Most dogs acquired as puppies by pet owners are separated from their mothers and littermates at about six weeks of age and taken to a new home, often with no other dogs there. Their life of socializing with other dogs ends abruptly and they begin socializing with humans instead. This is a challenging transition for dogs. The mother dog was the only teacher the puppy knew and understood and now he’s forced to learn new rules, in a new language.
Early life for a racing greyhound is quite different. For usually the first five to eight weeks the pups stay with their mother, like the pet dog. However, after they are weaned they will stay in the same building as their mamas–often in the kennel next to them so they can still feel close to mom–until the whole family (often including the mother) is moved to an outside run sometime in the next few weeks. As they grow they may be placed by personality–a shy one being placed with those more laid back and a ‘bully’ put with another litter who will teach him pack order–but usually the litter will remain together the rest of their time on the farm.
A greyhound farm is set up in sections for a purpose, each section helping the pups develop their muscles in stages: the short 10 to 12 foot pens for when the puppies are tiny, then 25 ft. runs on to 50, 100 and finally huge 300 ft. runs. These runs each have a small concrete building or a large doghouse for shelter from the weather and shade for the warmer months. And there are the other dogs in adjoining runs to meet and chase up and down the fence line. This is the life the pups will enjoy for the next several months, interacting with both dogs and humans.
At about 9 months the pups will start lead training but they have been learning to race from the time they first experienced the outside world. Chasing and trying to beat their brothers and sisters comes instinctively for all dogs–these just happen to be faster and more competitive in nature than all the others. But serious training does not begin until the dog’s bones are fully developed, normally at about eleven to twelve months. To start earlier would be dangerous to the dog.
Starting as soon as they’re born the pups are given attention by their owners and trainers to get them accustomed to being handled by people and become responsive to training from them. This is essential if the dog is going to be easily trained and become a winner. Besides, they’re so cute, who could resist?