Greyhound Adoption – The 6 basic items to have before you bring home your hound

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Fisher, my adopted greyhound with his stuffed hedgehog.

We arrive home with our greyhound Fisher, who we just picked up from the Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option (see the post here), and it’s time to get him settled in. Fortunately, the wonderful people at MSGAO gave us a list of the things we needed to kick off the wonderful adventure of parenting our Fisher.

From stories I have heard, I gather that some adoption organizations and rescues are not as thorough.  So, I decided to give you the 6 things I consider essential to have on Day One of your wonderful greyhound adoption journey.

The Right Food

This sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, on your first few days with your new love, there will be a lot of adjusting, for both your greyhound and his or her humans. The last thing your grey needs is for his digestive system to be adjusting as well. Giving unfamiliar food to your greyhound can cause undue discomfort and accidents in the house, and trust me, there will be accidents as he adjusts to new people, schedules and places…especially new places to poop and pee.

Here’s where the rescue can help by letting you know what food they have been feeding their dogs. Ours recommended Costco’s chicken and rice. We did just that and Fisher’s digestion was and continues to be very happy.

The Crate

As controversial as it may be, most racing and retired greyhounds are kept in crates most of their lives.  Unlike other breeds, they come well-adjusted to spending time in a crate and crates are essential while your grey acclimates to his new surroundings.  The freedom of being a house pet can be very scary in the beginning.

In the first few days, as you get to know your racer better, it’s a good idea to keep her in the crate most of the time.  This allows her to get used to the people and pets in the house, the appropriate place and time to poop/pee, and can make them feel safe in this overwhelming new world.  These guys are great counter surfers and sneak stuff out of the trashcan like ninjas! So, until you know your greyhound’s tendencies and habits, go ahead and keep her in a crate, at least while you are not there to supervise.  It will also keep your greyhound safe from an unknown environment filled with unfamiliar things such as furniture and stair cases.

In Fisher’s case, fortunately he’s not a chewer, but he does counter surf and will empty a trash can in no time, so we had a crate for him for the first few weeks. After that initial period and while we are home, he is loose around the house and he mostly sleeps on one of his three dog beds. Fisher stays in the kitchen while we’re not home, closed in with baby gates. We also moved the trash can and keep the counters clear.

Make sure you get the right sized crate, your greyhound should be able to stand up and turn around inside the crate. My favorite is pictured above since it looks like furniture and is more visually appealing than the plain wire crate. A couple of toys and a used t-shirt will help her feel more comfortable when you are not there. Never use the crate as punishment, since you want your grey to associate the crate with safety and security.

The Collar

Greyhounds have long tapering necks and are very strong.  With the tapering shape of the neck, a regular collar is too tight on the base of the neck and if loose, will slip right off. You don’t want this to happen while you are walking a 40+ MPH racer!  A regular collar is fine for the nametag and rabies tag, but you need a special collar to use with the leash.

The recommended collars are very wide and get tighter as your greyhound pulls, but they are also very gentle and will help you control your greyhound in case he sees a squirrel and tries to chase. The increased width of these collars will make it safe on his neck when he pulls. Another type of collar suggested is a martingale collar, but make sure it’s a least one and a half inches wide or wider.

My adoption organization gave me a martingale collar with my adoption “kit”. That is the one you see on some of the pictures. I am testing a few others and I’ll have links in a page of Fisher’s favorite things…like Oprah’s, but better.

The Muzzle

This is a very debated item, and to be honest, I don’t use it with Fisher anymore at home. However, as we introduced Fisher into new situations, people and animals, we used the muzzle the first few times, just in case any of these situations triggered an undesired behavior in him. We used the muzzle as he was introduced to both our other little dogs, Lady, a rescued King Charles Cavalier and Winston, a rescued schnauzer mix.

Another reason we used the muzzle was to introduce Fisher to new people and to see how reactive he was to our handling him.  Being a racer, and being totally used to being handled, we had no issues with Fisher. I can look into his ears, spread his “toes”, or even clean a bruise or bug bite with no problem at all. Not all dogs are like this however, so use the muzzle for those unpredictable situations at the beginning, or in those where you know you won’t have a favorable reaction from your greyhound.

The advantage is that greyhounds are kept with their muzzles on, while both racing and while ”hanging out” with other dogs, so they are totally used it. It also comes in handy when your dog is injured and you don’t want her to bite or nibble at her injury. The muzzle is a great alternative to the cone of shame…so, buy one and keep it around, just in case.

The Dog Bed

This one is quite important, unless your greyhound is going to be living and sleeping on your couch and bed. Fisher does not like to jump on furniture, so we bought 3 large dog beds and he spends 90% of his time chilling on them.

Although, I’m all for budget alternatives, the bed is not a place to spare the expense. As mentioned before, your adopted greyhound will spend many hours on their bed. The doggie bed needs to be big enough to fit the whole dog comfortably and thick enough to cushion their bony bodies. For older greyhounds, memory foam mattresses are great since they don’t put excessive pressure on their aging joints. For younger greyhounds a regular dog bed will do, as long as it’s thick enough, and big enough for them to sleep comfortably.

Check out our resources page for our recommendations for beds or click on the picture above.

Elevated Feeder

The elevated feeder is of vital importance. Greyhounds are very tall dogs and tend to choke on their food and water, especially when eating and drinking from ground level. On a regular dog bowl, the food will be traveling against gravity and is akin to us eating or drinking while we are being held, upside down, by our feet. It only works when doing a keg stand…or does it?

The perfect feeder will depend on your particular dog, but for most greyhounds, a height of 16″ will suffice (this height is for dogs that are around 20″ tall at the withers). The best feeders, as seen on our resource page, will have both a food dish and water bowl. Fisher’s feeder has a plastic frame and two stainless steel bowls, like the one on the picture. It works wonderfully and keeps the shorter doggies from eating the greyhound’s food.

I apologize about the long post, but I feel these six things are basic. Is there anything I missed? What else would you suggest to the new greyhound parent? Use the area below and let me know. I try to reply to every comment!!

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