Before you decide that a greyhound is the dog for you, we strongly suggest that you do some reading. In fact, we insist! A greyt place to start is with our brief Greyhound care handbook, or what we call “Greyhound 101″.
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(Find these books easily at Amazon or eBay)
“Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies” by Lee Livingood
“Adopting the Racing Greyhound” by Cynthia Branigan
Many GH adoption groups send greyhounds to their forever homes with only a martingale collar and a leash and no further instructions as to what to do and what to look out for. As you know, a martingale collar is a sort of “soft choke” type collar that has a sliding loop with a D ring and that loop tightens up on the neck as the dog pulls on it. The reason a greyhound needs a martingale collar for walking is that most greyhounds’ heads are SMALLER than their necks. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to properly fit them to their dog and subsequently, the dog might back up, duck its head and back right out of the collar. Even if a martingale is fitted properly, ESCAPE IS STILL POSSIBLE!
To properly fit a martingle collar, slip it on over your dog’s head, then tighten the single adjusting slider until the collar can barely be slipped back off. When you pull up on the loop, there should be at least one inch of loop webbing between the 2 open “slides”. If the loop slides touch and the collar cannot be made any smaller using the single adjusting slider, the collar is too big and should not be used on that dog.
The worst idea in the world is to put your dog’s ID tags on a martingale collar and let them wear it around the house. A dedicated tag collar (not a martingale) should be worn instead, for 3 reasons.
First, the loop and/or the very large “D” ring on a martingale collar can become caught on any number of things in your home; cabinet knobs, furniture, crates, even a lever type door handle. I have personally witnessed a GH get its martingale’s D ring caught on a cabinet knob, and get hung up, actually falling off its feet, while flailing around upside down trying to free itself in a blind panic. If I had not been there to free the dog, it certainly could have been strangled.
If you’re out walking your dog with a martingale only (no tag collar) and it should suddenly spook over something and back out of its martingale collar, then you’re standing there holding the martingale collar with the ID tags dangling from it, while your dog is running away at 40 miles an hour with absolutely NO ID and no collar to help someone catch your dog if they even had an opportunity to do so. Have you ever tried to capture a frightened dog that is completely naked?? OMG, it is practically impossible.
Lastly, a microchip is not a sure fire defense if your dog gets loose. Until microchip manufacturers all get together and decide they are going to come up with a universal chip reader, even if someone found your dog and had the sense to even THINK it might have a microchip, in order to find out who it belonged to, they would have to physically transport the dog to a vet or shelter to have the chip read…. IF the vet or shelter had the proper chip reader. But, these days when people are so incredibly busy and strapped for time, how many folks would go to this trouble over a dog that did not belong to them? Not many!! The inclination would be just to call animal control and have the dog picked up or JUST LET THE DOG GO and let it fend for itself.
Furthermore, if you have a black, blue or dark brindle greyhound, I highly recommend using a REFLECTIVE tag collar, so that if your dog ever got loose, it would be a LOT easier to find them after dark with a flashlight and oncoming cars would be more apt to avoid hitting them in the road. After having been involved in many nighttime searches, I finally “saw the light” and now all of our dark foster dogs wear reflective collars.
So, you can see why the best defense is to have a properly fitting tag collar on your dog 24/7 with your CELL PHONE number on an actual ID tag. The tag collar should be worn up high on the neck and tight enough that it cannot easily be slipped off the dog’s head. ID necklaces that dangle low on the dog’s neck are dangerous and can become caught on things or can fall off completely.
This is the reason why when we adopt out a GH, we furnish a dedicated tag collar with a custom ID tag and a separate all-in-one martingale/leash combination. I believe the only way to keep your dog safe in the house and protected on walks is to use a regular dog collar for tags and that should be worn in the house and outside, even during a bath, when the likelihood for escape is at it’s highest. Use the martingale IN ADDITION to the tag collar when out walking. The martingale should be removed when you get back home. Both the tag and martingale collars should be fitted tightly enough that they cannot easily slip off over your dogs head. NEVER CLIP A LEASH ONTO YOUR GREYHOUND’S TAG COLLAR.
Many people take their dog’s tag collars off while in the house or even worse, when they turn them out into their fenced yard. DON’T BE TEMPTED TO DO THIS! If you don’t like jingling tags, try a slide on ID tag collar, but leave your dogs’ ID tag collars on 24/7!!!
If anyone needs a tag collar for their dog, God’s Greyts has a huge assortment of them for sale at very reasonable prices (and free shipping!) We make two types, leather or suede collars with slide on custom made ID tags and side release buckle collars with a low profile loop to hang tags from. You can see them on our Etsy site at:
AND, of course, never, EVER let your greyhound off leash unless you are in a safely fenced in area with no possible escape.
After owning greyhounds for nearly 20 years, I have learned all this the hard way. Save those fancy, expensive, wide martingale collars for walking and keep a narrow (3/4″ to 1″ wide) tag collar with your current ID on your dog 24/7 for its entire life. It’s simply common sense.
