GreyhoundAngels of WA

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Caring for Greyhounds

Greyhound Tips: The walk & greyhound waistlines

GreyhoundAngels has started a new Q&A on our social Facebook group, but sometimes it’s hard to find old posts, and there are some folks who still aren’t really in to Facebook.

We will be posting each answer here on the blog under the category “greyhound tips” to make them easier to find.

The first two tips are from Carolyn Gale who has a retired racer called Clancy and has been involved with rescuing Weimaraners for many years.

The Walk

walks2

No dog wants to do the same walk day in day out, nor do we! One way to enrich your dog’s life is to do a range of different walks. These might depend on the amount of time you have, the weather, and so on. Alternate the route you take TO and FROM the park, mix up the walk locations, and the time of day that you walk.

Think too, about your ‘tools’. Harnesses are good as they minimise strain on necks. Face it – the neck and shoulders of our greys are some of their strongest body parts – we shouldn’t be pulling and yanking on this as they will win, and do themselves damage in the process. Include a ‘sniffing’ walk into your repertoire of walks. These walks are nice and slow and are dictated by the dog; when and where they want to sniff. Sometimes walk alone, other times organise to walk with other dogs! The most important part of this message is ‘mix it up’ and keep them on their toes with variety!

Greyhound Waistlines

a side view of a fit greyhound

It is worth remembering that the greyhound is a breed that should be kept lean. This is a racing breed who should have a lean and fine silhouette. It can be difficult, in the face of modern trends of dog and pet obesity, to remember that our breed is a breed whose skeleton was not designed to carry excess weight, and this is even more important if your dog is an ex racer who may have had broken bones.

Keep your hound lean and you will maintain their health, longevity and well being. Every dog is different so it’s not constructive to go by an ideal weight ‘number’. Instead go by look and feel. To see the last few ribs and the shadow of the hip wings IS healthy. Use their adoption weight as a guide, or their race weight if you have their race records. With sterilisation and the significant loss of muscle as long as your dog is hovering around their adoption weight you are on the right track. Be careful of being bribed by those big brown eyes as well – many greys are very very food obsessed but it’s not healthy for them to over eat or be overweight as so we, as their guardians and carers need to help monitor this for them.

 

 

Adjusting to a new life – Separation Anxiety

sep anxiety greyhound colour

It is very common for a new greyhound to be anxious on being left alone in his or her new surroundings, either in foster care or in their adoptive home. In a kennel environment they have the constant companionship of other dogs and losing the sights, sounds and smells of their kennel mates can take some adjustment.

The humans need to leave the house and go to work, run errands, or do whatever else they need to do, leaving the dog alone, or perhaps with unfamiliar animal companions.

Vocalising, destructive behaviour or inappropriate elimination whilst you have left the house can all be signs of separation anxiety.

If you have neighbours complaining, the first thing you are going to have to do is a little public relations work. Explain to them that the dog is new to suburban life and let them know you have a plan but that it may take a little time. If you establish a good relationship with them then they can provide you with feedback about how things are going. If they are not so nice about it, try not to let it add to your stress as the dog will pick up on it.

Here’s my plan, feel free to add to it in the comments.

1. Create a safe space

If the dog has show any signs of being destructive, it is best to create a secure place for them to be during the day where they cannot get in to too much trouble. You can do this by baby gating off a room, for example. This will keep your stress levels down and perhaps save your couch cushions.

You can also use a crate as a safe space. Some greyhounds readily accept the crate as a quiet place to retreat to. Others will need a little more prompting. Make the crate a pleasant place to be by feeding meals and treats in there. If your greyhound really refuses to go into the crate, or makes serious physical attempts to escape the crate, use baby gates instead as they can injure themselves in escape attempts.

2. Exercise, Training & Enrichment

There’s an old saying, ‘a tired dog is a good dog.’ If a dog is asleep then he or she cannot be getting into too much mischief, right? Asleep is almost the opposite of anxious too, yes?

Greyhounds are often referred to as ‘couch potatos’ but this does not mean they need no exercise at all. Young dogs especially need a good walk and even an opportunity to run in a safe fenced area a couple of times a week. A good morning walk will help ensure that the dog goes to the toilet before you leave for the day and will help them settle when you leave.

