Don’t let that sleepy persona fool you – Deep down inside your placid greyhound is a playful rascal, just waiting to bubble out!
How to play with your greyhound is by using simple toys and games which appeal to his innate characteristics, such as his prey drive and his tendency toward brief bursts of energy.
This Greyhound Homecare list of 20 greyhound-tested-and-approved games includes tips and a few favorite items from Lily’s toy basket. Play is beneficial for greyhounds. Even though they tend to be very well-behaved, they can inadvertently destroy things if they don’t have a safe way to expend their short bursts of energy. Regular play also keeps their minds sharp; which helps ward off dementia, should you be blessed with an elderly hound. I promise you’ll find something here guaranteed to bring out the inner puppy in your greyhound.
Tips for Playing with your Greyhound
Moments, Not Minutes – Keep it short! Greyhounds tend to play for just a minute, or even seconds, and then it’s over. When your greyhound signals that the game is finished, give him a friendly pat and tell him he’s a good dog.
Be Consistent– Greyhounds love routine; it makes them feel secure. Your greyhound will love it if you play with him at the same time every day.
Respect their Quirks– Remember, greyhounds are a breed apart! Aside from only wanting to play for a few seconds at a time, you may also find that your particular greyhound wants to be by himself when playing with a toy, and may stop playing if you enter the room or look at him.
Get creative! Greyhounds may reject the normal regimen of doggy games, such as playing fetch and learning tricks. Get creative! Watch for things that amuse your greyhound; because those things will become new games, and those games will become cherished memories.
20 Greyhound Games & Toys
While your greyhound is lying on his side, rub his flank briskly with your flat hand. Then, stop for a moment, and wait to see his reaction when you stop. He will usually respond by picking his head up and looking at you, curious as to why you stopped. Resume rubbing his flank, and stop again. Don’t be surprised if he actually moves to make a little play-nip at you!
Love Me and Leave Me
There are a couple of other ways you can begin this game: briskly rub the top of his snout with your fingertips, or briskly scratch just above the base of his tail, or slide your fingers between his hip and the floor and lift slightly and gently.
Give Me Those Paws!
Play this game when your greyhound goes into a play stance,and has his paws pointing toward you. Snatch lightly at his paws with your fingertips, saying “Give me those paws! Give me those paws!” He will pull his paws back, maybe dance around a little bit, before going into another play stance in front of you for another round of the game.
It is a smaller percentage of greyhounds who will play a classic game of fetch with you. Further, if you try to model how to play (with you doing the fetching), your greyhound is more likely to think the point of the game is to watch you fetch.
If he sees another dog playing fetch with you, there is always the chance that he will catch on. Greyhounds who do enjoy playing classic fetch seem to like it best with either a tennis ball or a large plush toy ball.
Chase or Race
Even if your greyhound does not like to play fetch, he may greatly enjoy chasing after the ball if you throw it or roll it. They also get a thrill out of racing an airborne ball across the yard.
Throw the ball at different speeds to make the game more interesting.
Greyhounds can be fantastic catchers. Our second greyhound, Shannon, was a natural at this, and loved to catch bits of of food thrown to him, especially hotdog slices and popcorn. He also enjoyed catching soft toys and the occasional tennis ball.
We tried this with Peaches, our first, once or twice, only to have the item bounce off her nose; and she would look sadly at us, uncomprehending. She was not very treat-oriented.
By the time we got Lily, we learned to start slow, using small bits of food thrown from a short distance.
Your a greyhound will have a better chance of successfully catching something in a well-lit area. Also, throw it slightly to one side. I’ve noticed if I throw something dead-on toward the dog’s nose, he will not only miss it; but will appear to have not even even seen it coming, and be unpleasantly surprised when it bops him on the nose.
Your greyhound play-bows to you – Try doing it back at him! Many seasoned greyhound owners agree that this is a big hit with their dogs! It’s especially effective with new pets, who may feel reserved and shy about playing, at first.
This is recommended only with reservations. Tug-of-war is one of those dog-games that may bring out an undesired, aggressive nature in some dogs. For this reason, some will say never to play it with any dog. Others can’t imagine having a dog without this game.
