I. ADJUSTMENT ANGST
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Helping your dog get adjusted is a very important part of the greyhound adoption process. And with patience, understanding and lots of laughter the first few weeks, you’ll soon find that you have the most wonderful pet imaginable. What you have to remember during the adjustment period is that your greyhound has lived his entire life in a kennel. This means upwards of 23 hours a day in a 2×4 foot wooden crate. He may never have been inside a home before, and he has no idea who you are or why you are taking him someplace. Becoming a house pet involves a very dramatic change in routine for him, and he can be a little frightened and baffled by all the new things around him. But most of these dogs adapt very quickly to the plush life as a household pet — wouldn’t you?!
You may feel a little nervous about getting your greyhound. Well, your greyhound is a lot more nervous than you are. And that nervousness manifests itself in a variety of ways. He might pant, whine, move around a lot, have a drippy nose, sweaty paws, and start getting flaky skin and diarrhea. These are all common symptoms and will disappear once the dog feels more secure and calm. Yyou just need to be patient.
Car Ride Home
Also, remember, he hasn’t spent much time in a car, and you’re a stranger to him (but not for long!), so on that car ride home he has a reason to be nervous. Reassure him with your voice — calm and soothing, and with your actions — steady and slow. And make sure, right after the car ride home, before you go into the house, to walk him around the yard first and let him go to the bathroom.
Length of Adjustment
During the initial adjustment period he’ll be getting used to you, the house, the car, the kids, the pets, the stairs, the beds — get the idea? Remember, be sympathetic with your greyhound’s situation — he has had a traumatic upheaval in his routine track life, and it may take him some time to adjust. Usually the initial adjustment period only takes a few days, though. He’s an intelligent dog, and soon he will grasp what you expect of him. Your patience, love and understanding will help your greyhound. You’ll also find you have a shadow. Your greyhound will follow you everywhere you go – to the bathroom, to the kitchen, to the cellar, to the door when you go out, etc. This will continue until he realizes that you are really his and aren’t going to disappear. As your greyhound becomes more secure with his surroundings and starts to trust you, you’ll begin to see his personality emerging. He might steal your possessions and hide them, or smile at you when you come home, or start demanding to be allowed on all soft things. These signs all mean that you now have a bonafide member of your household.
Choosing A Vet
Choice of a veterinarian is another important decision. These dogs have difficulty with regular anesthesia, and a vet that does not follow the anesthesia guidelines for greyhounds will have a dead dog on his hands. So, choose a vet who has worked with greyhounds and is familiar with the sight hound group. Do not be afraid to ask questions of your vet, or to find another vet if you have concerns! It’s your greyhound’s life at stake.
Exercise and play is addressed in The Yard chapter, however, during the adjustment period the more you walk, play and run with your pet in the first few weeks of ownership, the easier the transition from racing greyhound to family friend. Some dogs are accustomed to running up to three days at the race track. They are bred and trained to run, so up to this point it’s been their greatest pleasure. The change from race track to house is exciting, but also confusing to your new greyhound. Think of how you would react to a similar situation. Exercise can help you and him keep everything in perspective. You’ll both feel better and less overwhelmed. Additionally, you’ll find your greyhound bonding to you more quickly. And who knows, maybe you’ll drop those pounds you’ve been talking about shedding.
These dogs seem to choose to have a relationship with you. They are very polite and friendly to everyone, but they learn to trust you. While other dogs seem to blindly trust, greyhounds are uniquely independent, almost cat-like in the way they choose to bestow affection. The more you do with your dog, the more solid your relationship will become. The more you touch, play with and love these dogs, the more you get in return. Once your dog feels comfortable with you, take him with you whenever you can. It helps in the bonding process. It also helps them get the picture of their new world. They have never seen cars, grocery stores, etc. They are very sociable dogs and will be curious about everything.
Another thing that helps with the bonding process is the sleeping arrangements. Do not shut your greyhound in a separate room to sleep. From his track days, he is used to sleeping with lots of other dogs, so he will much prefer to sleep in the same room with any member of the family (in the same bed, if you let him!). He will feel more secure and is less likely to cry or cause damage during the first few weeks if you allow him this pleasure.
It is extremely important to remember that your greyhound has never been left alone before. He’s either lived on a farm with lots of dog friends, or lived in a crate in a kennel with about 40 dogs. So if you have to leave him at home — ALONE — he’s going to be scared and confused. He’s wondering — Where did you go? Will you return? Where am I? There are a few things you can do to ease this separation anxiety. Practice leaving your greyhound for a few minutes at a time. Don’t make a big deal about leaving (if he thinks you’re going someplace and having more fun than he is, then he’ll definitely be upset!) and just leave for 15 minutes at first. Increase your leave to a few hours. He’ll get the idea that you’re coming back, and his anxiety about you leaving him forever will be eased. Also, try leaving a radio or TV on as greyhounds have constant radio noise at the kennels when they are alone. It may even discourage potential burglars! Initially, dog proof your home. Keep windows unobstructed from knick-knacks and blinds. Your greyhound will go to the windows first to look for you, and if there are blinds or other objects in the way, they could get eaten when he gets anxious. If anxiety is bad, borrow a crate, just for the first few weeks. Remember your greyhound has always lived in one, so it’s very familiar. It can be used to make the transition from racer to pet more quickly. Here’s the routine: For the first two weeks, the greyhound is placed in his crate when left home alone. Then, when he knows the family routine, he is again placed in the crate — but the door is left open, giving him the choice. After awhile of this, the crate can be returned and a happy house pet exists. Crates are not needed by most greyhounds after they’ve adapted to your house and routine (length of adjustment time varies), particularly when you have another dog in the household, or you are home most of the time. But once in a while there’s an uncertain hound that needs the firm guidance of a crate until his new life becomes more understandable.
