Foster Care Tips
Introducing the Rescue Dog to a New HomeA good foster home can add to the understanding of a dog's habits and personality. The biggest cause of failure of any rescue dog is placing the dog in an inappropriate household.
It's important to make the dog feel secure in general, while experimenting to see where the dog feels most secure when he's alone.
Ideally, the rescue dog should change homes as early in the day as possible, giving him or her as much time as possible to adapt to the new household before nightfall. Dogs become more insecure at dusk and overnight. The better the adjustment the first day, the easier the change will be for both the dog and the caregiver.
Some rescue groups are able to have advanced visits and work-sessions between the family and the dog which are very helpful. The dog can then become exposed to the prospective home and family while the rescue coordinator visits to screen the new family and environment. It is preferable, then, for the dog to be picked up by the new owner and taken home so that the dog doesn't feel "abandoned' by the rescue person.
1. When arriving at the new home the rescue dog should first be taken out into the back yard and played with gently and walked with just one or two older family members until the dog urinates and/or defecates. This is to insure that the first place the new dog eliminates is outdoors and not accidentally in the house. Even well-housetrained dogs can become confused in a strange household, especially when upset and excited.
The dog's diet should not be changed for at least two weeks. The schedule for meals and exercise should remain as close as possible to what the dog was familiar with in the former household, as long as that was adequate.
2. Take the new rescue dog for a walk through the house on a leash. Let the dog investigate but also let him or her know what the house rules are. The leash used in the house can be held, attached to your waist or allowed to drag. It is best not to let the dog out of your sight at least for the first hour. A squirt bottle (set on "stream") should be kept handy for easy, non-violent (but very effective) corrections if needed.
3. Three or four times during the first day, take the dog to the place where he will be sleeping overnight and also to the place where he will be when the family is away from home. He or she will then be familiar with both places before being left alone or put to bed.
4. Don't let the dog out of your sight unless confining the dog to a crate (or a "safe" room).
5. Alwavs leave the dog calmly and pleasantly, with a radio playing (soft music or talk show), soft lighting, bedding, water, toys and a treat. Always return to the dog calmly and pleasantly by going to the dog and putting the leash on before taking him out of a confined area. This calm return, preferably by one adult alone, prevents separation anxiety.
Rescue dogs have already lost at least one family and are inclined to become anxious when separated from the new family. The more excited the dog is allowed to become when the owner returns, the more anxious the dog will become about being separated. Separation anxiety is one of the primary causes of failure of the rescue dog in the new home and is usually preventable. If the dog will be alone much of the day, he or she should definitely be allowed to sleep in the bedroom of a family member overnight. Dogs are light sleepers and are very aware of whether they are alone or with a family member. It's a cheap time for a working person to spend with his or her dog. Spending the night with other family dogs is better than being alone, but no substitute for being with the owner. Dogs who spend too much time away from the family tend to bark, chew, dig or lick or chew on their coats.
6. If the dog becomes very upset at being confined, be sure you are confining him the same way the former owners did. If you have no information, experiment to see what the dog might be used to. Spend time with the dog in an appropriate room with the door closed. Try the kitchen or bedroom. They are the most likely rooms a former owner would have used. Leave the room briefly, close the door, then return to the room and resume what you were doing, saying nothing to the dog. Gradually leave for longer periods of time. If the dog gets upset, return to what you were doing and temporarily discontinue trying to leave. Experienced foster owners can be very helpful with this type of experimentation and also with helping a new family understand their dog's attitudes and behavior.
7. Keep the leash on the dog when he is with you. The dog will feel more secure and you will prevent confusion. With the leash you can prevent most mistakes, including escaping out an open door, which has caused many rescue dogs their lives. Also, nothing is more disturbing to a new dog or puppy than to be loose in a strange house and chastised at random by strangers. It is grossly unfair to the new dog to allow him to make a mistake that is certainly going to be repeated. Keeping the dog with you on a leash when not confined is an ideal solution. A leash or short 'handle' can be treated with Bitter Apple to prevent chewing. Simply take the dog away from any mistake he or she is about to make and substitute a toy, a biscuit, a little play or simple affection.
If the dog gets too wild or uncontrollable, either separate by confining the dog, use an obedience lesson or take him for a walk. If the dog becomes too demanding have him sit before petting, treats or play, and practice long down stays. The leash can be attached to a buckle collar or head halter but should never be left on the dog out of the sight of an adult. A choke collar should only be on the dog when the dog is on leash and the leash is in your hand.
8. The rescue dog should not be left outdoors unsupervised for the first month. If a dog left alone can get out of a yard during the first month, he or she may attempt to return to the former home. Some dogs are very agile and can jump or climb a high fence when stimulated and others are intelligent and curious and can find other wavs out of a yard if they have the time to investigate.
Introducing a new dog to other family dogs....When arriving at the new home the rescue dog should first be taken out into the back yard (without the other dogs) and played with gently and walked with just one or two older familv members until the dog urinates and/or defecates.
Then bring the new dog into the house. Take the other dogs outdoors, out of the sight of the new dog, and let them scent the area where the new dog eliminated.
Meanwhile, the new dog should be walked from room to room on leash. Praise him as you introduce him to the scent of the other pets favorite sleeping places. Then take the new dog back outside or out of sight while the other pets are brought in to be praised and introduced to the scent of the new dog indoors. At that time very social dogs can be introduced one at a time to the new dog while loose in the back yard . (If you are not absolutely certain of results, take them both for leash walks outside.)
If you wish to be very cautious, walk them on neutral property with a chain link fence between them. You can use a school yard, sports field or tennis court. Walk them parallel, one on each side of the fence. Keep praising them and keep them moving as you gradually let them get close enough to sniff and get acquainted. If either or both wish to stop and urinate, let them. If they seem totally relaxed and friendly, continue the walk without the fence; take them home and turn them loose in the yard. If either looks tense, stiff legged, defensive or barks or growls, take them away from each other and temporarily keep them out of sight of one another. Spend a week letting each get used to the scent of the other, both indoors and out, and then try the walk on either side of the fence again.
Rescue dogs are neutered males and spayed females. If you have a male who has been neutered recently, it will sometimes take three months for the hormones to leave the system and longer for their effect to wane. Use more care with your introductions to other male dogs.
If you have multiple dogs and the new dog has accepted the dominance of your dominant dog, the others can be introduced more quickly, usually one at a time. Always watch for problems over food (feed separately; keep them out of each other's dishes). Watch for problems over toys. If a dog is becoming competitive or defensive of a special toy, give it to that dog only when he or she is alone. Watch for problems (aggressiveness or shyness) at the door where the dogs go in and out. Also watch for any dog laying close to a family member and not letting other dogs approach. Dogs have favorite resting places. A new dog should respect the dogs already in the household. Watch for problems if he takes over another dog's "spot." Dogs have to develop their own pecking order, but you can control food, toys and household behavior.
During the first month or two a new dog will gradually feel more "at home" and should be watched for changing attitudes, especially possessiveness of toys or of the owner.
Other Family Pets...
If an Airedale has already lived with a cat, he or she should adapt to another easily. Otherwise, begin with encouraging each to feel positively about the scent of the other. It is usually the dog who has to be kept under control around a cat, a bird, bunny or other animal. Take the dog away from the animal on the leash, even into another room if necessary to maintain control. If the dog still has to be physically controlled after a week or two, the dog hasn't had enough obedience training to handle the situation.