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Housetraining
I am finding this the most challenging part of ownership. The basics were established in the first week - but he still occasionally peed in the house for a few months. The key to fixing this was to dog-proof the garden; once he could run outside as and when he needed, he got the idea quickly and now holds on for hours when I am out of the house.

In principle, greyhounds are very clean and won't soil their bed. The trick is to get him happy in one room (with his bed in it) and then to encourage him to see a larger area, and then the rest of the house, as his "bed". Easier said than done!

Getting started
To begin with, take your dog outside every hour, whether this is in the garden or a five minute walk outside the house. This will enable you to learn his needs, and to reduce the chance of accidents. Praise him when he relieves himself outside.

If he relives himself in the house, you should only take any action if you catch him in the act, at which point distract him (I find running towards him crying "no no no!" usually works) and then take him straight outside. When he finishes the job outside, lavish praise upon him, then bring him indoors.

If you don't catch him in the act, simply clear it up. He won't remember or understand if you try to teach him after the event. Never tell him off for going indoors - this will just teach him that he should not let you catch him at it, and he might become unhappy about going in your sight at all, including outdoors on a lead, which exascerbates things.

The first few nights, I put paper down by the back door. He didn't use it for peeing (instead he would use any wooden posts he found such as chair legs and stair posts) but he did use it for faeces. From the start, he had an inclination to only defecate outside, or as near to outside as he could get.

For the first few days your dog will probably have diarrhoea. This is quite usual and is due to stress. During this period he will need to go out frequently and it's not really his fault if he has an accident. Continue to praise him for going in the right place.

If the diarrhoea continues for more than a day, reduce his food (but always provide water). You can also stir a teaspoon of Arrowroot (a thickening agent) into his food. Check that he isn't dehydrated - a simple test is to lift the loose skin on his back and release, if it doesn't quickly slide back into position he is dehydrated. If you are concerned, call your vet. Once the diarrhoea is better, you can begin feeding simple food like cooked plain rice or pieces of chicken, and reintroduce his usual food slowly.

Just as I was beginning to worry with Cray (after about three days of rather loose bowels) and considering calling the vet, it cleared up by itself and all was well. It really is stress-related so make the first few days as calming as possible for the dog.

Peeing
This was a real headache for me. When new to the house, my dog peed on every piece of wood he could - chair and table legs, you name it. If something new was brought into a room such as a cardboard box, that got the same treatment.

There are various ways to tackle this (and I would employ all of them until you find what works for you!) Firstly, keep your dog with you at all times, on a lead looped under your chair if necessary. If he is on a short lead, he won't usually go (this applies to outside the house as well - I keep him on a very short lead when passing things he should not pee on such as the neighbours' cars). At night, he should be with you so he doesn't fret, but either close the door or put up a stairgate, so he is enclosed in the room with you. Dogs rarely wet their "beds" unless they can help it, so it will encourage him to be dry overnight. When he is doing well, give him a little more freedom.

When you are home, take him outside as often as you can. I take him out every 2 hours, and he can't come back in until he has peed (and he knows it!) Of course, take him out before and after you leave the house. Usually he will stay dry for a bit longer if I am out, but I do need to come home at lunchtime. If you can't come home during the day, ask a neighbour to help. It's not fair to expect a dog to hold it all day!

Many dogs go too much, because they drink too much. I started taking up his water from about 8pm, which helped him to be dry overnight. There is no harm in this (as long as your dog is healthy) and it was recommended to me by several people. So help your dog by taking up his water at night, but replace it first thing in the morning.

If he is still going too much, then talk to your vet about restricting his access to water. Mine told me that a saucerful of water will quench his thirst (but always provide a full bowl at mealtimes). So he only has a small amount in his dish at any one time, and this has significantly improved things. When he was in kennels I asked them to take up his water, but they didn't do so - and as soon as he came home he peed three times, copiously, in the house. Restricting water works (but never leave him without any.)

I train my dog to pee on command. Every time he goes, I say "busy busy, good dog! Busy!" Now when I want him to go, I say "be a busy boy, busy dog" and he will start to look for a spot. This is particularly useful if it's raining and you don't want to stay outside for long! Always lavish praise as soon as he starts to go, and give him a few seconds to find a spot after you ask him. Ideally, ask as he approaches his favourite area.

If all this is impractical, or you do have to go out for a while now and then, you can buy peeing posts to encourage him to go in a particular spot. Puppy training pads might also draw him to the area you want him to use.

If he really does keep going, consult your vet. He might have a urinary tract infection and need treatment. At any rate, your vet can offer support and ideas to help.

Always clean up pee. It's very acidic, so clean it with an alkali such as a solution of baking soda, which will neutralise it. Don't use a household cleaning product - they can smell of ammonia and he will think you have marked the same spot, and keep using it!

Once you have got the peeing sorted, it can be worth hiring a carpet cleaner, to rid the house of any doggy smell (and to remove any incentive for him to mark the same spots). You can hire a carpet cleaner from most branches of Safeway for around £15 per day, plus cleaning fluids.

Pooping
I have never had a problem with this - he always waits to go out, unless he has diarrhoea in which case he will run to go by the back door.

However, if your dog goes in the house, you should keep encouraging him and praising him when he goes in the right place, and keep him with you at all times (on a lead if necessary) so he cannot go without you seeing him.

It's easy to spot when he is about to go, he will look as though he is picking a spot to lie down (walking over the same patch in small circles a couple of times) but it's usually somewhere he wouldn't choose to lie - not warm and cosy. Then instead of lying he turns to hover... Try to spot him before he gets to hover his rear end over his chosen spot, and take him straight out.

Even if you know he is due to go, it can take five or ten minutes' walking around before the event. So if you take him in the garden to relive himself, give him a chance! Wander round with him (if you stand still he will often just look at you quizzically) and when he squats, praise!

If he is having a problem holding it overnight, or fitting in with your routine, consider changing his meal times. You could break one meal into two smaller meals. The logic also is that if you feed him at teatime, he will process it overnight and be ready to go first thing. But this didn't work for me as he needed to go overnight, so I stop his food by mid afternoon, and his water at nighttime. This way, he has processed and evacuated all food before bedtime!

I found by changing to dry food the amount of waste produced is smaller, and more regular - after some experimentation with smaller meals of the greyhound feed recommended by the rehoming centre, I ran out on a weekend and had to buy Autarky (a dry food available in Tesco; a similar food from the same manufacturers is available in bigger sacks labelled Gusto). This had a great improvement - he now has one meal a day at lunchtime and there are no problems at all. However, any move to another kind of food should be done gradually. While introducing him to dry food I added gravy to it, slowly reducing the amount of liquid until it was all dry after a week. It's worth noting that the greyhound food produces very wet, copious faeces, whereas regular dogfood like Bakers Complete or Gusto produces less, and it's more able to be picked up!

I often encounter greyhound owners and don't know any that have problems with messing, but if you have a persistent problem please call your vet for advice - they are willing and able to help.


This page last updated: 25 February 2013



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