Hound-Shaped Challenges: ‘Problem’ Behaviours in Greyhounds
Sep 16, 2022
No dog breed is perfect – every single dog comes with its challenges. Greyhounds, though, are some of the most peculiar dog breeds I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Their many quirks are most often endearing – but occasionally, they can be stressful.
This week I want to take you through some of our most common greyhound challenges and give a little bit of advice on how to overcome them.
- Freezing: This refers to when a greyhound completely freezes up on a walk and will not move for love nor money. This is usually caused by unexpected stimuli or scary noises and is certainly able to be overcome. Hounds who are fresh from their racing careers are more prone to freezing than those who have been pets for a while. If your greyhound freezes up on a walk, the first thing you should know is to be patient. Try changing directions – I have taken more than one walk that was just walking around the same block because I kept turning around! Talk to your hound using a light encouraging tone with lots of happy noises like ‘C’mon pup pup pup!’ to motivate them to get going. Shouting and pushing your hound will only make things harder. They’ll get there!
- Counter Surfing: Greyhounds are tall, lanky creatures – and that means your kitchen counters are in easy reach. Counter surfer is the affectionate term for a greyhound that steals food off the counter. I have never laughed as hard as I did the first time, I saw my hound's nose skimming over the top of the kitchen bench whilst I sat in the lounge – but it was much less funny when she stole a loaf of bread and ran off with it. This problem can be tackled two-fold: by keeping your counters clear of tempting items, and by training them out of wanting to try it all together. This may be done by training an ‘on your bed’ type command for whenever there’s food out in the kitchen, or a ‘down’ command whenever they’re busted. Positively reinforce them when they ignore the counter, and soon enough you'll clear the cheeky habit.
- Digging: Nobody wants their garden dug up – but the best way to deal with a hound that digs is to treat the cause, not the symptom. GAP suggests, and always recommends using a clamshell or a type of plastic pool with treats, allowing them to pass their time. Digging is most caused by boredom or under-stimulation, so finding new ways to entertain your greyhound is the best solution. Try things like snuffle mats, frozen treats inside Kongs, and toilet rolls with hidden goodies inside to keep them occupied. You can also add one of those children’s shell pools full of dirt or sand and make it their designated digging spot!
- Sleep Startling: This is one of the easiest to manage greyhound quirks. When a greyhound is in its racing life, it is never touched when it’s asleep. It stays somewhere where it gets plenty of sounds to warn it before a human ever approaches them – and pet life can be vastly different to this. This means that some hounds will startle and bark or snap if you touch them while they’re asleep. It can be scary for both of you, but it’s easy to manage! Simply get your hound's attention before you touch them – call their name, talk to them, and make sure they’re awake and have seen you before you go for a pat. You wouldn’t like being randomly touched while you were fast asleep either! I have personally found that this behaviour fades the longer the greyhound is retired, but it is always good practice to say hi first!
Greyhounds are strange little creatures sometimes, but they have so much love to give and the team at GAP is always more than happy to support you should you come across any challenges such as these. Soon enough you and your new speed noodle will teach each other inside and out and find a happy harmonious life together!
Author: Charlie Jayde
Greyhound Owner for 4 years / GAP Volunteer
Experienced Dog Trainer