We know that Greyhounds are fast and playful, but do Greyhounds bite? Are these aggressive dogs?
Actually, Greyhounds seldom bite, unless they have been weaned too early and don’t know any better or in cases where they are extremely frightened. Far from being aggressive, Greys tend to be shy until you get to know them and then incredibly friendly and affectionate once you do!
Today we’ll talk a little more about Greyhounds and biting, so that you can get a better idea of the ‘why’ of it if your own Grey is being aggressive, as well as what you can do to help, and we’ll also cover the subject of ‘nitting’ – something every Greyhound owner will definitely experience firsthand!
Do Greyhounds Bite?
Before we get started if your Greyhound is biting it is important that you do NOT try to punish them for it. Greys seldom bite and when they do, it’s usually not for spite, but because they are afraid. This happens most often with rescues that may have had a hard time, but this behavior is not limited to rescues.
Greyhounds tend to be a bit on the shy side until they get to know you, and the best initial response to a ‘fear bite’ is going to be holding your hand and whining like a dog would or simply saying ‘oww’ to show that you are hurt.
Give your dog a little space and patience – they’ll calm down, it might just take some time. While you are helping to dog to work through their fear, do your best to avoid raising your voice and definitely do not try to discipline them. They won’t understand it and will likely just trust you less for your efforts.
Be patient with them and reward good behavior often with treats and affection. In time, once they’ve learned that they are safe with you and can trust you, it will be like you are seeing a brand new dog for the first time!
Greyhounds and their temperaments
Greyhounds have interesting temperaments. They tend to be a little shy at first, but once they know you, then these fast little guys and gals become quite friendly, playful, and even aggressively so when it comes to getting your attention.
They are particular about it as well, so don’t be surprised if your Grey acts like they can’t see your guests. They know that other people are there, but as far as they are concerned, that’s of little importance when they can spend their focus and time on you.
As far as the guests, if you arm them with treats then you are sure to see a little attitude change, but during this time it’s recommended that you invest in a nice crate to make a personal, out-of-the-way space for your Grey to go to when they don’t feel like socializing.
If they are running away when company comes, then this gives them a private place to focus on their toys until they can build up their courage to come out. Once they’ve made friends, then you can see the attitude change right away! These dogs aren’t really wired to be biters, but you’ll quickly learn that the DO nit.
Nitting is not the same as biting
Wait, what? That’s right, we said ‘nit’. Nitting is something that every Greyhound owner will experience at some point in time, and while teeth are involved it’s definitely not what you could call a bite.
‘Nitting’ is when your Greyhound gently takes their front teeth and lightly pushes them together quickly, as if their teeth are chattering and it’s cold. It’s an odd feeling and if you are ticklish, then it might elicit a giggle – and that’s the proper response.
Greyhounds do this as a sort of friendly hello and it can also be a ‘go to’ response when they aren’t sure what you want, but would like to give you a solid affirmation anyway. It’s a little strange and takes some getting used to, but you’re just about sure to experience this and you’ll see firsthand what we me.
Nitting is definitely not biting and at the most you could call it… well, ‘friendly nibbling’.
Biting as a result of early weaning
If you have a Greyhound pup that is biting, then this could be a sign that they were weaned way too early. When a pup is young, it learns a lot of important things from it’s mother and from it’s littermates. One of these is very important to our discussion today – they learn the difference between play-biting and real -biting.
Pups wrestle and chew each other daily, testing limits and quite often you’ll hear one or two pups whining when someone bites too hard. Mom may even step in to separate the pups and in a few minutes, they are all best friends again. During this time, each pup learns that biting is fun, but dangerous.
If they are weaned before they have learned this lesson, then they simply don’t know that when they bite someone that it’s going to actually hurt them. You can train them out of this by immediately stopping play when a bite occurs, holding your hand, and making a whining sound to let them know it hurt.
Your pup will quickly learn that play always stops if they bite too hard and they will either learn to bite softer or stop biting altogether, either of which being a great resolution. If your pup was weaned before 8 weeks of age, then this technique should help to work wonders in regards to that pesky ‘biting habit’.
A Greyhound that is biting may be frightened
If your Greyhound was NOT weaned too early or if they are a rescue dog, then if they are biting it is quite possible that they are terrified about their new home. Start off making them comfortable by investing a plastic crate that you will put some soft bedding inside and a couple of toys.
Leave the door open and put in a couple of treats and do NOT close them inside – you want them to start seeing this as their private space for now. This will give them somewhere to go to when they are stressed and help them to adjust to their new home slowly, at their own pace.
If they seem to become frightened only at certain times, try to determine what it is that is setting them on edge. Some dogs may become nervous around a particular gender of person, or people at a certain age (much older or younger, for instance).
If they get nervous around another animal in the house, then try to keep the animals separated until they can get to know each other with plastic ‘baby gates’. The most important thing is giving them space, treats, and a calm atmosphere. Once your Grey realizes they are safe, they will begin to calm down and to adjust.
How do I clean a Greyhound bite?
In most cases with Greyhound bites, they aren’t going to pierce the skin, and you can simply clean the area with a little soap and water and apply some cold if it’s red and painful to the touch. If your dog does manage to pierce the skin, however, then the first step will be to clean the wound.
You can do this with a mild soap, although a mild antibiotic soap is even better. Once you’ve cleaned the wound, then you should put pressure on it with a soft, clean cloth so that you can stop the bleeding. Once you have done this, put a little antibiotic ointment on it and apply a clean bandage.
Change the bandage regularly and if you see any signs of continued redness or swelling, then it’s best to visit your doctor to make sure that you avoid infection. The problem with dog bites is that sometimes you can end up with a deep puncture wound, so don’t put off a doc visit if you see swelling or redness.
Dog bites heal slowly, so it may be tender for a period of 10 to 14 days before the bite is fully healed, though if the skin wasn’t punctured then it will usually be fine in 2 to 3 days. So, be patient with the process and if there is a puncture, keep it clean and freshly bandaged and you’ll soon be on the mend.
Some closing words
Today we’ve answered the question ‘do Greyhounds bite?’ and as you can see, while it does happen from time to time, it’s generally a matter of early weaning or a Greyhound that is afraid in their new home and lashing out in response. Don’t worry if your Grey is a biter – these dogs are sweethearts and can change.
It’s just going to be a matter of patience, as well as creating an environment full of praise, treats, and affection so that your Grey learns that they are safe in their new home and that they can trust you.
Once your dog isn’t afraid anymore, the difference is like night and day, and you’ll soon see just how social Greyhounds really are!