Becoming A Statue
A greyhound trait is to stop dead in its tracks and refusing to budge or look at you. This usually occurs when they are scared, nervous and don’t know exactly what is wanted of them. The more insistent you get, the more insistent they get that they are not going anywhere. And they’ll win. This most often happens when you are teaching them stairs, or trying to give them a bath in the tub. The best thing you can do is be very patient and wait them out, the whole time offering verbal encouragement and making it seem like what you are asking them to do is the most fun in the world. When you’ve tired of waiting and encouraging, then as a last resort just pick up the greyhound and move him to where you want him to be. (Don’t lose your patience and yell, because you’ll ruin whatever good you had accomplished.)
Some greyhounds smile, and this causes people who don’t know them to jump a mile back. They have a lot of long white teeth showing when they smile. One theory about this is that they smile to ingratiate themselves to those around them. If you’ve got a smiler, it is really quite amusing and very harmless.
Most greyhounds keep their ears pinned back to their heads unless they hear a noise that causes their ears to straighten up. This is not a sign of aggression or unhappiness; they all just seem to do this.
When your greyhound is meandering around the yard, you’ll see him eat grass. The grass provides a nutrient he feels he needs, and doesn’t do him any harm. Eating grass may signal a stomach upset. However, don’t allow him to eat too much or to browse on your flowers or shrubs (some are poisonous to dogs). A few dogs will vomit up the grass and whatever was in their stomach that was making them feel out of sorts. The majority of greyhounds do not vomit after eating grass.
Every greyhound will come to you leashed trained. They know to walk quietly and easily next to you. However, please keep your greyhound on a leash when he is not in a completely fenced area. Centuries of breeding will cause them to chase anything that moves. They will take off, they will not listen and chances are that they will get hit by a car before you catch up to them. The best way to hold a leash is to place your hand through the loop and then grab the leash. This way the leash cannot slide out of your hand. Retractable leashes are not recommended as they can get tangled easily, especially with a big dog. And they don’t provide the stability of the nylon leash. Four or six foot nylon leashes work well.
And you must be warned. A greyhound fart will wake you up in the middle of the night, and can clear a room. During this adjustment time, your greyhound will be expressing himself this way. The stress, the newness, the food, the treats — it all affects his digestion. Some people say that giving a greyhound one to two dollops of low-fat, plain yogurt will cause the flatulence to cease. Again, the more time you spend initially getting to know your greyhound, the quicker his adjustment period will be. If you can take days off when your greyhound comes into your home, it can really help this adjustment period. You will be surprised at how quickly your greyhound becomes attached to you and your family and what a difference your presence makes to him…and his presence makes to you.
II. THE HOUSE
Everything in your house is familiar to you, but not at all familiar to your greyhound. You’ll have a lot of fun watching your greyhound explore his new home. But he’s going to need your help too.
Your greyhound has probably never seen nor had to deal with stairs. So you have to teach him to climb them. The best way is to get down on all fours and show him. (joke) If that doesn’t work, stand behind him and move one paw at a time — step by step, showing him what he is supposed to do. And make sure you give lots of verbal positive reinforcement. Gradually increase the number of steps he climbs. When going down stairs, hold his collar securely and go down the stairs slowly right next to him. They are quick to learn and soon become old pros at it. He may initially resist (that statue routine we spoke of in the Adjustment chapter), but just keep gently and positively asking him to climb the stairs. No matter what method you choose to teach your greyhound stairs, DO NOT EVER FORCE your greyhound up or down stairs by dragging him by the collar. If pushed into doing the stairs, he will become frightened and may try to jump them all, and possibly break a leg — or worse.
Mirrors, Doors and Floors — Oh My!
Everything in the house is new and can be confusing. Full-length mirrors may cause your pet to stare for hours at the mysterious dog on the other side of the mirror. Sliding glass doors can cause a sore nose when your greyhound tries to walk through it. Please put masking tape at eye level for a day or two. Hardwood and linoleum floors are also tricky for greyhounds to negotiate. You can make navigating tile, ceramic, or wooden floors easier by putting down throw rugs (with rubber backing) so they don’t slide. Flushing toilets, TVs (turn on Animal Planet channel), refrigerators and more will provide you with lots of laughs at your greyhound’s expense.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure — this applies to your new greyhound as well. He doesn’t know he’s not supposed to root around in the garbage, and he finds those smells simply delightful and well worth investigating. Protect your greyhound from getting into trouble or possible harm by keeping the garbage out of his way, or by using a tight-fitting lid on the can. A sharp, verbal reprimand if he should try to nose around the garbage can will soon teach him not to disturb it. However, a tight-fitting lid works best!
