7 tips for separation anxiety in greyhounds

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Greyhound adoption

Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety and have difficulty dealing with situations where they find themselves alone. A retired racing greyhound that transitions into retirement as a house pet is particularly susceptible to separation anxiety.

This anxiety stems from these retired racers suddenly finding themselves living as a house pet in a new place with unfamiliar people and without their racing mates, especially after spending their whole puppy and racing life with other greyhounds 24 hours a day, in surroundings that are familiar to them and with people, handlers and trainers with strict schedules .

Once a retired greyhound is adopted, her whole world changes, especially if she becomes an only dog in her new home. The environment is new, the routines are different and the people, though loving, are different too. This new set of situations and schedules, in some dogs, triggers separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is typically displayed in many forms, such as pooping and peeing in the house, being destructive and in some dogs exhibiting increased vocalization, from barking and rooing to howling and whining.

Let’s get to the tips so we can help our recently adopted greys adjust to their new and wonderful retired life.

1. Keep a few toys with your dog when you leave. Familiar toys help comfort an anxious dog and challenging toys keep them occupied as well. A toy that has worked wonders for me in reducing the separation anxiety is the Buster Food Cube Interactive Dog Toy. You fill this toy with a pound or so of dog kibble and the dog will play with it for hours. The food falls out as the dog plays with the cube and it keeps him occupied and distracted from the fact that you’re gone.

2. Baby gate instead of crate. Some greyhounds will do well in a crate as I mentioned in a previous post, but studies have also shown that the confinement of a crate may aggravate the anxiety in some dogs. So, get some baby gates to keep your grey in a defined area. He can roam around comfortably and will be more at ease while you are out.

3. Separation cues and routines. Here you start a routine where your greyhound knows you are leaving, but also associates the routine with you coming back. You tell your grey, “I’ll be right back, be a good girl”, every time  you leave, even if it’s to go get the mail. She’ll eventually associate your cue with “everything is going to be alright and my human always comes back”.

4. An anxiety or storm vest. Studies have shown that a snug storm vest will help a dog with some of its anxiety issues. I, personally, have not seen a difference in Fisher, our adopted greyhound, but have noticed a huge difference in Winston (our rescued schnauzer). Winston would panic in loud thunderstorms, but with the storm/anxiety vest he seems much more calm when the thunder is rolling and quite easily falls asleep. The kind we have is Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Treatment
and we use it every time bad weather is approaching.

5. Medication. I, personally, do not recommend medicating your dog unless it’s an extreme case of anxiety, but it is an option for unusually anxious dogs. The rule is that all medication should be temporary and as a part of a more comprehensive plan to eliminate the separation anxiety from your greyhound.

6. Anti-Anxiety Supplements I have not tried these, but I have seen a few in the market that, purportedly, reduce anxiety in dogs. I’ve also heard that they work from friends and colleagues. On my next adoption, if we have any separation anxiety, I’ll try some of these as part of the whole “new home assimilation” process.

7. What’s the last and most important tip? Let’s see if you guessed this right. Stop reading for a bit and guess…Yep, the number one tip for separation anxiety is…: Adopt another retired greyhound!! The company of another dog, especially a greyhound, greatly reduces separation anxiety in retired racers. And, as a bonus, this will also help you! How? Well, you can rest assured that you have saved another two greyhounds…the one you just adopted and the one that took his space at the rescue or adoption organization. Pat yourself on the back, pet your greyhounds and know that you are awesome!

Depending on your dog’s personality and predisposition, use these tips, alone, or combine them as your dog needs. This should help your adopted greyhound gradually settle into his or her new home and have a successful life with you!!

In more extreme cases of separation anxiety, where these tips help, but don’t totally eliminate the anxiety, I recommend a training and obedience program. This training goes for both the greyhound and for the pet parent to become the pack leader. I wrote this post for these cases: Separation Anxiety: Online Resource (aff link)

I hope these tips help, whether you use one, two or all of them. They have helped me tremendously in getting Fisher to be happy and comfortable here at my house.

Make sure you sign up for our email newsletter with more tips and great articles, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. And click on the links below to continue your journey as a super hero to all those retired racing greyhounds.

6 Things for your new adopted Greyhound

Ultimate guide to adopting a Greyhound

Story of Fisher and how I adopted him!

 

 

 

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