Thank you for all your comments on the last post, they were lovely to read. Please do keep them coming, and if there’s anything you’d like to know more about, or anything you’d be interested in reading about then please just let us know!
Greyhounds are funny creatures: even though the ex-racers have never been in a home environment, their life has been spent in racing kennels and then in our rehoming kennel, some of them take to home life like a duck to water. Or, as a 30 kilo furry ex-racing couch potato takes to a sofa! Quickly, in other words! They walk into a house, have a sniff around and a cuddle from their new family, and decide: “Yes, this was where I was meant to be all along! This’ll do very nicely, thank you!” And promptly climb onto their bed/the sofa (whichever looks more comfortable) and fall asleep in about 5 seconds flat, waking up only for a quick stretch before dozing off again. A nice life, if you can get it!
Other greyhounds take a little bit more time to settle down, and when you think about how dramatically their life has changed in a few short hours (from waking up at the kennels with their “reserved” tag on, running in the paddocks with their kennel-mate, to car journeys, and a strange environment unlike anything they’re used to), it’s no surprise that they are confused, worried and scared. It would take you a little while to settle down too, don’t you think?
When we took our girl home, perhaps naively I thought she would be one of the ones to settle straight away. Nothing much seemed to bother her in the kennels, she was a happy, lively thing, and I thought she’d be absolutely fine. In many ways she was, but she did exhibit some of the typical behaviour that we tell people about when they take their hounds home for the first time. She panted for the first 12 hours or so. After having her sniff around the house, she lay on her bed, panted, and looked incredibly worried. She wouldn’t eat anything for over 24 hours, and wouldn’t let us out of her sight. If we left the room she was in, she cried and howled until we came back. Thinking about it, she had no idea we would come back, she just thought we were leaving her in a strange and scary new place, and she was frightened.
The first night was not good. We wanted her to sleep in the kitchen, where her bed was, and so we shut her in there. She caused a bit of havoc by waking up at about midnight, scared, knocking the bin over, and crying. We came downstairs, cleaned up and tried to get her back to sleep. She was panicking, but eventually calmed down and lay back on her bed. Unfortunately, she cried every time we left the room, and we were up with her for about 4 hours before giving up, going back to bed, and leaving her to cry. We felt awful. I will admit, in those hours, I thought to myself “What on earth have we done? She hates it here!”
Leaving her was the right thing to do, however, because it meant that she had to settle herself down, and after about half an hour, she stopped crying. The next night was better, and it essentially got better and better as the week went on. We adjusted our kitchen a bit, got her a nightlight, a radio, and a clock with a loud tick, all of which helped her to settle and feel less alone. We also bought a babygate for the kitchen doorway, which she much prefers, as she doesn’t feel shut in, though she is confined to the room we want her to stay in. Two weeks after she came home, she was completely quiet through the night, and has been ever since. Other things that have helped are letting her sleep on the sofa in the kitchen (greyhounds seem to prefer to sleep on a raised bed) and making sure she has a blanket on her when the nights are cold.
Some people find crates, or indoor kennels, are helpful in helping their dog feel secure. We have some available at the kennels to borrow if needed. They have the advantage that if you have to leave your dog, you know that they won’t have caused any mischief when you’re out! Other greyhounds can get quite stressed if confined, and often owners find that letting their greyhounds have the run of the house, or at least not shutting doors on them makes them feel much better. It’s a case of seeing what works for your greyhound.
Many people say that it takes a year for a dog to truly settle. That you will have a different dog to the one you took home a year previously. In the case of greyhounds, they seem to become more chilled out, more loving, incredibly loyal, and a much loved member of the family. They are worth giving a chance to, and remembering that even though they may not settle immediately, it is not maliciously done. The results will always be worthwhile, and they WILL settle and feel at home and safe with you, some just take longer than others.