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.