Are Greyhounds Destructive? How to Stop the Madness

Few people will look at the elegant, docile greyhound and imagine that he would ever destroy anything in the house. 

Well, looks can be deceiving. 

On a list of the Top 15 Most Destructive Dogs, the greyhound ranks 11th. The root cause of most greyhound vandalism is anxiety.

Don’t despair, fellow greyhound lover! Greyhound Homecare is here with insight and solutions from personal experience, as well as that of experts.

Separation Anxiety in Greyhounds

Destructive behavior from a greyhound can be everything from some innocent paper-shredding to full-blown domestic breakage. Greyhound puppies are jokingly known as “landsharks.” The destructive adult greyhound is more like a beaver; chewing doors, cabinets, window frames, and furniture. Some will forget their housetraining. In rare cases, they have even been known to break windows.

Now, before you get completely scared off of getting a greyhound, keep in mind that the root cause of most greyhound vandalism is anxiety, usually separation anxiety.

Every account I have ever heard of a greyhound rampaging through the home has occurred when the dog was home alone. This does not mean that you can never leave your greyhound home alone. Many greyhound owners need to be out of the home for a good part of the day, and never encounter this problem. The story typically goes one of two ways: either it is a new greyhound in the home, or the greyhound has been home for a while, even years sometimes, but the owner has a change in his schedule, which keeps him out of the home for longer than the greyhound is used to.

Destructive Greyhounds: prevention is the best cure

Prevention is the best cure for a destructive greyhound.  On the first day your greyhound comes home, as soon as he has settled down into his bed, walk out of the room. Then, come back. Tell him he’s a good dog. Maybe even give him a treat. Then, walk out of the house and close the door, and come right back. Do this a few times, extending your absence a bit each time. Because of your schedule, you may have a limited window of opportunity to work on this, but the more you can do it, the better chance there is of having a vandalism-free experience with your greyhound.  

Remember, your greyhound has lived the kennel life. He has always been surrounded by his fellow greyhounds in the safe confines of his kennel. Your home is a huge, overwhelming, solitary space; and when the sensitive greyhound is left alone there, he can become very anxious.  Your greyhound loves your presence, he depends on you; and he may fear that you’re not coming back. 

The perfect solution for my household ended up being a very large crate with easily washable, expendable bedding.  I was halfway through the life of my second greyhound, and had cleaned up after many accidents before I discovered this.  Shannon was a very large greyhound, and he hated being home alone.  The crate was a real game-changer for him. We would lure him off his bed with a treat, pick up the bed, set up the crate in its place, and then throw the bed into it. We would toss a cookie onto the bed, and he would lumber right in, and settle down, just like Lily does today. Shannon was a bit more of the anxious type than Lily, so we added an old alarm clock, the kind that you can wind up and it ticks. Shannon always found this very soothing.

By the time I brought home my third greyhound, Lily, we had her bed set up right in the crate, waiting for her. Since greyhounds sleep all the time, anyway, she took to it like a duck to water. It’s very cushy, with an orthopedic gel pad, a nice thick quilt, and several washable pillows. My neighbor calls it her condo.

Whenever the house is empty going to be empty, I just throw a cookie into Lily’s condo, and she zips right in, enjoys her treat, and settles right down. I go to the radio, switch on some classical music (don’t underestimate the power of classical music – it seriously engages the greyhound’s brain), leave a few lights on for her, and she’s just fine. I know she is not going to nibble anything poisonous, destroy anything, or hurt herself. If she has an accident, cleaning it up is a simple matter in this environment. If I have to be away for more than four hours, I will arrange for someone to come in and check on Lily, hang out with her for a few minutes, get her out for a little walk, and give her a snack, before returning her to her condo. This has worked absolutely flawlessly for five years now.

One thing that can feed into the anxiety of your greyhound, is your own anxiety about leaving him. If you can leave with a cheerful air of confidence, your greyhound will settle in much better, and crate time will simply be another nap time. Another huge advantage of crating is that you can put a camera on your dog, and see how he’s doing at all times. I can guarantee you are going to see your dog fast asleep, just like he usually is when you’re home.

If your greyhound seems to need a little more help settling in, you can put a Kong toy in there with a little peanut butter stuffed way down at the end, or you can add something that you have worn. Be sure it’s something rather large, like a large T-shirt or sweatshirt, no socks! I have at least two dogs, right here in my own neighborhood, who are chronic sock- swallowers. As they say, it’s all fun and games, till someone ends up in a cone!

