Greyhounds are, by nature, incredibly friendly and gentle with children. They enjoy attention and they can be the greatest play mates. However, sometimes, like our other four legged friends, greyhounds can get stressed for reasons we humans don’t quite understand.
This means that no matter how relaxed your greyhound is with little people (or ANY other dog), it’s essential that whenever dogs and kids get together, there’s an adult supervising… an adult who is as good at identifying ‘happy play’ as they are at detecting unexpected signs of disinterest, anxiety or stress.
Here is a short list of tell-tale signs to be aware of:
Relaxed body language
A relaxed greyhound has a relaxed, wiggly body and breathes with ease. If your greyhound stiffens his body or freezes when around children, or if he holds his breath or stops panting, take it as a sign that he’s not feeling comfortable. Intervene to separate the child from your greyhound and give them all some space.
If your greyhound yawns (other than when waking up), licks his lips (other than when there’s food around), or shows the whites on the outer edges of his eyes, he’s telling you he’s becoming overwhelmed. Allow your greyhound time to recover by moving them– or the child – away from the current situation.
It’s easy to understand why a child might not want to stop following your greyhound around the house or garden, and begging him to play as they are a friendly breed. But like all of us, after a while a dog might get tired of ‘playing’ with the kids and he’ll try to gently communicate his desire to take a break.
A dog that chooses to move away from a situation is making a smart choice. Without the power of words, he’s saying, “I don’t really want to get involved, I’d rather do my own thing.” It’s important to recognise this behavioural communication and to support his choice by ensuring the child understands and moves away – this is the best lesson for pooch and child. If this doesn’t happen, your greyhound may choose to make his feelings clearer with a growl. This is an important signal to intervene before your greyhound becomes more frustrated.
Your greyhound will bring immeasurable joy into the lives of children around it, but please, always be on hand to ensure your greyhound is comfortable, confident and relaxed. If there’s any sign of things becoming too exciting, or that your dog is showing any of the signs of fear, anxiety or distress, be quick to make the necessary changes. This will ultimately strengthen the bond and trust between your dog and your children. They are ‘man’s best friend’ for a reason!