Carol Becker – president, God’s Greyts
Links to Greyhound-Related Web Sites
On the side bar to the right, please see the section entitled “Links to Related Sites.” There you will find many web sites recommended by God’s Greyts.
“What is Your New Greyhound Thinking?”
By the late, greyt Kathleen Gilley
This breed has never been asked to do anything for itself, make any decisions or answer any questions. It has been waited on, paw and tail. The only prohibition in a racing Greyhound’s life is not to get into a fight or eat certain stuff in the turn out pen.
Let us review a little. From weaning until you go away for schooling, at probably a year and a half, you eat, grow and run around with your siblings. When you go away to begin your racing career, you get your own “apartment,” in a large housing development. No one is allowed in your bed but you, and when you are in there, no one can touch you, without plenty of warning.
Someone hears a vehicle drive up, or the kennel door being unlocked. The light switches are flipped on. The loud mouths in residence, and there always are some, begin to bark or howl. You are wide awake by the time the human opens your door to turn you out. A Greyhound has never been touched while he was asleep.
You eat when you are fed, usually on a strict schedule. No one asks if you are hungry or what you want to eat. You are never told not to eat any food within your reach. No one ever touches your bowl while you are eating. You are not to be disturbed because it is important you clean your plate.
You are not asked if you have to “go outside.” You are placed in a turn out pen and it isn’t long before you get the idea of what you are supposed to do while you are out there. Unless you really get out of hand, you may chase, rough house and put your feet on everyone and everything else. The only humans you know are the “waiters” who feed you, and the “restroom attendants” who turn you out to go to the bathroom. Respect people? Surely you jest.
No one comes into or goes out of your kennel without your knowledge. You are all seeing; all knowing. There are no surprises, day in and day out. The only thing it is ever hoped you will do is win, place or show, and that you don’t have much control over. It is in your blood, it is in your heart, it is in your fate… or it is not.
And when it is not, then suddenly you are expected to be a civilized person in a fur coat. But people don’t realize you may not even speak English. Some of you don’t even know your names, because you didn’t need to. You were not asked or told to do anything as an individual; you were always part of the “condo association”; the sorority or fraternity and everyone did everything together, as a group or pack. The only time you did anything as an individual is when you schooled or raced, and even then, You Were Not Alone.
Suddenly, he is expected to behave himself in places he’s never been taught how to act. He is expected to take responsibility for saying when he needs to go outside, to come when he is called, not to get on some or all of the furniture, and to not eat food off counters and tables. He is dropped in a world that is not his, and totally without warning, at that.
Almost everything he does is wrong. Suddenly he is a minority. Now he is just a pet. He is unemployed, in a place where people expect him to know the rules and the schedule, even when there aren’t any. (How many times have you heard someone say, “He won’t tell me when he has to go out.” What kind of schedule is that?) Have you heard the joke about the dog who says, “My name is No-No Bad Dog. What’s yours?” To me that is not even funny. All the protective barriers are gone. There is no more warning before something happens. There is no more strength in numbers. He wakes up with a monster human face two inches from his. (With some people’s breath, this could scare Godzilla.) Why should he not, believe that this “someone”, who has crept up on him, isn’t going to eat him for lunch? (I really do have to ask you ladies to consider how you would react if someone you barely knew crawled up on you while you were asleep?) No, I will not ask for any male input.
Now he is left alone, for the first time in his life, in a strange place, with no idea of what will happen or how long it will be before someone comes to him again. If he is not crated, he may go though walls, windows or over fences, desperately seeking something familiar, something with which to reconnect his life. If he does get free, he will find the familiarity, within himself: the adrenaline high, the wind in his ears, the blood pulsing and racing though his heart once again–until he crashes into a car.
Often, the first contact with his new family is punishment, something he’s never had before, something he doesn’t understand now, especially in the middle of the rest of the chaos. And worst of all, what are the most common human reactions to misbehavior? We live in a violent society, where the answer to any irritation is a slap, punch, kick, whip, or rub your nose in it. Under these circumstances, sometimes I think any successful adoption is a miracle.
He is, in effect, expected to have all the manners of at least a six year old child. But, how many of you would leave an unfamiliar six year old human alone and loose in your home for hours at a time and not expect to find who knows what when you got back? Consider that if you did, you could be brought up on charges of child abuse, neglect and endangerment. Yet, people do this to Greyhounds and this is often the reason for so many returns.
How many dogs have been returned because they did not know how to tell the adopter when they had to go out? How many for jumping on people, getting on furniture, counter surfing, separation anxiety, or defensive actions due to being startled or hurt (aka growling or biting)? So, let’s understand: Sometimes it is the dog’s “fault” he cannot fit in. He is not equipped with the social skills of a six year old human but you can teach him. With love.