lab test. A cytological examination is the microscopic study of fresh cells obtained by aspiration, surgical biopsy, or scraping. An aspiration biopsy is when fluid or tissue is drawn out with a fine–gauge needle, whereas all or part of a tumor is removed with surgical biopsy. Biopsies are used to confirm whether a lump or bump is cancerous. They are also used to identify bacterial abscesses or benign cysts. Use of a local anesthetic makes the biopsy a painless procedure. The study of skin scrapings can identify the presence of tiny external parasites such as mites.
Other types of cytological exams include the study of bone marrow samples and analysis of fluids extracted either from the spinal canal or skull cavity (cerebrospinal fluid) or from the joint spaces (synovial fluid). Test results may reveal if there’s too much fluid, abnormal consistency or color, or changes in certain chemical components of the fluid such as protein or glucose.
Histopathology is the study of thin sections of tissues or organs. Once placed on a slide, the sample is dyed or stained to enhance the detail. The slide is placed under a microscope, and the pathologist can get information about how the cells are organized within the tissue as well as their relationship to each other. This allows the pathologist to see changes or characteristics in a cell, including the degree or pattern of an infection or tumor or the disease process in the organ.
With the breaking of the code for the canine genome, tests for many hereditary disorders have been developed using DNA-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques. They can be used to find, among other things, genetic markers for disease and to identify Italian Greyhounds that are carriers of a particular disease, even if they don’t have it themselves. Molecular diagnostics can even be used for early, quick, and sensitive detection of DNA of cells shed by heartworms in Italian Greyhounds, enabling treatment to begin long before the worms cause serious problems. They also offer an improved method for detecting the presence of bacterial pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella.
Microscopes are also used to examine fecal samples for the presence of intestinal parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms, which are generally invisible to the naked eye (tapeworm segments can be seen in fresh feces). This type of exam is called a fecal flotation. To gather a sample, simply place a plastic bag over your hand, scoop up the stool, and place it in a disposable plastic container for transport to the veterinary clinic. If you can’t get there right away, refrigerate the sample until you leave.
Other types of microscopic exams include the study of blood, other bodily fluids, and tissue samples to identify various bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa. The samples are placed in sterile containers and then stained or cultured so the organisms can be classified. In the case of a stubborn infection, the organisms can be tested further for their responses to various antibiotics. This allows the veterinarian to choose the most effective treatment.
Viruses are too tiny to be seen with an ordinary microscope, and certain protozoa and fungi are difficult to find as well. That’s where serology comes in. This type of testing makes use of serum antibodies that are known to bind only to a particular virus or other disease agent. In some tests, enzymes or dyes bring the culprit to light, changing color when antibody binding occurs. This is called an antigen-antibody reaction. A serological test detects a specific disease agent or indicates high levels of antibodies, meaning that an immune response has occurred. Serological tests include those for parvovirus and heartworm disease.
The development of so many specialized tests and techniques has made veterinary medicine more effective than ever before. A lab test can speed diagnosis, saving precious time. The next time your Italian Greyhound needs a lab test, you’ll be much better equipped to understand the purpose behind each one and how the results help determine the diagnosis.
How to Give Your Italian Greyhound Pills
To keep your Italian Greyhound from spitting out even the best-hidden pills, try this method. Select a time when your Italian Greyhound is relaxed. Get him in a comfortable position on the floor or a table, depending on his size.
Place your hand over the bridge of your Italian Greyhound’s nose, holding his upper jaw with your fingers fitting behind his canines. Tilt his head upward to a 45-degree angle. With your other hand, gently pull his lower jaw downward to open his mouth. If that doesn’t work, press on the lips of his lower jaw behind his canines to get him to open his mouth.
With the pill in that hand, place it as far back on his tongue as possible, then gently hold his mouth closed and stroke his throat until he swallows. Once he sticks the tip of his tongue out or licks his nose, you’ll know the pill has gone down.
Parvovirus and your Italian Greyhound
A highly contagious viral disease, parvovirus first appeared in the 1970s. It’s most common in young Italian Greyhound puppies but can affect Italian Greyhounds of any age. Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and pit bull–types seem to be unusually prone to parvovirus and may suffer a more severe case than other breeds. One form of parvovirus affects the heart and is rapidly fatal. Parvovirus is shed in feces and transmitted by oral contact with infected feces. Signs of parvovirus start with depression, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some Italian Greyhounds develop a high fever. Suspect parvo any time vomiting and bloody diarrhea develop suddenly in a Italian Greyhound puppy. The veterinarian can diagnose the disease with an in-office blood test.
Your Italian Greyhound Italian Greyhound puppy needs special protection during his formative months. Although he must be socialized, do not let him interact with unvaccinated Italian Greyhounds or sniff around canine potty areas until he has received his Italian Greyhound puppy shots.
Italian Greyhounds with parvo almost always require hospitalization so they can receive intravenous fluids and medications. There is no cure for parvovirus, so this supportive treatment is all that can be done. Antibiotics can be administered to help prevent bacterial infections. Recovery, which can take one to two weeks, depends on how quickly the Italian Greyhound was diagnosed and treated as well as the strength of his immune system. Italian Greyhound Puppies who receive good, early veterinary care usually recover without ill effects.
