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Greyhounds and Children

Dogs offer wonderful companionship for children and often give them a sense of responsibility and security, however children can sometimes tease and be cruel to dogs and encourage the types of behaviour you want to avoid (e.g. jumping up, nipping and begging). If certain dog behaviour is treated inconsistently by individual family members, it will be difficult for your dog to understand what the desired behaviour should be.


Likewise, dogs which have had negative or cruel experiences with children can grow up to treat children with caution. Consequently, it is important for dogs to have as many positive experiences with children as possible and that children, as well as adults, are educated in good training and behavioural practices. 

The best way to introduce dogs to children is to ask the children to put a dog treat on the palm of their hand with their fingers close together and let the dog approach them to retrieve the titbit. Children should hold their hand beneath the dog's mouth level and keep it still. They should be encouraged to stroke or scratch a dog under the chin, around the throat or chest rather than patting them on the head. Patting on the head obstructs a dogs sense organs and can be misconstrued as an act of aggression.    

Another important introduction is if you become pregnant and will be bringing a new baby home.  Before your new born baby is due to come home, take home a piece of the babies clothing for the dog to sniff, do not just stick it under his nose but ask him to smell from a distance and then come closer. This will allow the dog to find the new scent acceptable, the dog should be outside when the baby comes and then invited into the home to meet the baby from a distance then little by little allow the dog to come closer.  This way the dog will know that this is the babies house, as well as the dogs. 

For children in the house it is a good idea to set up some house rules and, if they are old enough, get the children involved in coming up with some new rules themselves. The rules don't just have to be for the children to follow as you maybe have some rules that you wish your new dog to follow too. If there are rules that the new dog has to follow it is important that everyone in the family knows and keeps to the rules in order for the dog to understand what is expected of it. For example, you should make up a rule that the children are not allowed near or in the dogs bed, and maybe you could apply this rule vice versa too and say that your new dog is not allowed in the children's bedrooms. This helps the child understand that the dog needs its space and that the dog should also respect their space. Making up rules together as a family helps the children understand how important looking after their new pet is, and because they have been involved in the process they will be more likely to follow them! If your children are too young to understand and help make up rules, it is still important to follow through with the rules so the child grows up knowing what is expected of them and what the correct way to treat a dog is.  

Scottish Greyhound Sanctuary believes the following is very important to remember when 
introducing dogs and children:  


  • Children should not hug or cuddle dogs that have not been fully socialised and we ask for you to please ensure children and dog interactions are closely monitored. 

  • ALWAYS pay attention to what your dog is telling you, and teach your child to do the same. There is an abundance of information online about canine communication, some of it very user friendly for younger children. 

  • Greyhounds are extremely tolerant, however when a child mistreats a dog, either the dog will become fed up and will defend itself, or he/she will become afraid of the child. 

  • Don't punish a dog for growling - it's their way of telling you they are unhappy about something. 

  • NEVER let a young child walk your hound alone without adult supervision. If the dog gets spooked or sees something it wants to chase there is no way a child would be able to hold on to the lead.

  • Your greyhound is not a toy - it deserves respect. 

  • LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE! No one - human or canine - enjoys being pestered or pounced on while they are sleeping, and the greyhound is no exception. Your greyhound will let you know when he/she wants to wake up and play. Also, greyhounds sometimes sleep with their eyes open so they can appear to be awake. Make sure you and your child call the dog's name to ensure it is awake rather than approaching the bed.

  • Teach the children to call on the greyhound instead of approaching him/her. It is less threatening for the greyhound if he/she approaches for cuddles instead of being ambushed! 

  • Your dogs bed should be it's own safe haven. If playing or petting is getting too much he/she should be able to get up and go into his/her own bed for some peace and quiet without being followed by anyone. 

  • Hugging or clinging to the greyhound can be scary. Teach your children how to gently pet your dog while talking to it. 

  • Tails and ears are private things, not play things. 

  • If a child is persistent in pestering the dog, remove either the dog or the child from the area for a while. Give your new pet a chance to be quiet and rest, away from disturbances. 

  • Most children approach dogs head-on with all good intentions of hugging the dog. Such intense body language and direct eye contact are very threatening to all dogs. 

  • Teach your children the importance of closing doors and outside gates - you do not want your greyhound to escape!  

Just remember these rules should work both ways! If your child is being unwillingly pestered by your dog, to play or be petted, your dog should be given the 'bed' command so he/she knows that it is not welcome to play at the moment. If you make up some house rules for children, dogs and adults and these rules are consistently followed, they will become second nature for everyone. You will have a much happier household where everyone will know their place, what is expected of them and how to treat and respect each other.  


There is a great deal of information online about children and dogs so we recommend doing further research. There are also handy visual guides for children to learn how to properly interact with a dogs and read a dog's body language.

If you have any problems, or concerns please do not hesitate to contact Scottish Greyhound Sanctuary as we are always happy to help.

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