Introduction to children, other dogs and cats in the family.
First impressions do count and how you make introductions will set the scene for future interactions.
Children – Even if your foster dog has been used to children in the past it will not be used to yours and will need time to get to know them. Prevent your dog from feeling overwhelmed by insisting that it be allowed to approach the children rather than the other way around. This will prevent the dog from feeling threatened and it is less likely to snap in self‐defence. Children can encourage the dog to come to them by sitting down and offering a titbit or a game with a toy. Ask them not to stare at the dog as this can be threatening. If the dog goes to them they can stroke and fuss it underneath its chin to start with rather than patting it on the head. Remember that a dog at face level with young children may seem huge in the eyes of a child and quite frightening, so be prepared to move the dog away if the child becomes overwhelmed or if the dog is about to jump up. Unlike us, dogs are not primates and do not always appreciate being hugged or cuddled unless they have been familiarised with it from an early age. It is a great temptation for children to do this, especially if they have been used to doing it to a previous dog. You will need to find out slowly what your foster dog will accept from the children, supervising constantly to ensure that no unacceptable behaviour occurs on either side. After the initial introduction, ask the children to give your foster dog a bit of space and time to find its feet. They shouldn’t fuss round it too much at first. (A new game for the children, introduced at the same time as the new dog, can distract their attention for awhile and enable the first few days to go more smoothly). If your children have not had a dog before they may need to be taught to respect it and not treat it as a toy. High‐pitched squeals of excited children can upset a dog until it is used to them, so try to keep play as calm as possible and interrupt before it begins to get out of hand. Some dogs, for example collies, have a strong herding instinct and may nip at children’s ankles, causing them to squeal and run away. This excites the dog, which will do it more and more. This type of behaviour must be stopped at once or it can quickly become a habit. Children have to learn not to tease or bully the dog; the dog has to learn not to jump up at the children, be too boisterous or nip them in play. It is important to supervise all their activities until they have both learned the rules. Under no circumstances should children of any age be left alone with any dog. NEVER allow a child to take the foster dog out on their own there must always be an adult in charge Be especially careful with older dogs and children. A dog whose vision or hearing is impaired may be startled by sudden approaches and may bite to defend itself. Explain the difficulties the dog is having to the children so that they learn to approach more gently.
Other dogs in the family
It is best to introduce dogs on neutral territory so take both dogs out for a long walk together. The interest of the walk will make the introduction less intense and they can get to know each other as they walk. If you need to use a car to take them to your home for the first time, keep them separate until you arrive. When you get home, take them into the garden, allowing the new dog to go in first, and let them run around together for a few minutes. Before allowing them into the house, remove anything that they are likely to fight over such as toys, bones, beds, bowls and so on. Attention from members of the family may also be a resource to fight over, so ignore both dogs initially until they have settled down. Try to ignore any small disagreements and scuffles. If you see both dogs stiffening up and staring at each other, distract both dogs by pretending something more interesting is going on elsewhere. If it looks as though there will be a fight, attach short leads to both collars so that you can use these to break up an incident. If a fight ensues, do not use your hands to break it up or you risk being bitten. Instead, try a sudden surprise such as two tin trays banged together loudly just above their heads. Be ready afterwards to lead each dog away and isolate them until they have calmed down. Extra care should be taken when introducing a large dog to a small one since the damage inflicted during a fight can be worse for the smaller dog. Usually introductions go smoothly and the new dog is treated, and acts, like a visitor. The hierarchy between them is usually sorted out during the first few weeks and disagreements are possible during this time. Try to avoid situations that may cause aggravation between the two. Feed them apart until they are used to each other, separate them before answering the door, and do not make such a fuss of the new dog that your old dog feels excluded and does not enjoy having the new dog around. Care should be taken not to leave them alone together until it is obvious that they have become friends.
Cats in the family
Even if your foster dog lived with a cat in its previous house it will not know your cat. If they are to become friends, it is essential that the dog is not allowed to frighten your cat– or vice versa. This means having the dog on a lead and under control when they are introduced. Let the cat have the freedom to get out of the way or approach if it wishes. The two will probably need time to assess each other before they get brave enough to approach and make friends. For this reason you will need to supervise all their encounters for a number of weeks to ensure a successful outcome, if necessary keeping the dog on a lead for a while whenever the cat is present. DO NOT allow the dog to give chase at any time since this will upset the relationship and it will be much longer before they become used to each other. Your cat will get to know the dog in its own way. This can sometimes take months, but you will do more harm than good if you attempt to speed up the process. Care should be taken not to leave a cat and a dog alone together.
The first night
It is advisable to put your dog to bed half an hour before going to bed yourself for the first nights. This allows it to get used to the idea of being alone in the room while your reassuring presence is just outside the door. Ignore all attempts to get you to go back. If you do so you will be rewarding this behaviour and it is likely to increase in intensity. Only go into the room where your dog is in the morning if it is quiet. If you go in when your dog is barking you will be rewarding it for this and it is likely to wake you up earlier in future. Wait until there is a break in the noise before going in.