Kitchen counters happen to be at nose level with most greyhounds. Remember, they have been raised in a kennel, where every time they smelled food, it was THEIR food. Your new greyhound has not been taught proper manners yet when it comes to food on the counter. A sharp “NO” when he shows interest is enough to deter him, at least when you’re around. However, a temptation such as a steak defrosting within his reach might be too much to ask. You can help matters by not leaving any type of food on the counter that might tempt your greyhound, or if you must leave food set out, set it back from the front of the counter. Also, teach your greyhound that the stove is a definite no-no. A nose on a hot pot on the stove can cause real difficulties for you and your greyhound.
If it is soft, your greyhound will like it. Shag carpeting is bliss for your retired racer. But a comfy sofa is even better! A good rule to enforce right from the start: if you don’t want your dog on the couch, don’t ever let him on. He’ll quickly learn to love the luxury of the sofa cushions, and you’ll never get him to stay off. If your greyhound figures out the couch all by himself, and lounges on it while you aren’t home, then take an old blanket and cover the spot he’s chosen prior to leaving the house. It’s a lot simpler than fighting it. Greyhounds also love to “nest”. They may dig in their bed to plump it or they will work a blanket into a pile to create the most comfy spot to rest. It’s funny to watch them create their special spot. Their long nails may make holes eventually in a dog bed, so it is probably a good idea to get a better quality bed so it will last longer. If you are like many greyhound owners and don’t mind sharing your bed with your greyhound (they make great bed buddies), you may want to buy a cheap blanket to throw on top of your regular bedding. It will preserve your bedding, keep what little hair they shed from it, and you can toss “his” blanket in the washing machine when needed.
As you introduce your greyhound to your home, you will also have to teach him a new concept — that not all food he sees is for him. He’ll need to learn the difference between dog food and people food. A greyhound’s diet at the track consisted of 6-8 cups of quality dry meal/kibble, with 1-2 lb. of meat (sometimes 4-D — diseased, dead, disabled, dying, etc.) added, and cooked vegetables. In retirement, as a house pet, your new greyhound won’t need that volume of food nor the added meat. As with the garbage can, keep all food locked away in a closet or keep it in a bin that is securely covered.
Initial Eating Adjustment
Some greyhounds may seem nervous when eating. They are just worried that someone else is going to come and take their food. Your greyhound may load his mouth up with kibble, go into another room, drop it and then eat it in privacy. He’ll eventually realized the food is his, and eat where you place his bowl. Also, your greyhound may be very sloppy initially. You may find more kibble on the floor than what’s in the bowl. Again, they are chowing down because they are afraid someone else is going to take their food. Eventually, better manners will prevail.
What To Feed
All greyhound adopters have their favorite kibble. No matter what you choose to feed your greyhound please make sure that it is a high-quality kibble (Nature’s Recipe, Nutro-Max, Sensible Choice, etc.) from a pet food store. Grocery stores carry lower grade foods that use wheat flours and corn as a filler. The first few ingredients on the bag should not contain by-products or corn. Greyhounds generally have excellent appetites and will eat everything. Unfortunately, everything doesn’t quite agree with them. Like most sight hounds, greyhounds have sensitive digestive systems that respond to changes in their diet with diarrhea. Please do not feed your greyhound table scraps. Table food may contain salt, grease, or seasonings that may upset your dog’s stomach. It’s simply not worth taking the chance to “treat” your greyhound only to have it get sick.
How to Feed
Most greyhound owners feed their greys twice a day, totaling about 4-6 cups of kibble. You may need to modify the amount after the first few weeks according to your dog’s activity level, age, and size. You should be able to feel ribs, not see them.
Greyhounds need their food bowls elevated. You can buy the feeding platforms, or just invert buckets or a box and put your dog’s bowls on them. You can also feed your greyhound from the seat of a chair. A plastic food bowl with a rubber base (to keep the bowl from sliding) is great if you are feeding from a chair or box.
Your greyhound may have eaten bananas, apricots, pumpkin, applesauce, spinach, and even vanilla ice cream as a racer. Marshmallows were often given after a race. When selecting snacks for your pet, choose good quality basics such as Milkbones and natural biscuits. Avoid treats that contain lots of dye and sugar. Rawhide bones (American only), Nylabones, other toys, and stuffed animals are all treats your greyhound should have. Avoid bones that are sold in open boxes. When buying animal bones, always buy bones that are sold in a wrapping so that you will know where they are from. Don’t buy the cheaper bones like ham bones that can be chewed up easily. Buy only beef bones that do not shatter or create slivers. You should be perfect about one thing though — CHOCOLATE CAN BE DANGEROUS. Reactions vary from dog to dog, but none are good. Chocolate contains ingredients that can speed up your dog’s heart rate and can cause allergic reactions. Grapes have also been found to cause kidney failure in dogs when large amounts are eaten so keep the grapes in your fruit bowl in the fridge. One grape once in awhile as a treat will thrill your greyhound. In fact, no matter what you use as a treat, keep it to a minimum and use it for positive re-enforcement. Your greyhound will respond accordingly.
Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned
And you must be warned. A greyhound fart will wake you up in the middle of the night, and can clear a room. This flatulence usually occurs because you’ve given him something he’s not used to in his diet, like a new treat or some of your food (!). Or he could have gotten into something in the yard or garbage that didn’t quite agree with him. It could also be a sign that he needs to go out, so let him out! Some people say that giving a greyhound one to two dollops of low-fat, plain yogurt will cause the flatulence to cease.
III. THE YARD
Pee and Poop
Most greyhounds are very easy to train. They have been crate trained and so they don’t go in the area they consider their kennel. However, they have never been inside a house. And they are used to being let out up to six times a day to relieve themselves in a fenced-in pen.
So for the first few days when you get your greyhound home, make sure you take him out often, stay with him and praise him effusively when he goes. He’ll catch on very quickly that outside is where he does his thing. Try to establish not only a fairly set routine that your new greyhound can learn, but a word or phrase that your new greyhound can identify and respond to, such as “Do you want to go out?” You will notice, that if you watch carefully, within a few days your greyhound will adapt to his new routine and also start giving you “signals” when he needs to be taken outside.
Having An Accident
If your dog has an accident in the house, and you are right there when it happens, give him a sharp, verbal reprimand, then take him outside, wait with him until he goes, and then praise the dickens out of him when he goes in the right place. Do not hit your dog or try to put his nose in the accident, as your dog will respond more quickly and more positively to kindness. If your greyhound is a male, he may attempt to lift his leg in a few places around the house to “mark his territory,” especially if there is another dog in the house. He is making the house HIS house, so he feels more at home. Watch him carefully as he walks or sniffs around the house the first few hours and days and try to catch him before he does it, so you can reprimand him verbally and strongly. If this should happen, it does not go on for long, so try to be patient. Greyhounds are very clean dogs by nature. If your greyhound has any type of accident, rather than blame the dog, look for the reasons why it happened. He either wasn’t taken out early or often enough, or not allowed enough time to fully relieve himself. Remember, a dog that has fully relieved himself has nothing left in his bladder to make an accident on your rug. Also remember that your new greyhound does not have any way to tell you he needs to go out. He is used to a set routine, where someone came and got him and put him outside in a turn-out pen.
Cleaning An Accident
Fortunately, today, pet stores have lots of solutions to help make cleaning up after your dog easier. Products like Simple Solution, Nature’s Miracle, are definitely worth the money as they will neutralize the odor forever, keep your belongings fresh smelling and clean, and prevent further episodes of urinating in that spot.
However, prevention is the best solution to any house-breaking problem. For the first few days, it’s a good idea to walk or let your greyhound outside in a fenced yard more frequently than you ordinarily would — as often as every couple of hours. This teaches your greyhound where his new home is and where he is supposed to “go,” and helps relieve the tension of a strange place, thus preventing accidents. It is very common in their first few days for greyhounds to drink a lot more water than they would normally. They do this because they are nervous about being in an unfamiliar place. But all this drinking plus being nervous means they will need to go outside more. Also, quite often the change from kennel dog to house pet can give a greyhound diarrhea, caused by nerves, change of water, change of diet. If your greyhound should have loose stools the first few days, mix cooked rice and/or hamburger with his kibble. For instance, try mixing one-half rice to one-half kibble. If the diarrhea seems to abate a bit, then reduce the amount of rice to kibble until the feeding is back to all kibble. (Hint: if you have a Chinese restaurant nearby, pick up some rice there; it is “sticky” and it will help firm up the stool fast.). Also be sure you allow your greyhound the ability to relieve himself quite often if he has diarrhea, as he cannot “hold” it for long. This type of diarrhea doesn’t last more than a few days. If it does, take your dog to the vet, as there may be some other problem, such as worms, food allergies, nerves, etc. which could be causing it, and it needs to be treated by your vet.
Running and Playing
One of the questions you’ll be asked most often is — Don’t greyhounds need a lot of exercise? Once you live with a greyhound, you’ll know the truth — this is a very lazy dog.
Lazy or not, your pet will need physical activity — just like you do! The most obvious and easiest answer is in your own backyard. However, most greyhounds will not play with themselves. They will want you to play with them and walk them around the block, on leash.
Your greyhound is leashed trained. You need to keep him on leash unless he is in a totally fenced area. And he needs to stay on leash until he’s obedience trained, and even then, you need to be extremely cautious. Most greyhounds walk very well on a leash. If your pet starts to pull or freezes as he sees something on the horizon, “pop” or “snap” the leash to quickly jerk the collar and give the command, “heel,” “let’s go,” etc. If you plan to use your greyhound as a partner in a walking or jogging fitness program, you should have an enthusiastic partner as long as you start slowly and use a little common sense. Greyhounds exercise primarily on sand in their kennel situation, which means the pads on their feet are smooth and soft. A little time must be taken to build up the calluses needed to exercise on cement or blacktop. Start your dog’s regime the same way you did yours — slowly. Walk or jog 2 or 3 blocks at first and then gradually increase.
