Help! My Greyhound Won’t Go! (how to get him moving)


It can be both frustrating and alarming when you take your greyhound for a walk to “do his business,” and nothing happens.  Then, there are times when you can’t get him out the door, or even out of his bed!  So, what do you do when your greyhound won’t go?

The quick answer is to offer him a drink, kindly put him in his crate for a rest (not as punishment!), and try again in an hour. Patience, prevention, and correct training will deter future issues.

Of course, this is assuming the situation is that you have him out for a walk, and he won’t do his business….but we will also cover what to do if he will not leave the house (or his bed). Understand this right up front – Your greyhound is not a “bad dog.” Most of these issues stem from health reasons, poor management, and/or a lack of correct training.

First Steps for Greyhounds Who Can’t Do Their “Business” 

A greyhound’s bed is his dearest possession, and where he spends most of his time. The last thing he wants to do is mess in it. For that reason, it’s essential to have a crate that is so warm and inviting, your greyhound goes in there on his own to take a nap.

If your greyhound fails to urinate when you have him out for a scheduled walk, do not become upset with him. As soon as you get him home, offer him a drink of water, and then put him in his crate. His crate should be set up with a cozy pad or a quilt for him to lie down on, something that is easily washable, in case he makes a mistake in the crate. It’s much easier than cleaning your floor. Be very careful not to be negative about it in any way. The last thing you want to do is have your greyhound consider the crate to be punitive. Be kind; you are just sending him in there for a little rest. After a half an hour or so, take him out again for another walk, and he should be ready to “go.” If he doesn’t, there may be a medical reason why he is not going (more on that later).

If you happen to find a puddle, your reaction is important. It’s impossible not to be dismayed when this happens, but please do not be angry. That will only hurt both you and your dog. Since his intent was not malicious, he will not understand why someone so nice is suddenly turning on him, and he will lose trust in you. Besides, scolding doesn’t even reveal, let alone solve, the problem. If you don’t locate and address the issue, it will remain; and your dog, now that he doesn’t trust you anymore, will become a stealth messer. Instead, reframe the incident as something that could have been prevented, and set your mind to doing just that.

Let’s explore the various reasons greyhounds can be uncooperative, and how you can resolve them.

Behavioral Reasons a Greyhound Might Not Go

New Arrivals

Going for a walk to do his business may be a new concept for your freshly-retired racer. It can seem so new and strange to him, he may “statue,” just stand still, with a blank look. He likes to just hit his inner “Pause” button, while he tries to make sense of it all. At the track, they are turned out into a large pen to do their business. They associate being put on a leash with being walked out for a race on a sandy track. He may feel suspicious of all this newness – New surfaces, new expectations, new people. It’s a lot for one skinny dog to process!

Laziness (Doesn’t want to get up from nap)

This has been an issue with every greyhound I’ve ever had! I’ve tried many approaches, and far-and-away the best is to lure the dog out of his bed with a high-value treat. If he doesn’t come when you start rattling around in his treat cabinet, then get something really amazing (in his opinion) out of the fridge. Wave it quickly under his nose. Even better, brush it against his nose. Greyhounds are very fond of lunch meat (any meat, really), cheese, cream cheese, and peanut butter. Be ready with the leash. He doesn’t get any of the treat, until he has done his business. Administer another sniff, if he stalls.

Dislike (Hates rain, Hates cold, Hates snow)

Same procedeure as above, except make sure your dog is dressed for the weather. Greyhounds need coats, some even more than others. My most recent greyhound, Lily, is far more sparsely-coated than my previous greys, to the point where I will put on a thin, light coat under a heavier one for the worst weather.

If your greyhound comes in wet, be sure to give him a lovely rubdown with a soft, clean, dry towel. I know you’ll dry him, but really make it feel nice for him.