It is important not to change a dog’s diet too quickly or to change its diet at the time of fostering when everything else in its life is being disrupted. The last thing your foster dog needs at this time is a change happening inside its body as its system adjusts to the new food. For this reason it is preferable if we can give the dog continuity in its diet. Dogs do not require lots of variety in their diet – too much change of food can result in diarrhoea and may also encourage your foster dog to become a picky eater. It is not unusual for a dog to refuse food in times of stress and change, so just give it a small fresh meal of the same sort of food twice daily and take away any uneaten food after 30minutes. This will encourage your foster dog to eat what is offered, rather than holding out for something different. It is a good idea to weigh out the food each time and follow the feeding guide on the packet of food. Whatever you decide to feed, ensure that an adequate supply of fresh,clean drinking water is always available.
Most adult dogs will have been housetrained before you get them. Some could have been in kennels or alone for a period of time and may need reminding. When you first receive your new foster dog, take it to the garden and wait with it until it goes to the toilet before bringing it in. When your dog goes to the toilet outside, make a tremendous fuss of it, give it a food reward and play a game with it. Dogs are creatures of habit and once the habit is started it is likely to continue. Your foster dog will probably be used to a different routine in its own home from that which you will want to keep to and it will need time to adjust its body to the new routine. Until it does, you should be prepared for the occasional accident. Establish regular feeding and walking habits as soon as possible. Taking your foster dog outside to the garden often during the day will also facilitate the housetraining process. Make sure you take your dog into the garden at times when it is likely to want to relieve itself such as first thing in the morning, other times when it has just woken up and also after feeding. This will give you the opportunity to praise your foster dog for using the correct place.
Make sure your foster dog is in a secure area and is kept on a lead with a well‐fitting collar at all times. An identification tag with your name and telephone number on it should be attached to the dog’s collar when it arrives. All dogs need to be taken out for a walk at least twice a day. This not only gives the opportunity for exercise but also provides mental stimulation and a chance to socialise. Take a poop‐scoop with you or a supply of plastic bags to pick up any mess your foster dog leaves behind. Do not allow the dog to run around immediately after eating a large meal as this can lead to a potentially life threatening bloat of the stomach and intestines, especially in large breeds. It is better to wait an hour or so or, alternatively, feed your dog an hour after you get back from your walk. The amount of exercise needed will depend on the individual dog and is not necessarily dependent on size. Dogs of the working breeds and younger dogs are likely to need more than others are. If your foster dog is very active in the house and is always getting under your feet, you may find that another hour’s exercise each day will make it much more pleasant to live with.
Helping your dog to fit into your family
Your foster dog will have a predetermined view of humans which will be based on its previous experiences with them. Despite this view, how it is treated during the first few weeks in a new home will make a considerable impression on it. From the very first encounters with members of its foster family, it will be assessing them all to find out where it fits in. You can ensure your foster dog develops good manners and feels secure by paying attention to particular situations and events. These are: Sleeping places, territory and movement of the family around the territory Attention and grooming from other family members Winning of games and possession of toys Order of feeding Sleeping place and territory Dogs should sleep on their own, e.g. preferably in a room away from the bedrooms. It is best to keep dogs off the furniture.
Attention and grooming
It is important to groom your new foster dog often. Even dogs with short coats need to accept being touched all over by family members whenever they choose to do so. This also gives you a chance to give your foster dog a quick health check at the same time. Be sure to brush everywhere including the insides of the legs which are often neglected, particularly if they have a long or woolly coat. Check that your foster dog’s nails are not overgrown. This is especially important in older dogs that do not get as much exercise as the younger ones.
Do not expect your dog to know your house rules. It may have been allowed to behave very differently in its own home and you will need to teach it what it can and cannot do in yours. Rather than punish it for breaking rules it does not know exist, teach it what you do want it to do and praise it for doing it. If dogs are rewarded for doing something they are more likely to do it again. If their actions bring no reward they are less likely to repeat them. This is the basis of learning in all animals.
Dogs’ Health Vaccinations
All dogs need a basic course of vaccinations against the four major diseases plus a booster vaccination every year. Your Admin will have information on this.
Roundworms and tapeworms are the most common types of worms found in dogs. Roundworm larvae can be transmitted to humans, and children are particularly susceptible as they are less meticulous than adults about washing their hands, so it is important to be aware of what these worms may look like: Tapeworm Roundworm If you suspect your foster dog has worms please let your Admin know and arrange for a worming treatment to be dispensed by a vet. Fleas As with worms, if you suspect your foster dog has fleas please inform your Admin ‘Spot on’ or spray products obtained from your vet or online are the most effective methods of treatment and should be reapplied as stated on the medication. When applying flea treatment take care to avoid the eyes, ears and mouth.
Problems During your time of fostering, do not be afraid to ask an Admin for advice if any problems persist or if you are concerned about anything