Dear New Whippet Owner- getting your whippet puppy
Embarking on the life-changing journey of pointy-nosed parenthood? Congratulations! This advice for new whippet or new puppy owners offers a collection of top-tips and fabulous nuggets of knowledge shared by us and also the wonderful community of whippet and hound owners in the Mad About Whippets Facebook group to help you prepare for your new puppy.
Whippets are a fabulous breed. They will make you laugh every day with their crazy antics, and you will marvel as they zoom around with effortless grace and elegance- they are of course one of the fastest breeds around.
Though they love to run, they love nothing more than to snuggle up with you under a blanket. They are extremely loving, loyal dogs and make a wonderful addition to the family.
However, beware- these beautiful angels are stealth food thieves and will whip a tasty treat from a kitchen surface silently in a matter of seconds! Absolute divas, they will try to steal your bed, demand warmth at all times, and challenge you with their ‘sketchy’ recall skills.
So many of us whippet owners are completely and utterly in besotted with them and more often than not go on to extend the whippet pack with a second dog… or a third forth, fifth! So what does a new whippet puppy owner need to know?
Our What Whippets Need post details our favourite whippety things. There are many wonderful hound products available so enjoy shopping for them. Here are some of the essentials that you will need:
Martingale collars-essential whippet kit due to a hounds skinny neck. Great for a quick slip over the neck pop out. For longer walks, we find our boys walk well and appear calmer with a well fitted harness.
Do invest in a good one to avoid any skinny wriggle-outs. We love both the Perfect fit harness and the Ruffwear Webmaster. Whatever you go for, try and make it a two point harness. You may also want to consider a GPS tracker for peace of mind and to see how much exercise your dog is clocking up.
Beware retractable leads! Whippets go from zero to fast quickly (and unpredictably at times) so imagine the impact and subsequent damage this can cause? Instead opt for a shorter lead, or a long line for training. Halti make a fabulous lead which can change lengths to suit your surroundings.
You will discover that whippets are fair-weather beasts and dislike being cold or wet. Walking on a rainy day may be a challenge so invest in a raincoat and also a fleece for your dog. Here are some tips to help with reluctant walkers on those days where it is a little too hot or cold!
A cosy bed for your whippet is vital. In reality you may end up with multiple beds in multiple places- I know that we have! Many whippets love a cosy sack. Find details of super comfy whippet beds here.
In short you will need:
- A good quality harness and/ or a martingale collar
- A lead (not retractable)
- A bed and a quiet space for your dog- including blankets
- A coat/ fleece – see out our recommendations for these whippet products here.
Recall, Recall, Recall:
As sighthounds, the natural see-chase instinct is extremely strong. Working on recall is vital, starting as young as possible. This is not always possible, particularly when re-homing an older dog, but train little and often and as regularly as you can.
We use whistle training which is successful- though not 100% when up against a moving rabbit or squirrel. Always be mindful that curve-balls will occur and instinct can take over (squirrels, rabbits, deer etc.) These guys keep us on our toes! As previously mentioned, GPS tracker may offer peace of mind.
A top-tip from one of the lovely Mad About Whippet owners:
“When recalling your dog try to make it for a positive reason- a treat, praise etc. For less pleasant interactions (removing something yukky for example,) move yourself towards your dog.”Mad About Whippets Member
Beware toxic food!
Whippets are terrible counter-surfers, so hound-proof your kitchen surfaces to avoid them getting hold of any toxic foods (see this list and Don’t Eat That! for danger foods) that they may steal. Foodie presents under the tree may be a thing of the past as you dog proof your house at Christmas, but these dogs are completely worth it.
The world around them:
By enrolling in a local puppy training class with your whippet puppy, you can work on recall and other important commands whilst offering it the vital experiences of socialising. This also helps them develop their dog manners, for example how to greet other dogs.
Whippet pups go from a million miles an hour to zero and actually sleep a lot. Be patient with your training- it will and does work but will (and does) take time.
Out and about allow your pup to see this exciting world, full of new experiences, by meeting friendly dogs (big and small), cats, children (who are respectful of the whippet puppy’s space), passing joggers, cars and buses, people with umbrellas etc. Give lots of praise (and treats) for the desired response- a calm, relaxed and happy dog.
Get your puppy used to being touched so that they are not phased by vet check ups or visits to the groomers for claw trimming etc. Do this by giving them a weekly health check at home. If you intend to travel with your dog, start young and with short car journeys to get them used to the motion of a car.
Inside the house:
In the house, your dog will love to follow you. Many owners report always having eyes on them- even in the bathroom!
Puppy-proof your home by tucking away wires and shoes, and putting fluffy-toy type ornaments out of reach for little mouths. Supervision is key- Some owners use a bitter apple, or grape spray as a deterrent and to signal ‘do not chew’. Provide plenty of toys and chews that are allowed so they have a good chance of getting it right and give plenty of praise for the desired behaviour. Play plenty of scent games to tire out your house bound puppy (particularly in that pre-vaccination stage).
Jarvis was a very mouthy puppy, having come to live with us at 7 weeks of age. He would frequently ‘play mouth’ us with those tiny needle teeth which was painful at times. The best way we found to stop him doing this was, when he made contact with his teeth, to make a sharp scream sound, stand up and fold our arms, turning away from him until he calmed down. It took lots of patience but he did stop and learn this wasn’t appropriate play.
He also got crazy excited when we got home after leaving him for a short time, jumping up at us. By again ignoring him for a couple of minutes until he was calm and praising him with attention when he waited, we taught him what behaviour we wanted from him. He is now an angel with this and waits calmly for us to go and say hello to him.
Connect with other owners:
Find a good puppy training book. The Dog Guardian is excellent and I wish I had read it years ago. It is also really helpful to connect with other local owners through puppy training classes. Some Veterinary’s offer a puppy socialisation sessions.
Join and contribute to breed specific social media groups- there are a number on Facebook that offer a wealth of advice, and the chance to share experiences (and great photos!).
This breed is fast and due to the lack of fat and fur accidents do happen. Keep (and travel with) a first aid kit containing bandage, wound pads, and Manuka honey (for its super healing and antibacterial properties) etc. For treated wounds on the body, medical pet shirts are fabulous, offering a much kinder alternative to the cone.
Beware long, dry grass. The dreaded grass seed is a terror when dogs whip through it. As owners, we have had veterinary treatment for seeds in the ear, foot and nose! Keep your dog on its lead in these places to avoid this.
Dog Friendly Holidays:
When travelling, take plenty (more than you need) of food in case of delays or mishaps. Take your first aid kit, toys, lots of blankets and a spare whistle (if you are a whistle user) for your recall. If at all possible take your dogs bed so they can have some comfort of home whilst away. For more information about travelling with a dog here.
If you are travelling without your whippet, or needing day care, put some time and effort into finding a fantastic dog sitter. This will really pay off- trust me. Brilliant dog sitters are worth their weight in gold.
New Whippet Puppy Owners:
Above all else, enjoy your new addition to the family. Embrace the feeling of falling in love with your silky bundle and prepare to cover the house with blankets and images of your whippet as you become ever so slightly obsessed. Life won’t be the same again…it will be so much better!
For more of our dog-friendly recommendations click here.