Brownie was sad and distant when we first started fostering. He withdrew himself from everything that was his. I felt it in my core because that is what I do, when I am scared to lose something I love or when I fear something will change, I dissociate myself that something or someone. So when I felt his hugs loosen, I panicked. There were spells of barking, a show of stress and disgruntlement. There was agitation, cowering and bossiness. And I was doubting my decision to foster, scared of complaints from my neighbors and overall unsure of what will happen to the wonderful bond that is Brownie and me. Despite the humans in my life– spouse, parents, friends, Brownie and I have a bond like no other and I wasn’t going to risk it, for anyone or anything.
And that is exactly what I told Brownie, I showed him he was my forever and my only and my most important. Our foster dogs came to us needing TLC, starved of love, attention and likely, food. So as you realize the fosters and the resident needed different things; and we catered to each. Thanks to my husband, we split guardianship in taking care of our pooches. He gave the foster all the TLC he needed. And I gave my Brownie what he deserved most–time and Mom. Whatever little time I had after work and errands and chores, I spent it with Brownie–I walked him, I fed him, I petted, hugged, snuggled and I never petted or picked up the foster in front of him. I stayed consistent for a couple days. Then gradually, we started spending us-and-them time together. Two humans, two pooches, giving short spurts of equal attention to both and more often than that, NO attention to either of them. We let them figure out their own social order. We had 2 squeaky toys, 2 balls, 2 beds (or a big bed) and they started being ok with the other being around. Stealing toys from each other, pushing, jumping, but also playing and lounging together.
Now when I walk 2 dogs, the foster and the resident, I always hold the foster on a tighter leash than the resident. 3 reasons:
- The longer leash for the resident dog, lets him enter doorways first and thus be the pre-determined alpha, often reducing tension
- The shorter leash for the foster, lets him be closer to me or walk closer to walls or sides of streets, which some dogs from neglect-conditions seem to prefer (helped our very first, very shy foster a lot)
- A shorter leash for the foster also means better control, especially if the foster is unpredictable. You don’t want your recently posted “adoptable” dog defamed by accidents like
- jumping on people’s grocery bags (there goes your bacon!)
- barking at old drunk men,
- chasing bikes
- charging at the inexperienced and suddenly enamored stranger who decides to shove their hand into this nervous pooch’s face.
- and the worst, well-groomed, over-grown lapdogs aka poodles (no offense, I just find their hoofy strut and often girly hairdo, very funny)
Do you have tricks of your own that helps the resident and foster get along better?