FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Here’s Some FAQs About Retired Racing Greyhounds:

What’s Life Been Like For the Retired Racing Greyhound?

What Should I Expect When We Get Home?

Does My Dog Need a Special Place in the House?

How Do I House Break My Greyhound?

Why Is Routine Important To a Greyhound?

How Do I Feed My Greyhound?

What Sort Of Medical Care Will My Dog Need?

How Important Is Exercise For My Greyhound?

When Can I Trust My Dog Off The Leash?

What If I Have Other Questions?


What’s Life Been Like For the Retired Racing Greyhound? [ Top ]

Racing greyhounds have spent their lives in the company of other dogs. When born, the average litter is about nine pups. Generally, young greyhounds are touched and hugged as much as possible. As they near their first birthday, they begin their racing training. They are taught how to chase a lure using a variety of systems, all geared to maximizing their natural abilities of vision and speed. Eventually they progress to a race track such as the one from which your dog came.

Kennel life at the track is very routine. Feeding in the morning, several daily turnouts in the exercise pen, and the rest of the time spent in the crate.  That is, unless the dog is racing that day or is new and needs to be schooled – taught how to run around that particular track. Most dogs are raced  every three days; most racing kennels have about 60 active dogs, and amazingly, most trainers have a special story about each and every dog with whom they work. As you may infer, the ex-racer has seen very little of what we think of as the everyday world. They have never seen a house, stairs, children or cats. Life as a pet is like being reborn for the ex-racer.

What Should I Expect When We Get Home? [ Top ]

Because everything is brand-new for your dog, you should expect him or her to be a little confused. Your dog will be very curious about every niche and corner of their new home. Most dogs come directly from the race track into their foster home for acclimation, evaluation an initial training as a pet. The training given in the foster home needs reinforcement in the adoptive home. For example, the typical ex-racer does not understand that the stove is not the proper place for those elegant feet, neither for that matter, is the cupboard nor the table. They have not acquired what we call ” manners” , and BGA’s foster program goes a long way toward addressing the situation. However, if your dog does jump on things, firmly grab hold of its collar, move him or her down while authoritatively saying “OFF”. Should the jumping up behavior be repeated, be consistent and repeat the “OFF” command. Greyhounds are very sensitive, and will respond quickly to this simple training

If you have stairs that your dog will need to climb, you may have to be patient. Coming from the track, Greyhounds have never seen stairs and usually approach them in one of two ways: they either decide that stairs are completely beyond their comprehension, becoming stiff and helpless, or, they attempt to leap up or down the whole flight at once. And this is another matter addressed during foster care, but occasionally the foster home may not be equipped to introduce the dog to the type of stairs in your home. To educate your Greyhound about stairs, place the dogs feet, one at a time on each step, with your body firmly behind the dog so it cannot back down. Proceed up the stairs, one foot at a time, giving lots of encouragement along the way. Going down stairs requires a little more muscle, as your dog may want to try all those stairs in one jump. Keep the dog on a short leash, allowing him or her to take only one stair at a time. In a few days your dog will be able to navigate the stairs on its own.

Expect your Greyhound to be curious . They have been taught to be alert to quick movements and, particularly those of small creatures. If your dog even looks sideways at your cat, immediately and firmly say “NO!” It may take a few times, consistency again being the key, but your dog will quickly learn what is appropriate behavior with regard to small animals.

You may find your dog is something of a shadow, following you everywhere. This is a part of the greyhounds’ bonding process. You are the person your dog has decided to trust first. Be flattered. To help your dog adjust, take him or her everywhere you can. These are curious and sociable dogs and want to know all they can about their new world. The more love and attention you give your dog, the more you will get back.

Does My Dog Need a Special Place in the House? [ Top ]

In the kennel your dog has always had his own confined space where it felt safe and secure. There are a number of ways of accomplishing this in your house. You can purchase or rent a large crate or make a special bedding area with a couple of inches of plump bedding. Either of these methods help the dog to adjust to your household.

Although many people feel uncomfortable using a crate, Greyhounds are quite at home in them. Indeed , using a large crate can help you to help your dog successfully transition from racing dog to pet, by affording the dog a manageable space when overwhelmed by the sudden freedom of your house.

Leaving the dog home alone, uncrated, may result in some behaviors which might alarm and dismay you. Your dog may investigate the garbage or frantically try to chew through the door to find you. He or she may find new uses for your furniture, or simply howl and pine until you return. The use of a crate could eliminate these potential disasters. Dogs instinctively will not soil their own space, thus making the use of the crate an effective tool in the house- breaking process. It is a secure and familiar space for the dog and provides peace of mind for you.

How Do I House Break My Greyhound? [ Top ]

Your dog is kennel trained. This means that he or she knows that when let out of the crate at the racing kennel it’s time to eliminate in the turnout pen. This behavior is reinforced by BGA’s foster program. By taking your dog out frequently, at consistent times, and by giving lots of praise when the dog succeeds, you will quickly establish the correct place for your Greyhound to relieve itself. Most dogs present body signals indicating when they need to go out. Look for these signals. They may be as simple as a serious sniffing of the floor, to a lot of quick pacing back and forth. Initially, expect some accidents. It takes a little while for you and your dog to learn each other signals and timing. If there is an accident, do not punish your dog, just hurry outside and be encouraging. Consider taking the dog out more frequently for a while.

Vinegar and water are good cleaning agents. The acid neutralizes the odor. Corn starch sprinkled on urine on carpets can be vacuumed when dry. This technique also takes out stain and odor effectively. Never clean up in accident in front of your dog. You don’t want to even suggest to the dog that cleaning up an accident is something that humans do. Sounds odd, but all the books will tell you this.

