Tips for Forming a Strong Bond with Your Greyhound
April 12, 2023 09:56
Greyhounds can have a lot of variability throughout their lives, which is why it is critical to form a strong bond with them (and vice versa) to have a successful relationship.
Bonding with your dog creates a sense of security, safety and structure, which makes it easier for them to settle into their home environment.
Conversely, behavioural problems can develop when there isn't a solidified bond between dog and adopter. If a dog does not have an attachment figure, they can become insecure or anxious about their environment and routine. As greyhounds (like all dogs) are socially obligate animals, being able to form positive social relationships is essential for their welfare.
What can I do to strengthen the bond between me and my dog?
In the short term, when you first adopt a greyhound, one of the most important things you can do is create a consistent routine.
Many of us struggle with change (such as moving house), and greyhounds are no exception. When greyhounds transition from a kennel environment to a home environment, it can be quite unnerving.
In a short amount of time, they have to figure out where their bed is, where they can toilet, breakfast time, walk time- it’s a big learning curve! So establishing a predictable routine can help dogs ease into this transition and will in turn fast-track your bond as they will associate you with all the comforts and positivity of their new home.
One of the most fundamental training skills to practice with your dog is name recognition (read our recent article here).
This simply means helping your dog to respond to their name and is easily accomplished by providing your dog with a tasty treat every time you say their name. This and other training activities (such as rewarding the dog for going to their bed).
Just engaging in those games by offering a reward for positive behavior or desirable behavior, helps your dog to form a strong positive association with you as their adopter.
Exercise is an often underrated but highly beneficial activity to engage in with your dog. For most dogs, this will mean a daily or twice daily walk. Some higher energy greyhounds might also enjoy a brisk jog but, as greyhounds are not endurance athletes, these will often be brief.
Walking with your dog is incredibly enriching as it allows them to engage in exploratory behaviour such as sniffing and introduces them to new sights and sounds. As you accompany them, this will also elevate their perception of you as their owner as they relate your presence to this fun activity.
Playing games with your dog can strengthen your relationship because you become part of the fun.
Play allows you to interact with your dog in a light-hearted way and be directly involved in making them happy.
The key to having successful play sessions with your greyhound is learning what activities they enjoy whether that’s chasing a ball, looking for scattered treats in the yard or playing zoomies with their human or doggie companions.
Spending time together
This sounds very simple, but it is extremely important for bond formation.
As humans, we always tend to have busy lives. Some of us work out of our homes for 8 to 10 hours a day and we're away from our dog. So, just taking time out of your life to just sit with your dog, watch TV and give them a scratch under the chin, will go a long way towards bonding with them.
It has been empirically proven that patting a dog releases endorphins such as serotonin and oxytocin in both parties. Even when you are just a passive presence, this will help your dog learn to confidently explore and engage in the environment around them.
Knowing when your dog has had enough
Every greyhound is an individual with unique needs and tolerances for interaction.
A good way to gauge whether your dog wants to interact with you is to perform a consent test.
This involves gently stroking your greyhound and then pausing to see how they react. If the greyhound comes in for more, then they are letting you know, "More attention, please!" If they move away or stiffen, that is a reliable indication that they have had enough attention for now and would likely prefer some space.
One common mistake that new greyhound owners can make is overexposure (i.e. doing too much too soon), which can impair bond formation.
One example is a newly adopted greyhound freezing when their owners attempt to go for a walk. The dog’s body language indicates that they are not comfortable with walking while their well-meaning owners try to encourage the dog to keep walking because they know walking is beneficial.
This disconnect can cause dogs to associate their adopter with stressful events and negative emotions. This might lead to a dog that retreats when their owner picks up the lead as they anticipate the experience to be stressful. This is why it’s best to have realistic expectations of your dog, especially regarding the time it can take for a newly adopted greyhound to settle into their new home and routine.
Learning about your greyhound pre-adoption
At GAP NSW we like to run through quite a series of emotional and behavioural assessments, to help give us an idea of that hound’s particular likes and dislikes. This includes gauging the greyhound’s sociability towards people in both kennel and home settings.
Our observations help us ascertain what kind of home or lifestyle would best set this dog up for success.
If we have an adopter who has that request, they want a really social dog, then we will know in ourselves, "what dogs do we have that are social that will meet the needs and expectations of that adopter that will then be able to thrive and bond with them?”.
Ready to meet your new best mate?
Our matching process and the behavior work that we do is uniquely tailored to try and figure out the best match for the adopter.
At our Adoption Centres, we have an appointment base set up where potential adopters can sit with the greyhound and spend time together. There are toys available to play with, and you can spend as little or as much time as you need.
We are accommodating as we need to make sure that the fit is correct for both the adopter and most importantly, for the greyhound.
If you’re interested in adopting, your best point of call is to visit our website and under the adoption page, fill out an application.
Once the application form is received one of our staff members will be in touch with you to ask you for more details and hopefully, book you in for an appointment, and starting your bond with your new best mate.