Obedience training helps you bond with the dog, and also helps wear them out making it easier for them to relax. Teaching greyhounds can take more patience than other breeds but you will be the most successful if you keep the sessions short and use high value rewards. A couple of short training sessions a day will really wear a new dog out at first. With dogs straight from a racing kennel the first thing you will probably be teaching is his or her name!

Enrichment is the act of adding something to the dogs’ environment for them to interact with. You can actively enrich your dog’s life by playing games such as ‘find the treat’ where you hide treats around the house and then set the dog free to use his or her nose. A long lasting treat like a Kong stuffed with kibble, cheese and peanut butter for the dog to work on also helps keep them busy. As they get more skilled at emptying the Kong, you can try freezing the Kong to add a level of difficulty.

Some dogs like to have the TV or radio on for background noise and others don’t. If you are the kind of household where the TV or radio is always on when you are home, it might be good to leave it on when you are out just for the dog.

3. Alone Training

The theory is that you leave for short periods of time, and gradually increase the time you are absent to give the dog the idea that you will not be gone forever.

The key is to keep the dog under the threshold where it starts to feel anxious. You need to return before the dog starts to vocalise or get stuck in to destructive behaviour.

Make sure the dog is tired and has been to the toilet. Put the dog in their safe space with a Kong or other long lasting treat. Don’t make a big deal about leaving and try to sneak out without fanfare. When you come back in, don’t go straight to the dog and make a fuss of him or her either.

The first few times you leave, just walk out the front door and immediately back in again. In those early stages you might want to use the stop watch on your phone to precisely time the period you are away. Once you build up to half an hour you may find that the dog is OK for a whole work day.

Don’t worry if you have to go out for longer than usual and have a setback (dog howling, wrecking stuff or peeing). Just go out for short periods again and slowly build up the time.

If you have really had problems building up any time away without anxious behaviour you could try a pheromone collar or a DAP diffuser to calm the dog in combination with alone training.

4. Feedback

To really know how your alone training is going, you will probably have to ‘spy’ on your dog. You could do this either by making an audio recording, setting up a camera, setting up an internet streaming camera so you can watch the dog via the internet, and/or seeking feedback from your neighbours.

5. Blow off steam together

Greyhounds can do just about anything other breeds of dogs do. If you want some ideas here are a few things that Mouse & I do together:

Canicross

Obedience classes

Dancing with Dogs (a combination of obedience and trick training)

Lure Coursing

Kayaking

Hiking

Playing with Agility obstacles (you can buy cheap tunnels and jumps online nowadays)

Swimming (OK, Mouse may not be so fond of this particular activity)

Visiting dog-friendly cafes, wineries and friend’s houses

 

 

 

The importance of nail clipping

Due to the shape of their feet and their penchant for inactivity, Greyhounds need their nails clipped regularly. Having nails that are too long feels like walking in shoes that are a size too small so it is important their nails are maintained, even if the dog doesn’t think so!

How short should nails be? When the dog is standing with their weight evenly distributed on each leg, the nail should not be touching the ground.

nice nails

Greyhounds should be used to being handled, but they may have had a few nails cut a bit short in the past, or just be a bit leery of the feeling they get when their nails are clipped. If you are firm, fair and confident in handling the dog then you should be OK. When you first get the dog you are still building trust, so just start by handling the dog’s feet. Perhaps play ‘this little piggie’ where you grab each toe and press on the paw pad. When it comes to getting the clippers out, do a few nails each session and build up as you go. Give treats generously when the dog allows you to clip a nail without fussing. I choose to do my dog’s nails when they have just been free running, perhaps at the beach, so they are too tired to complain much.

If the clippers are a bit much for both of you, try using a Dremel (or other rotary tool) with a sanding drum. Dremel have even done an instruction sheet for grinding pet nails, which can be found at this link.

While this is not a greyhound in this video, I think this is a very comprehensive and easy to understand little tutorial on how to clip with clippers and how to use a rotary tool.

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