When it comes to wagering, the opportunities out there are virtually endless. There are sports games to bet on, real online pokies to enjoy, and of course, greyhound racing as well.
Rivalled only by horse racing, greyhound racing is an incredibly popular spectator sport that attracts millions in bets each year as fans jostle to see which hound makes it to the end of the track first.
However, as with most things, there is a fascinating and complex industry behind this pastime – and one of the first questions fans tend to ask is exactly how greyhounds are trained for the track.
The Start of a New Career
When a young greyhound reaches 15-18 months of age, it will be sent to live at a race track and strictly trained to run it.
The pups are obviously bred specifically for the sport, and are mostly parented by prize-winning racing hounds themselves. Once the dogs arrive at the track, they are trained until ready to enter a non-wagering preliminary race to test their new skills.
If they are deemed ready, the animals then move on to the very first official race of their careers: the maiden race.
If a dog performs well in this race, it is advanced into the betting race world. If not, it will be retired to make way for its faster counterparts to compete.
Living Conditions Between Races
Professional racing greyhounds normally race around twice a week, and for the rest of the time, they reside in their cages and receive expert care.
The cages are filled with shredded paper for comfort, and the majority of the hounds wear muzzles while in their makeshift homes to prevent them from chewing on their kennels.
Some activists have raised concerns about this practice in the past, saying that confining a muzzled hound to a cage for 21 hours a day is abusive.
However, their trainers say otherwise, noting that the dogs don’t generally object as they have naturally low levels of activity, hence their nickname of “40 mph couch potato!”
Specialized Meals and Supplements
For the animals to perform at their best, they also receive a specialized diet every day. A typical diet for a racetrack hound includes rice and vegetables, pasta, raw meat, and a variety of essential vitamins and supplements. Each dog is portioned a set amount of food per day, as they need to maintain a steady weight at all times.
On racing days, the hounds are checked and weighed before they hit the track. Most of them already know what they need to do, and become visibly excited as they approach the venue. A few hours before post time, they are also given a tag with their racing numbers in the paddock, and a trained veterinarian observes them to check for any health issues. Once the race is done, the hounds receive a good clean and a cooling-down before getting another good meal!
The dogs enjoy a spectacular career on the track until they are around 3 or 4 years old, depending on their performances.
Currently, the biggest issue with this is that there are not enough homes for all the retired greyhounds in the world, but trainers and track racers are working hard to find ways of rectifying this.