Little Galgo Manual

Everything You Need to Know About
Adopting a Galgo

The rescue shelters in Spain are working extremely hard every single day to save as many dogs as possible. They deal with physically and emotionally abused dogs, and also death, on a daily basis. We feel that it is our obligation to make you aware of their sacrifice and your responsibilities in adopting a galgo.

Before Your Dog Arrives     |     Your Dog Has Arrived     |     Health     |     Galgo Safety     |     Gepetto's Law

Before Your Dog Arrives

Make sure your fence is at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) high! Check your fence and gate(s) for holes, missing boards, or gaps, and have those fixed. Also, remove anything your galgo could use as support to climb the fence from its proximity. Examples are chairs, benches, tables, snow drifts, woodpiles, etc. 

Put a sign on your backyard gate that informs people that it needs to be closed at all times.

Electric fences are a big NO for galgos, so don't even think about installing one! Galgos only thrive with positive training methods. So does any other dog breed.

Make sure your veterinarian is familiar with the unique medical precautions associated with sighthounds, including galgos. They metabolize some drugs differently, especially anesthetics. If you don't have a vet yet, find one who specializes in or is familiar with sighthounds.

Create a safe space in a quiet, low traffic area of your home. The A Sound Beginning Program is specifically designed for rescue dogs and their new parents. It has a wonderful approach on how to start off right. They offer classes and courses (in-person and online), a book, music to calm your dog, and several useful accessories.

Galgos are big scavengers, so dog-safe trash cans are highly recommended.

Make sure your indoor and outdoor plants are dog safe. If not, move them to an area that your dog can't access. The ASPCA provides an extensive list of plants, people foods, and household products that are toxic for dogs and other pets. (

Don't plan any parties or events for the first days, maybe weeks, of adjustment. Your new four-legged family member needs time to acclimate and, in many cases, time to trust humans. The best way to use this adjustment period is to spend a lot of time together for bonding.

Many galgos are cat safe indoors. Outside, their prey drive might take over. Always ask for a cat test if you already have a feline companion! But still – don't trust them outside with a cat or other small animal without supervision!

Teach children how to interact with your dog before their arrival.

Check if your adoption group provides a 3-point safety harness (also called spook harness) and leash for your dog. If not, make sure to have everything purchased and ready by the day of your dog's arrival. is one source to order harnesses and leashes. The split safety leash connects to both harness and collar, which is ideal. has a lovely selection of martingale collars, but there are many other purchase options as well.

If you adopt during the colder seasons, make sure to purchase a coat for your galgo. Their fur is very thin, and they get cold easily. As a rule of thumb, if you need a coat, they need a coat. has wonderful apparel for any kind of weather.

Your Dog Has Arrived

If you pick up your dog from the airport or meeting point, take all precautions for your dog's safety. Your dog should be on a leash at all times. If your galgo doesn't come with a harness, bring it with you, put it on your dog, and make the necessary adjustments. Let your dog relieve itself after the long trip. Put your dog either into a travel crate or buckle up. If your dog seems nervous or anxious, dog specific high quality CBD oil might help for the car ride home. Please consult with your veterinarian first. When you arrive at home, first grab the leash, then unbuckle.

If you already have a dog, have somebody help you to let the dogs meet on neutral ground (if possible). Maybe go on a short walk together or meet outside.

If you already have a very small dog or a cat, play it safe and keep your new family member on a leash, maybe even wearing a comfortable racing muzzle for the first couple of minutes.

The motto of the first couple of days following your new dog's arrival should be "sleep, relax, and acclimate". Let them retreat to their safe place and don't disturb them more than necessary.

Don't leave your galgo alone for too long! These dogs grew up in the company of other galgos, relieving themselves whenever there was need. They are not used to being all alone. Increase the time you leave them alone gradually, definitely not starting right away after adoption. The first couple of days should be reserved for getting to know each other! Throughout the day, frequently give them the chance to go outside to do their business.

Galgos are usually not housebroken when they arrive, so think "puppy potty training" (although adult dogs generally master this task faster)! Take them outside frequently, after every meal, or when they start scouting around. When they do their business, praise, praise, praise! With this method, they will quickly know what to do and, especially, where. If an accident happens, clean up and don't scold them!

Put food away from counter tops and accessible areas – that being said, many areas are accessible for these tall and acrobatic athletes. Galgos are very smart, and many of them had to learn how to survive on the streets. Watch them closely during the first couple of weeks. They will definitely watch you, and some might even learn how to open cabinet doors.

Your first walks should ideally take place in a quiet area and away from too much noise. Taking the same route the first couple of times gives them some routine and a feeling of stability. Many of the sounds they hear now are unfamiliar, they don't know the area or even the people who walk them. Because everything is new, they are on high alert. Watch your dog carefully to get a feel for their anxiety level. Some are completely fine and enjoy exploring new things, others are not. A loud truck or other scary object can send an already anxious galgo into panic mode. Adrenaline, responsible for fight-or-flight response, kicks in and your dog's brain doesn't function normally anymore. If this happens, YOU have to stay calm and safely move away with your dog from whatever scares them.

Stairs will be new and an obstacle for most galgos because they most likely never lived in a house. They need time to get used to them in order to use them. Treats on every step can be very convincing. For the first few nights (in case your bedroom is upstairs): if you feel confident enough to carry your dog upstairs safely, do so – of course only if the dog allows it! Your galgo will probably be happier in the company of someone who is still a stranger rather than being all alone. Also, going downstairs for the first time is much easier for them than going upstairs.

Slowly introduce your dog to strangers, especially if he/she has trust issues. Keep in mind that, in the beginning, you are still a stranger as well. One or two people at a time is plenty. If your dog doesn't want to be petted, acknowledge that, and explain kindly that your new family member is still adjusting and not socialized yet. People will most likely understand. Be your dog's advocate and safe haven!

