Greyhound Rescue recommends not walking your greyhound for 14 days when they first come home. It is critical to understand that many of these dogs have been raised on farms, lived in kennels and have never seen the inside of a home; everything that they are encountering is brand new to them.
Your home is extremely different from what they know, which is stressful! The dog needs to be comfortable with their inside environment and to trust you before they experience their new external world. If you live in an apartment without access to a space for toileting, we recommend short toilet breaks to quiet spaces such as nature strips.
Why do we recommend this? The day you take your greyhound home, they are still ‘working dogs’ and most have limited domestic life experience. They need to get used to the smells, sounds and sights of their new home, new humans, and new environment in the calmest way possible.
When shown their new world too soon, it can be overwhelming and highly arousing for your greyhound. When any dog experiences stress, adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body. Your dog will experience a fight, flight or fear response. While a natural amount of cortisol is needed by the body, if your dog is experiencing a regular production of too much cortisol this can have negative implications.
Behaviourally, the more cortisol there is in the dog’s system, the more likely they are to be highly nervous and reactive. It can take up to 72 hours to return to a normal level of cortisol, if stress occurs it is critical that your dog is given time at home for those cortisol levels to reduce. If you are walking your dog frequently and they are getting aroused or reactive they can be in a constant state of stress.
So what to do instead of walkies? Enrichment! Keeping your greyhound mentally stimulated is rewarding and can tire them out in lieu of a walk. Enrichment activities lower stress in dogs, encourage them to learn more efficiently, increase their problem solving abilities, and lead to a more emotionally balanced, confident dog.
Remember to start easy. Many greyhounds have never had to think, make decisions, or figure out any sort of puzzle. If they are unsure about what to do, perhaps show them how the treats come out; you are their instruction manual. Enrichment ideas are only limited to your imagination.
Here are some cheap, easy and fun ideas for your dog.
Put kibble or treats in:
* Toilet/paper towel rolls (with ends folded up)
* Water bottle with lid off
* Egg carton
* Any and all cardboard boxes (minus any tape/staples)
* Fast food takeout bags
* Rolled up in a towel
More advanced enrichment options include commercially available treat and puzzle toys such as “Kong” brand and “Lickimat” boredom busters. Supervise your dog to make sure that they are using the toy appropriately and safely, and that they understand how it works.
Consider putting away the bowl for breakfast and dinner and feed in a cardboard box or toy, or feed less at meal times to put in enrichment during the day. Meal times are a good time for “marker word acquisition” training, and for positive relationship building. Building trust is giving your dog the best start in their new home.