Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Hounds Education About Greyhounds Greyhounds at Home

Jackpot loves to sit in the window and watch for company. :: He has a very furious bark, and his hair stands up on his back when people approach the house. His tail is wagging behind him, but bad guys don't need to know that. Sitting in the window on his couch, he looks HUGE!

Even though your dog has been in a foster home, your home is different, and everything will be new. Try the following tips to make your dog's experience a positive one and to prevent problem behaviors from developing. These tips will also help dogs that have been in a home for a while but that are still developing.

Sleeping & Napping

Greyhounds generally spend about 18 hours a day sleeping.

Arrange for your dog's bed to be somewhere where the dog can be with the family but out of the flow of traffic. This is a “timeout” area where the dog can go and observe but not be an active participant. Make sure that children know that this area is to be out of bounds. When everyone is retiring for the evening, your greyhound should sleep in a room either in bed or on a blanket by the bed. Keep dog in the room and use a baby gate or a door to keep the dog from wandering at night. A dog left to wander can leave a mess that won’t happen if he is confined. The greyhound will associate night time with sleep-time and will fall asleep like the rest of the family. Decide whether he will be allowed on the bed or not. Once you decide, be consistent; habits are hard to break once they are established.

Greyhounds fresh off the track are prone to track dreams. They will move their paws and vocalize while dreaming of their past race experiences. NEVER reach down and touch a sleeping greyhound while it is track dreaming. A dog that is touched at this stage of sleep can growl, snap, and could bite. It’s a very frightening experience, but it is an unintentional reaction to being awoken suddenly. Always call your greyhound's name and let her eyes open and acknowledge your presence.

Using a Crate

Borrow or buy a crate and don’t hesitate to use it. A crate is not cruel or a punishment. Your greyhound has spent many an hour in a crate, and it can be considered your dog's best friend. By confining your dog to a crate when you are not home, you prevent him from making housebreaking mistakes or engaging in destructive behavior. You set him up for success and not failure. Your dog should be out of the crate when you are home. Do not put water or food in the crate with your dog, as he will end up drinking or eating and have to relieve himself.

A dog should not be crated for extremely long periods of time; an average work day of eight hours is the time limit of most greyhounds. If you will be gone longer than eight hours, you need to find someone who can let the dog out to relieve herself and allow her to drink.

Don’t think you will save a few dollars and shut your greyhound in a room. Greyhounds are visual animals who need to see what is around them, and most likely they will try to get out. Significant damage to doors and door frames have resulted when this method of "crating" has been used. A baby gate is a safer alternative, but be warned that some greyhounds will jump them if they are not set high enough, or they will go under them if they are not set low enough. The best way to ensure safekeeping is a crate.

A Vari-Kennel type crate is the best type to use. Greyhounds have been known to chew and bend the bars in a metal-type crate. The plastic crate is the more expensive of the two, but it is worth every penny when it comes to peace of mind. For the comfort of your dog, a blanket or kennel mat should be used on the floor of the crate. This will protect elbows from hard surfaces and add extra warmth to your dog's surroundings.

It is possible to overuse a crate. Your greyhound will want to be with you and the rest of your family. Do not keep your greyhound in his crate when you are home. Never use the crate as a punishment. The crate is a training tool and not a storage area for your pet.

Preparation, Training, and Decisions

Your dog has been in a foster home and has been housebroken and has adapted to home life. To smooth the transition to your home, remember to be consistent. Don’t change the rules on what is acceptable on a daily basis; your dog will do better with clear-cut, consistent rules. Make decisions on the following issues:

  • Is he allowed on the furniture?
  • Where will he sleep and with whom?
  • Where and when will he eat? 
  • Who will walk him?

The answers, once set in your mind, will lower your stress levels and allow you to enjoy the new companion in your home.

Obedience training is an excellent way to bond with your greyhound.  You get to spend a valuable amount of one-on-one time with your dog. Obedience, however, can be difficult with greyhounds, especially the "sit" command. Work with your obedience trainer closely on this. Some greyhounds may never sit but can instead learn a "down" command in its place or can simply stand in place calmly (which is much more common). Your trainer should be willing to work with you in order to accommodate you and your greyhound. Different types of obedience classes are offered (such as Rally-O obedience) and may be better suited to your dog than a traditional obedience class. Some greyhounds may even do well in flyball or agility training. Many times obedience training benefits dog owners more than the dogs. If you are a first-time dog owner, you should consider obedience training as a necessary tool to a successful adoption.

When your greyhound comes home for the first time, be ready. Have your elevated feeder in place, your dog's beds where you want them, and tell friends and family to visit in a few days. Your dog will look for his water bowl and food bowl and lock that into memory. His bed will be a comfort, and he will want to use it. A quiet and calm introduction to his new home will be helpful to his adaptation.

Food, Feeding and Treats

Your greyhound's foster family has been feeding your dog a high-quality dog kibble. To avoid giving your hound diarrhea, mix this food with your new food (if you intend to change your dog's diet) with the ratio of one part new food to two parts current food. Feed this for a few days and then mix half new food to half current food. Feed this for a few days and then mix two parts new food to one part current food.  After a few days of this mix, your dog can be weaned to his new diet exclusively.

The average amount to feed your greyhound is 2 to 4 cups of food per day, in divided feedings. Ask your foster family how much they have feeding, since most recommendations on dog food bags do not always apply to greyhounds, as they have a disproportionate amount of body muscle. How much is too much? You should be able to see (and feel) the last two to three ribs of your greyhound at all times. Greyhounds are not built to be overweight, and this is very damaging to their overall health. Treats are acceptable in moderation. These should not be the main course for your greyhound--they should be used as the "dessert."

