Greyhounds are aerodynamically designed over thousands of years of evolution. Their single coat is smooth, they shed very little and that can be eliminated with daily grooming. A rubber palm curry brush or soft bristle brush will work nicely. A pair of latex dishwashing gloves is an easy alternative. By merely petting and massaging the hound, loose hair will be removed. A greyhound’s coat may change as it adjusts to its new home. This is caused by an environmental and dietary change. Spaying/neutering can also cause some coat “blowing”. People who are allergic to dogs are usually pleasantly surprised by the little or no reaction to a greyhound.
Greyhounds do not need frequent baths. They have little or no odor when clean; some people swear that a clean greyhound smells like a cookie. Unless they roll in something foul, or have a flea problem, brushing is sufficient. Bathing tends to dry the skin and cause flakiness and itchy irritation.
Clean the ears gently with a gauze pad wrapped around the finger. Ear cleaning solutions are available from a veterinarian, but a diluted alcohol solution (1 part alcohol to 2 parts water) will work. Never probe deeper than you can see, and never use cotton swabs. The eardrum can be damaged. When cleaning always keep the finger parallel to the dog’s head. Your pet may moan or yelp a little while this is done, but the rule to remember is that if the index finger will not fit, do not try to make it.
Happily, most greyhounds are used to having their feet handled. That means that owners can buy a canine nail clipper and trim their pet’s nails. If the dog’s nails are white, the ‘quick’ is easily seen and avoided. If the nails are dark, only clip off the hooked end of the nail. Kwik-Stop® to stop bleeding if the ‘quick’ is nipped. Pressure should also be applied to stem any bleeding.
A greyhound adopted from GReAT will have had his/her teeth examined, scaled, polished and fluoridated. Greyhounds tend to form tarter quickly, so a daily brushing will be a good investment against gum disease, infection, bad breath and tooth loss. Doggie toothbrushes and dentifrices are available.
Lead and safety collar
When GReAT places a greyhound, he or she is fully equipped with a matching 6 foot nylon lead and safety collar with a GReAT adoption ID tag. The safety collar is a martingale or champagne collar. Because the greyhound’s neck is larger at the base than the dog’s head, this type of safety collar is designed to softly tighten should the animal back away and jerk. However, you always need to keep a firm grasp of the leash. The collar was invented by Honey Loring, a pioneer of the adoption movement in New England. This collar is ideal for almost any breed with a smooth or short coat. The collar is especially suited for greyhounds because it:
- provides control without choke
- is made of durable, strong nylon webbing and welded stainless steel rings
- is escape-proof when used properly
- is washable and dries quickly
- minimizes tangling, wearing and discoloration of neck fur
- owners can easily grip the collar by the safety loop as a handle
Greyhounds have been taught to walk politely on a lead when they grew up at the track. But even a well-mannered dog may forget that he is walking on leash with a human if some lure such as a squirrel, cat or even paper bag catches his/her eye. Remember: this dog can see up to a half a mile away. To be safe, use the ‘greyhound grip’ (slip the leash loop over the wrist and hold the lead below the group.) This will give you more control.
Never tie a greyhound to a rope, chain or slide ‘runner’. Greyhounds have never been tied to anything stationary. The dog may become entangled, pull, wriggle or chew his/her way to freedom. In a worst case scenario, a greyhound can hang him/herself or snap its neck if he/she takes off at top speed while anchored.
One of the most common mistakes made by a new recipient of a greyhound is that the”kindly” human frees the dog from its life in a crate. More often than not, the greyhound is totally overwhelmed with its”freedom” and fails. The crate is the best transitional tool made and is expected to be used. GReAT requests that all adoptive families comply in order to ensure a successful placement. Crating is a wonderful thing!
- It reminds the dog that it is housebroken
- It gives him/her a familiar transition device between track kennel, foster home and permanent home
- It provides a comfort/safe zone when the dog is getting used to being in his/her permanent home…safe for the home and safe for the animal
- The crate makes a wonderful time-out spot and will save a lot of wear and tear on the adoptive family’s brain. When anyone, human or dog, needs a break, gently lead the dog to the crate, put it inside and say “Good Dog!”
