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Baby Gates and Dog Doors:
Keeping Your Greyhound Out of Trouble
by Judy Kody Paulsen, Founder, GCNM
(Excerpt from Summer 1999 issue of GCNM News)


Most people would not allow a baby or a small child to roam unsupervised through a house. There are many things children can find to incorporate into their play that were not intended for that use. Greyhounds can be just like small children in their curiosity and attention span. Short of isolating a greyhound or an infant in an unfurnished room of steel, constant supervision is the only guarantee that they will stay out of trouble. However, there are a few items we can utilize to protect house, child, and pet.

Remember, greyhounds at the race track are kept confined in cages. They are never given the opportunity to wander unchaperoned in any area, much less through a home filled with tempting items to chew, dig in, or merely carry about to later bed down with. They've never had a yard to excavate, nor plants and grass to uproot. They've never had free access to food, furniture, toys, kitties, shrieking children, nor soft carpeted floors on which to lie (often after repeated attempts to rearrange this resistant bedding). Some folks were blessed with the perfect child or the perfect greyhound, but the rest are living in the real world; you know, the one with crayon marks on the wall and cherry Kool-Aid stains on the carpet, a tunnel to China in our back yard, and furniture bearing the evidence of a bored, curious or anxiety-ridden greyhound.

Boredom at Work
Picture a child just put down for an afternoon nap. She tosses and turns and gazes at the the wall, imagining a whole cast of characters dancing across the plaster landscape. Outlining them with her fingertip, she realizes she can't see the product of her work when she glances back; hmmmmmm, crayons are there on her nightstand and there's a ruler that would etch the figures out nicely. And so begins the masterpiece of an aspiring artist on the bedroom wall.

Now, a greyhound sees the wall as he rests on his bed nestled in a corner and figures it might be worth a taste, then he proceeds to construct his own design in the plaster. Effective tools, these large teeth, made most efficient over thousands of years. If you're lucky, he'll decide to focus his attention elsewhere if a noise or movement distracts him. However, if it's quiet and he's wide awake and bored, you could find a new doorway through the drywall!

People tend to become complacent with a dog or child that appears to be well adjusted, then when unexpected, inappropriate behavior surfaces, they are puzzled, or worse yet, angry. Babies and greyhounds are much the same; they are perfect angels one moment (usually when they are asleep!) and little terrors the next.

So, do we give the child up for adoption; take the greyhound to the dog pound? I would like to think everyone answered "No! Definitely not!", but statistics show otherwise. There are workable solutions to every problem we encounter with our pets, and some are easier to implement than others. Lack of desire to resolve a problem stands in the way more than lack of solutions.

The Baby Gate: Keeping the Dog Out of Trouble
Baby gates have been around longer than greyhound adoption programs, but unfortunately they are often not used in situations where they would improve circumstances considerably. Greyhounds have an innate curiosity for things that move or smell good. If something moves and squeals at the same time, it is especially appealing. A crawling baby or a game of chase among children can produce in the greyhound a natural instinct to pursue. In pursuing a running or crawling child, the greyhound means no harm, but can unintentionally inflict injury with a paw or a playful snap. This fact alone should encourage parents to purchase and use baby gates to separate dogs from small children.

Anything that smells interesting to a greyhound (edible or otherwise) is likely to disappear. Items that have people odors on them are particularly of interest: remote controls, eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, pencils and pens, clothing — all of which handled or worn by their adored humans — are highly valued by the greyhound! Keep these behind closed doors or on the other side of a baby gate. Don't blame the dog for wanting a little part of you!

Baby gates can be used to limit a dog's access to areas of the house where he has a tendency to urinate or chew, or from where he "borrows" things! If the dog has a tendency to jump a baby gate (unusual for a greyhound), another one can be placed directly on top of the floor gate. This gives the dog the ability to see what's on the other side and produces less anxiety, especially when his family is there, on the other side of the gate.

The Dog Door: Boredom Solution
Dog doors are invaluable to those families who are gone long hours during the day. It should go without saying that the dog door should only lead to a fenced area. This can give the dog access to the outdoors whenever the mood strikes him and also creates less urgency for the adopter to get home immediately to let the dog out. A bored or anxious dog has more to occupy himself with when he can run outside to see, hear, and smell activities in and around his yard.

Many people reject the idea of installing of a dog door, as they feel it creates easy entry into their home for unwanted guests. Dog doors are mentioned on security lists as possible entries for burglars, but most burglaries are committed after breaking windows or doors. The bottom line is, if someone wants to gain entry to your home, they'll find a way, whether you have a dog door or not. Besides, who would want to stick their head in a large dog door to have a look around, knowing what uses that door may be on the other side waiting to attach itself to your face?! Camouflaging dog doors from the outside can be done too. If your dog door is installed into a wall, you can have a dog house on the outside, with the back removed and butted up against where the dog door is — this gives the appearance of a dog house, but no entry into your home.

Giving your dog his own door and then limiting his access to the entire house by using a baby gate can be just the solution for your stress and the dog's boredom or anxiety. Many types of dog doors and various methods for installation have all but eliminated the excuse that there's no place for one in a home.

So, install a dog door, use a baby gate when needed, and relax! Next time your dog has the urge to go out at 3:00 a.m., you'll be in dreamland with the covers pulled up over your head. Unless, of course, it's your turn to get up and feed the baby!


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