Are Greyhounds Good Apartment Dogs: how-to’s for happiness

You’d love to have a sleek, stately greyhound, but you live in an apartment.  You wonder if it would work out, a large, gangly dog, who is usually associated with running 40 mph.  You ask yourself:

“Are greyhounds good apartment dogs?” Greyhounds, though typically not bred to be pets, adapt surprisingly well to apartment life. They are content, even more secure, in cozy spaces. Older greyhounds, in particular, are practically silent and sleep over twenty hours a day. The greyhound must be patiently trained to feel comfortable in noisy city environments, however, as sudden loud noises can cause them to become extremely frightened.

This article will walk you, step-by-step, through the many considerations of a tenant who is considering getting a greyhound.  These phases are as follows:

  1. Deciding whether a greyhound would be right for you, in your current lifestyle
  1. Preparing for the day your greyhound comes home
  1. Getting started on the right foot…or right paw 🙂
  1. Going forward in building a confident, loving relationship with your pet

If you already have a greyhound, and are moving to a rental, there is a section just for you at the bottom of the article.

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Is a Greyhound Right for You and Your Apartment?

Let’s start with you.  You might be, potentially, a fantastic greyhound owner, given the right situation.  There are certain lifestyles that lend themselves to greyhound ownership better than others.  

Are You Ready for 3 Walks a Day?

The owner who has a fenced in yard, for example, has the luxury of being able to turn the dog out into the yard to do his “doggie business.” This is often not the case for apartment dwellers.  Ironically, I live in the country, and it’s not the case for me, either!  I live on a property that would be difficult to fence in for several reasons, so Lily needs three walks a day.  When we moved here with our 14-year-old greyhound, Shannon, he was an old guy, who needed four walks a day, so that was quite a commitment.  

This is an easier consideration, if you are not living alone.  My husband and I share walking responsibilities.  My kids are hand to help out, so I’m not chained to the house.

If you are living alone, you will need to consider who will walk your dog when you are unable to; whether it’s hiring a dog-walker to come in while you are working full-time, or just someone who can help you out if you’re sick for a few days or away for the day.

Living With Greyhounds on Upper Floors

If you are living on an upper floor, your greyhound will need patient training to get up and down with ease.  If this involves stairs, greyhounds do better with some types than others.  The kind that are open at the back, such as stairs up to a deck, tend to frighten greyhounds.  They will also struggle with any hard, uncovered stair.  Carpeted stairs are a big plus!

Another challenge of having a greyhound on an upper floor is that you will need to keep his walks on a fairly strict schedule.  After all, if it takes a while to get him down to the “potty,” it’s not going to be practical to lounge around until he lets you know when he needs to go.  In addition, greyhounds are often “silent signallers,” meaning that his idea of “letting you know” may be nothing more than flicking a quick glance between you and the door.

Consider how you would handle stairs as the dog ages.  Are you strong enough to assist him up and down the stairs? Could you carry him down in an emergency?

Learn About Greyhounds BEFORE You Get One

Given these considerations, you want to learn as much as possible about greyhounds.  Facebook has several greyhound groups.  My personal favorite is the Greytalk forum (linked below), because it is organized by topic and easily searchable.  Both types of forums give you access to the most knowledgeable greyhound people in the world, and they are so generous with their time and advice, you will be amazed.  It is crucial to settle these concerns BEFORE adopting.

Does Your Rental Allow Greyhounds?

If you decide you would do just fine with a greyhound in an apartment, you want to learn if the property on which you live will allow one.  Are there size restrictions? 

If so, speak with your property manager to see if there is any flexibility in the rules.  What you may find is that the building’s insurance policy disallows pitbulls.  Because many a pitbull owner will argue that his dog is not a pitbull, it’s simpler for the owner to just restrict all dogs over a certain weight.  Some will consider dogs on a case-by-case basis, though; so make yourself knowledgeable enough about greyhounds to make your case.

A shortcut for this problem would be to downsize your expectation to a whippet!  This adorable greyhound cousin also makes a lovely apartment dog.

Preparing for Your Greyhound to Come Home to Apartment Living

By this point, you have probably read enough to know what you’ll need to buy.  If not, finish that book first!

