Lost Dog Prevention
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear of dogs being lost soon after being adopted. These dogs are not yet comfortable in their new surroundings, are not yet bonded with their new people, and may not answer to their names or a recall command.
Many people consider the first forty-eight hours in a new home to be the most critical time to keep a new dog safe, but it is extremely important to avoid being lured into complacency. Always be aware of where your dog is, and begin to work on a wait command at doors and a recall command.
It is also important not to become complacent with a dog who has been with you for years. Your Italian Greyhound could get scared and bolt, find his or her prey drive and chase something, find an opportunity go "go explore," or act out of character.
A Secure Collar/Harness is Needed
An Adopted Dog
If you have adopted a dog, be aware that the collar or harness that was being used by a previous owner might not be secure enough for a newly adopted dog. The dog may become scared, slipping out of their existing collar or harness.
All Dogs (regardless of how long you have had them)
Be aware that any dog may try to bolt if scared by something, decide to chase something, or become reactive in the presence of something. A dog seemingly without a strong prey drive might "find his prey drive" when you least expect it. All reasons for a collar or harness that cannot be slipped out of.
The recommendation is to use a properly fitted martingale collar or a recommended harness, also properly fitted (the Ruffwear Web Master harness is recommended, as is their newer Flagline harness - do not substitute a different Ruffwear harness).
Do not use a traditional collar on an Italian Greyhound. Since there is not much, if any, difference in an Italian Greyhound's neck and head circumference, they can easily pull out of traditionally styled collars. A martingale is a much better choice (actually, the best choice), but it must fit correctly; if it is too large, the dog will be able to pull out of it. There must be space between the two metal rings, or d-rings, when the collar is pulled tight - if the rings touch or the space between them is minimal, the collar is too large. Be sure to check the collar regularly and be aware that it might stretch.
There are different style martingale collars, including those designed to slide on and off the head, those with a side clip, and those that are adjustable with a slide that is loosened to put the collar on and tightened, once on the dog, for a proper fit – Important Note – this slide must be tightened for the martingale to secure the dog! The correct fit is the same regardless of the martingale collar style.
If using a harness, it is extremely important that the dog cannot slip out of it - it should be designed to be escape-proof. Most harnesses, even when they fit snuggly, can be slipped out of. It is amazing what a scared dog can get out of – the dog’s shoulders move toward each other and inward, they step back, and are out of the harness in seconds. A harness that is highly recommended for Italian Greyhounds is the Web Master Harness. Although expensive, it is designed to be “Houdini” proof. As with any harness, make sure that it is fitted properly. Ruffwear also has a new harness, the Flagline, that is similar to the Web Master and has the same escape-proof design. Do not substitute a different Ruffwear harness for the Ruffwear Web Master or Flagline!
Additional collar and harness information is available on the More IG Information page.
Hold the Leash Properly
Place your hand through the loop of the leash so that it is on your wrist, wrap it around your hand, and hold in securely in your hand. You do not want a dropped leash. Make sure that anyone else walking your dog knows how to do so and understands the importance of doing so. Do not let small children walk the dog without an adult also holding the leash (or using two leashes). What you want is the combination of a securely held leash and a properly fitted martingale collar or escape-proof harness. Regularly check the leash clasp as they can become worn or break.
There are also leashes available that are worn around the waist. Retractable leashes are not recommended. They tend to be easy to drop and, if dropped, will scare the dog. They also provide less control over the dog, encourage pulling, and can be dangerous – causing injury to the dog or human.
Guard Car Doors
Secure the Dog in the Car
For the dog’s safety, a dog car harness or a carrier or crate secured in the car should be used for car travel. It is not uncommon for a dog to try to bolt out of a car door after being adopted (or for a long owned dog to get excited and jump out of the car) - this can occur when someone enters/exits the vehicle or opens the door to get the dog out. In addition, a loose dog is not only a distraction, but would become a projectile in an accident and, after the accident, could escape through a broken window or when a door is opened by a rescuer.
Be aware that car harnesses can be slipped out of (they are not designed to be escape-proof); to reduce this possibility, ensure that it is sized as snug as possible and for added safety, if the car harness comes with an optional extender (tether that gives the dog more movement ability), do not use it. If using the Web Master or Flagline harness instead of a martingale collar, and a car harness is chosen for car travel, use a car harness that can be worn over the Web Master - do not take off the dog’s secure Ruffwear harness to put a car harness on. If a car harness cannot be worn over the Ruffwear harness, have a martingale collar and leash for car use; put the martingale collar and leash on the dog before removing the Ruffwear harness to put a car harness on him or her, keeping the martingale on until you have the Ruffwear harness back on the dog. A secure collar (Martingale) or escape-proof harness and the proper handling of the attached leash will keep the dog secure.
