Optimal Exercise and Training for Racing Greyhounds

Greyhounds that compete require adequate daily opportunities to exercise away from their kennel units. This is essential for maintaining both their physical and mental wellbeing. The variety of exercises should encourage different types of strongly motivated behavior like sniffing, exploring, and investigating to enhance their mental state.

Types of Exercise

Different types of exercises should be provided to ensure variation in physical and mental stimulation. Exercises for greyhounds can include:

  • Free running: Engaging in free running within a paddock area.
  • Playing: Participating in interactive games, such as fetch and chase.
  • Walking: Going on regular walks, including leisurely and brisk-paced outings.
  • Galloping: Allowing for high-speed running to promote cardiovascular health and muscle development.
  • Swimming: Taking advantage of water-based exercises to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
  • Racing: Participating in competitive or occasional races for physical endurance and mental stimulation.

These exercises are not exhaustive, and greyhound caregivers should consider introducing other appropriate activities for increased engagement and variety.

Exercise Schedule

Having a regular exercise regime is vital for ensuring greyhounds receive the recommended amount of physical activity. An exercise schedule for greyhounds should include:

  • Frequency: Providing exercise opportunities at least once daily.
  • Duration: Ensuring each exercise session lasts for an appropriate amount of time, considering age, fitness levels, and individual preferences.
  • Variety: Incorporating various types of exercise within a week to maintain interest, prevent boredom, and provide comprehensive physical and mental stimulation.
  • Consistency: Sticking to a stable routine to help greyhounds develop a sense of security and improve their mental wellbeing.
greyhound swimming practice
Greyhound swimming practice

Monitoring Exercise

While engaging greyhounds in regular exercise, it is crucial to monitor their progress and adjust the routine as necessary. Considerations to keep in mind include:

  • Fitness Levels: Regularly evaluating greyhounds’ fitness levels, adjusting exercise intensity and duration as needed.
  • Individual Needs: Catering to each greyhound’s unique needs, preferences, and limitations when choosing and implementing exercises.
  • Injuries: Keeping an eye out for signs of injuries or discomfort during exercise, and seeking veterinary attention if required.
  • Weather Conditions: Adjusting exercise routines based on weather conditions, avoiding strenuous activities during extreme temperatures, and providing appropriate shelter and hydration.

By implementing a consistent and varied exercise schedule for greyhounds, caregivers can ensure their physical and mental wellbeing is maintained, leading to happier and healthier dogs.

Designing an Individual Exercise Plan for Greyhounds

The exercise plan for each greyhound ought to be personalized according to multiple factors. These include the dog’s age, health status, and temperament. Introducing enrichment elements into the exercise regime helps foster a positive experience, which enhances the dog’s overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Factors Influencing Exercise Plan

The design of the greyhound’s exercise plan should take the following variables into account:

  • Age: The age of the greyhound factors into the intensity and duration of the exercise. Puppies and older greyhounds generally require less intensive exercise compared to those in their prime.
  • Health Status: Existing health conditions or potential health risks may require modifications in the exercise regime to prevent exacerbation.
  • Temperament: The temperament of the greyhound can dictate the type of exercise. More energetic dogs might require a regimen with more high-intensity activities.

Exercise Facilities and Methods

Greyhounds can benefit from exercising in different environments using a range of methods. Suitable facilities for greyhound exercises include:

  • Paddocks: An open field for free running, playing, or galloping sessions.
  • Gallops: Designated areas for fast-paced running.
  • Walking Machines: Equipment that enables a controlled walking exercise.
  • Swimming Pools: Used for low-impact, high-intensity exercise.
  • Public Spaces: Parks or public areas often used for walks or dog socialization.

Hence, the exercise methods chosen need to be carefully attuned to both the greyhound’s fitness level and the facilities available.

Exercise Frequency and Duration

The frequency, duration, and type of exercises need to be carefully chosen to match the greyhound’s temperament and fitness. While being mindful of the greyhound’s wellbeing, the use of a diverse range of exercise methods provides greater stimulation. The below guidelines should be considered:

  • Frequency: Exercise should be provided daily, with the specific number of sessions varying based on the dog’s health and fitness level.
  • Duration: The length of each session should be adjusted depending on the greyhound’s fitness level and the exercise type.
  • Method: Variety in exercises can keep the greyhound interested and provide comprehensive stimulation.