Racing greyhounds spend a major portion of their lives in their crates. It is something that they are used to and that familiarity will carry them through the process of being fostered and placed in their forever home. Don’t worry about having to decorate around the crate. It may only be a transition device.
If a greyhound is crated when alone, and as he/she becomes more familiar with and confident in the family routine, freedom can be given a bit at a time. Some people like to use the crate, with the door open, as the next step to free-run of the house. The dog can still enter the crate to feel secure but does not have to stay there.
Crating also gives the new family piece of mind whenever they cannot be there to watch the dog and prevents the possibilities of chewing and/or soiling done by a nervous, bored, or stressed dog.
Greyhounds get used to fairly loud music at the track. Follow suit at home and leave the TV or radio on to help the dog ease into home life.
In retirement, a greyhound’s exercise needs are no different from any other breed of dog. If there is not a totally fenced area in its yard, the greyhound will need to be walked three or four times a day on a regular schedule to eliminate. Taking the hound to a fenced area; park, softball field or tennis court, sseveral times a week is excellent for the animal to romp and gallop at will. Remember that he/she is a sprinter, and is capable of enormous bursts of speed. During the initial adjustment period, it’s a good idea to keep a greyhound well-exercised. That will relieve pent up tension and nervous energy. Walking together and talking with the dog will build a strong life-long bond.
Many greyhounds make great jogging companions once they are conditioned to learn to adjust their stride and pace to the slow-footed human. Summer heat and winter road salt can injure their pads, so keep this in mind when choosing a place to jog. When a greyhound does any strenuous running, give him/her a chance to relieve him/herself afterwards and to cool down. To prevent a condition known as kidney tie-up, allow the animal to relieve him/herself again in about an hour.
While actively racing, your dog lived most of his life in one of several kennels at the track in which he/she raced. In this environment, he/she learned that “turn out” is for the sole purpose of relieving him/herself. It’s important to follow this pattern.
On lead or in the fenced enclosure:
If walking the dog on a lead, do not distract him/her from the task. Do not do anything; no play, no treats, no affectionate conversation or petting, until the deed is done. Once completed, praise him/her enthusiastically. Take the dog back to the same spot each time. That will help him/her understand what is expected.
Establish a routine:
Consistency is important in order to establish the “going out” routine. It’s up to the owner to learn to read their dog’s signals requesting to go out. Examples of signals include pacing, wandering, whining, sniffing, asking for or giving extra affection, coming back to their person again and again, standing and staring by the door. The signals can be different in different situations. It is important that you pay attention to your individual dog’s communication.
It’s the owner’s job to help the ex-racer understand the house is simply a bigger crate. If an accident occurs, do not punish the dog. If an accident is detected after the fact, punishment is futile. Do not strike the dog or push its face into the mess. And never let your dog see you cleaning up the mess. To a dog, this is affirmation – the human is paying attention to what he/she did! The dog will not see that the human is upset – just that attention is being given, negative though it may be.
A good clean-up protocol is disinfectant, followed by a white vinegar and water solution to minimize the smell.
The secret is in the human’s tone of voice.
Praise: nice happy high tone.
Reprimand: Low tone, voice dropping at the end. Save really loud for the big stuff.
All dogs, even greyhounds, have a need to chew. It’s a tension reliever and helps them discharge anxiety. Not every greyhound will chew, but if there are chewing problems, there are good products available.
Chew toys: Compressed rawhide, Kong® and similar, large, hard rubber “balls” or objects
Fluffy toys: Fleece toys such as flying babies, balls and rabbits are big favorites in some homes. But some greyhounds feel a responsibility to disembowel anything stuffed, so keep an eye out for this. Also be mindful of the squeakers in many stuffed toys. They can be dangerous if swallowed.
Supervision: Always allow your greyhound to chew only under adult supervision. Toys left with a crated dog may become the object of wrath and wind up totally digested by the time the human comes home. It’s important to make children understand that the dog’s toys are only for the dog and may not be taken away from the animal. If a dog gravitates to a “toy” which belongs to a human, such as a shoe, towel, hat or other personal object, gently correct the behavior while removing the toy and replacing it quickly with one of the dog’s toys, responding with a great big “Good Dog!” when the trade is complete.