Here are my temperature suggestions for dressing your greyhound for the weather (Farenheit temperatures):

Temp.Garment
Low 50’sput on a thin coat, if it is dark and/or windy
40’slight coat
30’s – Low 40’sheavier coat
Below
freezing
thin coat layered under heavier coat
mid-20’s
wet, or
windy
same as above, and curtail distance of walk

Fear (Afraid of dark, Spooked by noise or activity)

It’s not unusual for a greyhound to balk at going out, because he is afraid of something. All three of my greyhounds have been afraid of thunder, as well as fireworks. Lily used to be afraid of the dark. On the darkest nights, she would balk at the door whenever my husband tried to take her out on her late evening walk.

If your greyhound was spooked by something while out doors, he may have a hard time letting go of that momentary fear, turning it into a chronic issue. For example, you may find that your greyhound is not willing to take the next walk after a thunderstorm or fireworks display has occurred.

Another instance in which your greyhound may balk out of fear is if anything upsetting occurred on the previous walk. If your greyhound had a nasty encounter with a loose dog, or perhaps got hit by a ball while walking past a group of playing children, he may hit that certain point in his walk, and wish to go no further.  This is something you will need to work through with him. Patience, firmness, consistency, and high-value treats will be needed.

Your Greyhound Looks to You for Leadership

At a time like this, your greyhound is looking to you for confidence and leadership. This is exactly where so many of us and end up letting our greyhounds down. We hold back. We turn to them, and talk to them in a goo-goo baby voice. In general, we put up a weak appearance; and that is the last thing your dog needs right now. It’s easy, on an emotional level, to equate leadership with being mean; but that is false. None of us would think that the leader of a wolf pack is just there because he’s the mean one. He’s the leader, the one the rest look to, to know which direction to go. If one of the other wolves is hanging back in apprehension, you wouldn’t expect the leader to stop the entire pack, turn to him, and say, “Poor dear, you’re afraid of the dark, whatever is to be done…” No. A leader creates momentum, and the dog follows. If you do not create momentum, the dog will stand his ground. Why should he follow you, if you seem as apprehensive as he?

I strongly recommend a Gentle Leader harness for balky greyhounds. It’s called that for a good reason. It helps you lead, but in a gentle way. This harness doesn’t look like much, as you can see in the picture above, but it’s very effective. You may be surprised to learn that the way it works is not by pulling your dog along by his snoot; but by putting gentle pressure on the back of his head. This moves the dog along naturally, because he dislikes that feeling.

The way you demonstrate leadership and build confidence in your greyhound is as follows: anticipate when he is going to balk; and just before that, pick up your pace. Shorten the leash to just a couple of feet or less, and begin to walk briskly. Your aim is to move briskly and confidently through the situation, with absolutely no hesitation whatsoever. You have heard the expression “he who hesitates is lost?” Well, that is certainly the case here, and the greyhound knows it.

Not “Going” Outside…Followed by “Going” Inside

Your greyhound may be the first to realize that a rug in your home was once soiled by another animal, especially if you rent an apartment. He has a very keen sense of smell. He may feel he’s doing you a favor, by marking the spot to keep intruding animals away; or he may think the smell indicates that the rug is an acceptable place to relieve himself.

If your pet has an accident, thoroughly clean the spot, so the smell doesn’t not attract him back to the scene of the crime.  Never use anything containing ammonia or ammonium – They leave a scent similar to animal urine.  Use enzymatic cleaners; anything made for cleaning up pet stains is good.  There are also sprays that neutralise the odor. Your vet could likely recommend a good one.

Here are some products I like:

  • Carpet cleaners by Woolite or Resolve (store brands are fine)
  • 1 T. vinegar + 10 drops of Dawn to 1 qt. of water.  Add a little peppermint essential oil.  Dogs don’t like the smell of mint, and it can deter them from marking the spot again.
  • The above solution in a steam cleaner

Your male greyhound may “mark” on vertical surfaces, such as furniture, refridgerators, etc.. I’ve caught my females marking, as well. Prevention is the best cure.

