Greyhounds can, and do, make great pets. Unfortunately many of their early life experiences, such as a lack of appropriate socialisation, can have lifelong implications. These are not necessarily impossible to overcome, but learning more about greyhound behaviour will help you better understand and cater for your dog’s needs.
Not all greyhounds available for adoption have raced. In fact, it is estimated that only 30-60% of dogs actually make it to the racetrack, with an average career of 10 races. Prior to entering a race kennel, a significant number of greyhounds would have spent the majority of their time in a paddock with other greyhounds and only very limited contact with people. Those who have raced will have had more contact with people, as they are handled and transported regularly. Some interactions may not have been pleasant, so for some greyhounds previous contact with people may not have been positive for them. However, a common experience for nearly all greyhounds is that they are not socialised as puppies to people or other animals.
The recognised socialisation period when a pup starts to learn about their world is 3-18 weeks of age. This is the time when pups should be safely exploring new sounds, sights and smells to help them develop confidence for their life ahead. Because there is virtually no socialisation for the majority of greyhound pups, they are more likely to develop fear, anxiety, phobias and aggression.
In addition to limited contact with people, greyhounds raised in a racing kennel generally live in a very bland environment without toys or other objects that provide enjoyment or mental stimulation. Arriving at a new home with a completely new environment and atmosphere can be too much change for them to take in all at once.
While some greyhounds may adjust to life as a pet easily, others may need more time, patience and understanding.
Before being available for adoption, your greyhound will have undergone a behaviour assessment to help understand their individual personality and needs. However, this assessment is not a guarantee for a stress-free new life and so it is essential that you learn as much as you can and follow sound advice.
It is important to learn about dog body language so that you can quickly notice when your dog is showing signs of being fearful or anxious, especially when near children or other animals. As with any dog, it is essential to supervise all interactions with children and other animals at all times. For further information, read the following article How do I best communicate with my greyhound?