Managing overarousal in your multi-dog household

Jan 30, 2024 | Greyhound care

Overarousal behaviours in your greyhound can become problematic in a multi-dog household, with the potential for a minor disagreement to escalate quickly. Here we explain how to spot the signs of overarousal, and when to intervene. Be armed with the tools and management techniques to maintain household harmony. 

Play bow

What do we mean by overarousal? 

Overarousal in dogs occurs when their excitement or stimulation levels go over a manageable threshold. This leads to a state of hyperactivity that can be detrimental to their well-being and the harmony of a multi-dog environment. The signs can be subtle, so prevention is best.

What are the signs of overarousal in my greyhound?

Signs of overarousal can include:

  • Excessive barking
  • Jumping
  • Frenetic running
  • Difficulty responding to cues

Physiological signs may include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Heightened heart rate
  • Increased panting
  • Hairs on their back or neck raised
  • A hard stare
  • Spinning in circles
  • In greyhounds specifically, you may see teeth chattering (which – somewhat confusingly- can also be a sign of contentment)

Caution during the ‘get to know you’ stage

In the early days of bringing another pooch into your home, you’ll be getting to know their temperament while they get to know each other as well. We strongly recommend walking them together on lead in your backyard before releasing them to run around during these early stages. It’s best to also let the calmer dog off leash first.

How do I know when to intervene?

The key here is to be able to recognise the subtle signals your greyhound may be displaying, and intervene before play escalates into something more serious.

Play needs to be equal. This means that the play roles (chasing, play bowing, mouthing) need to rotate between each dog. In a multi-dog setting, manage playtime to avoid prolonged, overly intense interactions, and ensure each dog has a safe space to retreat when needed. Monitoring group dynamics and intervening with positive redirection or time-outs when signs of overarousal arise can maintain a peaceful canine environment. And if play does get out of hand, be sure to provide everyone with some separation time to decompress.

Using a muzzle for your greyhounds is a great additional safety tool, especially when they are first getting to know each other. 

In conclusion…

To prevent overarousal, it is crucial to recognise individual thresholds and intervene before excitement levels peak. Providing structured activities, mental stimulation, and regular exercise can help channel excess energy. Teaching and reinforcing calm behaviours through training exercises will also contribute to your greyhound’s overall behavioural balance.

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