What It's Like To Rescue an Ex Racing Greyhound

My family has had a dog in the family since I was 11. We had Honey, a Lurcher, for 11 years, Jay, a greyhound for 4 and we’ve had Leo, another greyhound, for 3 weeks (Leo is in the pics!).

Greyhounds are bred for racing and most only race for 2 or 3 years. There are also a lot of sad stories of dogs being kept in terrible conditions, being treated badly and being dumped when their racing times just aren’t good enough. There are centre’s that take rescue dogs from these conditions. Not every trainer is bad, and a lot work with rehoming centres that take retired greyhounds and find families to take them as pets.

But there are always plenty of dogs that need homes to go to. So I want to tell you a little bit about what a greyhound is like.

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Most of the time when I’ve walked around with any of mone I hear things like ‘woah that’s a big dog!’ and ‘bet he needs loads of exercise’. 

They don’t need any more exercise than any other dog. Greyhounds are used to short bursts of energy and wear out quite quickly. Most ex racers will be fine with a 20 minute walk. Any dog will need daily walks and you should always consider this to become part of your routine. Greyhounds can be gradually taken on longer walks too. This is the question I get asked the most and I think the belief they take a lot of energy does them a disservice. The truth is, they spend most of their day horizontal.

You need a bit of floor space. Because of their love for lying down 14 to 18 hours a day you need to be sure you’ve got space for them to do that. We’ve had a mix of plastic, material and duvet beds. All three of ours liked to turf up what ever they are lying on to what looks to be a more uncomfortable layout but we’ve found a duvet style bed works best. They are big dogs, they take up a bit of surface area.

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They are big but not so boisterous. Every dog will have their own quirks and personalities but in general Greyhounds are chill. Ex racers will be well socialized and walk well on the lead.

You will need to be aware of a few things.

Most ex racers will never of had a name, and so they won’t know to answer to one. It’s best to keep them on a lead until they work it out.

They are very food orientated – and big – so a few of them might get their front paws on a kitchen counter if something they want is on it. Not all dogs are inclined to do this. We have gone from having a terrible thief, to a dog that just didn’t really misbehave to one that is learning that it’s fun to try!

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You’ve got to have a period of time where you learn what everything is about and what they can do with it. Most ex racers have never been in a house before. You might get a few accidents. It’s important to remember that they won’t know what is wrong or right. It’s best not to be negative unless you actively catch them, in which case firmly say no (or leave, or stop or whatever command you wish to use) but be overly positive when they do something right. Yes, look crazy in front of the neighbours and people in the park praising your dog. Watching them realized they’ve done something good is the cutest.

The best thing is seeing them learn and experience new things. Stairs, glass doors, the TV, carpets are all usually new experiences. Watching them become accustomed to them and settle makes owning a rescue so rewarding. Seeing them come out of their shell, show you their personalities and experience love and attention is the sweetest.

If you want to share stories of your rescue pets, please go ahead. Tell us all their names! If you have any more questions about what it's like to re-home a greyhound please leave them in the comments below!