Of course, you’ll want to have a dog bed or two set up, with a cozy blanket.  Figure out where you want to put his feeding stand.  It’s also good to get his coat right away, if cold weather is imminent.  Plan your new greyhound’s homecoming for when you have vacation time to stay home and train. This alone will greatly reduce the chance of problems. 

Let your friends and family know that the dog will need to settle in a bit before he has any visitors. 

Greyhound Leash/Collar Options

  • Never a retractable. Greyhounds have been killed in unfortunate incidents with these. 
  • Harness with handle on the back. A lot of city owners like these, because it gives them an easy way to smoothly move the dog along, should he balk or freeze. 
  • Gentle Leader. This is a small head collar that looks a bit like a horse’s harness!  Even more effective than the harness at moving the dog along.
  • Martingale collar.  This is kind you get from your adoption group.  Overall, a very good choice, when correctly fitted.  If not, he can back right out of it, or even just shake it off.

Greyhounds in Apartments: Get Off to a Good Start

On your first day home, show him his outdoor toilet area BEFORE bringing him indoors to see his new home. He’ll probably be ready for a “pit stop,” anyway.

Elevator Training a Greyhound

Once he’s done with his bathroom business, you’ll need to get him into your apartment.  If you are on an upper floor, this will mean it’s now time to introduce him to the stairs or elevator.  If at all possible, have a friend run ahead and secure the elevator for you, so that it is still and quiet the first time your dog enters it.  That way, he’ll think he’s just entering a room.  

⚠️CAUTION⚠️: Make sure he doesn’t get his foot caught in the space between the floor and the car!   It’s easy to not realize what skinny, little feet greyhounds have, until one of them gets stuck someplace.  The skin on his foot is very thin, and they bleed like crazy, so make sure ALL FOUR PAWS clear that little hurdle going in and out.

Also, be prepared for him to get startled when the doors close, and again when car begins moving.  Just cinch up the leash and hold him next to your leg to prevent him from bolting. You may even find that he leans on your leg for comfort.

Training a Greyhound to Use Stairs

 If your stairs are carpeted, or have carpet treads or a runner, this will be very easy. 

It is MUCH easier going up, than going down!  You may think it would be the opposite, but the greyhound’s build makes this so.  With that deep chest, his weight is in his front end, towering on long legs.  Along with that, stubbornness, his weight, and gravity may conspire against you for an awkward experience. 

The good news is that once he gets going, your greyhound will pick it up really fast!  Here are a few ideas to get you over this hump. 

Be intentional.  Approach the stairs briskly, with the dog on-lead, and start right up with NO hesitation. 

Walk the dog on the wall side of the staircase.  Some greys feel nervous about the open space, and will feel more secure this way. Plus, it frees up the bannister for your support. 

Place a small treat on each stair.  My teenaged son stair-trained our Lily in just a few minutes using this trick. 

Get an assistant.  Another way to stair-train a greyhound is to have one person behind him and another person in front of him.  Greyhounds are very agile – They can back up and even turn around in narrow spaces.  The stronger person needs to be on the lower stair, because he will be supporting the weight. 

Once you’re all in position, you can encourage the greyhound up, one paw at a time, if need be. I know this is strenuous, but you won’t have to do it for very long. Remember, the dog is perfectly capable of climbing the stairs; he just needs to realize this for himself! 

Add some support.   This where a harness with a handle on the back may come in handy.  

Before you try to get him up the stairs, see if he will walk properly on the leash. If he has raced, he is trained to walk on your left, close to your side.  It also helps for him to watch others going up and down the stairs a few times.  If someone is with you, he can demonstrate for your dog.  

One more thought, before you two start up the stairs – If you are in an enclosed area, remove the leash.  If the dog falls on the stairs and gets caught up in his leash, he could be seriously injured or break his neck.  

Once your pup sees the demonstration, back up about 10 steps, and with the dog on your left side, get hold of his collar and his harness handle.  Begin walking confidently to the stairs.  When you get there, do not hesitate, do not miss a step.  Just start right up those stairs.  With any luck, he’ll go with the flow and you’ll be up the stairs before you know it!

Tips for Walking your Greyhound in the City

The many new sights, sounds, and smells of the city can overwhelm your new pet.  Walk the quietest possible route.  Otherwise, the assault on a greyhound’s senses can cause him to try to bolt in panic, or stall in the middle of a walk.  He may plant himself, refusing to continue, or even turn back.  

