So, you’re ready to adopt your first greyhound. It’s an exciting and sometimes overwhelming process. There are lots of things to think about when preparing for the arrival of your four-legged friend. Maybe you have made a few visits to the adoption centre to observe your chosen dog and to get to know each other a bit better. So now you need to think about what things you will have to buy.
Remember, the basic needs of your dog will be food, water, exercise, sleep, interaction and toileting. You’ll want to be ready to meet those needs as soon as your dog arrives home. It’s a good idea to set aside a budget for these items and put a limit on your spending. It can be a bit daunting having to invest so much at the begining. However, it will be an investment and, if you shop carefully, the products should last a long time.
Before adopting our gaglo, Noodle, we received a couple of tips, for example, about what type of collar to get and what type of kibble to use. Other than that we weren’t really sure what we needed. It was through a mixture of internet searching and happy accidents that we got together our set of basic equipment. With hindsight it would have been helpful to have some kind of checklist to make sure we were fully prepared before the ‘gotcha’day. So, is there anything specific that a greyhound should use? Is there anything you should get that will help the transition go a bit more smoothly?
Remember, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” (Alexander Graham Bell)
So, here it is, the list of 16 essential items to have before your greyhound arrives home. Once you have read it download the FREE printable checklist to help you prepare at home.
Martingale Collar and Lead
I recently wrote a post about Martingale collars and why they are essential for sighthounds – so feel free to take a look now. A martingale collar is different from an ordinary collar as it is usually only used for walking your dog. It is especially designed for sighthounds, as they are more prone to slip out of a regular collar. This is because their necks are a larger size than their heads. A regular collar can therefore slip off easily if your dog backs up suddenly or takes fright. Martingale collars are also used to help train dogs which pull on the lead.
In addition to a collar you will need a lead. You can get leads of varying lengths. Initially you may want to get a fairly short leash made of a strong material like nylon. Try to avoid extending leashes as ex-racing or ex-hunting dogs are known to suddenly chase after small animals and could do themselves some damage .
Identification Tag (Name & phone number)
In the UK it is the law to have your dog microchipped and wear an identification tag. You can receive a fine of up to £5000 if you do not have both. The tag should have your name (initial and surname) and an up-to-date address (house number and postcode).
The tag can be attached to a regular collar to wear around the house or in addition to his martingale collar. You may also want to put your phone number on it. If anything should happen and your dog runs off or slips out one day you will be confident someone can get in touch with you once he is found. There are lots of online sellers of ID tags these days and they can be bought easily online or in pet shops or key/cutters.
Why is it a good idea to get muzzle? Well, In the early days, you don’t know how your dog will react when you introduce him to children, visitors or other dogs. So, a muzzle is a way of keeping everybody safe until you get to know your dog much better. The type of muzzle recommended is a basket style muzzle which allows your dog to breathe easily, sniff around, open and close his mouth but at a safe distance.
We bought this one for our dog, Noodle, and used it until we were confident he wouldn’t react when out and about. He adjusted straightaway to using the muzzle. Don’t look at wearing a muzzle as something negative – many ex-racing greyhounds are very accustomed to wearing one and it won´t be a bother for them at all.
Water Bowl and Food Bowl
You will need two bowls – one for water and one for food. Our aluminium bowls are light and easy to clean. The water bowl should be topped up regularly.
Shoulder Height Stand for Bowls
Greyhounds are tall, deep chested animals and it is uncomfortable for them to eat when their bowls are at ground level. Most pet shops have stands which are height-adjustable so that the food and drink bowls can be placed at shoulder height. Here is the stand we use at home.
When we adopted Noodle we bought the same kibble that he had been eating at the shelter. Greyhounds can have sensitive stomachs at the best of times and a move into a strange house plus a change in diet can result in an upset tummy. We wanted to give him some consistency for the first few weeks at least. So, if you can, ask about your dog’s diet and try to give him the same food. It doesn´t have to be forever, at least for the first few days.
There’s a whole range of reasonably priced dog beds online and in the pet shops. Greyhounds take up quite a lot of space when they lay out so you´ll need to get at least a large size. Choose something your dog can spread out easily on. Make sure it is comfy with lots of padding and has a washable cover. Dont go overboard on buying an expensive bed though, because, if your dog is anything like mine, after two weeks he’ll discard the bed and make the sofa his permanent residence.