If you notice frequent yawning and/or lip licking – both can be signs of stress. Try to find the source and remove it from your dog – or your dog from the source. This stress behavior is common in all dogs, not just galgos.

When you walk your dog, let them sniff. For your furry friend it's like reading the local newspaper. It calms them down to know what's going on in the neighborhood. Again, this is not galgo specific, but good to know, especially for the parent of a rescue dog.

Only use positive reinforcement and training methods like high quality treats, lots of praise, and pets. Not everything will be perfect right away, so try to stay calm, cheerful, and patient. Never use a shock or prong collar on your galgo (not on any dog, for that matter)! These dogs already suffered so much, and many of them endured a lot of pain. They don't need any more of that.

Some galgos love to dig in your (now actually their) backyard. Maybe offer a sandbox with hidden toys to encourage digging in only that one area if you notice this behavior.

Don't be tempted to feed your galgo more than they need once they are at their proper and healthy weight. Galgos love food. Many of them arrived starved and emaciated at the shelters, so it's no surprise that they gobble down as much and whatever they can. Don't let them convince you that feeding more than the recommended amount has to continue! An overweight galgo, like any other dog, will probably start to have health issues.

Many dogs are scared during fireworks, so stay with them inside. If possible, close the shades, play calming or cheerful music, and make them feel safe. Stay calm yourself. If you are nervous, your dog will pick up on that. 

Don't expect your galgo to protect you or your property. They are not watch dogs and will most likely either welcome any burglar with a wagging tail, run away, or sleep through the whole process.

Galgos snooze a lot and don't bark much, which makes them suitable for a life in an apartment. They do need regular exercise, though. A few brisk walks per day are absolutely necessary. In between, they sleep away their day. If you want to see your galgo really happy, though, find a fenced-in location where you can let your sighthound run freely. Being off leash in a secure area speeds up the rehabilitation process immensely and boosts their whole system. You can find private dog parks where only you and your dog(s) are present during your visit on


Every galgo from an accredited rescue organization in Spain will have been tested for leishmaniasis (a Mediterranean disease), and also for ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and filariasis. If you adopted a galgo who has had any of these diseases in the past, the dog will have received treatment on site in Spain until the tests were confirmed negative. In those cases, you should receive in-depth instructions on follow-up vet visits or signs of a possible relapse. If your galgo never tested positive for any of these diseases, you should still make yourself familiar with the symptoms. Your adoption group should be able to provide you with detailed information and signs to watch out for.

With kind permission of Gugu Sauter (Tierschutz Spanien e.V., Germany), we are sharing two of their pages with detailed information about Mediterranean diseases, especially leishmaniasis:

This information is provided for general purposes. All the information in the links is based on consultations between the rescue organization Tierschutz Spanien e.V. and their veterinarians. If you have concerns regarding any symptoms, you should confer with your own veterinary professional regarding a course of treatment if indicated. There may be differing approaches according to respective geographical areas. This manageable condition should not affect your dog's longevity.

Galgo Safety

Never underestimate a galgo or any sighthound who spotted a squirrel, bunny, or other small animal they consider prey!

Don't use retractable leashes (on any dog)! If, for any reason, you drop the handle, the sound will probably startle your dog. If that happens and the dog starts running with a retractable leash in tow, they might become very frightened and run even faster – away from you and possibly into the street. Just imagine something very loud and scary chasing you. That's how they feel.

GPS trackers are highly recommended. In case your dog runs away, they can be quickly located.

Galgos are escape artists, and a few of them can even climb fences as high as 6 feet (1.8 meters). They don't do that simply for the joy of being a runaway dog. They either saw a squirrel on the other side of the fence, were scared, or remembered something bad that happened in their past. Make sure to not leave your dog unsupervised in your backyard until you really know how they tick.

Always have an ID tag with your phone number on your dog, just in case! There are dog tag bags available online to silence the rattle.

The microchip number of your galgo, if any, is in their passport. If, for any reason, your galgo doesn't have a microchip, you can get the quick procedure done and the microchip registered as an additional safety measure to dog tags. Make sure it's an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) compatible chip. This kind of chip can be scanned by many different, international scanners.

Dog parks are tricky. Big dogs are not separated from small dogs, and some galgos are not small-dog-safe. You don't want to be responsible for any dog park tragedies (think of a small prey-like animal running).

Check your fence after a storm and repair any damages before you let your dog out again.

Thoroughly explain to every person who has access to your house and yard how important it is to obey the sighthound safety rules in and around the house.

NEVER ever let your sighthound run loose in a non-fenced area. If they spot potential prey, no well-practiced recall will work!

Put your sighthound on a leash BEFORE you open the door to go on a walk, and practice door safety at all times!

Open windows are an invitation for your galgo to explore the outdoors. Keep them closed or secured at all times. Also, mosquito screens are no obstacle for a sighthound who saw a squirrel outside.

Make sure all gates are closed before you let your dog(s) into the backyard.

Very important: if you adopted or are in the process of adopting a very fearful, traumatized galgo, your adoption group should have provided you with all the additional safety instructions needed. If not, request them!

In case you have a bad feeling about something, just trust your guts!

While this might seem like a lot to consider, be assured that you will get the hang of it all. The effort will be more than worth it, and you will find out quickly why there's rarely only one galgo in a household. Be prepared for one of the most rewarding experiences of your life!

We look forward to sharing this exciting journey with you and encourage you to contact your adoption organization with questions that may arise.

Gepetto's Law

With permission of Extraordinary Galgos and Podencos and much gratitude for their work and implementation of new safety measures, we are sharing their cautionary story of galgo Gepetto. Please read and watch to understand the responsibility that the adoption of a galgo entails.

Source: Use with kind permission of