Research has shown - like us - that during the first few nights in a new place dogs don't sleep well. This highlights the need to do a little bit extra to set your greyhound up for success. Remember this may very well be their first night sleeping without another greyhound or dog around.
3 Step Bedtime Routine - This routine should take around 20 minutes, which is a small amount of time considering it should help to save you from a sleepless night.
1. Train - Learning will help to tire your hound out, so get the treats and do a short 5 minute training session. This could be practicing a hand touch, eye contact, or a ‘down’, choose to train exercises that don't require much movement so it’s not too exciting. Alternatively, you could try massage, careful, light circular motions in the direction of the fur may help them to relax around bedtime.
2. Toilet - Take your hound outside in the garden on the lead (to prevent zoomies and accidents en route) to go to the toilet. Say your cue e.g. “busy” and wait with them while they go to the toilet.
3. Chew - Set your hound up in their crate to go to sleep. Chewing is a stress relieving behaviour so providing them with something to chew on can help them to settle down. Alternatively, you could smear some peanut butter on a Kong or a piece of Tupperware for them to lick off. Essentially, we want to give the dog something to do independently for 5-10 minutes rather than focusing on you.
The First Week Plan - The aim is that over the first week your hound starts sleeping well in places they are comfortable while a relationship between the two of you develops and they become familiar with their surroundings.
Note: If you have another dog, your hound may happily settle down in a crate in the same room as them or loose in the same room, as sleeping near other dogs is what is familiar to them, in which case there may be no need to follow this plan.
Night 1-3 - For the first three nights where distress and vocalisations are more common, we advise the hound sleeps in the same room as you, even if they are sleeping well.
If you are uncomfortable with the dog sleeping in the same room as you, you can try them just outside the door or somewhere you can hear and reach them quickly if they become distressed. Alternatively, you could sleep in the lounge beside the dog in the crate, and then over several days move further away from their crate in the lounge and then finally back in your bed.
Night 4-6 -On the next three nights, or when the hound is sleeping through the night, move their crate further away from your bed. This may be to the other side of the room, or to just outside of the bedroom doorway.
Night 7 - On night seven, we suggest trying the hound out in the room you wish to have them sleep in the future.
When the plan doesn’t go to plan
Sometimes the plan doesn’t go to plan. If we allow the dog to continue being distressed, their body’s flight or fight response kicks in and provides them with energy – which is the last thing we want when trying to get them to go to sleep! With that in mind, we do want to give them a little time as on occasion a dog might vocalise and then return to sleep, but if they begin to escalate (increased movement, louder, longer, and higher pitched vocalisation) we need to intervene.
Without talking or making a fuss, clip their lead on and walk them outside as they may need to go to the toilet. Ideally choose the place where they have been to the loo before bed. Allow at least 5 full minutes before you come back in and pop them back in their crate with something to do for 5-10 minutes.
If your hound isn’t settling, then you need to take some steps back in the plan to give them more time to get used to sleeping on their own. Remember they are experiencing a complete change of routine, are in an unfamiliar place, and have likely never slept on their own before now.
Important note: some greyhounds exhibit a “sleep startle” response and if disturbed by touch when sleeping can snap when awoken. Greyhounds can sleep with their eyes open which can make it difficult to tell if they are awake, speaking to them and allowing them to wake up and orient themselves rather than touching them is a safer way to wake any dog while sleeping. It is likely greyhounds are prone to sleep startle due to having had their own individual kennel area to sleep in undisturbed and aren’t used to the interruptions of domestic living. For this reason, we recommend for safety that greyhounds do not sleep on human furniture and have somewhere away from children that they can sleep.