If you are a first-time Greyhound owner then you are probably wondering how on earth you can entertain a 45-mph dog by conventional means. Do Greyhounds play fetch?! Do you need a treadmill?
You’ll be happy to know that Greyhounds do indeed love a good game of fetch, so no treadmill is required or even recommended (more on this shortly). While it can take some time to teach them, fetch is one of their favorite games and it’s well worth learning how to play this with your dog.
In today’s article, we’re going to tell how so soon you can start teaching them, whether or not they can play fetch every day, and we’ll even throw in a bonus use for this game that you might not know about. Let’s talk about Greyhounds and teach them the joys of ‘the Fetch game’!
Do Greyhounds Play Fetch?
By the age of 2 to 3 months, your little lighting bolt is ready to be taught a lot of things, and fetch is definitely one of them. Make sure that you’ve taught them some basics, such as ‘sit’ and ‘come here’, as these will be useful, and you can even teach your dog ‘drop it’ in preparation for fetch.
‘Drop it’ is easy, as all you’ll have to do is hold up a treat and say ‘drop it’ and wait until your dog does. Reward them with a treat when they do and repeat as necessary until they learn this. Once your dog has ‘sit’, ‘come here’, and ‘drop it’ then you are well prepared to teach them fetch and we’ll tell you how shortly!
Treats, Love, and Patience – A winning combination
Greyhounds were bred mostly for racing, so you are going to want to ‘bring you’re a-game’ when it comes to patience while you are teaching your Grey to fetch or indeed any trick. In regards to fetching, your dog is more inclined to chase a thrown ball or stick, rather than to retrieve it, so it may take a little time.
By making sure that you are patient and that your dog is getting a lot of love, attention, and treats then you will be using positive reinforcement and making training sessions into ‘fun sessions’ for your Grey. Above all, however, you must make absolutely sure that you leave any grumpiness out of the equation.
If you lose your patience and yell at your dog or even if you make your frustration too apparent, then your Greyhound is going to notice. They can even smell it on you, so when you train your dog, you also need to train yourself a little.
Before a training session, just remember that the goal is to have fun and it doesn’t matter how long it takes – your dog is going to learn to fetch when they are good and ready! Dogs often mirror their owners’ moods, so this good attitude is vital. Just aim for having a good time together and you’ll never be disappointed.
How do I teach my Greyhound to fetch?
Greyhounds like to chase things and while learning to fetch them, too, takes a little longer, you’ll soon find out that this is one of your dog’s ‘absolute’ favorite games. The easiest way to teach them to fetch doesn’t even take much effort – only consistent repetition, play, treats, and a toy.
Get the new toy handy and pull a treat out of the bag or can and hide it in your hand. Don’t let your Grey see this, or they probably won’t even notice the toy! Put the toy on the ground and say ‘Fetch’, pointing at the toy for emphasis. When your Grey picks it up, show them the treat and give it to them.
Repeat this a few times until your dog gets in the habit of picking something up when you say fetch, and then start tossing the item away from you – just a few feet – and issuing the ‘fetch’ command. If your dog does go there, just call them to you while you walk to it and repeat the command again.
In time, your dog will get used to this, and if they don’t come back automatically then you can tell them to ‘come here’ and when they do, you can use the ‘drop it’ command that we recommended earlier. With consistent repetition, your Grey will put it all together and BAM – ow your dog can fetch on command!
Start off slow to avoid boring your dog
Greyhounds can run like the wind and they KNOW it, so you need to be careful not to let them get bored with training, because running that fast gives them a lot of ‘less-boring’ play options in their eyes. To keep things interesting, you need to keep an excited tone in your voice and don’t be stingy with those treats!
You also want to make sure that you are keeping your training sessions ‘short and sweet’. This means 5-minute training sessions – possibly 10 minutes if your dog seems to want that – but not more. You can do 3 or 4 of these 5-minute sessions per day and get some quality training time this way, while still getting their full attention.
It is also good to have a ‘regular’ play session for a few minutes before and after the training, so that the sessions feel less like ‘school’ and just like a new game that they are playing. As long as you make training fun, you can teach your Greyhound all kinds of things, so keep these tips for future training.
Finally, if you’ve had a bad day, consider waiting until later for their training session or cutting the session even shorter. You don’t want to risk yelling unintentionally because that can frighten your dog or even make them trust you a little less. Treat training like a fun, 5 to 10 minute game, and you’ll definitely see results.
Can my dog play fetch every day?
If you keep sessions brief, then yes, otherwise we really don’t recommend that you play it every day without building up to it first and we’ll tell you why. Despite their amazing speed, Greyhounds only need about an hour a day of exercise. Some owners even lovingly refer to them as their ‘little Grey couch potatoes’!
Yes, your dog can run 45 miles per hour if they are racing, frightened, or you’ve made the mistake of leaving a delicious sandwich somewhere vulnerable, but it’s important to note that your dog is a sprinter, not a marathon runner. Too much exercise before they have built up their endurance is thus a bad idea.
Your dog can certainly build up their endurance, but their love of fetch is such that they will happily play a little more than is good for them if you let them do it.
This means it is up to you to keep those sessions brief – too much exercise, too soon, can cause stress, anxiety, or even a misstep from your tired dog that could hurt them. So, to keep things safe, build up your Greys endurance first. Start with 5 or 10-minute fetch sessions and add slowly increase the time.
What are other favorite Greyhound games?
Probably their second favorite (or absolute favorite, it’s up to your dog) game would be ‘Tug of War’. Greyhounds just love it when you show them an item and challenge them to pull it away. This is lots of fun, although if you have small children then keep an eye on them so they don’t accidentally get pulled down!
Another neat game that you can teach them once they know how to fetch, is a game called ‘Find it!’. You can teach this inside or in the backyard and all you need to do is to show your dog the toy, tell them to ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ so that they don’t move.
Now, put that toy somewhere out of their view while they watch you do it! Tell your dog ‘find it’ and you can even point at the out of view item and hold up a treat if their interest seems to be flagging. With a little coaxing, your dog will eventually walk over and if they pick up the toy, give them a treat.
Once they understand the game, Greys love this, and you can even teach them ‘find the ____’ by using different items and teaching them to associate the items with the names. Try it and you’ll see for yourself. Before you know it, your dog might well be able to bring you rubber-handled tools on-request and that’s amazingly cool!
Fetch bonus-feature for hyper dogs
As a ‘bonus feature’ that you get for teaching your furry friend to fetch, you now have a new tool that can help you to ‘tire out’ your dog if you’ve got a Grey that doesn’t want to go to sleep at bedtime. Like little kids, some Greys simply don’t want to go to sleep, and fetch comes in handy.
Try playing a little fetch before bedtime and if you can, throw the item up an incline, such as a hill in the park or even up the stairs. The added exercise will help to tire out your dog, just keep this game down to a 5 or 10 minute minimum so that you aren’t overworking them.
After that, take your dog to their bed and turn off the light, and they’ll be much more inclined to sleep, especially if you get into the habit of playing this little game first.
Some closing commentary
Teaching your Greyhound to play fetch is fun for both of you and we highly recommend it. Just be sure to being plenty of patience, love, and treats to those lessons and keep them ‘short and sweet’ to avoid your dog getting bored with them.
Be consistent and use positive reinforcement in the form of play, petting, and treats rather than getting upset if the progress is slow. Your dog will learn and they can smell your frustration, so make sure that the both of you are there to have fun together and consider the new trick as just icing on the cake.
Your Grey will be fetching like a pro before you know it!