12 to 14 Months
At 12 to 14 months the greyhounds are moved inside a 18' x 36' kennel room to simulate the lifestyle at a racetrack. The litter is back together again, but with two or three other litter groups. Each greyhound is housed in a wire crate that is 33" wide, 43" deep, and 32" high. The wire crates are stacked one row above the other. Females are taught to jump into the upper crates. A greyhound's crate is their home and it serves as their retreat to safety and security. The greyhounds really enjoy spending time in their crate as it provides a sense of comfort.
They aren't just there to learn to race but also to become accustomed to the whole racing environment, learn some discipline and get used to a basic schedule of 4 or 5 turnouts a day and running twice a week. The siblings will be in separate crates but are still together at turnouts and know their bothers and sisters are nearby.
The dogs will live in this kennel for four to eight months while they go through the various levels of training from running in a coursing or sprint field, to learning to chase a lure with the use of a "Whirlygig" to running on a real track. (A Whirlygig has a long arm allowing a lure to be suspended over a small circular track and this is the first time the pups run in circles as they will on a track.) This period of training is called "finishing."
The greyhounds sleep in crates that have a plywood floor with a 3/4" hard rubber mat on top of the plywood. Some kennels use carpet rugs with additional shredded paper to keep them comfortable. Each greyhound has its name taped above the crate door and on its muzzle. The muzzles hang from snaps on their crate doors. The kennel room is air conditioned and a radio is usually playing around the clock.
The greyhounds are fed once per day at about 9AM and they get a snack in the evening. The greyhounds sleep in several different positions; some sleep stretched out, some sleep curled up, some sleep in the back of the crate, some sleep in the front of the crate, some sleep upside down with all fours pointed up, some sleep with their heads buried under the shredded paper. The bottom line is, greyhounds love to rest!
The greyhounds are "turned-out" four times per day for 45-60 minutes each time. We have two turn-out pens. Each pen is 30' x 30'. The greyhounds are muzzled as they are turned-out. During turn-out, the paper is "fluffed" in their crates and they are cleaned as necessary. The floor is swept when the dogs are turned out. If only one person is working turn-out, they constantly listen for any disturbance from the dogs. If two people are working turn-out, one person stays in the pen with the dogs.
Life in the turn-out pen can be boring at times, or it can be extremely active. The feces are picked up in the turn out and the water buckets are cleaned and refilled. During these chores, the dogs are watched to make sure there is order and no dog-fights. The condition of a dog's stool will usually tell the farmer whether the food is proper, whether a dog is sick, whether a dog has worms, or just generally whether something is wrong.
Keeping order is sometimes a challenge in the turnout. (As well as in the kennel) There are sometimes 20-30 dogs together in close proximity of each other and the personalities of the greyhounds can vary to extremes. After turn-out its "rush-the-door-time" to get back into their crates. The greyhounds enter the kennel running, prancing, wagging their tails, barking, and running around the kennel room. Most will head straight for their crate door and wag their tails to get back into their crates. Some females have to playfully run around the kennel room a time or two before jumping up into their crates. Then they turn and look at the handler before shutting the crate door; waiting for their head and ears to be rubbed.
The greyhounds are loaded into a dog trailer and hauled to the training track once per week from the time they are 12 to 14 months old. They are taken to the training track twice per week from the time they are 14 months to when they leave for the racetrack. When the dog trailer is backed into place, the greyhounds get real excited to go to the training track. They will bark, bite at the crate door, paw, wag their tails, and almost jerk one's arm out of place when they are on the lead just to get to the dog trailer. They gradually develop into racers (a few do not).
At about 15-16 months the greyhounds really progress in their training by picking up speed and endurance.
This is the time that the greyhounds must go to the racetrack. Sometimes the greyhounds are photographed before they leave the farm and they are loaded into the dog hauler's truck to start their journey. Some farmers will send a note to the kennel trainer at the racetrack telling them about anything of importance for each dog.
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Courtesy of Wendy Hamilton and the GRA.