The best way to toilet train your greyhound is, when you pick him up at the kennel, write down what his kennel-schedule has been. That way, when you get him home, you can use that as a beginning point from which to train him. Obviously, it may not be your preferred schedule, but it is a good jumping off point, and one which your greyhound understands perfectly. Start with that, and tweak it, little by little, over those first days at home, until until he is at your desired schedule.

The moment you arrive at your home with your new greyhound, go straight from the car to where you want him to do his business. Chances are, he will need to go, anyway. As soon as he relieves himself, have a little treat ready and tell him what a good dog he is. This will get you off to a very strong start. Then, bring him intdoors, on leash, and give him a full tour of the house. Watch him very carefully for any sign that he’s going to go again, whether it’s lifting the leg or going into a squat. Over the coming days, weeks, and months, this is behavior that needs to be watched for and nipped in the bud.

If this is *new* behavior for your greyhound, there may be a medical reason (more on that below). Also, as they age, they’re not able to hold it as long, so you may need to revamp your dog’s schedule to accomodate an extra outing. When my big guy, Shannon, got to be 12 or so, we had to get him out every 6 hours.

Improper Management

Are you sure about whether or not your greyhound went? I would be ashamed to admit the number of times this has happened to me.

Do any of these scenes sound familiar?

  1. You turn the dog out, into the yard. A few minutes later, you see him at the door. You assume he’s come back because he finished doing his buisness. You let him in. Five minutes later, he leaves a puddle on the floor.
  1. You take your greyhound for a walk to do his business, lost in your thoughts about some matter at work. Five minutes after you get home, he leaves a puddle on the floor.
  1. You’ve had dogs in the past, and the time to let them out is whenever they stand at the door, or near where you keep the leash. This greyhound just doesn’t seem to get it. He ver let’s you know, and then he has accidents on the rug.
  1. Even though you have your greyhound on a schedule, he doesn’t tinkle every time he’s out. No big deal…until you’re both miserable, because he’s in pain from a UTI or impacted anal glands, and you, from the vet’s bill.

Four different scenarios, but the solution is the same, and it’s completely up to you, not your dog. You need to set a schedule for when your dog goes out, and you need to make sure he goes when he’s out.

Younger greyhounds should be OK with 3 turn-outs a day. We don’t have a fenced yard in our current home, so Lily gets a 20-minute walk at 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, and a 10-mnute walk at 11:30 PM. In this way, the longest she waits for an outing is 9 hours. That is overnight, so she hasn’t had any food or water for a while; although I do give her a cookie or two before bed.

If, for any reason, you need to deviate from your greyhound’s regular schedule, be sure to find a way to compensate. Ideally, have someone come in during your absence, to get the dog out at the regular time. Alternatively, you can take the dog out for a little extra walk right before you leave, and again when you return. For example, if my husband and I want to go on a little afternoon outing, we’ll give Lily an extra outing at noon, another on our return (7:30 PM), and then back to her regular schedule at 11:30PM. We also may break up her feeding a little differently, so she isn’t so full while she’s waiting.

Another training aid that keeps them focused is if you bring a couple of little training treats along with you on the walk, and give your greyhound one immediately after he does his business. I didn’t catch on to this idea until my third greyhound, and things have gone a lot more smoothly since.

Just follow your schedule; never expect your greyhound to let you know that it’s time for his regular outing. If, however, AT ANY TIME, your greyhound becomes restless, whines, walks in circles, or around the house, or goes up to any door, get him out fast. You can ask, using whatever word he knows for going out, if he needs to go. He may confirm with a wiggle, by swirling in a circle, or by an brisk tail-wag…but even if he doesn’t, grab the leash and walk him out. Do not turn him out, blindly, into the yard. It’s important that you see what the issue is; because many illnesses begin at this point. You want to see what he does, and also make sure he doesn’t begin grazing, or you may have something else to clean off the rug later on.