To avoid this, lead confidently.  Walk briskly, looking ahead; not checking in with him, as though seeking his permission.  Anticipate hesitation and keep the dog moving; don’t give him a chance to plant himself.

If he does stall, wait a minute and let him look around a bit.  Occupy yourself with something else for that minute, because you don’t want him to get the notion that he’s in charge of deciding when you go and when you stop.  Then, casually back yourself up, as far behind him as you can (without letting go of the leash), leaving him where he is.  If he watches you, pretend you’re backing up to look at something.  Start off briskly, passing him and bringing him snappily along.  As with the stairs technique described above, the idea is to distract him with your momentum, and sweep him up in it.  Greyhounds have a natural competitive streak, and dislike being passed.

Always be ready for him to startle at a loud sound or fast movement.  Greyhounds can bolt hard and fast, tearing the leash right out of your hand!  This would spell disaster in a busy area, with cars nearby.  Here are a few things which have scared my dogs in the past:

  • Garbage collection
  • Vehicle blowing its horn, especially emergency vehicles
  • Sirens
  • Delivery trucks opening their gates or large, metal rear doors 
  • Bicycle whizzing by
  • Streetcar passing
  • Snowplow dropping its blade, or plowing
  • Thunder
  • Gunshots, even off in the distance (I know this one from living in a rural area, where there’s hunting)

Don’t overwhelm him indoors, either, when new.  When a  sighthound is in a new environment, he prefers to get comfortable in a spot that’s off the beaten path, and just observe for a while.  Go about your routine and let him settle in.  

He may be restless at night, at first.  If he’s whining and it’s keeping you awake, you will find this article helpful:

Tips for Successful Apartment Living with a Greyhound

This great tip comes from Dr. Fiona Caldwell…

Always keep your greyhound free of parasites and vaccinated, in order to prevent parasitic and infectious diseases. In the rare case someone accuses your dog of biting, proof of vaccination will be paramount.”

Dr. Fiona Caldwell

Spend extra, dedicated time with him every day. This will build the secure bond of trust needed to help him adjust to city life. 

Dog parks can be fun for your greyhound.  Remember, though, that he may be unfamiliar with other dog breeds, so make careful introductions.  Keep him away from small dogs entirely.  Greyhounds can misunderstand that they are other dogs, and try to hunt them.  For this reason, a kennel muzzle is a consideration.  

If you hire a dog walker, try to get one who has some experience with greyhounds. If not, you will need to educate them.  If he’s going to walk your greyhound along with a pack of other dogs, which includes small dogs, he should muzzle the greyhound, at least until he gets to know and understand the other dogs.

Even though greyhounds are very clean, they do shed a certain amount of hair and dander.  Luckily, they do not need much grooming, but he will need more attention in a smaller space.  You can take him outside (or out into the hallway, in bad weather) to clean him up a little.  First, go over him with a few strokes of a damp washcloth.  Then, brush out his coar.  It’s so short, you’ll be done in a few minutes.  Go over him with the washcloth one more time, to remove any loose hair.

Another good article to read is this one.  It’s about destructive greyhounds, but the solutions in it also work for greys who bark you’re not home. 

If you’re having any problems that you can’t seem to work out, do not hesitate to reach out to the agency from which you got the dog.  Hopefully, they can point you in the right direction.  

If you think you may not be able to keep your dog, return him quickly to your adopting agency (in weeks) if it’s not working out. Never, ever take him to a shelter or pound. 

For Greyhound Owners Seeking Apartments

What if you already have the greyhound, and it is your housing situation that is changing?  You will need to find a rental that accepts large dogs, or a landlord who will hear you out while you make the case that your greyhound will make a good tenant.  I’ve linked to a fantastic article, by Jody Frederick, at the bottom of this page, which describes the problems you may encounter, and how to work through them.

Frederick outlines how to compile a portfolio of info about your dog, including letters of reference attesting to the dog’s good behavior and quietness.  Then, she gives tips about communicating directly with the owner of the property. 


Dr. Fiona Caldwell (apartment living tips)

Greytalk forum (extensive apartment living tips)

Jody Frederick (locating a greyhound-friendly rental)

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!