Greyhounds As Pets

Greyhounds make fabulous pets. They are perceived as hard to look after dogs which require lots of exercise, however, this is not true! Greyhounds love nothing more than a nice comfy bed, warmth, love, good food and of course human company.

Greyhounds are not animals that have great stamina; they are sprint animals that are happy with a good twenty minute walk twice a day.

Greyhounds are the most loveable dogs and very sensitive, once you’ve owned a Greyhound is hard to imagine that they ever enjoyed racing, the noise, the shouting, the cold, its just not attractive to our pet Greyhounds, who hate going out in the rain.

Greyhounds are ideal for people with pet allergies, as their fur is short and once they have shed their racing fur (thicker coat) they hardly lose any fur at all.

It’s also a myth that Greyhounds cannot live with other animals, like cats, or other small breeds of dogs. We have plenty of adopters who have Greyhounds that live with cats, chickens, small fluffy dogs etc. We will cat test the Greyhounds we have in our care if we think that they would be suitable.

Greyhounds are also perfect pets with children of the right temperament, as even though they are considered a large breed, they are very gentle and docile dogs.

Greyhounds and children

Greyhounds and children do go together, it just takes common sense, boundaries and careful introduction

Greyhounds make wonderful pets and can make a family feel complete. Here at Birmingham Greyhound Protection our greyhounds go into foster homes once rescued, which gives us an opportunity to assess each dog in a home environment and introduce it to different situations. One of the things we pride ourselves on is being able to match our dogs to the right home. Having said that there are rules that need to be followed to ensure that your children and greyhound are safe – it is not just the greyhound that needs to be taught to adapt but also your children.

Most of our hounds come from a racing environment. Imagine knowing nothing apart from living in your own kennel, never being touched without hearing noise, eating your food on your own and never living in a home environment. This is exactly what our greyhounds are used to, so careful introduction, rules and boundaries need to be put in place to make them feel comfortable and safe. Due to rescued racing greyhounds not being used to being woken up by touch BGP do not recommend allowing your greyhound on the sofa or human bed. Touching a sleeping greyhound (some sleep with their eyes open so you think they are awake) can cause startle and the hound may jump up and snap – this is one of the most common reason for an adoption not to work out. You should always call your greyhound before approaching when they are asleep to let them know you are there.

Bringing your greyhound home is very exciting for everyone and is the time you need to start as you mean to go on. When your child is around your greyhound, they should always behave in a calm and quiet manner, it is best to let your hound approach your child rather than your child going to your hound.

We cannot emphasise enough children should never ever approach your greyhound when they are lying down or asleep. Greyhounds often sleep with their eyes open. If your child touches them it may startle them causing them to jump up and possibly snap. Remember the saying ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. Its important for your greyhound to have their own space in the house where they can relax and know and feel they are safe, this could be their bed in a quiet part of the room or a crate. The child should be taught that this is a no go area and belongs to your greyhound. Greyhounds love comfort and will search out the best places they can and will claim as their own, as we mentioned earlier, we strongly advise to not let your greyhound sleep on the sofa or human bed. If your hound is crate trained your child should never be allowed to go into the crate even if your greyhound is not in it. This is your hounds safe place and somewhere to go to feel relaxed and sleep in peace.

Greyhounds can be the same height as a small child which means they can easily see and take food out of a child’s hand. The easiest way to stop this is to ensure that if your child is eating that they are in a different room to your hound or sitting down away from it. When feeding your greyhound, they should be allowed to eat their food in peace and your child should never approach or interfere while they are eating, this also applies when giving your greyhound treats.

Children should always be taught to be kind to animals, it is important to let them feel part of looking after your hound but always under supervision and once your hound has had time to settle in. A child should never be allowed to take the lead to walk your greyhound on their own, however they can be included by adding an extra lead so they can learn to walk calmly beside them. Gentle grooming is another way to include your child in your greyhound’s care.

Be careful with doors, make sure your child never opens the front or back door without ensuring your hound is secure, child gates can help with this, if your greyhound does get out they move fast and could be down the road in no time. Always teach your child to secure your hound before opening doors or better still do not allow them to open door and always call you.

