Foster homes are the most important role in rescue. We rescue dogs from local animal shelters. Sometimes the dog(s) we rescue have obviously been someone's pet, like current adoptabull Hagrid (who already knows his basic obedience) and sometimes you can tell the dog(s) have never felt affection or played with toys, let alone be house broken or crate trained. So our foster parents have to be prepared for everything.
This list of foster resources will help you get started off on the right paw!
Time to Transition
Being excited to bring home a new foster or any dog, for that matter, is a natural feeling. Of course we want you to enjoy all the love that your new dog has to offer, but it's important to remember that even though you are offering them a better life, they are still going through a major transition period. Your new dog will need time to decompress before they are ready to integrate into your home. Offer them a safe quiet place to relax and decompress. Below is an article from the Huffington Post, it provides detailed step by step instructions and explanations for what your new dog is feeling during this time. Though it may feel like a lot of extra steps to us, it's much better to break that transition down into smaller steps to set your new foster dog up for success from the beginning than have to troubleshoot potential issues later.
The old adage, you never get a second chance to make a first impression is true for dogs too. You are better off taking dog introductions slow and AVOID a potential fight. Here's a great video about managing a multi-dog household.
- Select your pets with care. Some dog pairs have great chemistry while others are Jerry Springer material - Nothing but conflict and strife.
- Maintain a strong leadership role so the dogs know and respect the house rules.
- Especially while dogs are getting to know each other, separate before you leave the house.
- Know the most common fight triggers and work to prevent them.
- Involve everyone in the household in multi-dog management.
- Understand that dog dynamics can and do shift along with life changes.
- Give your dogs individual attention to strengthen bonds.
Managing Problem Behaviors
The majority of problem behaviors which we identify in shelter dogs are normal canine behaviors - behaviors that are not any different than those we see in owned dogs. The difference with shelter dogs is that in many cases no one has shown them alternative, more acceptable behavior.
Our friends at the Center for Shelter Dogs has created these resources to help manage problem behaviors:
The first thing we would like to state about food aggression is that we agree with this piece from the NY Times that the food bowl assessment test is not an accurate predictor of behavior. However, oftentimes we are pulling an unknown dog and placing it within an environment with other animals. Therefore, we still preform a food bowl assessment knowing that sometimes the dog may not guard food at all when it leaves the shelter and/or a dog with no food bowl possessiveness in the shelter may exhibit it out.
Dogs with food aggression may stiffen their body, show teeth, growl, snap or bit when they are approached by a person or another animal when they are in possession of or near a food-related item such as a rawhide chew, bone, pig's ear, food bowl, sandwich wrapper, or food that was dropped on the floor. Dogs with food aggression are likely to behave aggressively around items that they consider delicious. For example, most dogs are more likely to behave aggressively over a bowl of canned food or pig's ear than over a bowl of dry food.
These videos illustrate the different levels of food aggression.
1. Mild Food Aggression: Dog shows teeth and/or growls when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession or near food or a food-related item.
2. Moderate Food Aggression: Dog snaps and/or lunges when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession of or near food or a food-related item.
3. Severe Food Aggression tendencies: Dog bites when approached or touched by a person or fake hand when in possession or near food or a food-related item.