Reducing Adaptation Anxiety In the Retired Racer

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By Judy Kody Paulsen 

Bringing home a new dog presents a multitude of training challenges. A retired racing Greyhound has a unique background that needs particular consideration during the introduction to its adoptive home. 

Your adoptive Greyhounds have led a very structured life that presented very few changes on a day-to-day basis. Familiarizing them properly with a different routine can make the initial adjustment much less stressful for you and your new pet. 

Remember that they have been in the company of other dogs since birth. They have essentially never been left alone and they could depend on seeing one or more humans at least four times a day, like clockwork. Greyhounds should be "weaned" gradually from this predictable environment, especially if brought into a home with no other pets where the family is gone most of the day. A retired racer can be taught to accept being alone provided each family member, during the adjustment period, is patient and doesn't try to rush the process. Each dog responds differently, but in most instances they will learn to patiently await your return and suffer little or no anxiety. 

Your Greyhound should be brought home when someone will be present to supervise the adaptation for at least two or three days. When you arrive home with your new Greyhound, make every attempt to stay with the dog the rest of that day and night. During this period, you can concentrate on introducing the dog to the house and the area it is to use for relieving itself. The following morning, leave the house (dog inside, preferably in the crate that you were instructed to use) for 10 to 15 minutes. Take a walk around the block, then return. That afternoon, repeat the same procedure, only stay away about an hour. The next day try two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. The first day the family leaves for work/school, someone should return home at lunch. Repeat this for the next two or three days, continually reassuring your pet that you will be back. Hopefully, by the end of the week, your Greyhound will understand that someone will always return home. This helps alleviate the dog's fear that it has been abandoned whenever you leave the house. 

Having more than one dog (be absolutely certain that they have been introduced properly) reduces the likelihood of anxiety when the dogs are left alone. Leaving a radio on helps, as this is a common practice in many Greyhound kennels. Always "childproof" your house before leaving your dog(s) inside, especially now, if the crate is no longer necessary. Don't leave closet doors ajar and be sure no food is within reach on any counters. Put shoes away and remove any articles that may be conceived as "toys." Do leave a blanket or dog bed on the floor where the dog normally sleeps, or leave the crate door open. Some greyhounds like the accessibility of their crate even when they are accustomed to their new home. 

Remember, the learning process can be very easy for some dogs, and not so easy for others, so be patient and you will be rewarded with a loyal, loving companion.