1. The Greyhound’s Background
To hasten the acclimation period, use this information about the Greyhound’s background to give you insight into his/her temperament.
Greyhounds and their mothers keep to a strict routine. The mother dog and her pups remain apart from the other dogs in a whelping house with outside ‘runs’ or exercise areas. After the pups are weaned, the mother returns to the regular holding area for brood-matrons to rest and then to breed again.
The pups go to the puppy building where they stay with other dogs their own age. Some farms ‘pasture’ pups in a large fenced area where they can romp and play together. They are handled extensively during this time. When they are three months old, their ears are tattooed. The right ear is the birth date, and the left ear is the litter registration number. The National Greyhound Association records these numbers. The pups receive their racing names and a nickname or ‘call name’ at this time.
Good puppy care is one of the basics for a good racing dog. Being well bred and properly trained is also important. Some steps of the training program start at young ages, but most of their training takes place after the pup is almost mature, at 12 months. They learn to walk on the lead, wear a muzzle, stand while being groomed and examined, sleep in their crate without soiling it, and chase the lure. They visit the track and the starting box and learn that there is no fooling around on the track.
The training regimen is strict. These working dogs have long hours. They are up at dawn and ‘turned out’ for water and to relieve themselves. They eat, they rest, and then they go out again. They have an afternoon nap, evening exercise, and go to bed. At this stage, females exercise apart from the males. The dogs are handled and touched by people constantly.
Between 14 and 18 months of age, each dog’s running style and potential shows. Some like to run at the rail, some run the outside, and some just run with the pack. The young immature racers learn strategy the hard way as they race with the older, more seasoned dogs. By now, some or all of the pups have been sold. When ready, they go to the big time. Greyhounds love to run. Chasing the lure around the track is how they get vanilla wafers and marshmallows. But what they love is running ahead of the pack. That is what they were bred to do.
Your Greyhound led a hard-working life. When it comes time to retire, it is understandable that your Greyhound now likes to lay and romp with stuffed animals and sleep most of the day. Greyhounds don’t have much time for silly play and long naps when they are racing. The change from a racetrack environment to your household is stressful and confusing, but also exciting. It is your job to make the transition as easy and as comfortable as possible.