Thursday, July 3, 2008

Think About Fostering

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve applied to be a foster dog parent. I talked to hubby about it and while he’s not as thrilled about it as I am he didn’t say no, which is as good as a yes in my book.

So now I’m starting to think about all the things I’ll need to do and how to act with a new dog who will be a temporary member of our pack.

Commenter, 14 Karat, who I’m guessing found me from Rachel Lucas‘ blog *grin* had a lot of advice and totally overwhelmed me. LOL Not that it takes a lot to overwhelm me.

Some of the advice seems completely opposite to what I had intended to do, which scares me! I welcome any and all advice and want this to be a conversation so I’m going to take some of 14k’s comments and give my thoughts. In no way am I discounting 14k’s thoughts or try to pick on her. Her experience is invaluable and I just want to learn!!! :)

“Plan to be at home all the time.”
That just isn’t going to happen. I work away from home 4 days a week. Luckily, my husband’s schedule varies so there will be times when he will be home while I’m at work. However there will be “away” days when we’re both gone. We don’t allow our own dogs to stay home by themselves for too many days in a row. They will either go to Daycare or grandma will come over to dog sit. We’ll probably ‘hire’ grandma to watch the doggies but I don’t expect her to handle a strange dog. We’ll have to have a family meeting about that. And of course it depends on the dog too.

“Avoid looking your new animal directly in the eyes for awhile.”

I totally get this one. However, what about establishing pack leadership? I’m used to disciplining my dogs, two of whom have only lived with us since the age of 8 weeks old. We flip them on their backs. We put our mouths over their muzzles, punishing them in dog language. I would never do this to a strange dog of course. But how am I supposed to establish dominance as the pack leader? I can’t let another dog get away with things that I wouldn’t allow from my own. So how do I do this?

“Make sure you are around the dog when it gets fed, and don’t let kids around until you are sure it won’t bite you at feeding time.”
No problem there. We feed all our dogs at one time and in their assigned areas. We don’t have kids so that’s not an issue. I had planned to train the foster dog the same way I did with Trooper and Kodiak. Quinn doesn’t have to work for her food. =) She’s an old lady.

Trooper is required to lay down and wait for his food until I release him. I don’t make Kodiak work all the time because it’s harder for him with his bad legs but if I think he’s being too excited or hyper I make him sit and “leave it” until I say “get it.”

Of course, these things took a few minutes (*grin*) to get them to do but are absolutely necessary parts of feeding 3 dogs at once. Plus I always feed Kodiak before Trooper so that Trooper knows he’s not alpha over him.

So I’m torn about how to feed a 4th dog. Do I make Trooper wait until I feed the new dog? I don’t necessarily want him to be “lower” in the pack than a new dog but I also don’t want him to think he’s alpha. We’ll have to create a separate place to feed the new dog and we have one of those moveable gate things that we can use in the kitchen.

“Keep the dog outside or in a kennel; don’t allow any foster animal on your furniture or on your bed.”
This one is one I’m not sure I can deal with. I want to train a dog who can become a family member for someone and to me that means being inside. All of our dogs sleep with us in the bedroom. They all have their “spots” on the floor but are allowed on the bed if they want (though Trooper is the only one who can actually jump that high and the other two don’t like it up there). I don’t anticipate letting a new dog up on the bed.

It will be difficult, if not impossible, to restrict the couch though. It’s pretty much FOR our dogs. In fact, Kodiak is curled up there right now sleeping soundly. :) Is it okay to restrict one dog when the other three don’t have those restrictions? Won’t that confuse them?

And the only time I anticipate the dog being in the outside kennel is when we are both away from home. The other three dogs will be in the house and the foster will be outside. The other alternative is to have the foster dog in the kitchen in either a crate (if we can properly acclimate them to a crate) or the moveable gate/fence thing.

We are one of those families who believe that family dogs belong inside with their pack. Unless they are a farm dog or something and even then I have a hard time seeing a dog constantly outside and not allowed to be part of the pack.

“No human food. Period.”

No problem there. I’m always yelling at hubby not to feed the dogs from his plate. It drives me bonkers!

“Provide only specific toys, and don’t tussle with the dog. If it seems aggressive at all it won’t be adoptable.”
I don’t tussle. =) Hubby does but I won’t let him with a foster. What do you mean with specific toys? You mean don’t let him share with the other dogs? Toys may present an interesting issue with us. Trooper LOVES his toys and he tends to try to take the other dogs’ toys. We actually have gotten pretty good at preventing this over time but he still has his moments. We’ll have to police this very carefully.

“Be careful about hugging your dog, since this can be seen as aggression.”
Gotcha. I hug my three dogs all the time but I didn’t start hugging Quinn until we were more used to her and she to us. I know she’d never hurt me. But I’d never hug a strange dog.

“Try to help the dog minimize exposure to behaviors the ancourage barking (for us it was people moving in a herd and really loud noises when they were kenneled. I had to build a privacy fence).”

Hmmm…I guess we’ll have to figure this out as it occurs. We’ve never had to deal with barking before because Huskies and Mals aren’t real big ‘barkers’ … they do talk though. :)

I’ve never had to deal with a barker. Other than when Trooper was a puppy in his crate - which we ignored for two weeks straight until it stopped. Our neighbors said they never heard anything. We may have to get advice on stopping a barker. I’ve watched the Dog Whisperer but I’m no Caesar. =)

“Try to use their name and touch them whenever you can.”
ABSOLUTELY!!!! Every time I’ve had a new animal I say their name constantly … all the time. When I got my new kitten I would sit there and pet it and say its name over and over and over again as I pet. Same with Trooper and Kodiak. Quinn came with her name. LOL

Phew…it’s a lot of information to digest. I’m nervous and excited at the same time. I already have chatted with our agility trainer and have permission to bring another dog along and we can pay a few extra dollars to have some training while I work with Trooper. I plan to practice walks and loose leash. Trooper is going to be very jealous. Ha! It’ll be good for him.

I look forward to a continuing discussion about this new adventure. =D

No comments:

Post a Comment

Spam is not tolerated and will be deleted.