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Like all dogs, some greyhounds can happily co-exist with other animals, while others can never be trusted, whilst others will show behaviour in between. Some greyhounds will be quite predatory towards other animals. Dogs are carnivores, and their ancestors had to hunt, chase and kill other animals in order to survive. Genetics play a role and for many greyhounds, the instinct to chase is especially strong. However, genetics only tell us what a dog might do, not what it will do. Previous experience (sadly through some unethical and illegal training techniques) and environment (a lack of enrichment) may also influence the extent of predatory aggression and to which animals it might be directed. So, although many greyhounds will make friends with cats, rabbits and other small animals, it is best not to expect that yours will automatically be or become best buddies with other furry family members, including small dogs.
Introducing an existing dog
It is advisable to take your existing dog(s) to the adoption centre for an introduction with your new greyhound. This will allow all dogs to meet on fairly neutral space to avoid any territorial behaviour. Check with the shelter first to confirm that this can be done.
If this is not possible, the next best option is to arrange for someone to take your dog(s) to a park to meet your new greyhound after you leave the centre but before you get home. It is best if the park can be within walking distance from your home, so that you can leave your car at home and walk to the park to allow a canine meet and greet for 15-20 minutes including a walk on lead for all dogs around the park before heading home together. Ensure your new greyhound is on lead at all times because if they escape, you will need to be able to run very fast to catch them!
Once home, ensure separate sleeping and eating areas are established and remove any toys or objects, including bones that may create conflict. Feed both dogs completely separately (e.g. one inside and one outside) or at different times whilst excluding the dog which is not being fed.
Introducing an existing cat or pocket pet
Ideally, your new greyhound should have undergone some preliminary testing as to whether it is likely to be suitable to cohabitate with a cat. However, we recommend that new owners seek professional advice from an authorised Greenhounds Assessor or veterinary behaviourist to help determine the likely success or otherwise of introducing your greyhound to your cat or other small animal. Sometimes, a negotiated settlement might be a safer alternative, with environmental management rather than forced, potentially unsafe, interactions.
Read the following articles for further information; ‘What is prey drive and why do I need to understand this?’ and How do I best communicate with my greyhound?