Behaviours typical of a retired greyhound
Greyhound retirement centers and greyhound adoption programmes focus on rehoming greyhounds that have been bred and trained for the track but are now no longer wanted.
Over the past 20 years, organisations and charities have formed to ensure that these abandoned dogs find loving homes for the remainder of their lives.
Some greyhounds do not make it as far as the race tracks as they have not shown any interest in the race. They are disinterested in the artificial lure or are slow racers.
Fortunately, these dogs are easy to rehome. Usually coming to the retirement centres at around 2 years old, they have outgrown their puppy stage but are still playful.
Ex-racers are generally well-socialised with people and other greyhounds but often have had limited exposure to other animals and the outside world. New sounds and experiences could take some time to get used to but they are quick learners and adapt well to domestic life.
Stairs, for example. A racing greyhound may not have encountered them before and it may take a few attempts for those long lanky limbs to master climbing up and down.
If being welcomed into a home with other pets, as with all new additions, introductions should be controlled and monitored. The majority of ex-racers have had no contact with other breeds and will be unaccustomed to the dominance order or "pecking order".
Dogs will naturally develop this amongst themselves and fall into an equilibrium. Greyhounds are naturally calm and reserved and this usually helps where there a dominant alpha dog already in play.
Ex-racers had been bred and trained to chase small furry animals and initially may not be able to distinguish between what they should be hunting and what is another family member. However, with a little encouragement and patience, an ex-racer will show just as much affection to another furry family pet as they do you their owners. Either that or they will ignore it.
Greyhounds are with their litter and, in some cases, their mothers for up to a year. Training starts between 12-15months and conducted in groups.
Once racing skill levels are established, the greyhounds are then moved on to their track sites and are housed in kennels. This way of life means they are constantly in the presence of other greyhounds and people.
When rehomed, this could be the first time a greyhound is really alone, leading to separation anxiety. However, with love and patience, these feelings quite often subside over time. In some cases, the anxiety reaches a distressing level and seeking expert advice would be recommended.
Walk before running
The majority of rehoming centres will advise new owners to keep their new adopted greyhound on the lead and muzzled for walks. Whilst these speed demons are not aggressive, they do have a natural prey drive which has been honed since birth and initial may still feel the racing urge when seeing small objects moving at speed.
My greyhound shot after a toy car one day, close to a road, and whilst he looked bewildered at what he had caught, I was slowly gulping my heart back down my throat.
Nowadays he is happy chasing a ball for a few times before walking nicely alongside me. Sometimes on the lead, sometimes not. Unfortunately, not all of these careers hounds can shake off their chase desire and may need to be kept on the lead at all times, unless in an enclosed safe environment.
Recall can be difficult to master and takes time and perseverance. It is most certainly worth it though; seeing these magnificent dogs take flight for fun is a pleasure to watch.