Specialist Care Tips for Rescue Dogs

Basics

When you adopt your greyhound from us, they’ll come with a collar, lead, and muzzle, and will have been vaccinated, wormed, and usually neutered. An insurance company, Petplan, will also provide the first 4 weeks of insurance cover free of charge.

What You Need

To be best prepared, it would be helpful if you have 2 bowls ready to go, 1 for water and the other for food, as well as an old duvet to use as a bed. A waterproof coat and grooming kit are also essential, and a soft collar to wear around the house, which would carry an ID tag as a legal requirement. Your dog must be walked wearing a greyhound collar and leather lead, too.

Important Information

Never use an extendable lead as a greyhound is able to accelerate to around 40mph in no time at all, and with an extendable lead, the danger is there to see. Another point to think about is the position of the dog’s collar, which should go up behind the ears and be tight enough to only be able to fit 2 fingers between the collar and the neck. However, don’t worry about this as we’ll show you how to get this right.

Protecting Your Pet

When you’re first taking walks with your dog, we recommend that they wear a muzzle at all times. After a while, you’ll be able to assess the social behaviour of your dog and you will then know whether to walk them with or without.

Training

Obviously, we cannot guarantee a house-trained dog, but most greyhounds are clean in their kennels and once they know where you want them to “go”, they’ll be happy to stick to that routine.

How to Start Your Training

Home training should begin as soon as your dog arrives. Take them straight into the garden and wait until they relieve themselves, and then reward them with a small piece of cheese or a dog biscuit. After this initial visit, keep repeating the routine at regular points in the day, just to make sure they are learning. It may also be handy to take your pet for short walks at regular intervals throughout the day, this helps to eliminate the chances of any accidents and helps them understand that any “toilet trips” are to be done outside.

In Case of an Accident

If your dog does happen to have an accident in your home, it is always useful to bear in mind that punishment doesn’t work, and can even make the dog worse. Anticipate when your dog needs to go, and take them outside and reward them for it. Any accidents within the home should be cleaned up thoroughly as soon as possible, with a solution of washing liquid, to clear the smell and prevent the dog re-marking over that spot.

What to Look out For

Make sure to take your pet to the toilet immediately after food, when they get up, and before they go to bed. Some signs for your friend to show you when they need to go include; restlessness, pacing, whining, circling, and scratching at the door. Of course, at first there may be no signs as the dog will be used to living in a kennel, but greyhounds are usually clean animals and learn very quickly.

Your Responsibility

Bear in mind that all pet owners hold the responsibility of picking up any mess their dog does while out and about in public areas. Not only illegal, with fines being enforced, but it isn’t very nice to step in and produces very offensive smells. You are able to purchase poop-scoops from your local pet shop or vet, or you can use ‘nappy sacks’ which provide a cheaper alternative.

Making Friends with Other Dogs and Cats

If you are looking at rescuing a greyhound and already own another dog, we recommend that you bring them with you when you come to meet your new friend. The first meeting between the 2 should always be in a neutral area, not including any areas where your dog regularly walks, as these are considered as secondary territories.

What to Do Next

Allow your dogs to smell each other on loose, relaxed leads while muzzled. Walk the dogs together until they are relaxed with each other, and then take them back to the house and into the garden. When coming back to your house, make sure that your existing dog’s toys, beds, bones, food, and water bowls, are taken up and put out of site, so that there is nothing to fight over. At this stage, your dog may not want to share their possessions, but when you do place down the toys, make sure there are plenty for both dogs.

Pack Leaders

To avoid any future problems between your dogs, make sure that you ‘back up’ your pack leader, who will be first through the door, first to seek attention, and the first at the food bowl. Given most racing greyhounds have only ever really known other greyhounds, it is surprising how quickly they make friends with other dogs, despite some initial caution.

Cats

At this point, it is important to remember that it isn’t just greyhounds that chase cats, many other breeds of dogs do it too. After all, greyhounds are sight hounds and their instincts have deliberately been bred to chase things that are moving and smaller than them. Humans may not realise it, but your greyhound could be seeing something worth chasing up to half a mile away, but just as greyhounds show different degrees of competitiveness, they show greater and lesser degrees of interest in small animals. Of course, it is also worth noting that plenty of greyhounds are able to live with cats and other small animals.

