Behavior Part 4
As more retired racing greyhounds are being placed into homes, we have the opportunity to observe their characteristics as pets. As mentioned in the preceding articles of this series, retired racers have dispositions unique to the environment in which they are raised and trained. Fighting among greyhounds at the track rarely produces severe injuries, due to the fact that they are muzzled during racing and turnouts. However, once the greyhound is in a home environment, conditions can drastically alter the outcome of a conflict between pets. We, as adoption and rescue groups, would prefer to reinforce the reputation of the greyhound as docile, non-aggressive, and non-confrontational; however, we would be remiss in ignoring the competitive spirit that can sometimes engage them in life-threatening battles with other pets.
Most fights in the adoptive home appear to occur between greyhounds, rather than with greyhounds and other breeds. The majority of the fights among greyhounds are between retired racers rather than greyhounds of non-racing origins. This would support a theory that retired racers are more conditioned to compete with one another, thereby being more likely to challenge another greyhound.
If the dogs have sight of you or a visitor approaching a door or gate, or if they are signaled of an arrival by the sound of a door bell, garage door or other audible/visible sign, their excitement mounts until they are in immediate physical contact with the arriver. Enter into your home or yard as quickly as possible to avoid prolonging their arousal. Keeping overly excitable dogs separated from the other dogs may be necessary.
If your dogs are crated while you are away, let one out of its crate and allow it to settle before letting the next dog out. Do not encourage excitement by getting overly demonstrative and affectionate. Keep your voice down and limit your greeting to a brief touch on the head or back. Ideally, you should ignore the dogs until they have settled, but this is difficult for most people if they have been away from their dogs for an extended period!
If you can get the dogs into a large open area immediately, such as a fenced yard or spacious room in the house, the added space will give the dogs room to be animated without provoking one another upon your arrival home. Encourage visitors to ignore the dogs initially so they are not all competing for attention from the newcomer at once.
Overly spirited play among greyhounds and other pets, or people and greyhounds, should be discouraged, at least initially. Introducing a new greyhound to the family should be done under subdued circumstances when it comes to play and recreation. Do not engage in rough play with other pets in the presence of a newly adopted greyhound unless someone has the greyhound under control and can prevent it from lunging toward those involved in play. Allow the greyhound to observe the playful interaction between people, or pets and people, so that it can become accustomed to the sight and sound of harmless interplay.
Some retired racers learn to play compatibly with other pets, while others will retain an aggressive streak. Be on the look-out for indicators of aggression during play, and if this tendency is frequently present, then you should eliminate the activities that produce this behavior.
Generally, the larger the play area, the faster the greyhound can run and the more likely you are to have a collision between pets. Collisions not only can severely injure your dogs, but could create a pain-induced fight response. A fight that occurs when no one is home could very likely be the product of pain-induced aggression resulting from injury during play.
Isolating several pets in a small area can also invite disaster. It is advisable to separate them with baby gates or by crating. If you have not seen signs of aggression among your pets and there has always been peaceful coexistence, chances are you will not have a problem; but observation is the best defense against fighting among greyhounds. Leaving "chewies" out when there are multiple dogs and no supervision is another invitation to disaster even among dogs that have never shown any possessive tendencies. Watch for the subtle signs of dominant behavior that can often lead to fighting (see Part 2 of Greyhound Behavior).
And When There
is a Fight...
After the Fight...
Within time, the dogs will be back to their previously compatible existence, but don't let your guard down. Although repeat altercations between normally compatible dogs rarely occur, it is your responsibility to recognize the signs of friction between pets.
Most fights can be avoided if you observe all interactions while you are with your dogs and take precautions to change the environment. Above all, do not become complacent when introducing new pets, as this is the most critical point at which you can make the determination of how the personality types will mesh. Keep on your toes during the first one or two months of bringing in your new pet, for this is when you could see potential fight situations present themselves.
Once again, it's up to you.