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Greyhound behaviour

When adopting a greyhound, it is important to consider their unique behavioural needs. Greyhounds coming from a racing background often have different behavioural challenges compared to other breeds of dogs or even other adopted dogs. Here are some factors to consider when adopting these special hounds

Photo by Tonia Kraakman on Unsplash

Separation anxiety

Greyhounds are social dogs and can be prone to separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can lead to destructive behaviour, such as chewing on furniture or excessive barking. It is important to gradually acclimate your greyhound to being alone, starting with short periods of time and gradually increasing the duration. Providing plenty of toys and puzzles can also help keep your greyhound entertained while you are away from the home. Similarly, providing plenty of exercise and a good routine can help prevent these behaviours. Most greyhound adoption groups will provide a detailed description of what sort of home a particular hound is suited to, and it is important to consider if your home is the right one for said hound. 

Prey drive

Greyhounds are bred for racing and have a high prey drive. Signs include stalking, freezing, fixed and focused eyes, lunging and excessive tail wagging. They are instinctively attracted to small animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, cats and even small dogs. It is important to closely supervise your greyhound around small animals and ensure they are kept on a lead or in a securely fenced area when outside. Training can also help redirect your greyhound’s prey drive. If your hound has a strong prey drive, in the interest of keeping everyone’s pets safe, it may be best to keep a muzzle on them in public. This is especially important when introducing them to new animals or unpredictable environments, at least initially, even if it is not a legal requirement in the area you live in. It is important to remember that their prey drive is not borne out of malice or intention but from years of being bred for this purpose, so we need to be responsible in how we manage them.Fearfulness

Greyhounds coming from a racing background may have experienced trauma or fear-based training methods. This can lead to fearfulness or anxiety in certain situations, such as loud noises or new environments. Gradual exposure to new situations and positive reinforcement training can help build confidence and reduce fearfulness. Things that we take for granted in our everyday lives can be completely new and terrifying to a greyhound that has lived in an outdoor kennel and/or spent the majority of its life on the racetrack. I’ll never forget our first foster hound, Buster, who walked straight into a swimming pool as he’d never seen one before and had no idea what it was. Luckily, we were able to get him out without too much fuss, but it made us realise how little exposure some of these dogs had had. Stairs, sliding doors, tile or wooden floors can all be similarly intimidating to new greyhounds so taking it super slow and being patient will go a long way to ease their fear around these new experiences.

Lead reactivity

Greyhounds can be reactive when they are on a lead, particularly when encountering other dogs. This can manifest as barking, lunging, or pulling on the lead. Training and desensitisation techniques can help reduce lead reactivity and make walks more enjoyable for both you and your greyhound. Take it slow when starting out, and reward calm behaviour while on a lead to reinforce that your hound is doing a great job-they’ll pick it up a lot quicker if you respond positively.


Greyhounds coming from a racing background may not have been housetrained. It is important to establish a consistent house training routine and reward your greyhound for going to the toilet outside. Crate training can also be helpful in preventing accidents inside the house. This is a huge topic, so we’ve got a whole blog post dedicated to it here!

Sighthound quirks

Greyhounds are sighthounds and have unique behaviours and instincts compared to other breeds of dogs. They are known for their “roaching” behaviour, which involves laying on their backs with their legs up in the air. This is an adorable thing to witness, and if your hound starts doing this, it means they are comfortable and relaxed. 

One of the other marvellous things you’ll see a happy greyhound do is ‘teeth chattering’. I remember being so confused when our first boy Buster did this on the way home from the adoption agency, only to find out that that was his way of showing that he was happy! Greyhound teeth chatters are the absolute best thing to experience, especially if your hound has been quite shy or reserved to begin with. We once fostered a little black greyhound who had been too timid to race, and was being adopted out as a result of her ‘failed racing career’. She was so timid when we brought her home, she wouldn’t even come near us. It took a lot of care and gentle coaxing, but as Birdy became more comfortable with us, her playful nature was revealed, and she started to chatter her teeth happily whenever she saw us. 

Greyhounds may also be prone to “counter surfing” or stealing food from counters or tables. We’ll never forget the time our first boy Buster did this, and stole an entire stick of butter off the kitchen table! He was very happy with himself, but the clean up afterwards was far from pleasant. Imagine buttery poop. Yup, that’s what we had to clean. 


Socialisation is important for all dogs, including rescue greyhounds. Greyhounds coming from a racing background may not have been socialised with other breeds of dogs or people. Gradual exposure to new people and dogs in a controlled environment can help your greyhound become more comfortable with social situations. 

As you can see, there’s a bit to consider when adopting (or even fostering) a rescue greyhound. Separation anxiety, prey drive, fearfulness, lead reactivity, housetraining, sighthound behaviours, and socialisation are all important considerations when bringing one of these hounds into your home. Positive reinforcement when training and gradual exposure to new situations can help address and prevent these behaviour challenges. As always, if you’ve got any questions or would like to know more about something, please get in touch-we’d love to hear from you!        

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