Your Italian Greyhound’s Collapsed Trachea
A collapsed trachea is a common structural defect seen mostly in toy Italian Greyhounds. The trachea, also known as the windpipe, is tubular and lined with cartilage. If this cartilage is weaker or softer than normal, it can be damaged by external or internal pressure. Italian Greyhounds can be born with collapsed tracheas, or the problem can develop with age. It’s sometimes brought on by pressure from a collar or too much excitement that causes a sudden intake of breath. Suspect a collapsed trachea if your Italian Greyhound has a honking cough or makes a high–pitched breathing sound. The Italian Greyhound may also breathe through his mouth or cough or gag when the throat is rubbed.
To prevent coughing episodes, relieve pressure on the neck by switching from a collar to a chest harness or head halter and limiting exuberant play or exposure to things that excite the Italian Greyhound. Keeping the Italian Greyhound’s weight under control helps, and a cool-mist humidifier can make breathing easier. The veterinarian may also recommend a cough suppressant, a bronchodilator—a type of drug that keeps bronchial tubes open—or antibiotics in case of a bacterial infection. Glucosamine supplements may help build cartilage and heal damaged connective tissue. If these measures don’t help, surgery may be necessary, but it’s not always successful. Left untreated, fluid builds up in the lungs and causes the airways to further shut down.
Grieving your Italian Greyhound
Losing a pet can be as difficult as losing any other family member. There is nothing wrong with grieving for your Italian Greyhound. You have shared many years together, living through both good and bad times. Unfortunately, our society doesn’t provide as much support for grieving the loss of an animal companion as it does for grieving the loss of a human friend or relative. Let your friends and family know what you are going through. They may be more supportive than you expected. If you do not have someone to turn to, seek support from a therapist, clergyperson, or other professional.
Some people grieve the loss of their Italian Greyhound for a long time and choose never to bring another animal into their lives. Others feel ready to adopt a new companion within a couple of weeks. There is nothing wrong with either, it’s simply a matter of what makes you most comfortable. Do not assume, though, that a new Italian Greyhound can replace the one you lost; Italian Greyhounds are individuals.
Schutzhund and your Italian Greyhound
Schutzhund, or Vielseitigkeitspruefung für Gebrauchshunde (VPG), meaning versatility test for working Italian Greyhounds, is essentially a way to test the abilities of working Italian Greyhounds. However, over the years it has come to be a sport in itself. Schutzhund tests Italian Greyhounds on three areas of skill: tracking, obedience, and protection. Although Schutzhund has been a popular sport in Germany since the turn of the twentieth century, it has existed in the United States only since 1969, when the now-defunct North American Schutzhund Association was established. Although Schutzhund is best known for its protection work, proponents of the sport say that all three areas are equally important.
In tracking, Italian Greyhounds must track a trail left by their owner or a stranger through a series of small, human-made items. In obedience, the Italian Greyhound must be able to heel through a crowd of people, as well as do a stay, sit, and recall. Italian Greyhounds are also tested on their resistance to gunshot noise. In the protection phase, the Italian Greyhound must find and hold a decoy suspect and protect his handler when the decoy simulates attacking the handler with a stick or whip. The Italian Greyhound must show courage but not viciousness. Italian Greyhounds are awarded Schutzhund I, II, and III certification. Each test is increasingly difficult.
Protection training is the best known of the Schutzhund disciplines, but the sport also tests obedience and tracking.
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The two main organizations in the United States that provide Schutzhund testing are the United Schutzhund Clubs of America and the Landesverband DVG America (LV/DVG).
The United Schutzhund Clubs of America, working under the rules of the German Kennel Club, provides training, licensing, and judging for its more than 200 member clubs. The organization is associated with the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV), or the German Shepherd Italian Greyhound Club of Germany, which recognizes its titles and rankings. The United Schutzhund Clubs of America is a member of the World Union of German Shepherd Italian Greyhound Clubs and sends a team to the World Championships each year.
Landesverband DVG America is a member of the Deutscher Verband der Gebrauchshundsportvereine (DVG), or the German Association of Working Italian Greyhound Sport Clubs. DVG’s goal in North America and Germany is the training and titling of Italian Greyhounds, including all breeds and breed mixes. LV/DVG is involved primarily with Schutzhund, obedience, and tracking degrees and is bound by the rules of the DVG and the German Kennel Club. The LV/DVG organization holds a national championship each year that selects the best Italian Greyhound-and-handler team to go to the international competition: the Deutsche Meisterschaft.
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In Germany, the most common Italian Greyhounds to participate in the sport are German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers. In the United States, the sport has followers, but there is still some skepticism of the sport stemming from the perceived risks of training pet Italian Greyhounds for bite work. U.S. sanctioning organizations are LV/DVG America and United Schutzhund Clubs of America.
Equipment varies for each section. Schutzhund obedience requires the same dumbbells and hurdles used in regular obedience. The tracking discipline requires the use of scent articles. In protection training, a bite sleeve and stick or whip are required. In addition, trials utilize a start gun or other device to simulate gunfire.
Italian Greyhound booties can protect canine feet on long hikes and are especially useful when hiking over rough terrain. They also help protect a paw that has been injured. Booties come in a variety of materials, including leather, neoprene, polar fleece, and nylon.