Looking after your greyhound is easy, here’s a guide to getting you started
The following information will help you and your new pet get to know each other and to build a relationship that will last for many happy years ahead. We are always available to help and advise how to care for and train your greyhound.
Preparing to take your greyhound home
We recommend you purchase a pair of raised bowls on a stand as greyhounds have such long necks and legs that it is awkward for them to eat from a bowl placed on the floor. You will need two dog bowls: one for water and one for food. Alternatively, you can place the bowls on a low step or an upturned bucket.
There is no need to rush out and buy a fancy dog bed! An old duvet folded in half makes an ideal bed for your greyhound – ideally any cushioned surface.
We will supply you with a leather greyhound collar, lead, muzzle and coat. They will also need a soft (or “house”) collar to wear around the house with an ID tag attached. Please note: this is a legal requirement and the ID tag must be worn at all times. Please note, your greyhound will already have been microchipped.
Your dog must be walked wearing a greyhound collar and lead/harness. The positioning of the dog’s collar is very important: it should go up behind the ears, at the thinnest part of the neck, and should be tight enough to get two fingers between the collar and the neck. You will be shown how to do this by a volunteer from Dunton.
We also recommend that your dog wears the muzzle provided. After a while, you will get to know the social behaviour of your dog and will use your own judgement as to when it is appropriate to muzzle your dog. If in doubt, use the muzzle.
We do not recommend that you use an extendable lead. A greyhound can accelerate from a standing start to nearly 40 mph in no time at all and with an extendable lead, the potential for disaster is all too obvious.
We do not advise letting your dog off lead in a public place as they are sighthounds and will probably chase if given the opportunity. Over time, you will get know your dog better and will be able to decide if it is safe to do so. We recommend that your dog be muzzled when off the lead.
Arriving at home
Please bear in mind that your greyhound may not have been in a home environment before. Your dog will settle in at its own pace, in its own time.
Upon arriving home, take the dog straight into the garden or designated toilet spot, wait until they relieve themselves and then praise them profusely. Use their name, tell them good boy/girl and reward them with a small piece of cheese or biscuit (whichever you are using for training purposes). Repeat this process every hour or so for the first day and then get into a routine of letting them out – i.e. before meals and straight after meals.
Then take your dog around the house, on the lead initially, so they can see everything in a calm manner. After 10 minutes or so, take the lead off and sit down, letting them roam around on their own. By this stage the initial excitement will have worn off and they can snoop around calmly.
Set the house rules from day one, so they know what they can and cannot do. Ensure all family members are familiar with these guidelines or the dog will become very confused about its role.
Their first few days can be quite daunting for your Greyhound and they may become anxious. Domestic appliances such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines and televisions will be alien to Greyhounds and may initially spook them. Bear in mind the impact of the change in environment for your dog.
Signs of anxiety are pacing, panting, diarrhoea, not eating and/or drinking and whining at night when left alone. Anxiety can be shown through destructiveness. Please be patient while your dog adjusts. Night-lights and low volume radios left on can help the dog not feel completely alone in the dark. They will be used to these from the kennels.
Remember, your Greyhound will become a precious part of your family. Enjoy the experience of seeing them grow from a kennel dog to a family pet. They will bring you great joy!
We can’t guarantee a house-trained dog but most Greyhounds are clean in their kennels, and once they know where you want them to empty, they will be happy to stick with that routine.
House training should begin as soon as your dog arrives home. Take them straight into the garden, wait until they relieve themselves and then reward them with a treat.
After this initial visit to the garden, keep repeating the routine at regular periods throughout the day. It may be advantageous to take your new pet for a short 5 minute walk at regular periods throughout the day.
During this time it is unlikely that the Greyhound will have had a chance to have an accident and they will be thoroughly familiar with the idea that any ‘toilets’ are to be done outside.
Thereafter, if your dog has an accident indoors, please bear in mind that punishment is not advisable and can make the dog worse. Anticipate when your dog needs to go, take them outside and praise and reward them when they ‘go’.
Any ‘accident’ in the home should be washed thoroughly with a solution of biological washing liquid, as this will take away the smell, otherwise they will constantly re-mark over that spot.
Take them to the toilet immediately after food, when they get up and before they go to bed and, of course, in between. Some signs to look for when your dog needs to go to the toilet are restlessness, pacing up and down, whining, scratching at the door or circling.
Of course, at first, there may be no signs as the dog will have been used to living in a kennel, but Greyhounds are generally clean animals and learn very quickly.
Feeding your greyhounds
Many new owners already know how and what they want to feed their dog, based on past experience.
We recommend that you purchase a bag of food that your greyhound is currently on. Please enquire at the kennels. If you wish to change to a different food, then we advise that you do so slowly, “weaning” your new dog onto his or her new type of food as greyhounds are well known to have sensitive stomachs.
Whatever food you choose to give your new dog just make sure you read the ingredients on the packet to make sure it has no added colourings, sugars, salts, synthetic preservatives and that the protein source (i.e. chicken, fish, lamb etc) is the first ingredient on the list and not the last! Protein content should be around 20 – 24%. However, the most important aspect is the quality of the protein as poor quality protein can be difficult for the dog to process.