Keep the leash attached to your dog’s martingale or Ruffwear harness when he is traveling by car and secure it to a headrest or some other object. When putting the dog in the car, do not let go of the leash until the dog is fully secured in the car; with a carrier or crate, be extremely careful to not release your hold on the leash and, thus the dog, until the carrier/crate door is almost completely closed with pressure on it. Especially with a new dog, if space allows, enter the vehicle with your dog, close all doors, and secure him in a crate or harness with the doors closed.
Make sure that you have a secure hold on the leash when taking your dog out of his car harness or crate. If you are using a dog car harness, have the dog’s leash (still clipped to his walking collar/harness) securely in your hand before releasing and removing the car harness. Similarly, if a crate is used for car travel, be sure to have the leash secured in your hand prior to fully opening the crate door.
Three additional points:
Do not use a car harness for walking - even if they are advertised for such, they are not designed with the security of the Web Master or Flagline harness.
The Web Master is not designed (or tested) as a car harness, but if necessary, the seat belt can be put through the harness handle and clipped in.
Do not allow your dog to sit in the front car seat unless the airbag can be, and is, disabled. An activated airbag can severely injure or kill the dog.
Guard Entry/Exit Doors
Do not give your dog the opportunity to bolt out a door, whether an entry/exit to your home or a gate to and from an enclosed outside area. I recommend teaching a wait command whenever exiting the house with your Italian Greyhound, but, more importantly, creating a double entry system at entries/exits. This can be done by devising a safety area on either side of a door-way or gate (inside or outside) by using a gate or enclosure with a gate – there are pet and/or child systems that can be used. Ones with a working gate are easiest to use. This back-up system is very important as many dogs inadvertently get out of houses with very unwanted consequences.
Adding a Bow Wow Barrier to exterior doors allows a homeowner to speak with someone at the door while maintaining a barrier – it should not be used in place of the baby gate system though.
Other precautions include:
Confine your dog to a crate or small area that he cannot escape from prior to leaving your home. This will prevent him from bolting out a door when you leave or return home.
Confine or leash your dog if you are receiving company and the door will be opened frequently.
Do not leave your dog unsupervised outside, even in a secured yard. Newly adopted dogs can be amazing at escaping from supposedly securely fenced areas.
Some people choose to keep a newly adopted dog on leash for the first forty-eight hours or so. You do not need to always be holding the leash inside, but the dragging leash will make it easier to grab the dog if necessary.
If you have a fenced yard, be sure that your dog cannot jump, climb, or squeeze through it; be careful to keep all gates securely latched; and regularly check the fence for any spots that have been compromised (from storm damage, animals digging, etc.). Also check the fencing (walk the fence line) in any area where you plan on letting your dog loose, and do so prior to taking him/her off-leash i.e. dog parks, a friend’s fenced yard, a fenced ball field. Supervise your dog even when he/she is in a fenced yard.
Introducing the dog to the fenced yard: Do not leave your dog unsupervised outside, even in a secured yard. Newly adopted dogs can be amazing at escaping from supposedly securely fenced areas. Therefore, introduce your dog to your fenced yard on-leash. Once the dog is familiar with your yard, you can use a long leash or line to provide the dog with more freedom while still having him attached to you. This will allow you to observe the dog and to better confirm that the fencing is secure for that dog. If you do not use a long-line, at the minimum, introduce the dog to the fenced yard on-leash and when he is familiar with the yard and responsive to you, let the dog drag the leash before removing it completely – this makes it easier to get the dog if necessary.
It is advisable to begin working on a recall command, doing so while the dog is on the long-line. Make it a fun experience i.e. use a friendly voice, squat when calling the dog, run backwards when calling, or run away (do not encourage the dog to run from you though!). When the dog comes to you, provide lots of praise and, if using them, treats. If your dog does not respond to your recall command, but eventually comes to you, do not correct the dog – the dog should never be corrected for coming to you! Keep all training positive. It is important to note that even when you dog is demonstrating a good recall, he/she should not be left off-leash in an unfenced area. Even a well-trained dog can decide to chase something or become scared of something.
Hopefully it will not be needed, but always keep an identification collar on your dog, even if he is micro-chipped.