What to Do with Your Dog and Cat

You will have been advised if the dog you have chosen is considered suitable or not to home with a cat, but it is imperative that the following sensible precautions are taken, until you are confident of your dogs temperament. Our advice is: 

  • When you make any initial introductions, keep you greyhound muzzled and on a tight collar and lead.
  • Do not pick your cat up at any time, as this is likely to enhance your dog’s interest.
  • Keep your cat in the room and if your greyhound pulls towards them, pull them back and say “no, leave”, in a firm voice. You may also find that a quick squirt to the face with water, in a water sprayer, is also a great deterrent.
  • If your greyhound reacts to your commands as you wish them to, make sure that you don’t forget to praise them and provide small rewards like cubes of cheese. 
  • The next step is to get your dog to lie down and relax as close as possible to your cat; however, this step may depend on your cat’s willingness to cooperate. Some cats may spend time watching the dog from the highest and furthest place possible; others may be willing to give the newcomer a blow to show who’s boss. It is always best to favour the cat above the dog as this will give the cat a higher authority in the eyes of the dog, and it should not be forgotten that we’re working with 2 temperaments in this introduction. 
  • If your dog is scratched at all by your cat, bathe the scratch immediately with some warm water. 
  • When you think you are making progress, take away the muzzle but keep the collar and lead on and feed your pets together. By doing this, they are alongside each other, but will not be focusing on one another. When you are feeling confident, replace the muzzle and remove the lead and collar, then in time, you’ll be able to remove the muzzle as well.

Taking Some Precautions

Your greyhound will quickly get on board and accept that the cat is a member of the family. However, as a sensible approach, you can make sure that your cat always has a place to escape to. If necessary, place a baby gate at the bottom of your stairs, so that your cat can get through but your dog cannot.

Staying Alert

Even after accepting the house rules, you should always remember that your dog may see strange cats as fair game for a chase. If you are taking your dog out for exercise, or into the garden, it is probably worth having a quick check for other cats first.

Leaving Your Pets Alone

Until you are absolutely confident it would be very unwise to leave your pets unattended within the same room. If your cat is not used to dogs within its home, there is a slight risk that your cat might leave, so it is essential that your cat has a collar and identity disc if this happens.

Dealing with Anxiety and Fireworks

It is extremely important to remember that your greyhound may never have been left alone before, so if you do leave them at home, they may be scared and confused. So, we have a few tips to try and eliminate any separation anxiety.

Practice Leaving

For a few minutes to begin with, leave your dog for up to 15 minutes, then if possible, gradually increase each time you go somewhere. They’ll soon get the idea that you’re going to come back, and the anxiety should decrease over time.

Dog-Proof Your Home

Keep your windows unobstructed from knick-knacks and blinds, as your greyhound will go straight to the window to look out for you and these objects may get chewed if they are in the way. Also, be aware that your greyhound may run through any transparent glass in patio doors, unless they are obstructed in some way.

Indoor Kennels

If anxiety is exceptionally bad, then borrowing a good-sized indoor kennel for the first few weeks at home can make a real difference. Your greyhound has always lived in a kennel, so it can be quite familiar and reassuring for them, while making the transition from racer to pet. 

The plan might be to place the greyhound in the kennel when left home alone, during the first 2 weeks or so. When they begin to learn the family routine, they are again placed within the kennel, but this time with the door open, so that they have the choice of whether to stay in there or not. After 2 more weeks, the kennel can be returned as your greyhound will now have settled, but do wait until you see how your pet fairs, as your dog may be just fine when they move in.

Fireworks

Any pets, including greyhounds, may be terrified of loud noises, with fireworks, storms, thunder, and lightening all able to scare your dog. During firework season, take your pet out for their walk before dark. Draw the curtains at dusk and place the radio or television on, your greyhound will look to you for your response if they hear any sounds, so try not to react. Let your dog go wherever it feels safe, and do not keep pampering them – they will only respond more to the noises.

DAPT Diffusers

Available from your local vets, these diffusers are very good for calming your greyhound. These plug-in devices emit dog appeasing pheromones similar to those produced after a mother gives birth to a puppy. The pheromones create a feeling of safety, and are very effective. Alternatively, you are also able to seek medication from your vet, if the fireworks cause undue stress.

Preventative Measures

Prior to firework season, you can also prepare your greyhound by buying a noise phobia CD. This would imitate the sounds of fireworks, and should be played at low levels for a couple of days, gradually increasing the volume over time. This may help your greyhound become used to the strange noises and hopefully they begin to show no fear when hearing them. There are also homeopathic remedies available, such as Kali-Phos, Bach Rescue, and Serenity.

Health and Maintenance

Greyhounds do make for wonderful pets, but it is important to bear in mind a few simple ideas when it comes to maintenance and health.

Neutering

Most greyhounds who leave our kennels are already neutered, but occasionally the operation has to be carried out at a later date. However, if you receive one directly from a trainer, or another source, we strongly recommend that you get this done as quickly as possible; to prevent any unwanted pregnancies or mating.