When you take your dog out to relieve itself, you will notice that he or she seems to be looking for the right spot. This may take some time. Once found, your dog will relieve itself. The next time the two of you go out, go to the same spot, calmly waiting for your dog to do what is necessary. Don’t distract your dog with playful body language, as you want him or her to focus on the reason for being outside. Once all business is taken care of , you can play, walk, etc.

Why Is Routine Important to a Greyhound? [ Top ]

A consistent routine is all your Greyhound has ever known. At the breeding farms and later at the racing kennel, feeding and exercise always occurs at the same time each day. Generally, the dogs are turned out early in the morning and then again mid morning. During the second morning turnout, crates are cleaned. After the second turnout, those dogs not racing that day are fed. The dogs remain in their crates until late afternoon for the third turnout. The final turnout is usually late in the evening, just before the trainer goes home for the night. Because the dogs are so accustomed to a daily routine, it is quite easy to adapt the old routine to what best fits your household.

These dogs are amazingly adaptable and really want to please, but depend upon your consistency. Work out a general routine that might work for you and stick to it. Be sure and make it something that is easily managed by your household and takes the dogs needs into account. ( Note: until you and your dog have established a comfortable routine, you may need to make more frequent trips outside to avoid accidents.)

How Do I Feed My Greyhound? [ Top ]

Most dogs reach “pet weight” within the first month of life in a home. Your dog may seem to devour it’s food at first. This behavior will slowly disappear as your dog realizes that it can depend upon you to regularly provide it with food. Occasionally, however, the Greyhound will seem totally un- interested in food. Not to worry. With patient coaxing, the dog will usually more heartily as he or she becomes comfortable with its surroundings.

Initially, feed your dog between three to five cups of food a day — half in the morning and half in the evening . As your dog adjusts to the food change, you can alter the amount depending on the size of the dog, its appetites, level of activity and appearance. Do not over feed. Two ribs showing when the animal is standing relaxed is considered about right.

It is best to buy and good brand of dog food that contains about 22 percent protein, derived from meat or poultry content. It should have as little filler as possible, and no soy! Typically, these better quality foods can be obtained at feed and pet stores, as opposed to the supermarket brands. An occasional teaspoon of corn oil may help keep the coat shiny. For good dental hygiene, brush the teeth every few days with a canine specific dental product Do not use a human dentifrice or baking soda and occasionally give your dog U.S. made raw hide to chew and dog biscuits.

Change in diet may cause diarrhea in your dog. Should this occur, give your dog two pink bismuth tablets about every two hours or so until the diarrhea has stopped. Feed 1-2 cups each cottage cheese and rice or pasta and boiled hamburger, two or three times a day until the stool begins to look solid. Gradually decrease these alternative foods while increasing the dry dog food. As stools become normal, eliminate the cottage cheese or boiled hamburger first, then the rice or pasta. It is important to recognize that accidents may have been due to an upset stomach, rather than lack of manners. Remember, the dog needs to adjust and should be treated with patience and care. If you observed blood or worms in the stool, or if the problem persists, check with your vet.

What Sort Of Medical Care Will My Dog Need? [ Top ]

In our lives the best medical care is prevention. Even though your dog was given all its vaccinations and was wormed, at about three weeks you should take a stool sample to your Vet just to be on the safe side. Your dog was heart worm tested and found negative, and protection for one month from heart worm was administered. Discuss with your veterinarian what sort of heart worm preventive will work best for your dog, and begin treatment one month from the date the first dose was administered ( check the medical paperwork given to you with the dog). You might also I ask your vet to show you how to cut your dogs toenails, something that should be done once or twice a month.

Read all shampoo and flea spray and powder labels and be sure that they are safe to use on sighthounds. Never use a regular flea and tick powder on a Greyhound, they are particularly sensitive to the chemicals in them. Check with a BGA representative or your vet regarding ways to deal with these problems safely.

While all mammals suffer from certain illnesses (such as cancer), Greyhounds are not plagued with conformation diseases such as hip dysplasia. If given good at a loving care they can live to be 12 years or more, a delightfully long life for your dog and your family together.

How Important Is Exercise For My Greyhound? [ Top ]

The Greyhound is an athlete. They are accustomed to racing every three days. However, in retirement their exercise needs are easily fulfilled by 2 to 4   ” fun”  walks during the week of at least a half -hour in length. They also enjoy a run in an enclosed, safe area off leash. They are born to run, it is one of their greatest pleasures.

As you might expect, the change from the racetrack environment to your household is somewhat stressful, confusing and exciting for your dog. Exercise facilitates an easier transition. A tired, well satisfied dog seems to have less energy to worry or be upset. Walking or running with your dog speeds up the bonding process and enables the two of you to learn each other’s language that much more quickly.

Greyhounds make excellent jogging companions once they learn to adjust their stride to yours. Summer heat and winter salt can injure paws however, so check your dog’s feet after each run. Always give your dog a chance to relieve itself before and the after the jog.

When Can I Trust My Dog Off The Leash? [ Top ]

NEVER!  Greyhounds have no understanding of cars. They tend to stand in the middle of the road watching the car approach or they try to outrun it. They are sight hounds capable of speeds in excess of 40 mph. They have been taught to chase fast-moving objects. Therefore, you need to structure a situation in which your dog can succeed and not be at risk; one in which you are in control. This may be an enclosed ball field or fenced meadow.

While basic obedience classes will give you good ideas for building a relationship, it could be really helpful for other concerns that you may have. The instinct to chase will always override the learned command.

What If I Have Other Questions? [ Top ]

If you have any questions or comments, always feel free to call a Buffalo Greyhound Adoption, Inc. representative at ( 716 ) 873 – 1165. We work hard to find good homes for great pets. We would love to know how you and your dog are getting along, and enjoy any and all stories you wish to share.

Or, e-mail us at:  info@buffalogreyhound.org