Greyhounds are known primarily for greyhound racing, but they also make pretty excellent pets. Greyhounds are known for being gentle and intelligent, and despite the fact that they were originally bred as race dogs, they actually do fairly well living in a small space like an apartment and don’t need a ton of exercise every day.
So, how easy is it to train a greyhound? Generally, it’s pretty easy to train a greyhound because of their intelligence, but it really depends on the individual dog as well. If you’re adopting a greyhound that has spent most of its life as a race dog, you might find the training process to be a little more challenging.
Today, we’ll be sharing with you some tips you might find useful when it comes to training your greyhound, and we’ll explain some of the methods you can use to teach your greyhound some basic commands.
Is It Easy to Train a Greyhound?
As we’ve stated, greyhounds are not usually too difficult to train because of their intelligence, but individual dogs might have a harder time adjusting to a household life than others. In particular, retired racing greyhounds might have a bit of a harder time getting used to living in a regular household than a puppy who is socialized from an early age.
Training a greyhound for racing isn’t an inherently abusive process (although abuse certainly does happen in the racing greyhound industry), but greyhounds that are raised for racing definitely don’t have a normal upbringing compared to most dogs.
For one, racing greyhounds don’t often have many opportunities to socialize with other dogs, so they often find it more difficult to get along with other dogs as a result. This means that retired racing greyhounds often aren’t able to pick up on other dogs’ body language, which can make social interaction confusing and scary to them.
For the most part, racing greyhounds grow up only really knowing their handlers, and don’t spend a lot of time around a variety of people. As such, a retired racing greyhound might be generally ok around people but come across as being somewhat nervous and skittish.
Retired racing greyhounds might also not fare very well around noisy household appliances like vacuum cleaners and food processors, since they’re likely to be totally unfamiliar with them. Similarly, they might not know what to do when presented with a dog toy.
It’s totally possible to socialize a greyhound that has spent most of its life as a racing dog, but you should be prepared for this to be a bit more of a difficult process than socializing a greyhound puppy.
How to Socialize a Retired Racing Greyhound
The main thing to keep in mind when trying to socialize a retired racing greyhound is that it’s best to take things slowly. Most of what your greyhound will experience during the socialization process is going to be stuff that they’ve never experienced before, and since greyhounds are naturally suspicious of unfamiliar things, you want to help them be as comfortable as possible.
While some dogs get really noisy and hyperactive when they become stressed out, greyhounds are often the opposite; they tend to clam up and stay very still when they’re feeling stressed. If you notice that your greyhound is acting this way, it’s best to take them away from whatever is stressing them and come back to it when your greyhound feels better.
Greyhounds also startle fairly easily, and since they were originally bred as hunting dogs, they sometimes have a compulsion to chase after smaller dogs or other animals. Greyhounds are also really good at backing out of their collars because their necks are larger than their heads. As you can imagine, if your greyhound gets startled and slips their collar, you’ll have a hell of a time trying to catch them.
Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening by using the right kind of collar. In particular, you’ll want to use a Martingale collar. This type of collar is designed in such a way that it normally sits loosely around a dog’s neck, but tightens when the dog tries to pull on it.
Basically, socializing a retired racing greyhound involves gradually introducing them to more and more situations that are unfamiliar to them, and rewarding them with a treat or lots of praise whenever they react positively to that new situation. The idea here is to get your greyhound to associate new things with positive feelings instead of fear.
How to Train a Greyhound to Recall
Now that you’re familiar with some of the basic things to keep in mind with regards to training your greyhound, let’s talk about how to actually train them to respond to certain commands. First, let’s start with how to train your greyhound to recall (come back).
There are a few different training methods you can try, so let’s go over them now:
Method 1 – Train a Greyhound to Recall
- Take your greyhound to an outdoor space where you won’t have many distractions, like your backyard or a quiet park. Put their leash and collar on them, and make sure they’re properly secured.
- While still holding the leash, allow your greyhound to get a little distance away from you.
- Call your greyhound by their name, and use a verbal command to tell them to recall. You need to use a word for this command that your greyhound doesn’t hear very often, as this will help them be more inclined to follow your command when you give it.
- After you issue the command, take a few quick steps back. Greyhounds love to chase, so this can help prompt them to come towards you.
- When your greyhound catches up to you, reward them with a treat and then repeat the preceding steps in a few minutes. You don’t want to use the recall command too frequently during training, as this might cause your greyhound to start ignoring you.
Method 2 – Train a Greyhound to Recall
- Get your greyhound’s attention using a toy, treat, or something else that you can use to make them look at you.
- As your greyhound starts to approach you, use the recall command word you’ve picked. Again, this needs to be a unique word used only for calling your greyhound over.
- When your greyhound reaches you, give them the toy/treat and reward them for coming over.
- You should begin using this method in a distraction-free environment, but over time you should add small distractions to get your greyhound used to following commands in a stimulating environment. These distractions can be another person or another dog, or the presence of nearby vehicles.
Method 3 – Train a Greyhound to Recall
- Make sure your greyhound is properly collared.
- Use a toy or treat to get your greyhound’s attention, and speak your chosen recall command when they start coming towards you.
- Once your greyhound approaches you, take hold of their collar. You can let go of their collar if they try to pull away, but don’t give them a treat until they’re able to sit still while you hold onto their collar.
How to Train a Greyhound to Sit
Now, let’s go over some of the techniques you can use to effectively teach your greyhound to sit.
Method 1 – Train a Greyhound to Sit
- Take your greyhound to a quiet space with as few distractions as possible.
- Kneel down in front of your greyhound. If they try to approach you, gently push them back and give an assertive command like “no”.
- When your greyhound is relatively settled, give them the “sit” command. As you do, put your hand on their hindquaters and gently push them to the ground.
- If your greyhound doesn’t want to sit when you push on them, don’t try and do it too hard. Just take your hand off, tell them “sit” again, and push down on their hindquarters once more. If you do this enough, they’ll get it eventually.
- Once your greyhound is able to stay sitting for a couple of seconds after giving them the command, then you can reward them with a treat.
Method 2 – Train a Greyhound to Sit
- For this method, you’ll need to use a clicker. Start by holding a treat over your greyhound’s head, and give them the command to sit.
- As soon as your greyhound sits, click the clicker and give them the treat. The point of this is to get your greyhound to associate the click with the reward. Eventually, you’ll be able to praise your greyhound with a clicker without even having to give them a treat.
- Keep practicing this method until your greyhound can sit on command with ease.
Method 3 – Train a Greyhound to Sit
- Kneel in front of your greyhound with a treat in your hand, and make sure they’re aware that you have the treat.
- When you’re sure that you have their full attention, tell them to sit. As you do, start moving your hand over your greyhound’s head and towards their rear. With any luck, this will cause them to sit down as they turn their head to look at the treat.
- As soon as they sit, give them the treat and lots of praise. Repeat this process in different settings until your greyhound becomes comfortable with sitting on command regardless of where they are.