Saturday, August 6, 2011

Homecoming Advice Please!

Today is the day.  The big day.  The one we've been waiting for.  Sinatra's homecoming.  And I'm nervous.  I've fostered dogs before, but they were always the only dog in the home.  In fact, many of the dogs that I took home were dog aggressive, and unable to go into foster care with anyone else.  But after two foster failures, the dynamic has changed.  And I'm nervous.

Our house is small and open, so there is no where to put up a gate or divide up the space if the dogs need some alone time.  I have a crate that he's been slowly getting used to at work, which now resides in the living room, but that's about it.  Today I went through my checklist: all bones put away? Check.  All the collars, leashes, and toys a dog could want? Check.  Kong already in the freezer? Check.  But the butterflies are still going.

How can I not trust this face?

Really, I'm anticipating things going well.  I think he'll need time to settle in like any foster dog, and he'll have to learn a little self control around the house, but he's been a good boy so far.  However, I was hoping all you foster friends out there could give a little advice to help settle me down.  Do you have any tips for the first few days of a new foster dog?  Any skills he should learn ASAP, or rules you find helpful to establish?  How often do you put your foster in a crate at first?  I'm planning to when he eats, sleeps, or would be unsupervised.

My biggest worry is that so far we haven't found a vet willing to neuter him before he gets a rabies shot at 5 months.  So he'll be attached to me until I know he isn't going to mark on anything, and make darn sure he learns that humping sends you directly to jail (do not pass go, do not collect 200 treats).

So thanks in advance for any tidbit of help you can give me.  That, along with some deep breathing exercises, and I think we'll be fine.  Except for Parker, who I think may have a mental breakdown if he sees Sinatra chewing on his toys!

On a happier note, our little miss Skye was featured as a philosopher at PitterPatter.  This website is hilarious, and the fact that Skye is far from the deep thinking type makes it even better! 

I'm going where?! Home?  I don't know where that is, but I'll beat you there!

Happy Saturday!!


  1. This is a great question! I'm in the exact same situation as we have not fostered a new dog since adopting our 9th foster through the rescue. If all goes well, we should have a new pup in our home by the end of next week. However, I will say that I reached out personally to Aleksandra at "Love and A Leash", and she's given me sooo much great advice.

    She explained having a gated area in which they can see and smell each other but can't make direct contact until a day or two. Walk them side-by-side, only letting them sniff for a a second or two. As you mentioned, though, it sounds like you are dealing with minimal space, so the first piece of advice may not work.

    I would advise taking them for a super long walk/romp before entering the house for the first time. Make sure their tired and relaxed with each other. When you get home, keep Sinatra on a leash while letting Skye and Parker free to roam their home.

    Aleksandra explained the "tie down method" to me as a way to limit the new dog's access to the home. Skye and Parker will see that they are still the top dogs as they will be allowed everywhere as usual. Since you're worried about him marking, keeping him leashed for awhile may be something you're already prepared for, haha.

    I hope this helps! Good luck on your 3-dog quest :o)

  2. Honestly, I heavily crate my fosters for the first week. I do an initial group walk with the resident dogs but I want them to learn the routines, the sounds, the comings and goings, the processes, the flow etc. of my home. They get out for potty breaks, some training (basically hand feeding and teaching a hand target if they are not fearful), some one on one play-time, and walks with my resident dogs around the block. I try to keep everything low-key. The change in environment is a very stressful experience and can send their body chemistry out of whack which can make them a little more on edge or otherwise uncomfortable and I do not want there to be any opportunity to start out on the wrong foot with the resident dogs or people (*there are some people who do not ever integrate fosters into the resident pack... but i'm not one of those).

    After a week of being heavily crated and not really getting to interact with my dogs except on walks (building good association with the other dogs), I will start tether training to keep the pup with me (and me paying attention to him/her) and give him/her more time out of the crate and learning to be with my resident dogs.

    I go slowly to ensure everyone feels safe and confident. I instill a lot of structure and rules because 4 dogs and 3 cats can be quite the handful. Dogs must sit at the door while it's opened (the go out first but they just can't rush out and must show some impulse control), foster dog learns to go in their crate when asked, resident dogs go to their beds to settle when we eat, down-stay while dinner is made (or for foster, a sit-stay while i put the bowl down), any pestering or posturing results in a timeout for everyone (crate for the foster and beds for the others). I live with a dogs who has some concerns over other dogs so this type of management and structure is required to keep everyone safe and comfortable.

    Good luck with the adventure, i'm sure it will be amazing! I am cautious.. I'd much rather go slowly than go quick and potentially have a bad experience ruin the potential relationship between the dogs or with me.

  3. I am reading this entry late & hoping that all has went well! We kind of have an open layout here also & although I loved it before we started fostering, it is now sometimes a nightmare. We too always crate the foster when they are unsupervised. The fact that you have already introduced the pups to each other in a neutral environment is a great start. One thing that has helped us is that we have a soft sided crate in the living room, kind of hidden behind the furniture, that the dogs tend to go into if they want "time alone". The only problems happen when more than one dog wants to go in :) We do not really have anything to add to the advice given above. Like you said, remember to breathe deep. Thank you for fostering Sinatra!!

  4. Good luck. That's all I can say. If crating is an option, go for it. Don't want to risk any ill will.

    Mango Momma

  5. Good luck! We picked up our first foster after Izzy 4 weeks ago. We met in neutral territory to make sure everyone got along and they became the best of friends instantly! Foster Peeps willingness to go along with the flow helped us but some leashes and corrections helped too. Looks like Peeps is going to his forever home this week (fingers crossed) and we'll get ready for our next foster!

  6. wow, i stopped paying attention for like two weeks and i missed all this? i'm so excited for your quest! it looks like rufus' mom already re-gifted all of my advice, and by the looks of it, your dogs are doing great together already, so most of it may not be needed. the only thing that you should keep in mind is that your dogs should get to remain "top dog" for the first few weeks, no matter how well everybody is getting along. make sure they can get away from handsome sinatra when they want to, and keep his space more limited than theirs, at least a few hours per day. whether this means a baby gate, a tiedown, or a crate, your guys need to have more freedom and mobility. it just contributes to a more harmonious relationship. and don't be shy about correcting sinatra if he's being rude or just too exuberant. sounds like you've got this all down, though. boy, he sure is handsome, and i love how he and skye match each other :)


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