Incentives to breed more greyhounds?!

I was alarmed to read today, through Maggie’s Farm, that the Victorian Minister for Racing, Denis Napthine, has bumped the winning incentives for greyhound breeders to $30 million annually (through a new scheme).  To say I was horrified is putting it mildly.  Already, a colossal number of greyhounds (19 000) are destroyed each year as surplus to the industry, and a scheme such as this one is surely going to encourage the disposal of a huge number of greyhounds each year.

Fawn greyhound playing with a squeaky toy.

Finn, my current greyhound foster, playing with a squeaky toy. Greyhounds make great pets!

Imagine in the government removed all contributions to racing prize money (that is, less $30 million +) and instead putting that money into the greyhound adoption groups.  Potentially, these groups could rehome all these dogs!  If we say, on a generous sum, adoption groups spent $700 per grey to get them ready for adoption, that would only be $13 million (for all 19 000 greys currently killed a year). Perhaps the remaining sums could be used for enforcing welfare legislation regarding greyhound kennelling, and funding the wages of all individuals involved in improving welfare outcomes for greyhounds caught up in the racing industry.

Note: I do not find the lure coursing of greyhounds and other dogs all the abhorrent. Greyhounds and other dogs love to run, and lure coursing is a fun way for them to practice running.  My issue stems from an industry that treats their companion animals as commodities, and disposes of them as such.

Please consider writing a letter to Mr Napthine regarding his support of a greyhound industry that kills 95% of the dogs bred. Below, his contact details and a letter that I wrote regarding this issue. (You’re welcome to use all or parts of my letter in yours.)

denis.napthine@parliament.vic.gov.au (open email client)
Ministerial Office – Phone (03) 9095 4170
Electorial Office/ Warmambool – Phone (03) 5562 8230

94 Liebig Street,
Warrnambool VIC 3280

Or use the ‘ask’ form on Denis’s website. Continue reading


Praise Kongs!

This post is part of the series in response to Dunbar’s 2012 Australian seminars. See index.

You didn’t have to be at Ian Dunbar’s seminar long to understand that Dunbar had a pretty big crush on Kong toys!  To me, I think he was a bit biased – I think there’s a bunch of other chew toys highly appropriate for a similar purpose.  But Dunbar mostly focused his attention on Kongs.

He suggested that every household, especially puppy households, should have Kongs, and advised that the largest dog in the household should determine the size of the Kong.

Brittany chewing a toy.

Photo © Ruthless Photos.

Why use Kongs?

Dogs who eat Kongs will automatically perform a bunch of desirable behaviours (and cease to display undesirable behaviours) by being given a Kong that serves as a distraction of sorts.

When dogs are eating from a Kong, they can’t be barking, they’re normally laying down, and the motion of eating decreases their stress.  Eating from a food toy increases a dog’s confidence in being alone.  Basically, they reduce behaviour problems by training your dog to create ‘good habits’.

Dunbar also argues that Kongs increase food drive, and encourage the dog to only chew ‘food wielding items’ (summed up in, “Why would I chew the furniture? It doesn’t have food in it.”). Continue reading


Puppy Socialisation (Dunbar)

This post is part of the series in response to Dunbar’s 2012 Australian seminars. See index.

Dunbar is big into socialisation. He believes a puppy should meet 100 people before it is 8 weeks old, and 100 people in its first month in its new home. That is, a puppy should’ve met 200 people by the time it is 16 weeks (4 months) old. Dunbar believes in recruiting these people by whatever means possible in order to prevent fear behaviour. As he rightly points out, fear behaviours are easier to prevent in puppyhood than they are to ‘fix’ in adult dogs (which he calls a big project).

Dobermann puppies being socialised to handling by many different people.

Dobermann puppies being socialised to handling by many different people. Photo © Ruthless Photos.

Socialising a puppy is easy, and enjoyable. It teaches the dog to enjoy people (and so it doesn’t want to bite them) and teaches the dog to enjoy being hugged and petted (or restrained and examined).

One of the joys with puppies is that they can be flooded. Throwing a party, and encouraging people to wear costumes, is okay! As is taking them to venues with a lot of things happening.

One of Dunbar’s take home messages, particularly to breeders, is not to worry too much about diseases. Parvovirus is spread by poo, and he thinks that asking visitors to remove shoes before entering the house is sufficient enough prevention. He defines the floor of a vet carpark or a vet clinic is high risk, but that’s about it. I very much agree with Dunbar in this regard: The risks of not socialising is much more likely to kill a puppy (i.e. behavioural problems) than parvovirus.

Puppy classes are nice, but are not good enough to adequately socialise a puppy alone. New puppy owners should put a lot of attention into making that puppy, at the very least, socialable with family and immediately family, or anyone who visits the house on a semi-permanent basis. This means that they are less likely to give the puppy at a later date, and so the puppy stays at its original home forever. Puppy classes aren’t the answer to this, but adequate and extensive socialisation is!


Long Term Confinement Area for Puppies

This post is part of the series in response to Dunbar’s 2012 Australian seminars. See index.

New puppy homes need to have a long term confinement area set up ready for their puppy’s arrival.  The idea is that, by using a pen setup in this way, the puppy will self-toilet-train and self-chew-toy-train.  It also helps to teach the puppy to be alone.  Long term confinement areas are designed so puppies learn where to pee and where to chew, and how to be alone.  Basically, a pen like this allows a puppy to make correct choices, and so be successful in achieving appropriate behaviours.


Long term puppy confinement area, Ian Dunbar

Dunbar advocates for puppy pens to be set up with the bed far away from a toileting areas, as puppies are naturally inclined to toilet away from their sleeping area.


This pen has several features:

  • The edges of the bed can (and should!) be taped down to prevent the puppy chewing the bed.
  • Kongs should be used to distribute food in the middle.  The Kong could be tied to the edge, to prevent it entering the toilet area, or you could raise the toilet area in a litter box so the Kong can’t roll in there.
  • The toilet area should be turf and as far from the bedroom as possible, as puppies naturally want to eliminate away from their bed.
  • The toilet area should have faeces removed as soon as possible, but the urine should be left so that the odour attracts puppies to return to eliminate in the same spot.
  • The water is near the sleeping area.
  • There should be plenty of Kongs! Puppies should only be fed from Kongs.

Continue reading