Friday, July 24, 2009

Tips to Foster Homes - Number 1

There was a great request on yesterday's posting ...

mytwh said...
BTW, I'm starting work with a local rescue to foster dogs. Any advise for a new fosterer??? Any tips would be appreciated! Thanks!

What a good idea for a blog topic! I have SO many tips I could pass on and I get so busy ranting and raving that I forget these little things. Thank you mytwh for asking. I'll have to ensure I remember to post tips regularly!

And the super-cool thing about all this? You could apply the tips I will be giving you to all dogs - including your own. This is not only info for the foster home, it can be used for the regular pet owner too!

Tip number one

You know all that stuff the rescue just told you about the dog's history? Like how it's been chained to a tree, beaten, ignored, scared, blah blah blah ... etc.? After hearing the dog's history and about what a tough life the dog has had, you probably feel a bit sorry for the dog, you may be a bit frightened about what the dog has done/could do and you might want to just take the dog up in your arms and hug, kiss and squeeze all the bad things away. Don't do any of these things.

Always listen to what the person is saying but more importantly what the person isn't saying. It will help you determine things you will need to deal with. Perhaps the dog that's been chained to a tree won't be house trained. The dog that's been beaten will latch on to anything that could become a security blanket for it - including you or your other dogs (therefore watch you don't allow protective or territorial aggression to develop!!). The dog that's been ignored will have more obvious issues - destruction, excitement urination. The dog with fear will eventually bite unless the fear is resolved (don't make excuses - he WILL bite).

The first thing I want you to do is forget everything the rescue told you about the dog's history. Remember only those things that will be important in the dog's re-training (like he chases cats/cars/bikes/etc, bites children, jumps up, house training, aggressions). Remember only the behaviours and not the circumstances so you can begin working with the dog with an open mind. If you don't, you will have a biased opinion and will make excuses for the dog. This will not help the dog and it will hinder its ability to rehab. If you get stuck in the perpetual rescue mind-set "woe is the dog, poor dog, blah blah blah" then you will end up keeping the dog for longer than you should. I see it happen regularly and usually it is because the people get so tangled up in their own imagination they can't deal with the dog properly.

If you do this, you will be one step ahead of a lot of the other fosters out there.


mytwh said...

Thank you for the tip and this very important reminder. This is EXACTLY what we did with Dom and we're still making up for it. For the 1st 2 weeks it was "oh-poor baby" and all hugs and kisses. I need to remember that what's best for the dog always.

This is hard thing to do. My husband would say "oh you're being to strict with Dom" or "Well you let Ziggy do that!". I don't know how many times I've tried to explain that what I'm doing I'm doing to set Dom up for success. And yes, I may allow Ziggy to do "that" but Ziggy doesn't have the issues that Dom has. I think he's finally come around and understanding why I'm sometimes hard on Dom. He is a very insucre dog that needs rules and boundries otherwise he falls apart.

Anyway, thanks for the tips. I'm going to talk with my husband about exactly this to make sure our first one is a success! I'm very excited! I'll let you know more about it when I know more. I'm in Maine and a transport is coming up on 8/2 to NH with a bunch of dogs (mostly small) and they are in desperate need of foster homes. So if there's anyone in New England that can help, please email me! (Sorry for the shameless plug!!!)

Splash said...

Based on the number of foster dogs and dogs placed within the last day or so that show up as lost/escaped on K9 Amber Alert, you should use a choke or well fitted limited slip collar. The dog WILL try to get away from you. He doesn't know you are nice. He wants to run.

Any dog can escape from a head harness, body harness, or flat collar.

Seriously, there is at least one of those posts every day. It makes rescue groups look pretty bad, actually. It's embarrassing.

GoLightly said...

Good luck, mytwh!

You get what you pet:)
(Brain Kilcommons)

mytwh said...

I do want to say a HUGE thank you to DDF. I found this blog through Fugly Horse and was hooked right away. DDF led me over to We Don't Rent Puppies, and while I don't post over there (my computer just won't let me, I try and try...GRRR), it is upon DDF and WDRP that my interest in helping dogs began to form and become more than just a "oh I wish I could help".

I've always wanted to do more, and for a while I simply donated money to various rescues and causes, because I was too chicken to get in the trenches. "Oh it's so sad, I'd want to take them all home" I'd say to myself. "I'll give them some money, they don't need me, they can use my money". Not like it was a lot of money mind you :)

Anyway, it's taken a while to get up the courage to "do something". I know it will be hard and sad but also really great and rewarding. I recognize that it will also be a lot better for my soul than writing a check.

So thank you DDF and WDRP, you've given me the confiendence, knowledge and courage to get out there and do something. I know I'll make mistakes, but that's when I'll be on here asking for your help!

LilliGirl said...

Yay mytwf!!

Another good tip is to crate train in the area where the most action goes on. It gives the pup a safe way to be exposed to the routine in your home right away...Also, we stay on leash initially in our house. There is no unsupervised free time at all in the begining.

And I own 2 bullies that are crate trained. They roate with the fosters so no one "owns" any crate. and they are used to all the sounds and smels of the other dog before they meet.

Calsidyrose said...

Great topic, DDF! And thanks for the kind words about We Don't Rent Puppies, mytwh!

I'm glad you're helping out by fostering. Getting the dogs out of the Shelter is the only way to get to know them.

My tips:

1. Crate your foster dog every time you leave, and don't leave the foster dog unattended with your dog. I learned this the hard way.

2. For Shelter dogs, going OUT the door is a good thing, whereas for our own pets, going IN the door of our house is the best. It takes several weeks or months to change this behavior in a Shelter dog--a crack in the door while bringing in groceries, and "WHOOSH!" you're chasing a dog down the street! Make sure everyone in the family knows that the dog has to be watched when doors to the street are opened.

mytwh said...

Thank you for all your suggestions and well wishes. I found out more about my new foster, he is a 4-6 year old, 20# Boston Terrier that is coming up from Texas after a bust at a Puppy Mill. He is apparently very laid back and house trained (which is a plus I didn't expect!).

So what's my first reaction when I hear about him..."Oh, the poor poor boy, he was in a puppy mill!". I need to print off this post and keep it as my mantra while I wait for him and also while he's here!!!

I'll drive down to New Hampshire on Saturday to pick him up. I saw some pics of him and he's really quite handsome. Now to NOT GET ATTACHED!!!!

LilliGirl said...

Ooooh, mytwh...I LOOOOVE the Bostons best. I'm picking one up on Monday.

I'm sure it will be awesome. I try to treat it like he's not really mine, I'm just "dog-sitting" 'til his family can come. :)