Friday, July 31, 2009

Foster / Rehoming Tips 2

If you didn't read my earlier post of tips for foster homes, please do so. There are some awesome suggestions and tips from others added in the comment section too so don't skip those!

In rethinking this whole "Foster Tip" idea, I realized that this information can be used by everyone who brings a new dog into their house - adult or puppy. Whether you keep the dog or are only a temporary home for it, these tips are all things you should remember. If you follow the tips suggested in my posts and as comments by other readers you will set yourself and your dog up for success.

So, what's Tip number 2? Well, this may start a wild fire on here but here goes ...

Give the dog a few days to grieve

When you bring a dog into your home, it is a new environment, right? People, sounds, smells ... all new. We all know this; but what is it that we often forget??

We are all guilty of planning for the future with our new dog - even if the dog will only be with us for a few weeks. We all do it - we think about the great times we will have with the dog, the training we will do, the bond that will form. (Do you notice that this is all about "us" the people and not really about the dog?)

What some people forget is that this dog had a life before coming to you. He had a family and a home (even if his home was a tie out in a backyard it was still his home - we may not think much of it, but it was his world). He loved them (no matter what they did or didn't do). Regardless of the history of this dog, he will need time to grieve and to be fair to him, you need to give him time to do so.

In the first week (5 to 7 days) you need to give the dog space. You should have the dog in and out of the crate multiple times throughout a day. Crate training takes time and LOTS of practice. Give him a stuffed Kong or something that is safe to play with if you feel uncomfortable leaving him in there.

For the first week, he should spend more time in the crate than out. Every few hours through the day you should take the dog out, go to the potty spot, spend some time (like 15 minutes or so) working on basics such as not pulling on the leash and sit. Take him for a walk if you know he is capable of doing so.

Depending on the dog, this simple exercise may be an awful LOT of mental stimulation for him. It doesn't seem like a lot to us, but for a dog from a sheltered background - the simple act of being handled, walked, etc is sometimes over-stimulating.

Only one person in the family should work with the dog for the first week (walking, feeding, handling). This builds a trust relationship with that person and don't worry - the rest of the family will get to build a relationship later on.

You must allow the dog to grieve as well as settle in to his new surroundings. Believe it or not, this initial period of not paying total and complete attention to the dog is more difficult on the people than it is on the dog.


mytwh said...

Another great post. You know, I think about this more with puppies. When we got Ziggy, he was 8 weeks old and of course hadn't been away from mom or brothers before. We felt so bad for him, he cried at night, etc and it made sense that he was greiving for his "family", he didn't know that we'd love him just as much, or more.

But with a shelter or rescue dog, you (meaning me and probably most people) think "oh, as soon as they get here they'll be so happy and grateful to have a home!" and forget about exactly what you said, whatever kind of home they had before, it was their home. They don't know what to expect or what is going to happen.

Very thought provoking. My hubby doesn't have a computer so I'm going to print off a couple of these posts for him. He's a big softie so he thinks hugs and kissed and snuggles will make everything go away. And while that's a great trait in a guy, it's not always the best thing for the dog!!!

Thank you again for posting some tips for fostering. We're getting the new foster tomorrow. I think I'm going to be ok about getting attached, but I think hubby is going to have a hard time.

Splash said...

Agreed, and it also applies to puppies! I give them 24 hours letting them choose whatever they want and praise them for any choice. Then, I let them interact more with me and the other dogs. I just think of it as how I myself reacted when I went off to the college dorm and hit the wall for a couple of months. It was a big adjustment. Let them have some space, and approach you. They will.

GoLightly said...

Great post!
I gotta tell ya, with my old red (from a shelter) dog, that first week was full of joy, for us both.
Old red girl danced on her hind legs, out to the car, and then we discussed her name on the way home.
She'd come home. She was ecstatic.

Oh, I still miss her...

Yes, Blaze puppy definitely needed time to grieve.

It took Flip two months to get ME to STOP grieving for old red dog. Thank goodness Flip was (and still is) a guy's dog. She just huggled up to husband, when I was being an idiot.
Which I was, a lot.

Okay, I still am an idiot.
Just not today.
Have a great weekend, DDF!

LilliGirl said...

Awesome post! It's great to see you sharing this stuff. Some of us don't know and the rest of us can usually use reminders. :D

Shadow Rider said...

Excellent advice! Wish I had found your blog before. We adopted a rescue dog in March, took him 3 weeks to really start to relax and settle in. I started a blog about him for other adopters interested in his breed (Irish Wolfhound)