For no particular reason I was reading about greyhounds again today. I didn’t learn anything new (as a former greyhound owner of some 7 or 8 years), but the following passage (from Wikipedia) brought back some good memories:
Behaviour of adopted greyhounds ^
Greyhounds that have been bred for performance on the track have been maintained under unique circumstances. They are bred and raised from puppies for racing.
Racing greyhounds are often caged as much as 22 hours out of the day, and “turned out” for 1/2 hour or so at a time. During this time, they are usually muzzled to reduce the chances of injury should there be any aggressive behavior. While not violent, dogs that are successful at racing tend to be highly competitive, and may challenge other dogs at any time. However, some animals may be very shy and skittish. Additionally any dog that is part of a large pack may become more aggressive than it would be individually.
As a result of these conditions, dogs that come off the track are very different from ordinary dogs. Although usually well-socialized with other greyhounds, they may not understand other dogs. As the lure used to train greyhounds for racing resembles a rabbit, it is not unknown for greyhounds to mistake smaller dogs for a lure, causing them to set chase. As a result, muzzling of greyhounds is considered a courtesy when there is the possibility of meeting other dogs. Further, greyhounds have very thin skin, and may be easily harmed by biting or scratching from other greyhounds or (more commonly) other dogs. As a result, interaction with other dogs should be performed with great care. Similarly, small animals including cats may also be the subject of aggression by some greyhounds. Prior to adoption, agencies generally screen greyhounds for this behavior before being “homed.”
The combination of training and being caged (or “crated”) much of their lives alters the behavior of greyhounds in that many do not know how to play. Although virtually all greyhounds show interest in squeaky toys (particularly furry ones) as a function of their lure training, only a select few will chase balls with any great interest. Most will not immediately know how to play with other dogs. Greyhounds retain a strong chase instinct, and will act upon any sort of motion–cats, rabbits, a leaf blowing across the street, even shadows at night–with great interest, possibly for several weeks or months after leaving the track. The instinct is rarely lost entirely, and as a result, a greyhound may bolt with no warning. With an animal that can hit 45 miles an hour bolting can be a large problem as greyhounds are sight hounds, and often will not be able to find the way home even if it tries.
As greyhounds are trained to spring from an enclosed box at the start of a race, the opening of a door or gate is an invitation to bolt. Similarly, not restraining a greyhound while walking may cause the leash to be pulled from the owner’s hand at the appearance of a cat or other small animal. The greyhound can achieve a velocity of 30 miles an hour in three strides, and with a weight usually around 60-85 pounds, it may be difficult to adequately restrain a determined dog that decides to bolt.
At home, greyhounds may consider the house to be an extension of their crate, which they will usually not voluntarily urinate or defecate in. As a result, housebreaking may be surprisingly easy. As with all breeds, there are exceptions, and some greyhounds may be particularly difficult to housebreak. This condition may be due to an urinary tract infection, a behavioral disorder, or anxiety on the part of the animal. With work, most greyhounds can be conditioned to be housebroken.
Like any dog greyhounds vary widely in their temperament, behavior, levels of activity, and in virtually all other aspects of their personality. Some retired racers seem to “collect” items, such as dolls, books, clothes, or whatever they find around the house, and may hoard them in unlikely places. Racers may also have certain behaviors, such as fearing ceiling fans, that often wear off after a few weeks or months. Greyhounds will not immediately understand windows and glass doors, and may attempt to run through them. Marking windows (usually with opaque tape) at an appropriate height will help prevent injury.
Retired greyhounds are very sensitive animals, and should never be physically punished.
Many owners also find that their greyhounds enjoy resting on beds and sofas.