GCNM News logo

back to Greyhound Behavior homepage

Greyhound Behavior Part 5
Greyhounds and Cats
By Judy Kody Paulsen


Cats with Greyhound

Greyhounds and Cats (and Other Fuzzy Things!)

As most of you know, greyhounds can learn to live with and respect cats and other small furry creatures. Although racing greyhounds have been trained to chase a lure, they can be taught to coexist with live, furry things. However, a responsible person must teach them. The belief that greyhounds trained on "live lure" cannot learn to accept cats has been disproven time and again. It is true that these dogs are more likely to present a challenge initially, but common sense and patience go a long way in overcoming their intense interest in small furry things.

Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats
When indoors, the greyhound sees the cat as part of the family, although there may be times that a game of chase will ensue if the cat initiates it. However, even a greyhound that lives compatibly with cats in the house can show a desire to chase and capture a cat when outdoors. The message here is that cats running outdoors can provoke a greyhound's prey instinct, especially if it is a cat that is not regularly encountered inside the home. Neighbor's cats or stray cats will most certainly be viewed as intruders in the greyhound's yard, so never assume your greyhound has learned to accept all fuzzy things, just because he sleeps with one in your home.

Trusting a greyhound alone with a cat in the initial stages of adaptation can be an invitation to disaster. Always be sure a person is present when greyhounds are learning to interact with other animals in your home. Do not leave greyhounds unattended with the other animals until you are certain that they have learned to view them as part of the family rather than part of the "main course". If you introduce new furry members to your family, do not assume the greyhound will understand this is a counterpart to the existing family of "furries" until you have supervised their interaction often enough to feel confident that there is harmony among them.

Controlled Introduction
Keeping a greyhound on a leash indoors during the introduction phase is wise, even if this has to be done for several days or weeks to ensure the safety of the other members of your animal family. Each time you walk through the house with the greyhound on the leash, there should be some interaction with the other animals, even if it is just a glance in their direction as the greyhound acknowledges their presence. Any act of aggression by the greyhound should be discouraged with a firm "NO." Pause to let the greyhound continue to observe the other animal, but always discourage lunging, growling, or any other indication of aggression. When the greyhound turns its head away from the other animal, always praise him — this is a good sign that he is beginning to understand he is not to further pursue the animal. Allow the other animals to approach the greyhound, but keep a firm hold on the leash and be prepared to prevent any sudden move toward the other animal.

Having other persons present, if possible, can hasten the introduction if they can keep the cat or other animal from retreating quickly from the greyhound. A rapid retreat almost always encourages the greyhound to chase.

Cats can be especially effective in laying their own ground rules for allowing the greyhound to approach. Cats that hiss, spit, growl, and/or arch their backs when being approached will dissuade the greyhound from wanting to approach the cat. After all, a greyhound has never experienced a "lure" at the track that defiantly stands its ground! This could be a most distressing sight for a dog that has always been the pursuer!

Kittens are especially vulnerable to the greyhound, as they are often curious and certainly not capable of escaping a predator as fast and nimble as a greyhound. Take great care when introducing kittens to greyhounds.

Looking outside

Looking Through the Window
Introducing a greyhound to cats or other small animals by way of letting them see one another through fences, gates, or windows will almost surely produce an agitated greyhound that may never overcome the urge to want that particular animal. This is especially true of the situation where a cat peers through the window from the outside, then dashes quickly away upon sight of the greyhound. This situation is similar to the training methods used when the greyhound is teased from puppyhood with a small fuzzy lure. The idea is to never let the greyhound get hold of the lure, but to produce frustration in the continued attempts to do so. This intensifies the desire to continually pursue the object that keeps escaping. The likelihood of creating a peaceful coexistence between a greyhound and a cat is considerably diminished if the first sighting is through a window.

One at a Time, Please!
Introductions should be done with one animal at a time. Don't bring a greyhound into a room with numerous animals and expect him to learn the look, smell, and behavior of each individual and then to remember upon the next encounter that this one is part of the family. Let them meet one on one, before doing a "group therapy session"! Each animal may behave differently which will be producing multiple signals from you as you respond to the signals you are receiving from the greyhound. Once the initial individual introductions have been done, you can get the group together under controlled circumstances.

Occasionally, you will find that a greyhound on lead tends to be more aggressive toward other animals, especially dogs. This possibly could be that the greyhound on lead feels vulnerable and incapable of defining his boundaries to the perceived intruder (another animal off lead). If you feel the other animal presents no threat to the greyhound and vice versa, remove the lead. Keep your hand on the collar briefly so that you can intervene in case the greyhound becomes aggressive. If you step away, you often will witness a mutual acceptance between two dogs.

People Problems
Another common obstacle to a peaceful introduction between animals is the tension in the people doing the introduction. Animals are exceptional detectors of nervousness in people, and they can respond by duplicating this tension. If the people are tense, then the animals will be tense as well. This is not to say that a complacent attitude will accelerate acceptance between pets, because you must supervise. But supervision with a calm, patient approach will aid in producing calmness in the animals.

The Disinterested Greyhound
Many times, a greyhound will show little or no interest in cats. This is a most welcome occurrence, especially for the overly concerned cat owner. Predicting which greyhounds will behave this way is almost impossible. Greyhounds that have lost interest in the lure at the track (which means immediate retirement) will usually have no desire to chase anything else. If you can obtain a history from the trainer on why the dog retired, and if this history indicates the dog quit chasing the lure, you can assume this dog will be easier to train to accept cats or other "furries".

During puppy training, prior to competing on the track (up to 18 months of age), a trainer can identify the dogs that don't exhibit much prey drive. These dogs will never make it on the track, but they will usually be exceptional pets. It is unfortunate that many of these dogs are destroyed only because they wanted to run to the trainer rather than to the lure.


Multiple Pets
Some of the most rewarding experiences we have with our pets are in observing them relating to one another. It's a great source of entertainment and the only admission fee is the time you invest in the proper introduction of all the characters. Enjoy!




Home - About GCNM - Adopting a Greyhound - Public Awareness
GCNM News - Greyhound Behavior & Health - Store - Fever's Story - Contact Us

PO Box 22053
Albuquerque, NM 87154-2053
E-mail info@gcnm.org
2001 GCNM. All Rights Reserved.