Question for those who foster - bringing them home

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Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 12:01pm PST 
I am going through a heartbreak of a trial adoption not working out due to separation (isolation) anxiety. It's just one of those things that is beyond my personal limits to handle. I've had many dogs in my life and have never dealt with this issue before, so I wasn't worried about it. Until now!!!

I will want to adopt again one day, so I'm wondering if I could get advice from those who foster on bringing a new dog into your house. What do you to to observe the dog at first and get him comfortable?

Common sense tells me to put the cats in a room, let the dog sniff around the area he'll be confined to, then after a while hold onto leash and let the cats out and go from there. Or do you bring them home and let them settle in a crate for a while? Or do you just let them loose in the home right away and see what happens?

Do you ever have to crate train and how do you handle that if you have to go to work in a day or two? How do you determine if the dog has SA if they are crated? (Peeing in the crate and pent up energy were my signs, so I set up a live stream camera.)

Awesome Dog
Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 12:12pm PST 
I acclimate all my dogs to a crate. That way I can safely leave them somewhere without worrying about what they might get into while I'm gone.

For the first week, I don't let my foster dog and my resident dog meet. They live separate lives. This allows them to get used to being in the new location and smelling the other dog but there is no stress of meeting. The first week is spent letting the foster dog get used to me, my routine, and allowing me time to figure out who they are too. I do my best to not do anything super stressful during that time. No nail trims, baths, or trips out into the world. They just stay home and figure me out. smile After all, they've just been through a LOT getting to my home.

Foster dogs spend a lot of time in the x-pen. That way they can be out and with me in the home but can't get into trouble. This allows me to prevent any destruction and potty accidents while they adjust to their new settings. I do allow supervised time out in the house where they can play and bond with me while they have my undivided attention. If I need to get stuff done, however, they're in the x-pen.

After a week, I start to do some more formal training (during week one, I basically just do self-control stuff like food bowl manners and waiting at doors so I have some control). I also slowly introduce the foster to my own dog. Short sessions with the foster in the x-pen for his safety jic and my dog free.

Once we've made it past the 2 week mark, I start actively taking my foster more places so he can experience the world since he now has more trust in me. This allows me to figure out who he is a bit more too since he's no longer in the comfort of my home.

Fostering isn't always easy. Sometimes you're told one thing by the shelter/rescue/foster and the dog turns out to not be what you expect. Sawyer, my current foster, is like that. I was told he was lively and energetic and likes other dogs. While he is a crazy, fun-loving puppy at home; he is very reserved and a bit fearful out in the world. He's also actually dog-selective and a bit fearful when dogs are in his space for too long. It's sometimes hard to get a good read on a dog unless you take him out of his comfort zone and stress him a little bit. I certainly wouldn't hold it against anyone if they took in a foster, discovered he was not a good fit for their household, and had to have the rescue take him back. Rescuing itself is all about finding the perfect match and not everyone is it!

Edited by author Sat Feb 23, '13 12:14pm PST


Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 12:45pm PST 
But again, how do you "acclimate" them to a crate if you have to go to work in a couple days? Isn't that sometimes going too fast or are they already used to a kennel from the shelter?


Crazy Ball'O Fur
Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 4:15pm PST 
I don't know if this is good advice or not, so don't think about doing it until someone else chimes in about it, however this is how I've planned to do it when I get fosters as some of it was suggested to me by the rescue I plan to foster for...

For the first day the dog will be kept in a crate that is covered with a blanket, only coming out when the need to go outside. This way they have a day to get used to the new smells and sounds of a house while still feeling safe in the crate, and not being overwhelmed by sights. The second day, if the dog seems fine with everything, then the blanket can be removed, letting them get used to the sights. Then by the third day, you can open the crate door. By this time, they will know the crate is a safe zone, so if they become scared they have some place to go back to. Just letting the dog come out if it wants to and explore on it's own.

Though for the first day of being out of the crate, I'd only do it when I can watch carefully and all other animals are away. If the dog seems fine and has no problems, then the next day they can start to be slowly introduced to the animals.

Awesome Dog
Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 5:27pm PST 
My own dog, and both fosters, were already "okay" with the crate. That's not to say any of them liked it. None were all that keen about going in but they didn't freak out, panic, or mutilate themselves trying to get out.

You can start making the crate a good place by feeding them meals in the crate. Also be sure to put them in there at other times of the day; not just when you're leaving. If the crate is in a safe area where you can supervise them, you can just leave the door open and hide food inside. That way they can come and go as they please and occasionally find a really awesome goodie inside!

With my first foster, he did not like to go into the kennel. So I started putting a super yummy treat in it and closed the door. When I brought him to his kennel to put him inside, he could smell the goodie but couldn't get to it! He wanted it so badly but the door was closed. When I opened the door, he'd race inside to get his treat making putting him in the crate a piece of cake.

You can also use an x-pen if a crate doesn't work. Or, if you have a doggy-safe room, you can leave them in there instead.

If you really want to build up a crate as a super awesome good place, I would check out Susan Garrett's Crate Games. smile

When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Sun Feb 24, '13 9:31am PST 
Try to give yourself at least a 3 day window and be prepared for 3 days of work.
Day 1- steady in and out of the crate use food toys whatever to get the dog to go in. Avoid pushing or forcing. Feed in the crate, rest in the crate. Work on calm behavior for a few minutes at a time with the door closed and you out of sight.
Day 2- work on increasing times, build interest in frozen kongs or other interesting toys. Do a couple of trial runs. Work on issues from day one.
Day 3- Same thing increasing times. Remember the coming and going stuff, no talking, no touching.

Other then that hope that the dog has some experience with the crate and keep your fingers crossed. In a pinch bathrooms are usually easy to empty out and in most cases make good safe rooms, just remember that some bathrooms get really warm, really quick.