Playtime with Greyhounds
May 12, 2023
One of the most common questions we get from new greyhound parents is ‘What toys should we get? - and while I would love to give you a nice easy catch-all answer, there simply isn't one! When it comes to playtime, greyhounds are nothing if not wildly diverse, and the types of toys they may enjoy therefore vary greatly.
It is so important to note that for some retired racers, the objects you're offering them may be their very first proper toys. Having come from the track, the concept of objects that just exist to be thrown around and played with may well be completely foreign to your new best friend. I remember when I brought my first foster greyhound home, I had bought half a dozen different toys for her and was so excited to see which she would take a liking to. Did she like ropes, or maybe balls, or fluffy things, or squeaky things?
She ignored every single one.
It took weeks for Bean to pick up her first toy, and even then, it was hesitant. In the end, we discovered that she preferred soft fluffy things that had squeakers; but we also discovered she loved shredding them. We tried tougher toys, but it seemed that for Bean, the very best part of a toy was pulling the stuffing out - so we just got good at sewing them back up. We would often come home to fluff everywhere, and a very happy greyhound. We figured if she wanted to rip at something, we would prefer to keep giving her fun toys - for all we knew, the alternative could be our pillows or couches!
My newest hound, Pancake, loves chasing a ball. Don't misunderstand, though - he does not fetch. He just likes to chase it, outrun it, and then zoom around the garden in delight at the whole experience. When we have friends’ dogs who like to play fetch visit us, he LOVES to chase the dog that is chasing the ball. When his little sister Mayonnaise joins in the game though, things get rowdy - she LOVES being chased, and let me tell you, two greyhounds zooming at full speed around your garden is a sight to behold. For new parents, it can be quite startling to have 30kg of lanky energy shooting past you, or even right towards you!
My older girl, Rhythm, doesn't do toys at all. We just celebrated her third ‘Gotcha Day’ (the day we adopted her), and she hasn't shown much interest in toys in that entire time. She likes playing with other greyhounds sometimes, and in the absence of that, likes me razzing her up with gentle shoves and pretending to play-bow at her. I look insane making strange huffy noises, bashing the floor, and nudging my greyhound's shoulders while making crazy eyes at her. Overall, though, she just isn't a super playful hound. When her brother and sister get those insane zoomies I mentioned above, she likes to play ‘hall monitor’ - standing in the middle of their playing field ensuring nobody gets too rowdy.
All four of the hounds in my life also sometimes just get themselves going - they get a sudden burst of crazies and will bounce and spin and jump and zoom for a few minutes, often completely on their own, before settling back into their couch potato roles.
I guess my point here is that you just don't know what kind of toys and play will suit your hound when you first adopt them. It might be a bit of trial and error, and it might take time. In my experience, fluffy toys and squeaky toys are often more likely to succeed, since they can mimic the ‘prey’ hounds are trained to chase - but don't be disheartened if it doesn't work! Every greyhound plays differently, and you aren't necessarily doing anything wrong if they don't play at all.
Author: Charlie Jayde
Greyhound Owner for 4 years / GAP Volunteer
Experienced Dog Trainer