Dog treats are extremely useful for training and for getting your dog to do what you want it to. Looking back, I wish I’d had some on hand on our first journey with Noodle away from the rescue centre – even just to persuade him into the car and make him feel more relaxed. The first few days you can begin to reward your dog when you catch him doing the right things – when he goes to the toilet outside, when he pays attention, when he responds to his name etc. You can buy ready-made treats in the pet shops or you can improvise. We tend to chop up hot dog sausages into small chunks, pop them in a zip lock bag and use them when required instead. They’re very cheap and Noodle loves them.
Greyhounds have little fat, not much fur and thin skin. This means that in the winter months your dog will really feel the cold and should be protected. If you are adopting just before or during winter then buying a coat is advisable. There are some super online specialist providers of coats for greyhounds. Greyhounds have a distinctive shape so it´s better to buy a coat that is designed especially for their shape. The websites have useful sizing guides to help you measure and work out what size you will need. I also recently wrote a post about greyhounds wearing pyjamas which is definitely worth a look!
When we first adopted our galgo he had no idea how to play – it was just something he had never done before! We would throw a ball to him in anticipation and he would jump away from it with fright. It was a slow process finding out what toys he liked, which ones would be destroyed within the hour and which ones were consigned to the ‘not interested’ pile. It took a while until we discovered that no fill dog toys with a squeak inside were what Noodle enjoyed the most (and they only cost·us €3.50).
My advice is, therefore, don’t spend a load of money on buying expensive plush toys which may be either destroyed in the first day or left outside in the garden and never played with. Maybe a soft toy, a chew toy, a ball and an enrichment toy (something to keep him engaged), such as a Kong would be a good start.
Depending on where your dog has come from, a good wash might be one of the first things your dog needs within the first few days of arriving home. There are lots of lovely doggie grooming products available in pet shops, supermarkets and online. A basic dog shampoo (preferably with natural ingredients) will suffice. If you use a medicated shampoo dilute it well and make sure it doesn’t go in your puppers eyes.
Grooming Mitt or Comb
Although greyhounds don’t have a lot of hair, you’ll still need to keep yours well groomed. A brush may not be necessary – there are a variety of combs and mitts available in pet shops. Our rescue centre suggested using a regular microfibre cloth instead of a brush, which has been sufficient. You will find that in spring when the temperature begins to rise your dog will lose his winter coat and moult for a few weeks. Be prepared to find hairs everywhere! Regular grooming will help with this.
Worm Control Product
Even if your dog was wormed before you get him, it’s a good idea to have a product at home in case it´s necessary. About two weeks after adopting Noodle we discovered with a shock when he was suddenly sick one day that his stomach was full of these parisites. Thankfully one trip to the vet later and he is now worm free. The chances are that if your dog has been around other dogs he will probably have some kind of worm in his stomach. You can buy worm control products online or ask your vet for the proper treatment.
Flea and Tick Control Products
Likewise, your dog should be treated for ticks and fleas before it is adopted. Ticks are dangerous to dogs because they can cause Lyme disease. When you are grooming your dog keep an eye out for bugs and fleas and look out for your dog scratching. Again, you can buy treatments at the supermarket or your vet can advise you on proper treatments. You must check the packet to make sure that the medication prevents ticks as well as fleas. Usually, the medication comes as a liquid in a small tube. You apply the liquid to the centre of your dogs back behind the neck, and down the lower back. The treatment usually lasts for up to a month.
Dog Poop Bags
From day one you’ll be taking your dog out and about and introducing him to the world. In the UK it is a legal requirement to clean up properly after your dog or you will receive a minimum £100 fine. The law states that being unaware that your dog has fouled or not having a suitable bag is not a reasonable excuse. Make sure you are prepared. You can buy poop bags in most supermarkets and pet shops. They often come with a handy container which just clips onto the lead so you will always have them with you.
Lastly, it may take a while for your dog to become accustomed to going to the toilet outside. In the meantime it’s a good idea to have an odour neutralizer handy. This product contains enzymes which will break down the bacteria and get rid of the smell. Some products state that they will prevent your dog from returning to the same spot in the future, although the products I have used have had limited success. Until he’s properly house-trained make sure you keep taking your hound out regularly and reward and praise him when he does his business outside.
I hope you found this list useful. Remember, it’s really important to have everything in place before your greyhound or galgo arrives home. You will want to spend as much of the first few weeks helping him settle into his new environment and routine. One important piece of advice we received when adopting Noodle was that “consistency is key” in those early days. With this list I hope to give you and your hound a helping hand and a problem free start to his new life.
If there is anything else you would like to know or if you have any questions please don´t hesitate to contact me. I will be really happy to hear from you.