Avoid onions, which can cause anemia by breaking down the red blood cells found in the bloodstream. Also avoid chocolate, which contains theobromine--a compound which is toxic to dogs and can cause death in certain cases. If your dog happens to eat a few pieces of chocolate, be sure to carefully monitor him. It generally takes about a quarter pound of chocolate to cause a reaction, but don't take it this far. You are gambling with your dog's life.

Rawhide bones are great treats, and your dog will enjoy chewing on these. Always give these when you are at home to supervise your dog so that she doesn’t choke or the bone doesn’t become stuck around your dog's jaw.  American-made rawhide does not use arsenic to bleach the bones, whereas some South American rawhide might.

Knuckle bones (or marrow bones) are another treat that your dog can have. These are usually wrapped and sold at pet stores. DO NOT USE SOUP BONES. Soup bones can splinter and harm your dog. Knuckle bones help chip away tartar, and dogs readily accept them. Be aware, however, that dogs "eat" knuckle bones. You might want to limit the time your dog spends on them because they can cause constipation.

Always make sure your dog has plenty of fresh, clean water available. If you crate your dog, make sure that there is sufficient access each day.

Housebreaking

Your greyhound has lived in a foster home and is probably housebroken. Keep in mind that a greyhound is let out at certain times and will take some time to tell you that she needs to go out. The signals your dog may use can be very subtle and easily missed. Let your hound out often and accompany her even if she is "turned out" in a secure fenced area. The foster family probably used a specific word or phrase to associate with going out--use it. Praise the dog and treat her when she has done the right thing. If your dog accidentally attempts to relieve herself in the house, a loud "NO!" in a deep booming voice is usually sufficient to stop her. Put the dog out immediately and praise her when she relieves herself outdoors. If you catch the dog in the process of relieving herself in the house, say, "Bad dog! NO!" Do not hit the dog or rub her nose in it; she knows she made a mistake. A dog wants to please you and does not like to be reprimanded. She will know that what she did was bad.

Most importantly, be realistic in your expectations about how long your dog can "hold it." Someone else’s dog may be able to go all day without an accident but that is a dog that is accustomed to his surroundings. Your greyhound is probably nervous, drinking more water than he normally would, and he may have diarrhea due to stress. For the first three weeks, it’s a good idea to come home at lunch (or have someone come home) to let the dog out.

Some carpet cleaning products that you can use are as follows:

  • Simple Solution (available at most pet stores)
  • Resolve carpet cleaner
  • Woolite carpet cleaner
  • 1 tsp. clear vinegar and 1 tsp. dishwashing liquid in 1 quart of water
  • Steam cleaner with appropriate solution

Exercise

If you have a secure fenced-in yard, your greyhound will like to run. Most of the time, your dog will have a good sprint for a minute or two and then your dog will come in and sleep! Your dog is a pet now and doesn’t need extremes. A run in the yard or a walk will be just the right thing.

If a family member wants the greyhound to jog with him or her, work up the dog to longer distances slowly.  Greyhounds, by nature, are short sprinters and do not do long distances. Patience and concern for your dog will work best. Just as you get aches and pains, your dog can too! Many greyhounds, when they are on the track, will run and give it their all, but an injured dog can sometimes do this as well and create a major injury where a minor one existed. Watch your dog and remember to go slowly. Many dogs are out there jogging every morning/evening, and both partners enjoy the activity.

Footpads on a track dog are soft due to the fact that the dogs run on sand. By working up to your goal slowly, the footpads will toughen up, and calluses will be formed. Your hound will be footing it with you in no time.

Coats, Evaporative Cooling Blankets, and Pools

Greyhounds have very little body fat and are susceptible to temperature extremes. In summer, avoid walking or jogging with your dog during the hottest part of the day. Put a baby pool in the yard filled with water and sit back and watch the fun. In winter, when the temperature dips below 32 degrees F, and your dog is going to be out for a walk, he should wear a coat. A coat will keep his body temperature from falling. A snood or hood will protect your dog's ears from becoming frostbitten. Boots are a good idea as well. These keep ice and snow from packing between the foot pads. Greyhounds that are out too long in cold weather will be seen lifting their feet when they get too cold. Be careful to get your dog inside if you notice this behavior. Some greyhounds just lie down in the snow and won’t walk if their paws get too cold. A greyhound can be very heavy to carry. A shivering dog is most probably a cold dog; bring your dog inside if you notice this.

Frostbite is a potential health hazard to greyhound ears and feet during cold temperatures. Never leave your dog outside for extended periods and always supervise your dog at these times.

Baby pools during the summer are a treat for most greyhounds. A soak in a cool pool after walking around the yard on a hot day is a enjoyed by some hounds. For those greyhounds that don’t enjoy a pool, an evaporative cooling blanket is just the thing. A cooling blanket is a cloth cover that is pre-moistened and is worn like a coat. When the temperature is high, your hound will probably choose to lie around lazily.

Do not leave your dog in a closed car even for short periods of time--the result of this action can be death! Heat exposure can cause heat stroke. If you suspect any signs of heat stroke, such as relentless panting, oral mucous membranes that are dry and brick red in color, or signs of weakness, cool the dog with COOL water using a sponge or garden hose. Do not use very cold or icy water because this will constrict the skin's blood vessels and retain the heat in the body's core. Call your vet, as secondary complications are common, even after the body temperature has fallen. Preventing heat stroke is far better than treating it.