Italian Greyhounds are the smallest members of the great greyhound family. Because of their reduced dimensions, they are the only greyhounds that are considered companion dogs. They have characteristics that reflect both their greyhound and companion dog qualities.
The Italian greyhound is a small companion dog, measuring just over one foot in height and weighing in at six to fifteen pounds. There are varying colour combinations, the sleek fur sheds very little, and the shape is the elegant, curvy, slender silhouette of the greyhound, albeit smaller. Italian greyhounds are lightweight, light-footed and graceful. These characteristics often mean verging on spindliness; in fact, this dainty creature, in common with other small breeds, tends towards fragility, with spindly legs that are slightly prone to fractures for even the smallest accident.
The Italian Greyhound is a cute, lovable companion dog but is not the easiest dog to have around; in fact he is an intriguing bundle of contradictions! He loves to lounge on the sofa all day, sometimes under cushions in danger of being sat on; then, he suddenly remembers he is a greyhound and jumps up and races around at breakneck speed. He is lazy and athletic at the same time; he needs to run yet loves his comfort. He is polite, sometimes to the point of timidity but, above all, he appreciates companionship.
Let's do things back to front: instead of finding a dog that would fit well into a family, let's contemplate the kind of family that would fit well around this type of sensitive yet satisfying dog. The Italian greyhound's sensitivity means that abrupt movements or sudden noises can be upsetting; therefore rowdy families with agitated households are not the best environment. Also, small children with their natural tendencies to shout and run and pull puppy-dogs' tails should be ruled out. The Italian greyhound needs a garden or a yard, preferably with a high, containing fence. This high-speed dog needs space to run around; otherwise he will be practising his fast and frantic antics all over the house, even bouncing off the walls.
The Italian greyhound is not the easiest dog to train, but generous amounts of patience produce satisfying results. The type of training employed must be soft and, as mentioned, patient; Italian greyhounds are sensitive, independent and somewhat stubborn. Harsh or impatient training gets no results whatsoever whereas they respond very well to gentleness and quiet coaxing. They must be trained, patiently, from the outset, to accept a leash and, when outside, they must stay on the leash. They may be small but they are nevertheless greyhounds; unleashed, they can gallop off and disappear from sight in seconds.
Priority training with any new puppy is house-training, not only for Italian greyhounds, but for any new dogs in the home, particularly little puppies who think the world is their playground. Accurate house-training is necessary to protect floors and carpets from unpleasant "accidents", including distasteful surprises in unexpected corners, and to protect furniture and drapes from any canine assault-and-destroy operations. Considering the Italian greyhound's whimsical stubbornness regarding training, experts agree that the answer is crate training; this means providing Puppy with his own private den which is generally well accepted as dogs are naturally den animals. This confining den is a crate or a small penned-off area where Puppy stays until he learns. Puppy will eat, play and sleep in this small space and he will avoid soiling his den. Naturally, he should be taken out for frequent walks which he will put to good use!
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