Skin and Coat

In order to keep your greyhound’s coat healthy, a grooming mitt or firm bristled brush will be required. They will usually be used to regular grooming, from their kennel days, and most will stand and enjoy the special attention. If they require a bath at any time, ensure that they are dried quickly and have somewhere warm to lie down.

Healthy Bodies

Many greyhounds have bare patches, especially in areas on their rumps that are exceptionally bony. These are usually due to poor bedding or the hound’s preference to lying on concrete, wet paddocks, or even stress. With good food, soft bedding, and regular brushing, your dog’s coat will soon improve, and look as shiny and healthy as they come. Some dogs may come with scarring from their racing days, which once healed are rarely any trouble.

Ear Health

Your dog’s ears should be checked regularly, as even though ear infections are no more common with greyhounds than other breeds, the do often occur. Regular cleaning of the ear with cotton balls and warm salt water will keep the ears free of wax, which traps germs and leads to infections. Special wipes can also be purchased from pet stores and vets.

What to Look Out for

If your dog is flapping their head and rubbing or pawing at their ears, and the problem persists, seek veterinarian advice. An infection will quickly clear up with antibiotic ointment or drops. A lot of greyhounds are sensitive when their ears are touched, due to tattoo checking during their racing days, so take extreme care when handling.

Parasite Control

Regular grooming of your greyhound will ensure that you’re aware when your dog picks up fleas or ticks. There is a wide range of products available to treat such problems; however, the more effective treatments would need to be obtained from a veterinary surgery.

Fleas

Remove fleas with a flea comb and bathe your dog with a flea shampoo, but remember that the bath only takes care of the adult fleas on your dog at the time. For more advanced protection, as well as more control over pre-adult fleas, you would have to treat your dog, your home, and especially your carpets and bedding. House sprays are available for this.

Worming

Your dog will have a worming treatment at our kennels before you take them home, this makes sure that their intestines are free from infection. Regular doses with a complete wormer are available from vets if necessary, however, we recommend worming at 3-month intervals.

Heat and Cold

Greyhounds are particularly susceptible to extreme temperatures, as they only carry a small portion of fat on their bodies. This becomes much more obvious in the cold weather, rather than warm weather.

Cold Days

In the colder weather, we recommend popping a coat on your dog to keep them warm, as they could develop pneumonia should they become too cold. The coat should be big enough to cover from their neck, right down to their tail.

Hot Days

Like all dogs, greyhounds become very hot on warm days, they will pant, possibly be grumpy, and try to find cool places to lie down. In this hot weather, try to leave your greyhound in peace as much as possible, this includes telling the children to give less cuddles. Help to keep them cool with damp cloths, and protect them from the sun with cream or shade. However, don’t be tricked by a cool breeze in the garden, it might seem like the coolest place but dogs do not know about UV rays and are prone to getting sunburn.

Exercise in Extreme Weather

It is best to take your dog out for walks before it heats up in the morning, or at night when it has cooled down a little. If they are unwilling to go for a walk, make the garden available for toilet visits and let them lie down and relax.

Feeding

When it is warm, it is always best to feed your dog earlier or later in the day, but don’t worry if they don’t each much, unless there are other signs of illness.

Symptoms to Look out for

Symptoms of heatstroke are distress, severe panting, and collapsing. If you think your greyhound is showing signs of these, cool your dog as fast as possible with cold water, or ice applied to the head and back. If there isn’t any immediate improvement, get veterinary help immediately.

Hot Rooms and Cars

Never, ever leave a dog in a warm room or car, it is possible for them to die within even 10 minutes.

Special Needs

The majority of greyhounds do settle easily into family life. However, there are those with specific needs who are also looking for homes. These are often dogs with behavioural problems, extreme shyness, or who are simply just so overwhelmed by the world outside the kennel doors that they experience adjustment problems. All of these dogs require special homes to meet their behavioural needs, where they can find inner peace and join the world outside their kennels.

Typical Symptoms

Adjustment problems are normally made obvious by specific behaviour, like howling, barking, scratching, chewing furniture, or even excreting around the house in your absence. Your greyhound has been used to the company of other dogs, trainers, re-homing staff, and volunteer walkers, and to be left alone may be quite distressing for them initially. At first, try giving your greyhound an old item of clothing when you leave.

Desensitising Your Dog

The need for desensitising your dog is absolutely imperative when it comes to improving their confidence. If your dog follows you around your home, you must begin to prevent this. Encourage them back to their own sleeping area and try to leave the room again until they become confident with letting you out of their sight.

