Adjusting Your Greyhound to a New Home
Just as it takes a human time to adjust to his new environment when moving into a new home, a greyhound is no different. Let’s start with the car ride home.
Transporting your Greyhound
A greyhound may have never ridden in a car, so it is essential that you make him/her feel comfortable with this adjustment. When you have secured him in his riding quarters, reassure him with your voice, by being calm and soothing. With his actions be steady and slow. I always keep the leash on him when riding. This allows you to slowly grab his leash to lead him out of the car door. It is always a good idea to open the door just a crack so you have a chance to grab the leash first, wrapping it around your wrist. Again, using a calm and soothing voice to reassure him as you transition him from car to the outside. Greyhounds are fast and if they are frightened, they can easily react with swift moves. Walk him by your side closely, so he understands you are his pack lead. This will give him a sense of security.
Your greyhound may have never been in a home before and if this is the case, he will have many new things to which he will need to adjust. These things include stairs, windows, mirrors, and his new sleeping quarters. Greyhounds prefer to be with their humans when sleeping, so setting up a crate or his new bed in your bedroom will bring him some peace and reassurance. You see, they’ve lived with their greyhound friends in crates for many years before coming to your home, so they prefer family around them and will appreciate this. This also helps with bonding with your new friend.
Most greyhounds who have been in foster care before arriving to your home have been housebroken. However, when your greyhound arrives in your home, there are new smells and boys in particular may mark a few times, particularly if there is or has been another male dog in the household. To prevent this, when you arrive home initially, take him outside immediately to potty. Praise him profusely when he potties outside and immediately bring him indoors so he understands business is done on the outside. For the first week or two, keep an eye on your greyhound and take him/her outside every few hours and watch to be sure they have eliminated. Again, when they potty outside, reward them with verbal praise and even a treat if you like. When you feed your greyhound, begin a routine of taking them out immediately following eating. Many greyhounds are trained to eliminate following their meals.
Greyhounds are very clean dogs by nature. If your greyhound has any type of accident, rather then blaming the dog, figure out why it happened in the first place. He may not have been taken out early or often enough or not allowed enough time to eliminate. A dog who has fully relieved himself has nothing left to create an accident. Remember that your greyhound does not come equipped with signals to tell you to let him out…this occurs over time as you two bond. He is used to a routine of being let out at the track, so help him be successful in his new home by providing this assistance.
If your greyhound has an accident in your home and you witness this when it happens, all that is needed is a controlled verbal reprimand, then immediately take him outside, wait with him while he eliminates, then praise him immensely! Please never hit your dog or try to put his nose in the accident. Your greyhound will respond more quickly with positive reinforcement. Please be patient with your new greyhound as he is only trying to learn his new environment…put yourself in his/her place of being in a strange environment and needed time to adapt.
When introducing stairs to your greyhound, do it with patience and ease. A long staircase can be daunting to them, but carefully leading them up one step at a time using a leash and using a calm, reassuring voice throughout this process will make his adjustment more enjoyable. Coming down the stairs for the first time is a whole different matter. It seems like such a long steep way down when your greyhound peers down the staircase for the first time. Again with the leash, lead him down one step at a time, praising him profusely as he accomplishes each step. In time, he’ll be bounding up and down your stairs with ease!
Windows and Mirrors
A greyhound’s first experience with windows and mirrors can be comical. They may never have seen themselves before. When they peer out of a window, they may see their own reflection and sometimes think it’s another greyhound, so naturally, being the curious pets they are, they want to meet the new greyhound. They may bump their noses against the glass or mirror trying to get to the new greyhound friend they see. I like to present a mirror to a new greyhound so they can get used to seeing themselves. This can be a fun exercise if done with patience.