Greyhounds are gentle giants and make fabulous family pets, however in the racing world they would never have experienced many things including children. BGP will assess the hounds and will only home them with children if they think they are suitable, sometimes this could be children above 12 depending on the dog’s personality. In summary here are the points to remember

  1. 1-Make careful introductions
  2. 2-Always supervise, never ever leave your child and greyhound on their own
  3. 3-Always let sleeping dogs lie – never approach when sleeping, relaxing or in their crate.
  4. 4-Do not allow your greyhound to get on the sofa or human bed
  5. 5-When feeding your greyhound give them space and let them eat in peace.
  6. 6-Never open front or back door without ensuring your greyhound is secure.
  7. 7-Teach your child to be gentle and kind to all animals.

Birmingham Greyhound Protection understanding your greyhound and responsible exercising

One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘when can I let my greyhound off lead?’  this is not a simple question and in some cases the answer is never.

We need to remember that in the racing industry greyhounds are bred and taught to chase from an early age, it is in their DNA. They are trained to chase small furry things and can be a difficult thing to train them out of.

When you first take your greyhound home they need to get to know and trust you and it takes time to build a bond. Greyhounds have not been to training classes where they are taught to sit, stay, or come as most puppies would be taught. They are athletes and have been taught to run and chase.

Any rescue dog should not be allowed to go off lead when first rescued. It can take at least 6 months for a newly rescued dog to really settle down and build a bond with their new owner. On top of that greyhounds direct from racing would never have had the opportunity to socialise with other breeds and smaller dogs could mistakenly be seen as prey. This is not their fault as they do not know any different. This is when responsible ownership comes into play. It is your responsibility to ensure you keep your greyhound safe as well as other dogs. Remember greyhounds are sprinters and run from 0 to 45 mph, the 2nd fastest animal to a cheetah who can run 0 to 60 mph. with the best will in the world you would never be able to catch your greyhound in full flight. As well as the fact they run really fast, they have not been taught recall and once your greyhound is in full flight, they will have tunnel vision and only have their mind on one thing – to get the prey.

Even if your greyhound does not appear to be interested in small fluffy breeds, they still love the chase. This can also be dangerous as it could cause the dog that is being chased to run and get lost, injure itself or worst case scenario run into the road and get run over.

Greyhounds can easily be spooked, if your hound is off lead and something happens such as a gunshot, car or motorbike backfiring or bird scarers they could run away. This has actually happened, and hounds have disappeared never to be found.

You can hire out enclosed fields and if you really want to let your greyhound off lead these can be ideal. However, there could still be danger, your greyhound could stumble on unlevel ground, run into objects or fences, and severely injure or even kill itself.

Greyhounds are lazy dogs, and many are happy to bimble along on a lead enjoying sniffing every blade of grass and bush with their owners. They do not need to go off lead to live a long happy fulfilled life.

Muzzles are another hot topic. As previously mentioned, greyhounds rescued direct out of the racing industry have not been socialised with any other breed of dog apart from greyhounds. This can be a problem especially with smaller breeds. Even if a greyhound is on a lead they can be standing still and suddenly lunge and before you know it could have a small fluffy dog in its mouth and cause a lot of damage. This is not the dog’s fault, it is the owner’s responsibility to keep their greyhound safe as well as other dogs. Greyhounds are used to being muzzled in the racing industry and initially we may recommend to muzzle your dog when out in public. Over time you can see your greyhound’s reaction change to other dogs and careful introductions can be made, firstly with the muzzle on which can be removed once you are confident your dog and smaller dog will be ok. This can take weeks to months but is all part of responsible greyhound ownership.

Some greyhounds can live with small furries such as cats or even rabbits. While the hound is in foster being assessed it will become apparent if a greyhound can be safe around small furries, this will then be tested. BGP will always be able to say if a greyhound is cat safe or cat trainable. However, this will involve careful introductions when you take your greyhound home and BGP will be there with advice to help everyone to keep safe.

When adopt your dog BGP will go through everything with you and explain the best course of action for your Greyhound. Remember we are always available on the end of the phone to offer advice should you need it.

In summary…

  1. 1-Do not let your greyhound off lead for at least 6 months or until you are confident, they have excellent recall.
  2. 2-Use a muzzle when first taking your greyhound out.
  3. 3-Careful controlled introductions need to be followed especially to small breeds
  4. 4-Greyhounds are big dogs and can do a lot of damage or even kill another animal.
  5. 5-Always be mindful of the injuries your greyhound could get if off lead.
  6. 6-It is your responsibility to keep your greyhound and other dogs safe