Some adopters have used crates to house train Greyhounds (with the thinking that dogs will not soil their bed), but this is not imperative to successful house training. Greyhounds are not overly demonstrative dogs, so make sure to check in with them and pay attention to their needs, taking them outside as needed. It’s safe to assume that your new Greyhound will be nervous for the first few days and will need to go outside more often. Take them outside every hour or two so they can relieve themselves. This will usually keep them from doing the wrong thing inside and reinforces the positive behavior you want from them. Help your Greyhound succeed in house training.
Understanding Separation Anxiety in Greyhounds
One of the most common complaints we hear from new greyhound adopters, has to do with what is known as “separation anxiety”. What it means, is that when the new adopter leaves the home, the greyhound becomes extremely stressed.
This behavior can manifest as “fretting” (hyperventilating), whining, barking, or all of the above, as well as engaging in less creative behaviors–like chewing things, and/or other not quite constructive expressions of angst or agitation. While there are sedatives that the vet may prescribe for extreme cases of anxiety, it may be of some help to look at why a greyhound might exhibit this upsetting behavior.
From the moment he or she came into this world, your greyhound was probably never alone, for even a moment. They are raised in the constant company of their dams and littermates, and while the dam will be separated at some point, the littermates usually remain together. There are often dozens of other pups on the breeder’s premises, and they are kept in kennel runs adjacent to one another, where they can be seen, barked at incessantly, and/or goaded into dashing competitions, or display-of-fierceness contests.
Then, in the racing kennel, often the litter remains together, and the larger pack is introduced to them. There, they learn to do everything in concert with their pack/colony, and their handlers, and the atmosphere is quite social.
Even in their crates, they remain in visual contact with their kennelmates and their handlers. Quite often, littermates may spend their entire lives at the same venues, with the same handlers, and remain together until one or more of them is retired.
So, is it any wonder that a newly adopted greyhound, suddenly thrust into what for them is an alien universe, full of strange things and unfamiliar people—and perhaps without the company of other greyhounds, for the first time in his life—might feel some uneasiness?
There can be much more than meets the eye to a greyhound’s anxiety. Any number of triggers might induce anxiety in the new adoptee, from the strange new objects and appliances in the home, to the new smells, sights and sounds of the neighborhood, to any of the many changes in his established and ingrained routine, to which he/she must now learn to adapt.
The most overlooked of these triggers being, that the greyhound has no idea what he did wrong to have suddenly been picked up and plopped down into this entirely new, and (often) intimidating situation. There is a blind spot among some adopters, which can fail to perceive even the possibility that the greyhound may have been perfectly happy with things as they were, as a racing athlete, one among many—a pack member.
Contrary to popular greyhound mythology, the vast majority of racing greyhounds, are quite content and fulfilled doing what it is that they have been bred to do, within a colony of their peers. Working dogs are generally that way. Most relish and thrive on their work, and the physical and mental stimulation it provides.
Greyhounds prosper with routine, punctuality and repetition. They blossom when they are as free of all stresses as we can make them. But they often have some reservations about novelty. They are used to regimentation and predictability, and their whole lives have revolved around the narrower confines of the breeding, raising, training and racing environment, as opposed to the brave new world of the adopter’s home, social outlets, and leisure time activities, in which the dog may now be included. Regardless, he no longer has the outlet of training and racing to pleasantly fatigue himself, and to relieve pent up stress—a very important factor to be aware of.
The new, retired adoptee was likely already bonded to one or more of his/her handlers, and often, to one or more of their kennelmates—who are now, suddenly, gone. It’s a huge void to fill for most of them. This bonding, by the way, generally happens over a period of time, where the greyhound learns who, in their circle, can be relied upon and trusted. Just because a newly adopted greyhound may resign himself to the fact that you are his new human, and even be amenable to it, doesn’t mean that you have bonded with him–or he with you. That may or may not happen, with time, depending upon your individual greyhound’s adaptability—and your own.
The point is, of course, that separation anxiety can be more of an
“I simply can’t deal with being alone, and I miss my job and my friends” anxiety—especially for the new adoptee.
Smothering the dog with toys, treats and attention won’t usually be a panacea for the anxious, newly re-homed greyhound. That elusive panacea is more likely to be routine, punctuality, stress reduction in the home environment, physically and mentally engaging the dog in stimulating, healthy activities–and time–time for the greyhound to learn to trust, to rely upon, and then to eventually bond with their new person(s).
They are also very bonded with humans and a Greyhound that is separated from people will be very afraid and unsettled. As a pack animal, dogs need to be with their pack (you) to feel safe and comfortable. Separating your Greyhounds from yourself will make him miserable. Our adoption contract specifically requires you keep your Greyhound as an indoor pet.
Although they are large dogs, they are used to living comfortably in a small kennel-crate so they can curl up and be quite happy on a dog bed or rug. Compared to that, your house is huge and they will usually explore every corner and find their favorite places. They will usually want to be close to you so they might follow you from room to room and find a bed area in each room. No house or yard is large enough for a Greyhound to safely run full out at racing speeds. They are used to running on prepared sand surfaces and banked corners so your yard, no matter how large or small, is nothing like a racetrack. On the other hand, they don’t really need much room to get quality exercise and remain healthy. Like any former athlete, they need to reduce their food intake to match their new energy requirements. A free run in your yard, even a small yard, will give them plenty of exercise for a day. They will usually run and play for 10 to 15 minutes and then just wander sniffing or even lay down and rest on the grass. Taking them for walks in your neighborhood or a local dog friendly park is also great exercise for them. Running at full speed is fun for them but they rarely do it on their own unless prodded by some outside force, like a running animal or a racing lure. Once a Greyhound retires, you need to be careful about running at full speed. Remember, your Greyhound retired because it could not keep up in a race so there might be underlying injuries that you don’t see but will hurt more if running full speed. Enjoy your Greyhound as a retired racer; don’t worry about getting them to run at high speeds anymore.
Greyhounds don’t require much indoor space; just enough to have a soft bed and their food and water bowls. They are happy to share your couch and bed if you let them. They love to be near people. An older dog might be easier to handle since they don’t require as much exercise as a younger dog. However, stairs can be an issue for any Greyhound so whether you live upstairs or on the ground floor can influence which Greyhound will be right for you.
Yes and No. Greyhounds are a very gentle, sweet breed and generally calm in nature. They make wonderful companion pets and placement is made with this goal in mind. GPA-NW is not equipped to screen or train the greyhounds as therapy or service animals. The nature of the greyhound does make them candidates as therapy dogs, especially for hospital and nursing home visits. Please contact the facility and learn if they require therapy dog certification. There are programs available that will provide training and certification for this purpose.
Some greyhounds may have potential as emotional support dogs for veterans or others with PTSD. However it must be stressed that our goal as an organization is to place greyhounds solely as companion pets and any success in certification as therapy dogs is an additional benefit.
Greyhounds are NOT a good choice for service work for people with physical disabilities. They are not suited to be guide dogs or service dogs individually trained to perform the tasks required for this benefit. While excellent companions, other breeds such as German Shepherds, Labradors and Golden Retrievers are better suited for this type of service work.