Why should I crate train my Greyhound?
Crate training your greyhound is generally a great way to ensure a smooth transition from a kennel environment into a home. A crate gives your greyhound their own space in an unfamiliar house, helps with toileting, cat training, child safety and also protects your home from any mischief a new greyhound could get up to. It is suitable for almost all types of greyhound as it provides comfort and security for the more nervous and shy dogs, and a place to learn to settle for the more outgoing and mischievous types. It is important that your greyhound knows the crate is a safe and comfortable place to be and can be left in there while you are at home before you leave them in the crate while you leave the property.
Step 1: Setting up the crate.
Ex-racing greyhounds are used to having their own space in their kennel environment. Providing them with their very own “bedroom” will provide familiarity and comfort. Although some dogs may prefer to be out exploring their new digs, there’s plenty you can do to help your dog feel at home in their crate.
Start by ensuring that you chose a crate big enough (they should be able to turn around easily, XXL or 120cms long is generally suitable for most greyhounds). You should also make sure it is located somewhere they can keep an eye on their new family, so the lounge area is often ideal. The crate should have a nice soft bed with blankets to nest in, and it is a good idea to have it as the dog’s only bed to start with. Treats, chews and toys are also a good enticement for a dog who would rather be out exploring and chewing in particular is good for Remember to keep children and other animals out of the crate so the dog is able to feel that it is their space. Feeding your greyhound in their crate is a good way to create positive associations – remember to toilet them after they have finished their meal.
Step 2: Introducing your Greyhound to the crate.
Crate training a retired greyhound is slightly different to training other types of dogs as they are used to living in a kennel environment. After your dog has had a chance to check out their new house environment, put them in their crate for some chill out time with some food enrichment. You may need to entice or gently push them into the crate to begin with, but most greyhounds will walk in unassisted. Discourage children or other pets from disturbing them so they can relax in their own space. At this point get on with your day but keep an eye on your greyhound. Put an occasional treat into the crate (provided they are calm and quiet) without making a fuss of the dog, so they learn to be calm and relaxed. Reward the behaviours you like.
Step 3: When to use the crate
For the first few weeks it is best to have your dog in their crate when you are not keeping an eye on them, such as while you are cooking dinner. This helps to ensure you are always there to correct or prevent any unwanted behaviour and bad habits forming (such as peeing on the curtains or stealing the sausages that are defrosting in the sink). Your dog should happily sleep in their crate overnight. Remember to toilet your dog regularly while they are learning to be clean in the house (every two or three hours), first thing in the morning and last thing at night and after meals.
Gradually build up the amount of time you leave your greyhound in their crate when you are not present. Start with just 5 or 10 minutes, and provided they remain calm and quiet, you can gradually increase their time alone. A small water bucket clipped to the side of the crate is a good idea if your dog is being left in their crate for longer periods of time during the day.
A crate is to be used as a training tool not simply for convenience. We recommend no longer than 4 hours of time in the crate without a break during the day unless there is a reason such as veterinary advice. If your greyhound is new to crate training and you need to go out then pop them in the back yard or limit them to one (toddler proofed) room of the house, baby gates or play pens are great for this. Over time as your greyhound relaxes in their crate you can leave them alone for longer periods, but ideally no more than 4 hours at a time.
Step 4: Phasing out the crate.
Once your dog is more settled and understands the house rules the crate door can be left open more often for them to come and go as they please. It is best to do this at quiet times of the day while you can still keep an eye on them. Many dogs will still choose to use the crate as a bed but if you would like them to have another bed now is the time to introduce it (either near the crate or in an area they often spend time). For a dog that has settled in the house the crate can still be used on occasions such as for providing quiet time for a dog that may become overly excited or anxious when guests are visiting.
Frequently Asked Questions:
My dog won’t go in the crate
It is understandable that some dogs would rather be out exploring rather than in the crate. You need to make sure the crate is a happy and good place for your greyhound to be. You can lure your dog in with really good treats and toys, or alternatively place your dog in front of the crate and guide them in via their collar and gentle pressure behind their back legs – make sure to reward them once they are in the crate!
My dog won’t come out of the crate
If your new greyhound doesn’t want to come out of the crate, then the most likely reason is fear, leave them in there with the door open and let them come out at their own pace. You can sit side-on, and toss treats into the crate or just outside the entrance to encourage them out. It’s important not to reach into the crate or force them out. Refer to the Fear and Anxiety resource for more information.
My dog has peed in their crate
Be sure to toilet your dog at least two hours or so while they are settling in. Signs your dog may be asking to go to the toilet could be whinging, looking at the door, turning in circles, standing up, or barking in the crate. It is also important to note that inappropriate urination can be caused by an Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) which will require a visit to the vets. Check out the Toilet Training for more information.