7. Home Alone
Up until now, your Greyhound has led a very different life than that of a house pet. Even the most simple, common things in our everyday life can be completely foreign to a Greyhound and a little intimidating.A little patience and a lot of love will help you and your new pet make the adjustment. Here are a couple suggestions to remember when leaving your Greyhound home alone.
- Greyhounds are not outdoor pets. NEVER leave your dog outdoors for extended periods of time, particularly in the winter and summer months. They have little body fat and do not react well to extreme heat or cold. They overheat and chill easily, and the extreme heat can kill them.
- NEVER tie your Greyhound outside on a rope, chain, or ‘runner’. Greyhounds are not used to being tied to something stationary. They can get tangled up and injure themselves. They could also pull, wiggle, or chew their way loose. Greyhounds may forget that they are tied and take off running at their blazing speed resulting in a snapped neck when they hit the end of the line. These dogs can reach top speed in only three strides.
- All dog’s including Greyhounds have a need to chew. It helps to relieve tension, boredom, and anxiety. We strongly recommend a large marrow (soup) bone for your dog to chew while you are away. Children should understand that this bone is strictly for the dog and not a toy to be taken away from the dog. Also, a toy or bone with a hollow cavity, such as a ‘Kong’, can be filled with peanut butter for hours of entertainment as your dog tries to get to this healthy treat.
The Greyhound's Crate
A big asset in this initial adjustment period is the crate. This portable cage provides the security your dog needs as well as protecting both the dog and your house from any damage.
Your pet is used to having his own crate in the kennel. Using a crate is not cruel. It provides the sense of security your dog needs. All he/she needs is a nice bone and a warm comfortable place with a washable blanket to nap the day away. A radio or TV will provide soothing background noises.
For the first few days, leave the crate door open when you are present. Your Greyhound may be frightened by too much activity, noise, or strange surroundings and take comfort in the crate’s safety.
One of the hardest things for your Greyhound to adjust to will be loneliness. This dog has lived its entire life with either littermates or kennelmates and people coming and going most of the day.
Before you leave your dog for an extended period, you should practice leaving for short time intervals to develop trust that you will return. Build up to longer period of separation.
The Crate Game or First Separation
- Get your dog familiar with going into his crate. Command him/her with “Pooch, kennel up” or “Pooch, go to bed”. You can toss a small dog biscuit in the crate if you like. If the dog balks, place one hand on his/her collar and one on his/her rump and gently shove. Close the door and tell your pet how good he/she is. About a minute later, open the door and praise him/her again.
- The next time or even a few minutes later, repeat the process. This time leave the room. Plan to hide for several minutes and then let your Greyhound out. This teaches him/her that you always come home.
- If your Greyhound acts up when crated, stomp into the room and tell your dog “to be quiet”, then stomp out. After a few minutes of being quiet, praise him/her enthusiastically.
- Keep repeating this ‘crate game’ and extend into longer time spans. It’s a good idea to pick your keys up and go outdoors as if you were leaving for work and then listen to protests from the Greyhound.
- The crate will provide an escape for your dog if children are harassing your dog. Of course, the strictly enforced rule is that no one bothers the dog when he’s in the crate. NEVER let your child crawl into an open crate after the dog. If you decide not to use a crate because someone is home most of the time, you should choose a ‘centralized open room’ to keep the dog in when you’re gone. You may use baby gates to separate the dog from areas where he/she is presently not to go .You will need to practice the procedures just like the people using the crate. You can also muzzle the dog to protect your Greyhound and your furnishings. NEVER put a Greyhound in a closed room, as he/she will panic.
- Slowly wean the Greyhound out of the crate and into its new home. The Greyhound’s reaction to its new surroundings will let you know when it ready to no longer need the crate.