Public Space Etiquette

When exercising greyhounds in public areas, the handlers’ experience and the dogs’ behavior are significant considerations. The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) advises that no more than two greyhounds should typically be walked at the same time. Experienced handlers who can comfortably manage more dogs may walk up to six, given careful consideration of the environment. To ensure greyhounds get accustomed to walking alone, sometimes they should be walked individually, especially as this is a situation they often encounter after retirement.

Public Space Conduct and Introducing New Exercise Forms to Greyhounds

Greyhounds are required to adhere to certain behavioral protocols when in public places and to adjust to new exercising formats such as walking machines and swimming. Gradual and positive introduction of these new exercise methods is important to ensure that the greyhounds can perform them without fear or distress.

Greyhound Behaviour in Public Spaces

When in public spaces, greyhounds have to maintain certain standards for safety and identification purposes. The protocols include:

  • Muzzling: Greyhounds should be properly, comfortably, and securely muzzled.
  • Leashing: They should always be kept on a lead.
  • Identification: They must have a collar with a tag that contains the trainer’s name and address.

Greyhounds should preferably not be exercised in parks or other public recreation grounds to ensure their safety and that of others present.

Introducing New Exercise Methods

New forms of exercise, especially ones that have the potential to be frightening or cause distress, should be introduced to greyhounds gradually and positively. This is especially important for methods such as walking machines or swimming. Steps to introduce a greyhound to a walking machine might include:

  1. Acquainting Stage: Initially, walk the dog up to the machine, rewarding it for relaxed behaviour.
  2. Stepping On: After repeated positive exposure, allow the greyhound to step onto the machine and reward it.
  3. Standing: Gradually get the greyhound accustomed to standing on the machine in a relaxed manner before introducing motion.
  4. Movement Introduction: Recognise and reward relaxed behaviour at each stage of movement introduction.

If the greyhound continues to show signs of fear or aversion to the walking machine, other exercise methods should be explored.

Walking Machine Supervision and Operation

greyhound on treadmill

When a greyhound uses a walking machine (rotary arm or treadmill), it must remain under constant supervision from the licensed trainer or capable kennelhand. Staff should know the operation of the machine and its emergency stop procedure before using it. Additionally, they should be able to recognise specific behaviours or physical signs indicating the need to stop the exercise.

However, any dog that consistently shows fear or aversion to the walking machine should not be forced to use it. Instead, a gradual introduction program can be used to help the dog adjust to this type of exercise. If the reluctance continues, alternative forms of exercise should be considered.

Incorporating Swimming as Exercise for Greyhounds

Swimming is an effective form of exercise for greyhounds, offering numerous benefits. However, it should not be the sole form of training and should be combined with other training methods that promote proper bone development in racing greyhounds. When introducing greyhounds to swimming, it’s essential to address their potential fears or dislikes and follow safety guidelines.

Advantages of Swimming for Greyhounds

Swimming provides valuable benefits for greyhound exercise:

  • Low Impact: Swimming places minimal stress on joints and reduces the risk of injuries from high-impact activities.
  • Increased Cardiovascular Fitness: Swimming helps improve cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance.
  • Muscle Development: Swimming allows the dog to work its muscles in a versatile and efficient manner.

Combining Swimming with Other Training

Swimming must not be the only source of exercise for greyhounds, as bone loading is necessary to develop bone fitness for racing. Thus, it should be combined with other training methods, such as:

  • Walks: Regular brisk walks help greyhounds maintain their overall health and enhance bone strength.
  • Free Runs: Allowing greyhounds to run freely in a controlled environment, which helps improve bone loading and muscle development.

Introducing Swimming to Greyhounds

A gentle introduction to swimming should be employed for dogs who show aversion or fear to water:

  1. Gradual Introduction: Slowly familiarize the greyhound with water, starting with shallow water in a pool or a calm body of water.
  2. Positive Reinforcement: Encourage and reward the greyhound’s relaxed behavior around water, gradually deepening their swimming depth.
  3. Supervision: Always closely supervise the greyhound while they swim and assist them as needed, building their confidence.

