It is important to remember that not only greyhounds chase cats – so do many other dogs!
Greyhounds are sighthounds after all and their instincts have been deliberately bred for chasing and they have been trained to chase something small that is moving. Humans might not even realise this because a greyhound may see something seen to be worth chasing that could be up to half a mile away. But just as Greyhounds show different degrees of competitiveness in a race, they show greater and lesser degrees of interest in small animals.
You will have been advised if the dog you are choosing is considered suitable or not to home with a cat. It is IMPERATIVE, however, that the following sensible precautions are taken until you are confident of your dog’s temperament.
When you make the initial introduction, keep your greyhound muzzled and on a tight collar and lead.
Keep your cat in the room and if your greyhound pulls towards the cat, pull them back and say, “no, leave,” in a firm voice. You may find that a quick shot in the face with water from a water sprayer is also a great deterrent!
If your greyhound reacts to your commands as you wish them to – don’t forget to praise them – treats of small cubes of cheese are often favoured! Do not pick your cat up as this will heighten your dog’s interest.
The next step is to get your greyhound to lie down and relax close to your cat. This step may well depend on your cat’s willingness to co-operate. Some cats may spend time watching the dog from the highest and furthest place possible:- others may be willing to give the newcomer a blow to show who’s boss.
It is always best to favour the cat above the dog as this will give the cat higher authority in the eyes of the dog and it should not be forgotten that we have two temperaments to work with in this introduction.
If your greyhound is scratched by a cat, bathe the scratch immediately with warm water. When you think you are making progress, take away the muzzle, keep the tight collar and lead on and feed your greyhound and cat together. By doing this they are alongside each other but do not have their minds on each other. When you are feeling confident, replace the muzzle and take away the collar and lead. In time, the muzzle can also be removed.
Your greyhound will quickly accept the rules and accept the cat as a member of the family. However, a sensible approach and all necessary precautions should be taken. Ensure the cat has a place to escape. If necessary, put a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs so that the cat can get through but the dog cannot.
Even when the dog accepts your house rules, remember strange cats outside the home may well still be regarded as fair game for a chase, so always be alert when out exercising. If you are letting your dog out into the garden, it is work checking, to make sure there are no cats in your garden.
Until you are confident, it would be unwise to leave your dog and cat alone in the same room. If your cat is not used to dogs in its home there is a risk that it might leave. It is essential that your cat has a collar and identity disc to cover this possibility.
Feel free to contact a member of our Trust and we can put you in touch with one of our many happy dog and cat owners to talk through any of your concerns and questions with you.
Ageing is a genetic process and your dog ages at a much faster rate than you do. Dogs are classed as mature at 18 months. The life expectancy of a dog ranges from 8 to 16 years and varies according to state of health.
Signs of ageing:
Ageing changes occur gradually and may not be obvious to you as you see your dog every day. You might see changes in coat colour, greying of the muzzle, sleep pattern, appetite and thirst, body shape, reluctance to exercise and behaviour. Many of these changes also develop as symptoms of diseases, so have your dog checked by your vet regularly.
Many veterinary practices run senior or geriatric clinics dedicated to offering advice on diet and care for the older dog. Routine healthcare such as annual vaccination boosters, worming and flea control should not be overlooked and should be continued throughout your dog’s life into old age.
There are some notable differences in the nutritional requirements of the older dog. Senior life stage diets take into account altered life styles, levels of activity and declining organ function. Your vet will be able to give you advice when changing from an adult to a senior diet.
Some older dogs require up to 20% fewer calories as they become less active, so weigh your dog regularly (every 3 months). Many veterinary surgeries have scales as well as breed weight guidelines. Adjust the food intake to maintain optimum weight. Obesity is likely to put more strain on the heart, lungs, muscles and joints and may result in a shorter life expectancy. If your dog is overweight, speak to a vet about a calorie control diet.
As activity levels fall, older dogs may start to demonstrate muscle wastage. Supplements such as Cod Liver Oil or capsules and Glucosamine will help prevent joint deterioration. (speak to your vet for more advice). Feeding them little and often avoids overloading their digestive system. (2 meals a day). Their appetite may reduce as the sense of smell and taste diminishes.
Old dogs require extra attention from you. Be kind and considerate and recognise this need for greater input into your dog’s life. Older dogs also tend to need to go to the toilet more often as a result of muscular weakness. Give them more opportunities to go out during the day, later at night and earlier in the morning.
Dealing with anxiety
It is extremely important to remember that your greyhound has never been left alone before. So if you have to leave him at home alone, he may be scared and confused. He’s wondering… Where did you go? Will you return? Where am I?
Here are a few tips to help ease this common separation anxiety:
Practice leaving your greyhound for a few minutes at a time, to start with.
Don’t make a big deal about leaving (If he thinks you’re going somewhere and having more fun than he is then he’ll definitely be upset!) and just leave for 15 minutes at first. If possible, gradually increase this time away to a few hours. He’ll soon get the idea that you’re coming back and his anxiety about you leaving him forever will be eased. An item of worn clothing can provide comfort.
Dog-proof your home
Keep your windows unobstructed from knick-knacks and blinds. Your greyhound will go to the window first to look for you and if there are blinds or other objects in the way, they could get eaten when he gets anxious! Be aware of the danger that your greyhound may try to run through transparent glass in patio or other doors, unless the glass is obscured in some way.
Borrow an indoor kennel for the first few weeks
If anxiety is bad, then borrowing a good-sized indoor kennel for the first few weeks at home, can make a real difference. Your greyhound has always lived in a kennel, so it can be familiar and re-assuring for him, whilst making the transition from racer to pet.
The plan might be to place him in the kennel when left home alone, during the first 2 weeks. Then, when he starts to know the family routine, he’s again placed in the kennel, but now with the door left open, to give him the choice of whether to stay in it or not. After 2 more weeks, the kennel can be returned as your greyhound will now have settled in properly.
But do wait to see how he fares at first before borrowing or even purchasing a kennel – he may be just fine!