Care should be taken to introduce your new greyhound pet to your yard or any new fenced area before turning him loose in it. This means that you need to check the entire fence for potential openings (because if there is one, he’ll find it and he’ll be gone quicker than you ever thought possible). While you’re walking the fence with the dog on leash, it also enables him to familiarize himself with the boundary. You should also let the dog investigate hazards in your yard such as a barbecue or planter. The first time your dog exercises in your yard off the leash it should be daylight and you need to be there and watch him. Surprisingly, you may need to restrict your dog’s activity in a new area. For example, when you take your dog to a fenced football field, you’ll want to monitor the running your dog does. Greyhounds have been conditioned for sprinting and may be so excited and interested by a new exercise area that they overtax themselves. If this happens, they’ll react just like any athlete who’s over-extended himself — heaving sides, heavy panting, vomiting, wooziness while standing. You’ll need to walk him very slowly to cool him down, and dowse his feet in water. Don’t let him drink a lot of water fast, as he will choke and vomit it back up. When taking your dog for an off-leash run whether it’s in a fenced yard or field, DO NOT let him run either an hour before or after eating. This could cause bloat or make the dog sick.
Care should be taken during extreme temperatures. Your greyhound is susceptible to heat stroke, just as you are. During hot weather it is wise to exercise early and easier. Make sure your dog is completely cooled down before feeding. On hot days, don’t give your greyhound ice water. Room temperature water is best. Cold weather presents other hazards for this desert breed. A warm-up blanket (coat) made for greyhounds is an excellent idea for walking or jogging in winter. Check you dog’s feet for snow packing, which can split webs, or ice cuts. It’s also a good idea to swish the dog’s feet in lukewarm water to rinse off salt and other ice melters after your walk. Each dog is an individual with different activity levels. Generally younger dogs enjoy higher activity levels.
It cannot be stressed enough that exercising your dog off leash in an area that is not entirely enclosed is asking for a disaster to happen. Your pet may be entirely devoted to you and never leave your side at home, but you must remember that this pet is the product of centuries of specialized breeding to produce a lightning fast hunter. The greyhound has been bred to scan the horizon and run after anything that moves. A paper cup blowing across the street from the park could mean your dog’s death. This is not about disobedience. The explosive hunting run is instinct. Once your pet is focused in on a moving object, he is running on pure instinct and he’ll no longer hear you. The car driving down the street does not expect to see a 45 mph blur of a dog bounding after the paper cup crossing in front of it. Don’t take the chance.
Your greyhound may not know how to play because no one has ever taught him or showed him how. He was bred as a business, not as a pet, so it’s your job to teach him to play. And it’s the ‘funniest’ job you’ll ever have! It’s a good idea (and lots of fun too) to have a box or basket of toys that are just his. He’ll get the idea quickly and pick and choose his playthings when he’s in the mood. You may not get to see the silly side of your greyhound for a while. He will probably not feel like letting his puppy personality out until he feels quite secure. When you see the classic bottom up, front end down pose bouncing in front of you, you’ll know it’s time to play.
Greyhounds love to adopt stuffed animals, pillows, etc. Tag sales are great places to pick up an inexpensive toy for your greyhound. Just remember to remove the eyes or any other part that could cause damage to your hound. Additionally, little squeaky toys will get any greyhound’s attention. When they were trained to chase a lure, squeaky noises were part of that training, so you’ll see them become very intent on the squeaky toy. Your greyhound will probably blow the squeakers out in his toys (they will carry them around and squeak them endlessly) so you may want to buy extra squeakers to replace in his toys if you want to save some money (and have the extra time to replace them). Some larger pet stores carry them and they are inexpensive.
Pick and choose your rawhide purchases carefully. American-made rawhide is the best type to buy. Inexpensive rawhide is cured overseas, often with dangerous chemicals like arsenic. Also, the compressed rawhide is safer than the ones with the knots on either end.
A Nylabone may seem expensive, but will last forever and provide good cleaning action for your dog’s teeth. A shank or marrow bone at least 5″ long will provide hours of enjoyment for your dog and can be a great doggie pacifier. Try putting some peanut butter in it, and your grey will be in ecstasy. As already addressed, buy the better quality bones to avoid splinters and stomach upsets.
Balls and Kongs
Some greyhounds like to play with a tennis ball. Remember, your pet was bred to chase critters on the ground — so roll or bowl the ball, don’t throw it. Once the ball is punctured, it should be discarded. Rubber “Kongs” are available in almost all pet stores and in some department stores. These hollow rubber toys are indestructible and last forever (a real lifetime!). Try putting peanut butter in the hole or treats specifically made for the Kongs and your greyhound will be busy for hours trying to get the treat out of the Kong. (This is also good when you go away and leave your greyhound alone at home). Running and playing are key to your greyhound’s well-being. Discover the joy he feels by joining in with him!
Bugs and Baths
One of the nicest features of your greyhound is that he doesn’t have a lot of hair and this makes him easy to care for. A quick brushing with a grooming mitt (nubbed rubber glove), and lots of petting keeps him looking great.
Your greyhound only needs to be bathed when soiled, like if he decides to doze on poop. Otherwise, he’s fine with his routine petting and brushing. Greyhounds have very little oil in their skin and so have little “doggy odor.” If you do need to shampoo, select an all-natural, mild, conditioning shampoo.