Greyhound Statue Stance
Some greyhounds, through fear or nervousness, may exhibit what we call the “greyhounds statue” stance. This is where they refuse to budge as you try to lead them either inside your home of outside during a walk. This can be extremely frustrating. The more you try to pull them along, the more they’ll refuse to move. The way to win this contest is with patience and wait it out. One way of breaking this stance is to encourage them verbally, happily as if where you want to lead them is going to be the most fun adventure. I often use a higher voice pitch, which usually works. If the your greyhound refuses to budge, you may just have to pick him up and move him where you want him to go, but I’ve never had to do this in all the years I’ve owned and fostered greyhounds. The primary thing to remember is to not yell or lose your patience as this action will only set you back on bonding with your new friend.
A greyhound’s gas – if you ever experience this, will clear a room. Their stomachs are sensitive, so feeding them “junk” food is usually the culprit. Junk food is food that is typically full of fillers like wheat and corn and other grains. Since you’ve invested in your greyhound, be sure to invest in a good diet for him. There are many good quality dog foods that are wheat and corn free. Take time to do some research. Read the ingredients on the back of the bags before you purchase them. Experience over the years with many different type diets has led me back to a good quality holistic kibble where the first few ingredients are lamb, chicken, rice, oatmeal, potato, and a mixture of green vegetables. Recently, I’ve moved my greyhounds to grain-free kibble and they have done amazingly well on this. Remember, the saying “you are what you eat”. This holds true for your greyhound. What you put into him is what you’ll get out of him. An interesting observation I’ve experienced with eliminating grain in the diet, is that they poop less, this means less yard cleanup for you. I don’t know about you, but when you own more than one greyhound, this is a nice plus!
Foods that are Toxic
There are several foods that are especially toxic to a dog. This list includes: chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, macadamia nuts, caffeine (coffee beans, coffee grounds), and foods containing xylitol (sugarless candies and gum). Please never feed your greyhounds these items. If they’ve gotten into these foods accidentally, contact your vet immediately! The poisonous ingredient in chocolate is theobromine; it can be lethal and can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, liver and central nervous system. Incidentally, cocoa mulch used in flower beds contains this, so please stay away from this type of mulch in your yard if you own cats or dogs. Go to this website to find out more about toxic food items and symptoms. http://dogs.about.com/od/dogandpuppyhealth/tp/toxicfood.htm
Martingale Collar – The best type of collars used on a greyhound are martingale collars. These collars are similar to a “choke” collar, but are made of fabric. Because the greyhound’s head is smaller than his neck or body, the martingale collar is designed to hold more securely around the neck when he pulls. Please never use a metal choke collar since these are dangerous to greyhounds’ necks. There are many beautiful martingale collars that you can order online or purchase from your local greyhound adoption group. There are several links for martingale collars under the Links page. If your greyhound did not come with one of the special martingale collars, please waste no time in purchasing one as these collars are essential when walking your greyhound in the event he sees a squirrel or rabbit and gives chase.
Leash – A strong 6 ft. leash should be all you need to secure to your greyhound’s collar. A longer lead can only create issues if your greyhound sees something he wants to chase. The best type of leash is a simple 6 ft lead leash which clasps securely to the collar. With a greyhound, you should stay away from the “flexi-leashes” because you cannot wrap it around your wrist. These are meant to be held with your fingers. If your greyhound gives chase to a delectable looking squirrel, rabbit or cat, his sprint can easily pull the handle from your fingers and your greyhound is now in trouble.
Walking – Always make a habit of wrapping the handle of your leash around your wrist, then hold the lead portion in your hand. This does two things: It prevents the leash from releasing accidentally from your hand should your friend spot a squirrel, rabbit or other small creature he wants to chase. It allows you to easily wrap the leash around your hand to bring him closer to you should you be met with another passing dog. Wrapping the leash around your wrist is also a good idea before opening a car door or SUV gate when releasing him from the vehicle. When walking your greyhound initially, it’s a good idea to make him walk close to your side in the first five minutes of your walk. By doing this, he knows you are his pack lead and this will help form a bond between the two of you with him knowing you are the one in charge. From there, you can release the leash a little at a time. He will always know that when you pull him back in to your side that you are the leader. Another good habit to create with your new greyhound when walking is for you to exit through a door or gate first. This signals to him that again you are the pack lead and he will respect you for this action.