Greyhound racing is a controversial sport, and there are many people who choose to adopt the dogs who can no longer race. Marilyn Wolkovits, owner of Greyhound Adoption Services Inc. in Salisbury, MA, has been teaching people how to help the dogs adjust to being a house pet since 1986.
Wolkovits said that the new owner of an adopted greyhound needs to first realize the dog has never seen a house before. “A major thing, and a lot of people have a hard time with this, is to keep the greyhound crated or in a cage initially. It’s for their protection,” said Wolkovits. “Litters of other kinds of dogs grow up in a household and have time to understand what’s around them,” she added.
Wolkovits said that it generally takes about five months for a retired greyhound to become integrated in a home. “That’s when you really start to see their real personality and behaviors,” she said.
House-breaking a retired greyhound
The new owner of an adopted greyhound also needs to understand that the dog is kennel-broken, but not house-broken. “Most dogs will not soil where they sleep. Keep them in their crates and when they get restless, take them outside for a few minutes to help them start adjusting,” said Wolkovits. She added that it can be helpful to have a fenced turn-out area on your landscaping, or another dog your greyhound can follow and learn from. Due to changes in diet, how often the dog is fed – they are usually fed one time a day in a kennel and many pet owners feed twice a day – the greyhound may experience loose stools for a while.
Safety measures in your home for your adopted greyhound
Wolkovits said that a good age to get a rescue greyhound is around three-years old. “They are starting to mature, but they still are playful,” she said. Younger dogs may be more of a handful and get themselves into more “trouble.”
Again, crating is very important to protect your dog, you, and your furniture. Wolkovits said that if you let the greyhound roam freely in the house, when you go out, he may become frantic looking for you and may destroy drapes and blinds. “That’s what I’ve heard about the most,” said Wolkovits.
If you have sliding glass doors, put decals or have some type of window treatment as greyhounds have a high prey drive. “If they see a squirrel out the door, they will instantly go after it,” said Wolkovits.
Screen doors can also be damaged by the dog scratching to get out if it sees another animal it perceives as prey. (And get out).
Also, be aware that everything in your home is new to them and can inspire fear (and aggression as a result), so go slow with your new rescue greyhound. “Some people go to the extreme of tying the dog to them all day, but mostly I think that’s excessive,” said Wolkovits.
Baby gates are also helpful in keeping the greyhound from certain rooms, Wolkovits said.
Other tips to helping your adopted greyhound adjust to being in a home
While you want to have all the usual things one would have for any dog, Wolkovits said to not go overboard with big fluffy dog beds or excessive toys. However, toys such as the classic Kong (hollow tube filled with kibble and plugged with peanut butter) is entertaining and calming to the dog whether in or out of the crate Wolkovits said. Chew toys in general are good to prevent the dog from chewing on your furniture (another reason to keep them crated while you are not home).
“It’s also better off to start off not allowing the greyhound on furniture or beds. You can decide later if you want to allow that once the dog adjusts to being in a home,” said Wolkovits.
Even something as normal as stairs, can present a challenge to your rescue greyhound. “They may need time to learn how to use stairs. Some are quick learners others need more time,” said Wolkovits.
Last, make sure you take the time to research and prepare yourself for a rescue greyhound. Some have been abused and may have behavior problems, while others do not. Wolkovits recommends avoiding “showing off” your new companion for a while and being careful where children are involved. “It’s in their nature to be more sensitive than other dogs such as working breeds,” said Wolkovits.
Greyhound Adoption Services recently renovated their facility with the help of Boston-area concrete contactor Torromeo Industries. Even if you are unable to adopt a greyhound, you can still help them to rescue and find homes for these lovely dogs.
Have you adopted a greyhound? Would you? Please comment!