Swimming Safety Considerations

When incorporating swimming into a greyhound’s exercise routine, adhere to safety guidelines, such as:

  • Water Temperature: Ensure that the greyhound is not exposed to excessively cold water, causing discomfort or hypothermia.
  • Safe Conditions: Avoid dangerous water sources like rough seas, rough currents, or overcrowded places.
  • Clean Water: Prevent exposure to pathogens or toxic chemicals by avoiding stagnant water, canals, or other contaminated water sources.

By carefully combining swimming with other training methods and following the above safety considerations, dog trainers can ensure a safe and successful introduction of swimming as a viable exercise component for greyhounds.

Safe and Effective Galloping for Greyhounds

Using gallops or specialized running tracks can be highly beneficial for greyhound training, but it requires close supervision, ensuring proper ground conditions, and adequate safety measures.

Supervision of Greyhounds on Gallops

To ensure both safety and effective training, greyhounds using gallops need to be under continuous supervision by a licensed trainer or kennelhand.

Ground Inspection and Maintenance

Prior to exercising or training sessions, it is critical to identify and eliminate any potential hazards on the ground. This includes:

  • Removing Obstacles: Ensure that the ground is free from debris or other objects that might cause injury.
  • Checking Ground Conditions: The ground should neither be too hard due to being excessively dry or frozen, nor should it be waterlogged.
  • Regular Maintenance: Ongoing maintenance ensures that the area remains safe and conducive to training sessions.

Safety Measures

Several safety measures should be employed during gallop sessions:

  • Muzzling: If multiple greyhounds are galloping simultaneously, they should be muzzled for their own safety and to prevent aggression.
  • Fencing: The entire gallop area should be enclosed within safe, secure fencing to prevent greyhounds from straying into potentially hazardous areas.

Gallop Ground Material

The composition of the gallop ground can vary depending on available space and desired training conditions, with several options:

  • Grass: A natural option that can be suitable if well-maintained.
  • Sand: Provides a reasonable degree of resistance, promoting strength development.
  • Sawdust: Offers a unique texture that can be beneficial for variety in training.
  • All-weather Synthetic Material: Offers year-round usability and can be tailored to specific training needs.

Incorporating these measures into galloping practice can ensure a safe and productive workout for greyhounds, encouraging their physical development while reducing the risk of injury.

Optimum Kennel Practices for Greyhounds

Ensuring the physical and mental well-being of greyhounds housed at a kennel facility requires satisfying specific requirements for their daily living space, specifically the paddock area. The paddock should be suitable for the greyhounds’ natural behaviour needs and be free from potential hazards.

Secure and Safe Paddock

A secure paddock ensures physical safety and territorial boundaries for the greyhounds:

  • Enclosure: Paddocks should be enclosed by chain-link or other suitable safe fencing, with a minimum height of 2 metres.
  • Hazard-free: Paddocks should be free from any threats that might cause injuries.
  • Surface: The surface should be free from abrasive materials such as grit that may potentially damage footpads, leading to puncture wounds and/or corns.
  • Cleanliness and Hygiene: Paddocks must be maintained in a clean and hygienic state.

Size and Behavioral Support

A paddock’s size should promote and accommodate the natural behaviour of greyhounds, including running, roaming, playing, exploring, and interacting with others. Necessary considerations include:

  • Paddock Size: The paddock should be large enough to allow for necessary behavioural outlets.
  • Additional Opportunities: For kennels with restricted paddock size, trainers should ensure greyhounds have other outlets for exploration, play, and physical activity.

Weather Protection and Surface Considerations

Protection against the elements and surface conditions is vital:

  • Shade and Shelter: Paddocks should have shaded sections and ideally sheltered areas to protect greyhounds from direct sunlight during hot weather and from wind and rain.
  • Surface Protection: If paddocks feature concrete or bitumen surfaces, dogs should be protected from extremely hot or freezing surfaces that could cause injury or discomfort.

Hydration and Disease Prevention

Access to clean, fresh water and minimal disease transmission risk is paramount:

  • Water Access: Fresh and clean water should be available at all times.
  • Disease Prevention: To reduce disease transmission risk, water bowls must be replaced with clean ones and fresh water each time a new dog uses the paddock.

Implementing these practices helps meet greyhounds’ physical and psychological needs, promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviors, and ensuring their overall well-being.