If you have had your hound any length of time you will most likely have quite a few bits and bobs for him. With this months blog I'll take you through some of my favourite and not so favourite hound apparel.
Unless you have a phenomenally warm house, odds are your hound will need jammies for at least part of the year, especially in winter. My rule of thumb is, generally, if temperatures are in the single digits it's time to rug up. Some hounds run a little hotter or colder than others so it pays to get to know your own hound. For some reason we have managed to collect quite the wardrobe for our hounds in this department and I don't think we are the only ones!
My hound raincoats are worth their weight in gold some days. The difference in drying a hounds head, legs and tail vs the whole body with a towel is quite a big one. Unless it is super crispy (a frost) outside I don't tend to put raincoats on unless it is raining. I find my hounds soon overheat and I end up carrying their coats. But if you are out in the winter months and planning stopping on your walks and adventures I would definitely put on coats as they do cool down very quickly if not moving.
A muzzle is necessary in every greyhound owner's kit. Be it for GAP runs, introductions or just keeping you calm. Though they aren't the prettiest thing to look at, they take a lot of risk (for you and your hound) out of possibly risky situations. If you are ever in doubt with your hound PUT THE MUZZLE ON. Though the majority of hounds are super laid back creatures, you never know what is round the corner. It is better to keep your hound safe than be sorry.
Collars are another accessory that bring out the collectors in us. Most hounds I know have at least two. Martingale collars are by far the most suitable collars for greyhounds. Most hounds have heads smaller or the same size as their necks which means they can easily slip a normal flat collar, or it has to be done up rather tight so it doesn't slip off. Also they have long skinny necks so the collar needs to be wider than the average collar to protect their neck.
For everyday use my preference is the Black Dog martingale collars. These are very sturdy, don't slip and have small D rings on them that don't get in the way.
The GAP shop has a large assortment of flat ribbon martingale collars which are also a good choice for your hound. Do watch them as some loosen a bit with wear depending on the fabric they are made of.
A good tip if your hound is a bit pully on the leash is to have the martingale part of the collar underneath the hound's neck. By doing this he can't get the same leverage on the collar as he pulls because it moves. Another tip is to loop the lead around your hound's neck too. This creates a slightly different pressure if he is used to pulling on the collar and can be a great start to get your loose leash walking underway. It also means you have your hound securely by your side with the decrease in the length of leash he has available.
In my opinion a choke chain collar (or anything like it) should not ever go around a greyhound's neck. The shape and the length of a greyhound's neck makes it a rather fragile structure and a chain is going to hurt them more than help you. In saying that I am not a fan of choke chains on any dog.
Not all harnesses are created equally and if you have a look online there are loads to choose from. They must be well fitting and my preference is one with a front fastening option and that it doesn't restrict shoulder movement.
Back fastening harnesses can be useful for recall training on a longline but I don't like them for dogs that you are working with not to pull when walking. Because of where the pressure is with the leash behind the movement, hounds (or any dog) can quickly learn to pull to get where they are going and the front strap creates a nice wide piece of fabric for them to get leverage on and pull you down the road.
We had a foster hound a couple of years ago and though she didn't pull on the leash, she did get super excited about life and would just explode in a massive jump in the air at nothing and loved doing 360's really fast afterwards. I found I was constantly worried about choking her when these episodes happened. A dog trainer I use recommended the Sense-ation Harness and it was love at first walk. I have since tried these on a few hounds with great results. And they can be clipped with the lead to the collar as well for more control.
With the change in pressure of a front fastening harness (across the shoulder as the dog pulls) it is a completely different sensation for your hound, allowing you to take to opportunity to reinforce good behaviour. Also if fitted correctly they are very hard to slip.
Halti's and Headcollars
Halti's are great for controlling the face of a dog. With greyhounds having a particularly delicate neck, if you use a halti you do need to be careful with them. Mainly by keeping a reasonably short leash with not a lot of slack so your hound doesn't suddenly take off, get to the end of his longer than necessary leash and get injured as his head is suddenly whipped back the other way.
For this reason if you have a pulling hound I would go for a harness mixed with retraining to walk nicely on the lead rather than a halti. However if you have a reactive hound, a halti can be very helpful with facial control. I have seen a harness and a halti used together with great results. The halti is only put to use if it is really necessary in controlling the dogs face.
There is a bunch of dog paraphernalia out there, not all of it suitable for greyhounds. But as the greyhounds get more and more popular as pets, so does the range of goodies we can purchase for our hounds.