In addition – I hate to tell you this, but your greyhound may have a drinking problem – Don’t worry, I don’t mean he will be raiding your liquor cabinet! Greyhounds are notoriously poor about drinking enough water. This is very easily solved. Split your greyhound’s daily food into two feedings, and add 1 cup (8 ounces) of water to each feeding. That would be 1 pint, or 16 ounces, of water altogether. This will help create regular toilet habits, and will go a long way toward preventing UTIs and impacted anal glands in your greyhound.

UTIs? Impacted anal glands? Simply from not enough water, or an irregular walking schedule? To find out what that’s all about, read on…

Physical Reasons Why Your Greyhound Might Not Go

UTIs

Plenty of fresh water needs to move through your greyhound’s urinary system, to flush out bacteria. Otherwise, bad bacteria (yes, there is good bacteria, as well) can multiply and flourish in his kidneys, bladder, and/or urinary tract, causing inflammation, blockage, and infection. This means you must manage the amount of water he takes in, of course; but it also means that you must keep tabs on your greyhound, to make sure he completely empties his bladder when he does his business. When your greyhound is “going,” resist the urge to pull him along or call him back in prematurely.

At least once a day, take a good, hard look at what is coming out of him, to make sure it appears normal. Since Lily is always walked, I check every time. The last time she had a UTI, everything looked clear on her morning walk, but she had spots of blood in her urine on her afternoon walk. Yes, it can happen that fast.

Impacted Anal Glands

Your greyhound has a little gland on either side of his tail, which acts as a little fecal holding tank. If he does not have enough liquid in his system, the “holdings” in there can become overly-firm. From there, feces can build up, until he is unable to empty the glands. A sure sign of trouble is when you see your greyhound scooting his rump along the rug. That’s an instant call to the vet. The only time I had to bring a greyhound to the vet to be “unclogged,” her comment was “This is my most un-favorite part of this job.”

Fever

If your dog is running a fever, which can happen from an illness or infection, that fever can dehydrate him. When this happens, he may not be able to “go.” That is a sign that you need to get some water into him. Always call the vet if your dog is feverish! A fever tells you that something is very wrong. On top of that, your dog may require intravenous fluids to rehydrate in a timely fashion…

…but if your vet has sent you home to treat your greyhound’s fever, here are some ways to help him keep up his fluids:

  • Never give your greyhound electrolyte drinks or sports drinks of any kind. Greyhounds lose water from panting, not sweating; so they don’t lose salts, like we would. Also, sports drinks can contain sugar and chemicals, not to mention artificial sweeteners, some of which are toxic to dogs.
  • Do give your greyhound plain water.
  • Alternatively, you can give him water, which has been boiled with some lean meat and carrots (remove the solids; you can always freeze them and add them to his food, once he’s better).
  • Drip water into his mouth with an eyedropper, a turkey baster, a drinking straw, or a washcloth (make sure it’s clean and soap-free)
  • Ice – rub it on his lips, let him lick an ice cube, or give him ice chips/crushed ice
  • Freeze some of the above-mentioned broth into ice cubes.

Skipped a Meal

Dinner in, dinner out!  If your greyhound has skipped a meal, it is understandable if he does not go the next time you take him out.

Diarrhea

A greyhound who has had a round of diarrhea may be completely empty, and unable to “go” the next time you take him out.  This is especially true if he is eating less, or you have him on a light diet (rice and meat) until he feels better.

He has had Pepto-Bismol

This can bind up your greyhound, so he may not go the next time you take him out. It should however, only affect bowel functions. He should still be urinating, unless one of the above-described conditions is present.

If your greyhound won’t “go,” the quick answer is to offer him a drink, kindly put him in his crate for a rest (not as punishment!), and try again in an hour. Patience, prevention, and correct training will deter future issues.

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! https://www.youtube.com/c/GreyhoundHomecare

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