Not My Dog!….The Dangers of Running Off Leash

.…….  It happens in all rescue groups.  We hear that some people will allow their grey-hound to run off leash.  They say that their greyhound can be trusted and will come back.  Even thought they are told that allowing a greyhound off leash is not acceptable, they will say, “Not my dog!”  But we also know that it is a huge gamble to allow a greyhound to run loose in an unfenced area.  We know that the day will come (perhaps sooner than later) when we will get that call that a greyhound has been lost.    This series is designed to help adopters avoid problems that sometimes occur when we don’t understand our dogs’ life experiences or what our dogs are trying to tell us by their behavior.

 Several years ago when we were busy with a housekeeping chore, one of the ten greyhounds residing at our house lifted the thumb latch on our front door and it swung open.  Before we knew it, all ten hounds were out the door and on their way for a night romp!  We didn’t panic right away because our three-acre property is fenced in and we’ve never had one hound figure out yet how to get out.  But it still took awhile to get everyone rounded up in the dark and back into the house.  Everyone was having so much fun, that not one dog responded to the squawker we were using.  We were also very lucky because all of the dogs had been wearing their muzzles (from their earlier turnout break) when they got out.  When we did get everyone back inside, we had a few scrapes and cuts to tend to and some very tired dogs!

 What surprised us so much is not how they got out and not that they ran, but how intent they were to run together and how they totally ignored our calls.  They were “in the moment” when everything else around them was tuned out – they were doing what their ancestors did.  The call to run and hunt out back was stronger than our call to get them back.

 This got us thinking about what happens when greyhounds get loose.  When a greyhound starts running, there is very little that is going to stop it, and that is why so many die on highways or are never recovered.  They are not car smart and they will keep running no matter what heads towards them.  Also, because their skin is so thin, an ordinary cut on another dog can mean disaster for a greyhound.

 Think of what it would be like if your greyhound got loose.  Some of you have had this happen, so you don’t need to have us describe the terror and worry involved.  But, sometimes, it can’t be helped.  Someone opens a gate or the dog slips out the door when you open it.  And then the rescue group volunteers spend hours and sometimes days covering territory looking for a missing dog.

 So why would anyone want to take the chance of losing their greyhound by purposely turning it loose?  Greyhounds are sight hounds. They’re bred to chase and run down prey.  They’re rewarded at the track for chasing that little animal around the track. –  so, even now though retired, they focus on running and chasing – overcoming obstacles to get to the prey.

 Greyhounds are like any other breed of dog when it comes to bonding with humans.  And this is where we can go wrong.  No matter how much your greyhound loves you and is bonded to you, you just never know when its instincts will take over and win.  Even people who have had greyhounds for years off leash can lose a greyhound to that ONE moment, that one object that will come its way and tempt the Grey into acting like it was bred to act.

 There are too many horror stories posted on on-line forums and on other rescue web sites of people who have lost their greyhounds only to find them dead in the woods or along the highways.  It’s simply asking too much of your greyhound to assume that it will always come back when you call it.  Remember it only takes that ONE time to change everything.

 Virtually ALL rescue groups have a clause in their adoption contracts (as well as in the adoption applications) that a greyhound is not to be off leash at any time when it’s not in a fenced area.  Most rescue group workers will advise other groups if they hear of a person who does not believe that leashing a greyhound is necessary.  Groups will not adopt to a person who does not agree to keep their greyhound leashed.

 Please be a responsible greyhound adopter and NEVER let your greyhound off leash.  For those who do keep their hounds leashed, please check all collars for wear and tear and replace any old collar.  A good harness is worth the price if you walk your dog every day.  Don’t take unnecessary risks with your hound!!


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