It is Not Cruel to Use a Crate

In my research for this article, I found a couple of people who were very much against crating a greyhound, even expressing fear that an anxious greyhound could completely flip out in his crate and hurt himself (although I noticed they cited no proof or anecdotal evidence of this ever happening). 

I’m sorry to be blunt, but this is simply a crackpot notion; I can’t think of any other way to put it. Perhaps other breeds may struggle with being crated, I can’t say, but greyhounds are very at home in their crates. A greyhounds favorite activity is sleeping, as in over 20 hours a day; that’s how we figured out this would be such a good solution with Shannon. All he ever did all day was lay around in his bed, anyway. It wasn’t the crate that he hated, it was being taken away from his bed beloved bed. Once we placed the crate in his usual sleeping spot, and placed his bed into it, we could barely get him out of it! 

Another suggestion I ran into, which I disagree with, is to leave your dog roaming the house alone all day, wearing a muzzle. Even more ignorant, the justification for this was “they’re used to being muzzled.” Well, they’re NOT used to being muzzled for hours at a time. They’re muzzled to race, and when they are turned-out in a group to relieve themselves; for minutes, not for hours. The dog who is crated will learn to just settle down and take a nap till you return, but that muzzle is always there. Besides, what a determined, anxious greyhound cannot do with his teeth, he will do with his great, strong claws. 

Other Ways Greyhounds Might be Destructive

There are a few additional, concerning types of greyhound destruction that you should know about: digging, landscape damage, shredding, soiling, and nesting.

Digging: greyhound recreation and outdoor nesting

Many greyhounds love to dig in the yard. At the racing kennel, it is not unusual for greyhounds to have quite a project going in there turn out area! Every time they come out, some of them will get together and spend a little time digging in the hallways made. It’s fun. My big greyhound Shannon, used to love digging out a shallow crater for himself, Somewhere in the shade, to lie in on hot days.  Peaches used to just like to do for the heck of it. You could tell she was having a grand time. 

Landscape Damage: greyhounds have big claws

Landscape damage can occur when your dog runs around and around and creates his own racing oval in your yard. Nobody can pull dirt like a greyhound, and when they turn those corners, you will see chunks of turf flying left and right. This is not intentional damage, just a consequence of your dog doing what he does naturally. I would discourage you from disciplining please don’t discipline your dog for this. 

Shredding: how greyhounds relieve stress

Many greyhounds love shredding paper. The best solution for this is to figure out what they enjoy shredding the most, and find an innocent way for them to do that, supervised, of course.  Peaches was partial to my bills, maybe she sensed my antagonism while I was sitting there paying them! We settled we finally settled on me paying the bill,, while she shredded the envelope, and we never had another problem with it.

Soiling: often a medical issue

There is often a medical issue present when your greyhound suddenly breaks his housetraining. Before I got better at preventing UTIs, those were often the culprit of the dreaded puddle. If your greyhound soils his bed, he may have a mobility issue brewing. Check his paws for cuts, splits, imbedded objects, corns, broken claws, or injury. Gently flex his joints to check for arthritis. 

Sometimes, it’s a simply as adjusting his walk/turn-out schedule, especially if you are blessed with extra time with your gailhound. Once he hits 12 or so, you may find your old friend is more comfortable if he can relieve himself regularly every 6 hours. By this point in Shannon’s life, he would spot his bed a bit. I solved this by covering his bed with (baby) crib sheets, a waterproof one and a regular one. He didn’t move around much, so I was even able to slip a large, disposable pee-pad under him. This made everything simple to keep clean. This can be tough, but it’s only for a little while. Embrace it, and cherish your time together – There’s nothing sweeter than an elderly greyhound.

Nesting: an ancient dog-behavior

If you see your dog digging up his bed, provide him with a big, old quilt, or a couple of old blankets, so he won’t shred the dog that you bought him. In this case, the dog is not trying to destroy, but to build. He’s trying to create a cozy nest for himself. 

For More Help, Search “Dog Separation Anxiety

All that said, greyhounds are not often very destructive, but now you’ll know what to do if an incident occurs. Most important, remember that prevention is the best cure.

Enjoy my video on this topic! For further suggestions, type “dog separation anxiety” into your favorite search engine.

By Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too!