A Pup's Training

Once the trainer feels they are ready to move on the pups are sent to their intended tracks at 15 to 18 months old with some or all of their littermates. (Again, depending on the size and location of the facility, some do not have to be moved at this point.) Though still living in the same building as their brothers and sisters, the dogs' crates are not adjoining because they'd have too much tendency to try to play and they need their rest; turnout is play time.

They have been together their entire lives so far and they need to get used to being separated and being with other dogs. Upon arriving at the track and getting acquainted with their new kennelmates and trainers, the pups begin unofficial "schooling" on the track in the mornings before the day's racing takes place. The first few times out they won't use a starting box so the handlers can get a better idea of how well they're doing and how well they pay attention to the lure. After a few times doing this they begin running out of the box for the first time, in pairs at first, advancing to running in groups of four or five.

After as much of this work as the trainers feel they need, the dogs get their first taste of racing in their schooling races. Held as preliminaries to the main race card and running in front of a crowd (non-wagering) for the first time. A minimum of two or three schooling races is required before they are put in feature races, but sometimes, if the trainer feels a particular dog needs more work this can go on for several weeks.

At this point the dog is rated on ability and may be moved to another track, depending on the competition level. Or the pup may be retired if he or she shows no promise at all. But if all goes well the dog is now qualified and eligible for maiden races and a career begins.

Notice that up until this point a pup has been with his littermates and each change in his life has been made an easy transition. This is deliberate and important. And just as importantly, the pups -- from birth throughout their training -- receive abundant attention from their owners, trainers and handlers, including a lot of play. An unhappy dog will not learn as quickly or as well, nor will he run as well. And a dog not used to being with people would be difficult to handle.

It's really no wonder why greyhounds make such loving and devoted pets.