A teaspoon of sunflower/vegetable/fish oil added to the main meal will help to maintain a glossy coat. Cooked eggs in any form can be enjoyed once a week or so. Oily fish, such as sardines or pilchards and other filleted fish are a healthy treat.
Some Greyhounds do well on raw feeding. You need to make sure you receive good quality advice if you want to begin raw feeding to ensure your Greyhound receives the right balance and ratio of bone, meat, vegetables and offal.
Water should be available at all times and changed regularly. Never leave your dog without fresh water.
Chews and biscuits will aid the dog’s digestion and help to keep their teeth clean. They can also be used as training aids and of course as an extra treat!
Human chocolate, grapes, raisins, salt and raw onions are poisonous to dogs; they simply cannot digest these foods. Keep your household bin secure.
Make sure all children and visitors are aware of the significant danger to your pet. Never allow your greyhound to scavenge or pick up bits of food outside the home. There may be poison or vermin bait present and the consequences can be a serious illness or even death.
Common sense will tell you not to feed the dog before a long journey, just carry water for the comfort stops. Never feed just before or just after exercise. Always wait about one hour.
If you already have a dog, please bring it with you to our kennels when you are considering a Greyhound – the dogs will pick each other! Please ensure you inform us prior to bringing another dog to the kennels.
The first meeting should always be in a neutral area, this does not include any areas where your dog regularly walks, as these are considered secondary territories. Allow them to smell each other on loose relaxed leads whilst muzzled. Continue walking until the dogs are relaxed with each other and then take them back to the house and into the garden.
Ensure your existing dog’s toys, beds, bones, food and water bowls are taken up and put out of sight so there is nothing for them to argue over. Your existing dog might not like another dog playing with their possessions at this stage. When you put the possessions down, make sure there are more than enough for both dogs.
To avoid future problems between your dogs, remember to ‘back up’ your pack leader. The pack leader will be first through the door, first to seek attention and the first at the food bowl.
Given that racing greyhounds have only ever really known other greyhounds it is surprising how quickly they get on with other dogs after a certain amount of initial caution. All greyhounds that leave our kennels will have been neutered and it shouldn’t be too long before they are perfectly happy with their new ‘house mate’.
Any pets, including Greyhounds can be terrified of loud noises. Fireworks, storms, thunder and lightning may scare your dog. Don’t leave them alone if possible. During firework season, take your greyhound out for their walk before dark. Draw the curtains at dusk and put the radio or television on.
Your greyhound will look to you for your response to the sounds so try not to react. Let your dog go to where it feels safe and do not keep pampering them – they will only respond more to the noises around.
DAP™ diffusers, available from your local vets are very good at calming your greyhound. This is a plug-in device which emits ‘dog appeasing pheromones’ similar to those produced soon after a puppy is born by its mother. The pheromones create a ‘safe feeling’ for your dog and are very effective. There are also Homeopathic remedies such as Kali-Phos, Bach Rescue and Serenity.
Alternatively seek medication from your vet, if the firework season causes undue distress.
Ears should be checked regularly, as although ear infections are no more common with Greyhounds than other breeds, they can occur. If your dog is flapping their head and rubbing or pawing at their ear, and the problem persists, seek veterinarian advice. An infection will quickly be cleared up with antibiotic ointment or drops.
Many Greyhounds are sensitive with their ears due to racing (due to tattoo checking) so take care when handling them.
Regular grooming of your Greyhound will ensure you are quickly aware if they pick up fleas or ticks. There are a variety of products available to control parasites, however the more effective ones need to be obtained from a veterinary surgery.
We suggest using only products prescribed by a vet. Remove fleas with a flea comb and bathe your dog with a flea shampoo, but remember, the bath only takes care of the adult fleas on your dog at that time. For more extensive protection, as well as control over pre adult fleas, you will have to treat your dog and your home especially carpets and bedding. A house spray from the vets is available for this.
Your dog will have had a worming treatment at the kennels before you take them home to ensure their intestines are free from infection.
Regular doses with a complete wormer available from the vets are necessary. We recommend worming at 3 monthly intervals but seek advice from a vet.
Feet & Nails
The feet and nails have been very important to your Greyhound while they have been racing and need continuing care from you. Their nails will have been clipped short on a regular basis and you will notice they grow quickly.
Seek advice from a vet if you unsure as to how to clip your dogs nails. Check your Greyhounds pads, feet and legs for cuts after they have been exercising outdoors. This is particularly important if they have been running in a large area that you cannot examine completely. Sharp stones, sticks, thorns and glass can cause cuts or become embedded in the foot. Wash their feet in warm soapy water and seek veterinary advice if necessary.
Skin & Coat
In order to keep your Greyhound’s coat healthy, a grooming mitt or good brush with firm bristles will be required. They will have been used to regular grooming in the racing kennel and most will stand and enjoy this special attention from you. If they require a bath, ensure they are dried quickly and can lie down somewhere warm.