Your Routine

Your greyhound will begin to associate your ‘going out’ procedure of putting your coat on and picking up your keys, as the start of their time alone. To stop them from fretting at the idea of this, take off your jacket, put your keys back, and carry on with your normal household routine. After a while, put your coat back on, pick up those keys again, then reverse the process again. Repeat these actions until your greyhound becomes bored.

Building Confidence

Build confidence by closing your dog in the room where they sleep, and moving around the house for a very short time helping to acclimatise them to being left alone. When leaving the room, you should make as little fuss as possible, so they learn that being left alone is normal. Following this, you should be able to leave the house for short periods, perhaps walking to the end of the road and back, so that your greyhound learns that you do actually return.

Options Available

If your greyhound is particularly sensitive, and even increased confidence doesn’t improve their behaviour, then the use of an indoor kennel may be required. As a more drastic measure, you could even rely on a dog walker, friend, or neighbour to ‘babysit’ while you are out.

Utilising Indoor Kennels

The indoor kennel can be effective to help with both separation anxiety and house training, providing they are taught that the kennel is their sanctuary and it is furnished with their normal bed, a small bowl of water, and their favourite toy, they will feel confident and relaxed. The kennel will prevent them from chewing furniture, and it is unlikely they will soil in an area where they may have to lay.

The Next Step

Once your greyhound is confident enough to sleep in the kennel, you can begin to shut the door for periods whilst you are in the room and soon you will be able to leave the room for a brief time. Tell them to stay as you move away from the kennel and if they being to whine, a firm ‘no’ should be given as you continue to leave. When you return and they have been quiet, you should praise them without any fuss.

A Rewarding Experience

Greyhounds with special needs can take up your time and energy in the early days and weeks, but your efforts will be always rewarded. However, we would advise that you give careful consideration to your experience in handling special and problem dogs, with the work involved when taking on these dogs. With the correct care, all of these dogs have great potential to enjoy a happy retirement in a forever home. Handling advice on each dog will be given and post-adoption support is always available, should you require it.

A Dog is for Life

There is nothing worse for us than taking on a dog, then giving up. A dog is a big commitment – not to be given up on – and returning them to the kennels after being in a home can often disturb them more. Once you have tried absolutely everything, and things are still not working out, the dog must be returned to the kennels to prevent further distress. Please think carefully before committing to take on a dog.

Babies and Children

It is absolutely essential that when introducing a canine into a home where small babies or small children are present, special care is taken. This is no exception with greyhounds. Children must be educated to stay calm and gentle with the dog and have respect for its needs and its bed. A place to escape is an excellent idea, so that when your dog has had enough, it can retreat into its own space. Greyhounds are people-orientated, gentle, placid, and docile breed, but all breeds have a breaking point when taunted by children, and neither children or babies should ever be left unattended with the dog.

Getting Older

Ageing is a genetic process, and your dog ages much faster than you do, with dogs being classed as mature at just 18 months. The life expectancy of a dog ranges from 8 – 16 years and varies due to state of health and breed.

Signs of Ageing

Changes occur gradually over periods of time, and you may not notice as you see your dog every day. Changes in coat colour, greying of the muzzle, sleep pattern, appetite and thirst, body shape, reluctance to exercise, and general behaviour can all be signs of ageing. However, some of these can be attributed to symptoms of disease, so have your dog checked by your vet regularly.

What Your Vet Can Do

Many practices offer senior and geriatric clinics dedicated to offering advice on diet and care for an older dog. Routine healthcare such as annual vaccination boosters, worming, and flea control should not be overlooked, and should be continued throughout your dog’s life.

Diet

Some older dogs require up to 20% fewer calories a day as they become less active, so you should weight your dog regularly. Many veterinary surgeries have scales as well as breed weight guidelines, so that you can adjust food intake accordingly. Obesity is likely to put more strain on the heart, lungs, muscles, and joints, and may result in shorter life expectancy, so if your dog is overweight, speak to a vet about a calorie control diet.

Older Dogs

As activity levels fall, older dogs may start to demonstrate muscle wastage. Supplements such as cod liver oil capsules and Glucosamine will help prevent joint deterioration. Normal, healthy senior dogs should receive the same levels of protein as younger dogs, but it must be of a high quality. Feeding them little and often helps to avoid overloading their digestive system, but their appetite may reduce as the sense of smell and taste diminishes.

Extra Attention

Old dogs require extra attention from you. Be kind and considerate, and recognise this need for greater input into your dog's life. Older dogs also tend to need to go to the toilet more often as a result of muscular weakness, give them more opportunities to go out during the day, later at night, and earlier in the morning.

Contact us for more information on the care we provide to rescue dogs.

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