First, only play Tug-of-war with a greyhound who is well-established in your home (been there a year or two), and who has never shown any signs of aggression. Lily has a bossy side, so I wouldn’t trust her with a game like that.
Like many greyhounds, my first two would not have been interested in tug-of-war. If you try to play this game with your dog, and he just lets go whenever you begin to pull, it means he doesn’t want to play like that. Your greyhound may like to defer to you, and you don’t want to discourage this show of good manners.
As with all greyhound games, keep it short – Just a couple tugs back and forth, and it’s over. Be sure to watch your greyhound carefully for any signs of bossy behavior. An exception to the rules might be if he is playing tug-of-war with another dog. The two furry gentlemen in this video seem to be keeping it pretty civil:
My only game of tug-of-war with a greyhound involved Lily and a pan of popovers, which had just baked and were cooling on a shelf which was, apparently, too low.
The popover lost.
Monkey in the Middle
At our house, it’s “Lily in the middle!” We call it out, while we throw a toy back and forth, going lower each throw, until she gets it. Don’t keep it out of reach for more than a few throws, or the dog will get bored and quit.
This game is a greyhound original. They love to run at you at full tilt, only to veer off at the last second. It’s very uncomfortable to see a dog-bullet bombing directly at you, but they are very good at it. This is the favorite game of my greyhounds. Just be sure to keep still – Don’t try to move aside, or you could get hit. Greyhounds are good at averting disaster in these cases, but you’ll still get a heck of a bruise if he glances off the side of your leg.
This simply means to clap, yell, and make a fuss while your greyhound is running around. As with any athlete, they always enjoy getting some love from the crowd!
A Little Light Housekeeping
Some greyhounds take great pleasure in burying their treasures. Be sure your dog has plenty of blankets of his very own, so he can enjoy this activity without shredding his bed. Fleece blankets are widely available, and wear better than a quilt. Or you can buy lengths of fleece at the fabric store (many WalMarts even carry it), where they often carry a huge variety of patterns for every taste.
If you see a smooth, well-formed mound of blankets in your greyhound’s bed, he will love it if you stop by to admire his work and compliment him on it. I know that sounds odd, but they’re very proud of their efforts. Conversely, please don’t disassemble any of his creations, unless it needs to go into the laundry.
Some greyhounds just love shredding paper. This may not be something you want to teach your greyhound , but they often do this to de-stress or release frustration. Whether this is a problem or a game depends on who chooses the time, the place, and the paper!
If you find your greyhound snitching your paper goods and destroying them, you can stop the steal by giving him a piece of paper of his very own to destroy. Don’t worry, he won’t eat it; he just wants to rip it up. Another concern you may have is that you’re encouraging the behavior. No, you’re just channeling it. If you don’t help him channel this into something that’s OK, he’ll move on to bigger things. I’ve seen greyhounds destroy a new bundle of toilet paper and a couch.
Peaches was my paper-shredder. We submitted several chewed up stubs to the electric company, before I learned to give her an empty envelope from every day’s mail. This was great fun for her, and she never stole any paper after that.
Peaches would pin the sheet of bubble wrap down with her paw and delicately nibble the individual bubbles to pop them. Great fun!
I had no idea greyhounds adore stuffed toys, until I brought home a toy Easter bunny. It was marked down after the holiday, and I bought it on impulse for Peaches, who had no interest in toys. She lived to chew gently on it and cuddle with it.
Since then, we have acquired quite a collection of dollies. They are the #1 favorite toy of greyhounds. It’s best to buy toys that are made especially for dogs. They’re designed to withstand a certain amount of chewing and tugging. If you’re greyhound is gentle, like Peaches, and you come across a “people “ toy you think he’d enjoy, it’s OK to let him have it.
The universal favorite rule of stuffie is a good-sized hedgehog, about 6 inches. Greyhounds are often less interested in smaller toys.
In addition to chewing on them, greyhounds love to toss them in the air, and play catch with them.
Like with paper-shredding, this is a concerning behavior, which you want to turn into a game, before it becomes a problem.
If you find your dog is disemboweled a toy, the best thing to do is gather up the stuffing, repack the toy, and give it back to him.