Once a week you should inspect your pet’s ears and clean gently with a cotton ball and baby oil if needed. Don’t use peroxide, as it can cause damage to your dog’s ear drums. Also, don’t dig with a Q-tip as it may injure the eardrum.
Their past living conditions (fleas, ticks, poor food, etc.) were not conducive to good skin. Most greyhounds that come from the track have some kind of skin condition and wiry stiff and dry hair. You’ll need to provide a good supplement to their food (Omega 3 fatty acid, Vitamin E, Vital Nutrition, Vitamin C, etc.) and give their hair and skin time to grow in nicely. It’s a wonderful experience to watch the change in your greyhound’s skin and coat as time goes by.
Greyhounds have notoriously bad teeth when they come off the track as they’ve been fed a lot of soft food. They’ve been cleaned before you adopted your greyhound, but those teeth get plaque build-up just like yours. Brushing them regularly helps them to stay clean and healthy. Another way to keep teeth clean is to buy knuckle/soup marrow bones at your supermarket or a high quality beef bone at the pet store. The gnawing that greyhounds do on these big bones helps to keep off any plaque. Also, Greenies, although expensive, can be your dog’s best friend in fighting plaque. When you compare the price of Greenies to the cost of having your greyhound’s teeth cleaned at the vet, it’s no contest! Bad breath is a sign of mouth problems, so please check with your vet when your dog breaths on you and you gag.
Greyhounds are used to having their nails trimmed while they stand. Just lean over and bend each foot backwards, so that you can see the underside of the nail. If you do a little bit regularly, then you don’t have to worry about causing the dog to bleed. If you’re nervous about trimming the nails, ask your vet or local groomer to show you how much to trim. Greyhound toes and nails are longer than the average dog, but will still need to be clipped. Make sure you have styptic powder on hand when you do this to stop the bleeding.
DO NOT EVER put a regular flea collar on a greyhound!!
Regular flea collars work by releasing their flea-killing chemicals onto the skin of the dog, which is then absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream. Most breeds can have their livers/kidneys filter these toxins out. But a greyhound’s liver/kidneys do not work that fast, so the toxins continue to build up until it eventually kills the greyhound. For this very same reason, do not ever use any of those internal flea preventative pills. Once a month flea and tick repellents (like Frontline or Advantix) work fine, but many greyhound owners don’t like to use these because of the chemicals that are taken into the blood stream. Use them sparingly if you feel that you need to use these products. One caveat — there are a few “totally natural” flea collars out on the market. These collars are treated with pennyroyal, mint and eucalyptus oils. They are perfectly safe for greyhounds. The best way to handle fleas safely is to use natural flea shampoos and flea sprays that use natural-based pyrethrins and do not contain organic phosphates. Take time to read the label. Many flea products cannot be used on a dog that is taking heartworm preventative medication. When in doubt, check with your vet. Also, many flea sprays that advertise long duration protection are far too strong to be used on greyhounds. The best way to prevent flea and tick problems is to keep your greyhound inside and out of areas where fleas and ticks are prone to exist. Check your greyhound often by searching his coat and you may find out that nothing more is needed.
IV. MAKING FRIENDS
Cats, Cockatiels & Critters
Let your greyhound get used to the house, “his new kennel,” before you introduce him to other pets in the household. It’s a rare greyhound that does not get along with any type of pet, BUT BE CAREFUL AT FIRST! The introduction and the first few days of co-habitation are critical — not only for your new greyhounds well being, but for that of all your other pets. To ensure that there are no problems with introductions, you have been given a muzzle. Please use it for the first introductions to small animals. Muzzling the greyhound is not cruel. They have been wearing a muzzle for as long as they have been wearing a collar. It is actually cruel to the dog to give him the opportunity to make a dreadful mistake such as grabbing or hurting your small animal, and then being angry at the dog. The greyhound simply does not know better, and until you teach him to behave properly around small animals, use the muzzle!
Your greyhound should get along well with other dogs as he has had lots of “socialization” experience in the racing kennel. Watch all the introductions carefully, however, as the “old dog” may be jealous of the newcomer. And the dogs will need to establish who’s the top dog. This will take some time, but with caution and patience, it will work out fine. Again, use the muzzle for introductions to small dogs. Greyhounds who have never seen a small dog may initially think the little dog is something that should be chased and caught. With strong verbal reprimands from you (and a few from the little guy, as well) the greyhound will quickly learn who’s the boss.
All of nature is telling the greyhound that the cat would be fun to chase and catch. All you have to do is tell the greyhound that both of these are bad ideas. Show your greyhound that the cat is a loved member of the family, a pretty tough character, and OFF LIMITS!!! They will be quick to respond to all kinds of encouragement. If you are lucky, your cat will help out by being pretty bold, and will make clear to the greyhound that he’s the boss. Remember, while making the introductions between cat and greyhound, keep the muzzle on the greyhound. No matter how the first meeting goes, the greyhound cannot hurt the cat while muzzled. A final note about cats and greyhounds. Most greyhounds, once they have accepted the cat, get along quite well all the time. But occasionally a greyhound that accepts a cat indoors may not apply the same rules of behavior outdoors. Be very careful if you allow cat and greyhound outside at the same time. Greyhounds are sight hounds, and outside, their instincts may take over, and they will give chase to the cat. Most cats can outrun dogs, but greyhounds, being the fastest breed of dog, are fast enough to catch them. The cat may not know the dog is after it until it is too late, as greyhounds do not bark even while chasing something. And always keep in mind that though your greyhound may totally accept your cat, his acceptance may not apply to your neighbor’s cats.
Introduction of a greyhound to a caged bird follows the basic procedures detailed above. A severe jerk on the lead and/or collar accompanied by a low bellowed “NO!” will do wonders. A flying bird though will be a big temptation, so keep your greyhound muzzled and next to you if your bird is flying around.
If you own horses, remember that greyhounds have absolutely no sense when it comes to behavior around horses. They may not understand how a horse moves. Around horses, the greyhound could be seriously injured by a kick. Like in everything else, these dogs are highly intelligent, and it won’t take them long to understand about horses, but until they do, don’t let them get hurt.
Children and dogs are a natural combination. And they’ll become the best of buddies when they both learn how to play and interact with each other.
Greyhounds are a very tolerant, non-aggressive breed and will allow children to handle them extensively. However, just because they are one of the most easy-going dog breeds, they are also a live, adult animal with all the accompanying instincts and needs. So please follow these guidelines.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
No dog should be disturbed when sleeping. If you’re going to interrupt his sleep, call his name before startling him. A greyhound needs a place of his own to rest undisturbed.
Teach Children How to Act
Small children often want to express their affection for the pet greyhound by hugging or clinging on the dog. Though greyhounds will endure all sorts of treatment initially, in silence, their limits will be reached and they may growl, bark or even snap. Greyhounds never intend to do harm, but if the child’s body is in the path of their snap, harm could unintentionally occur. They’ll also start avoiding your children and will cringe when they approach. You don’t want this to happen. So teach your children the correct way to handle a dog by gently stroking the neck and shoulders or brushing instead. Also enforce that tails are private things, not play things.
Teach your Dog How to Act
It is important to reinforce the idea with your dog that children are not litter mates to the dog. Even though a child may be eye level, your dog must understand that it is still a person and must respond appropriately, not as if the child were another dog. If you let the greyhound share your child’s bed it encourages the dog to think of the child as a brother or sister and respond accordingly. If one dog rolls on or kicks another as they sleep, the dog naturally responds with a growl or a disciplinary nip. The greyhound will do this to the child, not inflicting or intending harm, but it could scare the child.
Outdoor games with your greyhound should be closely supervised, especially initially and until child and dog are fully introduced. No dog, and especially no greyhound, can be expected not to chase after an excited, squealing child. And sometimes the greyhound’s idea of fun is to play “imaginary hunter” using the child as a lure. Being run down by a large dog would hardly be classified as fun by most kids! Instead, encourage your child to join you as you stand in place and happily encourage your dog to come to you, with each person taking a turn. This provides exercise for the dog and reminds him that all people are in control — large or small. The main rule to keep in mind concerning children and dogs is easy — safety first. This applies to both the dog and the kids. Do not ever leave young children and dogs alone together. Although protection of the children is your first concern, you must also protect your dog. Your greyhound could be seriously injured as a youngster decides to “play horsey” on his back or tries painting his nose. All greyhound adopters with children are encouraged to purchase the book Childproofing Your Dog. It is the definitive book on children and dog interactions.
You’ll probably go out of your way to make your new pet comfortable in his new home. Of course you want him to like his new environment and love you in return. Spoiling is OK, up to a certain point. Have you ever met a spoiled child? Bratty, bossy and totally unpleasant to be around. You don’t really want your greyhound to turn out like that.
Animals, just like children, need limits set for them. Consistency and clarity about what is and is not acceptable behavior and training your greyhound to understand that you are in charge are imperative to a good transition for your greyhound. Throughout the dog’s life, he’s relied on someone to set boundaries for him. First his mother laid down the law, and the puppy quickly learned that as long as he followed the rules, life was great. The leadership role was transferred to humans as your greyhound left his litter and began his training. Although he was exposed to lots of new experiences and places, there was one constant factor he could rely on — there was always a human to tell him what was good and what wasn’t. Every dog needs this reassurance.
Be The Leader
A dog without a strong leader (alpha dog) quickly becomes a bratty, overbearing animal that no one wants to live with, and therefore the dog suffers without the one thing he needs most, acceptance and a place in the pack. You are that leader, so act like one. Be firm and fair, and you’ll have a dog you can take anywhere and be proud of.
Greyhounds are so smart, and react so well with positive reinforcement. This means praise and hugs when they do what you want. They’ll know you’re happy, and they’ll continue to try to make you happy. When you need to discipline, and it must be done while the ‘bad’ incident is occurring (like peeing in the house, chewing on something they shouldn’t, barking, etc.), use your voice, not your hand. Lower your voice to a growl, get his attention, and tell him “no” or “bad” and then leave him alone for a bit. He will be so chastised, that he may never do it again. If he does, you escalate the level of your voice, and be even more forceful that you mean it. It really is like dealing with kids, some of them will ignore you until they really think you mean it. Occasionally new greyhound pet owners fear reprimanding their pet because they think the dog won’t like them. Unfortunately, these are the adoptions that have problems several months later. After 2 to 4 weeks of no reprimands, he might not react well to you suddenly trying to get him to pay attention to what you want. These dogs don’t want to be bad; they really really want to please you. So get into their heads, understand why they are doing what they are doing, and don’t cater to every whim every time. In the long run, it’s better for your pet and you. Remember you have a new family member, not a houseguest!
V. A DOG WITH A PAST
Greyhound litters usually produce 4-10 puppies. Once weaned, puppies are placed in a fenced area to play and grow. Usually when they are around one year old they are kenneled and their track training begins. They are taught to chase a lure and race counter clockwise. It is usually at this time that it is determined whether they will become racers or not. When greyhounds are kenneled, they are kept crated for the majority of their time. Crates are placed one on top of another, side by side. Crates are usually 3 feet by 2 feet.
Trainers usually care for 20-60 dogs within a kennel. Greyhounds are let out, muzzled, with a pack of other same-sex greyhounds up to 5 times a day, depending on the kennel, to relieve themselves. A racing or training greyhound is also let out of the kennel to go to the track and run 5/16th of a mile up to twice a week. They are fed once a day with a variety of food — usually soft, high-protein and inexpensive. They are not neutered or spayed in case they will be used for breeding purposes. This is what a greyhound knows until you bring him home.
VI. ODDS AND ENDS
- Retired racers are usually between two and five years old, and will live to 12-14 years of age.
- Males are usually 26 to 30 inches high. Females are 23 to 26 inches high.
- Males are usually between 65 and 85 pounds. Females are between 50 and 65 pounds.
- Greyhounds come in many colors — brindle, black, white, fawn or a combination of these colors.
Swimming And Pools
Greyhounds have a very small percentage of body fat, so when you ask them to swim, they sink. Most will valiantly dog paddle when you’ve taken them over their head, and then slowly sink or turn over on their sides in the water. Be very careful with your greyhound and pools. They have never seen one, and won’t understand instinctively that the blue stuff is water. They’ll be dashing around your yard, and suddenly — plop — right into the water. And they will sink, and you will have to jump in to save them. So introduce them to the pool and watch them carefully the first few times you’re in the yard playing near it.
Some greyhounds love kiddie pools and will lie in one for a long time if given a chance. You may want to try taking your greyhound to visit a friend who owns a kiddie pool to see how he acts before you buy one.
Greyhounds have track names, but are not usually called by those names. Trainers don’t want them responding to someone yelling their name as they’re racing around the track. They usually have a kennel name. When you get your greyhound, if he comes with a name you don’t like, you can usually give him another name without a problem. You just have to use it continually until he gets the idea.
Greyhounds have no protection of fur or fat for injuries, so they tend to seem more accident-prone. But they are not babies. They will still run and play even with an injury. So just keep an eye on them when they are running and playing hard. Also, buy bentadyne and use it instead of peroxide to clean a small wound. Be sure to dilute it until it looks like weak tea. A triple antibiotic ointment is also used once you’ve cleaned out the wound with bentadyne. You should, of course, take your greyhound to the vet for big wounds.
Greyhounds are not guard dogs. Once in a while they will bark when someone approaches the door. But more likely they are fast asleep on something soft. They are not an aggressive breed and will not attack any person. However, most people will think twice about entering a home that has a dog the size of a greyhound, with that long of a nose and those long teeth. And if you get one that smiles at strangers, well, you’ve got your guard dog!
Some greyhounds like to collect your items and take them outside or put them in their beds. They seldom damage the items; they just collect them. So if you’re missing something, check with your greyhound!
Greyhounds sweat through their paws and nose. If your greyhound has overexerted himself while running, hosing down their feet only will help them get cool quicker.
Petting Your Greyhound
Greyhounds loved to be massaged everywhere, but particularly on their necks and butts. Additionally, they like their noses rubbed — top and bottom. After they’ve eaten, they will often try to clean off their noses by rubbing them on your furniture, blankets or you. The more you pet them, the quicker they will bond to you.
Barking & Whining
Greyhounds are not barkers. If you have a barker, then you probably have a more insecure dog and he is barking because something has frightened him. Now, whining is another story. Greyhounds communicate with you by whining. Whining to be let in, to eat, to play, to get up on the bed — you name it and they’ll talk (whine) to you about it.
Where They Put Their Noses
Beside counter tops, other dog’s behinds and anything else that smells good, when greyhounds approach people their noses are right about crotch level. So they have been known to stick their noses in people’s crotches. They’re not being bad, just friendly.
The Internet has so many greyhound sites, and they all have products and information.
For items made especially for greyhounds check the Internet and use the search engines to do a search on greyhounds. You will be amazed at what you find!! Bookmark your favorite sites. Also, you can buy greyt collars and many other greyhound items on Ebay, etc.
Congratulations on being a smart and savvy person and adopting the best pet !