Many Greyhounds have bare patches, especially on the bony prominences or on their rumps. This is usually due to poor bedding or the hounds preference to lying on concrete or wet paddocks or stress. With good food, soft bedding and regular brushing, your dogs coat will soon improve and look shiny and healthy. Some dogs may come with scars from their racing days. These, once healed, rarely give any trouble.
The importance of good dental hygiene cannot be overstated. Dogs, like people, can get gingivitis (inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria) and can suffer from decay and lose teeth without proper care. Gingivitis is a primary cause of bad breath in canines.
When the greyhound is admitted to be neutered by our vets, they will do a thorough teeth cleaning. Once this has been done, maintenance is down to you. Regular chews and dental treats (available from pet stores) will help with some of the plaque build-up, however brushing their teeth is the most effective form of dental care.
Some dogs will let you brush their teeth straight away, however, others will need to have their confidence built up.
You can do this in stages:
For the first few days gently stroke your dog’s muzzle.
Once your greyhound accepts this happily, you can then progress to lifting their lips up and praising them for their co-operation. Once your dog has gained confidence in you, they will allow you to gently brush their teeth. Use a soft bristle toothbrush and a canine toothpaste, usually flavoured with chicken or beef. This will be a real treat for your dog, who will find the taste so delicious they will try to chew on the brush!
Dog toothbrushes/finger brushes and canine toothpaste are available at pet stores or from your local vet. Regular attention to the mouth will save money for you and pain for your dog later. Check your greyhound’s teeth and gums regularly and seek veterinary advice if in doubt.
Heat & Cold
Greyhounds are particularly susceptible to extreme temperatures, as they only carry a small portion of fat on their bodies.
This may be more obvious in the cold weather, but not so obvious in the heat. In the colder weather pop a coat on them to keep them warm.
They could develop pneumonia should they become too cold. Coats should be big enough to cover from the neck to over the tail.
Like all dogs, greyhounds get very hot on warm days. They will pant, possibly be grumpy (like us really) and try to find cool places to lie. In hot weather, leave your greyhound in peace as much as you can.
Remind children to cuddle a lot less, if at all. Help to keep them cool with damp flannels on their bodies and protect them from the sun with cream or shade if they decide to lie outside. This might sound crazy but if there is a breeze in the garden it might seem to be the coolest place, however dogs don’t know about UV rays and can get badly burnt.
Please remember to take care to only walk your greyhound before it heats up in the morning or at night when it has cooled down. If they are reluctant to go for a walk, then just give them the opportunity to toilet in the garden and let them lie.
It is best to feed earlier/later, if they don’t eat much – don’t worry unless there are other symptoms of illness.
Never leave a dog in a hot room or car – they can die within ten minutes.
Symptoms of heat stroke are distress, severe panting and collapse. If you think your greyhound is showing signs of this, cool your dog as fast as possible with cold water or ice applied to the head and back. If there isn’t an immediate improvement get veterinary help immediately.
Babies & Children
It is essential that when introducing a canine into a home where babies and small children are present, special care is taken. There is no exception with a greyhound. Children and babies should never be left unattended with the dog.
Children must be educated to be calm and gentle with the dog and have respect for its needs and its bed. An escape place is an excellent idea so when the dog has had enough, it can retreat to its own space.
Greyhounds are people orientated, gentle, placid and docile but all breeds have a breaking point when taunted by children. Please teach children respect for your dog and soon they will be best of friends. Never let a child disturb a greyhound when it is asleep.
Ageing changes occur gradually and may not be obvious to you as you see your dog every day. You might see changes in coat colour, greying of the muzzle, sleep pattern, appetite and thirst, body shape, reluctance to exercise and behaviour. Many of these changes also develop as symptoms of diseases, so have your dog checked by your vet regularly.
Many veterinary practices run senior or geriatric clinics dedicated to offering advice on diet and care for the older dog. Routine healthcare such as annual vaccination boosters, worming and flea control should not be overlooked and should be continued throughout your dog’s life into old age.
There are some notable differences in the nutritional requirements of the older dog. Senior life stage diets take into account altered life styles, levels of activity and declining organ function. Your vet will be able to give you advice when changing from an adult to a senior diet.
Some older dogs require up to 20% fewer calories as they become less active, so weigh your dog regularly (every 3 months). Many veterinary surgeries have scales as well as breed weight guidelines. Adjust the food intake to maintain optimum weight. Obesity is likely to put more strain on the heart, lungs, muscles and joints and may result in a shorter life expectancy. If your dog is overweight, speak to a vet about a calorie control diet.
As activity levels fall, older dogs may start to demonstrate muscle wastage. Supplements such as Cod Liver Oil or capsules and Glucosamine will help prevent joint deterioration. (speak to your vet for more advice). Feeding them little and often avoids overloading their digestive system. (2 meals a day). Their appetite may reduce as the sense of smell and taste diminishes.
Old dogs require extra attention from you. Be kind and considerate and recognise this need for greater input into your dog’s life. Older dogs also tend to need to go to the toilet more often as a result of muscular weakness. Give them more opportunities to go out during the day, later at night and earlier in the morning.