Again you may worry that this confines the behavior and makes it worse. What really happens is that your greyhound will restrict the behavior to that particular toy, and will do it again and again, often to work off feelings of boredom, disappointment, or frustration.
From Lily’s Toy Basket
Aside from the giant hedgehog, which I mentioned before, there are several other stuffies that work particularly well with greyhounds.
When Lily came to us, I wanted her to have a special first toy that was different from the usual hedgehog. I poked around Amazon to see what was well rated, and found this adorable duck named Duckworth. Lily took to this toy like a, well, a duck to water! She bites it, shakes it, cuddles it, and sleeps with it every night.
Lily also loves a large Lambchop. She has a small version of this toy, as well, but that one doesn’t get much play.
An all-around big hit with each of my greyhounds has been a large, plush, bone-shaped pillow with a squeaker in it. It is about 20 inches long. It does get beaten up, but one should last your greyhound’s lifetime. They clean up well in the washer, too.
A life sized, stuffed bunny will go over well with your greyhound. This may be the one which gets unstuffed!
The Screaming Monkey
This toy belongs in a class by itself. I think it’s actually supposed to be a people toy. It’s a lanky, stuffy monkey built around a long elastic, which runs from its head to its tail. It’s kind of hard to explain, but you propel the toy into the air by elastic-power, and it sails across the room with a screeching sound. Greyhounds find this toy very exciting, and it comes highly recommended by many greyhound owners.
It’s very important that your greyhound has something safe to chew on. Chewing is an natural outlet
for your dogs frustration. Greyhounds have extremely strong jaws, though; so you want to make sure it’s something that’s going to break down safely, without shattering or chipping.
Do not ever give a greyhound a bone of any kind. I have even had seasons greyhound professionals offer my dog a sturdy bone, and had to turn them down, because I have seen my my greyhound chip a piece off a bone like that bone like that in just a few seconds. Shannon had the strongest jaws of all my greyhounds. We tried every kind of chewy and bone you could think of, and nothing was safe with him, until we discovered antlers. They aren’t cheap, but you can find a clean, pet safe piece of an antler at your pet store.
We got Lily an antler too; but when she didn’t take to it like Shannon did, it was “back to the drawing board” to find a chew that she would enjoy. After more reading and research, we came up with a Benebone, which she loves. Whenever I gather up Lily’s bedding for the laundry, she always gets her Benebone out of the toy basket, and hunkers down for a good chew.
A lot of owners swear by these as their go to busy toy. One advantage of the Kong is that the dog can play with it without supervision:; so if you need to go out for a while, and would like to give your dog a treat to keep them busy, you can fill the Kong with peanut butter and put it in the freezer for a while.
Aside from the Kong toy, greyhounds don’t usually go for rubber toys. Bentley’s owner might be onto something, though, with a rubber chicken:
I prefer this to the Kong toy, because the dog gets more exercise and engagement out of it, in addition to the treats. Avoid the one which is basically a rubber cage; the treats fall out of it too easily, and then the game is over.
I like this hard plastic one. I got the small one, about 3 inches, for Lily, because she’s pretty petite. For Shannon, I would’ve gotten the next size up. This toy requires some training, and some supervision, because the greyhound could easily destroy it. If I see Lily trying to bite it I tell her “No bities.” Also, she is not allowed to take it into her bed and work on it there. If she wants to have the toy, she has to use it out in the open, and roll it along the floor. This is definitely not to be chewed!
The one we have reminds me of those chunky, wooden puzzles from my Kindergarten days. It’s a paw-shaped board with several sliding doors and removeable pegs, under which you can place small treats. Play with together, so your greyhound learns that it takes some finesse to slide the doors and remove the pegs, as opposed to just clawing and biting the thing to pieces! Collect each peg and wipe it with a baby wipe or a paper towel as you go along. The dog will not understand when the game is over, so be ready to trade him the empty board for one more treat. Wipe down the board before you put it away.
This is a great toy to break out if I need to lure the dog off her bed (again with the laundry).
Greyhounds train with these when they are puppies. It’s a long wand with a lure attatched to it by a long cord. You twirl it around your head, and the dog enjoys chasing the lure around you. Here is a video with a greyhound and a couple of terrier pals, enjoying a little fresh air with their owner and this outdoor toy: