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Greyhounds with special needs

The majority of greyhounds settle happily into family life. However there are those with specific needs who are also looking for homes. These are dogs with behavioural problems, extreme timidness or who are simply just so overwhelmed by the world outside the kennel doors that they experience adjustment problems or separation anxiety. All of these dogs require special homes to meet their individual needs, where they can find inner peace to join the world outside of kennels.

Typical symptoms of adjustment problems are howling, barking, scratching or chewing furniture and fittings or even excreting around the house during your absence. Your greyhound has been used to the company of their kennel mate, trainer, re-homing staff and volunteer walkers and to be left alone can be initially distressing for them. Try giving your greyhound an item of your worn clothes.

What you need to do is desensitise them and build their confidence. If your greyhound follows you everywhere around the house you must stop them, encourage them back to their sleeping area and try to leave the room again until they become confident with letting you out of their sight. Your greyhound will also associate the going out procedure of putting on your coat and picking up your keys as the start of a time alone and will begin to get anxious. To stop them fretting at the prospect of being alone, you should take off your coat, put the keys back and carry on with the normal household routine. After a short while, put your coat back on, pick up those keys again, then, without any fuss, put the keys back, remove your coat and repeat these actions until your greyhound gets positively bored!

You can build their confidence by closing them in the room where they sleep and moving around the house for a very short time, then for just a short time, gradually acclimatising them to being left alone. When leaving the room you should make as little fuss as possible, so they learn that being left is a normal everyday occurrence.

Leaving a radio on a low volume is quite reassuring for them. Following this you should be able to leave the house for short periods, perhaps walk to the end of the road and back, so your greyhound learns that you do actually return.

If your greyhound is particularly sensitive and even increased confidence does not improve their behaviour, then the use of an indoor kennel may be required, or perhaps a relative, dog walker, friend or neighbour could act as 'baby sitter' whilst you are out.

The indoor kennel can be effective to help with both separation anxiety and house training. Providing they are taught that the kennel is their sanctuary and it is furnished with their normal bed, a small bowl of water and their favourite toy, they will feel confident and relaxed. The kennel will prevent them from chewing furniture and it is unlikely they will soil in an area where they may have to lay.

Once your greyhound is confident enough to sleep in the kennel, you can begin to shut the door for periods whilst you are in the room and soon you will be able to leave the room for brief time. Tell them to stay as you move away from the kennel and if they being to whine say 'NO' firmly and continue to leave. When you return and they have been quiet, you should praise them without fuss.

Greyhounds with special needs can take up your time and energy in the early days and weeks, but your efforts will be rewarded. However we would advise that you give careful consideration to your experience in handling special / problem dogs and the work involved when considering these dogs. With the correct care, all of these dogs have great potential to enjoy a happy retirement in a home. Handling advice on each dog will be given and post-adoption support is available, should you require it.

There is nothing worse than taking on a dog and giving up on it. A dog is for life – not to be given up on. Returning them to the kennels after being in a home can often disturb them more. Please think carefully before committing to take on a dog. If, after you have tried everything and things are still not working out – the dog must be returned to the kennels to prevent further distress.

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