Motivation to chase in racing greyhounds

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Funded by Greyhound Racing NSW, this project is designed to reveal exactly why greyhounds chase lures. This may not be as obvious as it seems. Are they rewarded by gaining access to the lure at the end, or is it the chase itself that they enjoy? How might the training and housing methods used with them affect their racing success? Do they perform better at races if they are calm or excitable before starting? If we know how to get the most out of greyhounds regardless of their individual personality or preferences, then we can breed better greyhounds, reduce wastage in the industry and give more greyhounds longer racing careers.

Participants needed

Racing greyhounds and pet dogs are sought to participate in this study. You can help in a number of ways.

Surveys: There are currently three surveys available.

  1. Attitudes and beliefs of greyhound breeders, owners, rearers and breakers. This survey is about training of racing greyhounds.
  2. Toy use to motivate sport dogs. This survey is for organised dog sport participants (e.g. agility, obedience, flyball) and asks about using toys to motivate dogs and what kind of toys excite dogs. Complete the survey.
  3. Toy use to motivate working dogs. This survey is for trainers of police, military, livestock herding, security and detection dogs. It asks about using toys to motivate dogs and what kind of toys dogs like best. Complete the survey.
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Doglogbook: Greyhound owners, breeders, rearers and breakers/educators are encouraged to download the Doglogbook smartphone app. This free app is designed to track training over time, and will allow us to collect data on the success of training and socialisation practices in racing greyhounds across the country.

It can also be used for dogs in other working roles, and pet dogs. Download the app from iTunes and Google Play.

Greyhound puppies: We are currently recruiting litters of greyhound puppies we can follow throughout their rearing and training. We will record their introductions to chasing teasers, the starting box, lures, and anything else considered part of their education. We will then look at their racing success once they reach the racetrack to identify training practices associated with racing success.

URGENT, VOLUNTEERS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY. Please contact Dr Melissa Starling if you have an upcoming litter you would be kind enough to volunteer for non-invasive (observational) studies within this project.

Motivation to chase: Participation in this part of the study is open to both actively racing greyhounds and dogs of other breeds. Our field studies will be held in the Sydney area and address two main questions:

  1. How hard/long will a dog pull towards a lure and what affects their effort?
  2. How does the dog interact with the lure when allowed to catch it?

Answering these questions will involve short runs (less than 100m depending on dog’s fitness and size) on a straight track with a drag lure. Drag lures have a smaller fluffy and/or soft lure attached to a line that can be reeled in quickly to drag the object ahead of a running dog. See here for more information.

If you are able to visit the Sydney region and would like to be involved, please contact Dr Melissa Starling.

Race Day Behaviour: We will be visiting race-tracks in early 2017 to collect video and infrared images of dogs at vetting and before and after races. Please help us out by consenting to us collecting this data if we visit a track where you are racing dogs. More information and consent forms will be available on the day.