Training

GUIDELINES FOR THE NEW FAMILY

OR FOSTER HOME

INTRODUCTION:

If a dog must change homes, we try to select a home that gives the dog the best possible chance for success. When no appropriate home is readily available, then the dog will have to adapt to two different households. This means more insecurity for the dog, but a good foster home can add to the understanding of a dog’s habits and personality, and can also help the dog learn to handle separations. The behavior of the dog in the strange household when the new owner leaves, is one of the biggest causes of failure of the rescue dog with the new family.

When the foster dog has been lost or abandoned, we have very little information about such a dog. Helping the dog to feel secure, even experimenting to see where the dog feels most secure in the caretaker’s absence, can help give the future new owner a head start.

TIME OF DAY

Ideally, the rescue 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 the dog and, therefore, for the caretaker.

ADVANCE VISITS

Advance visits and work-sessions between the family and the dog 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.

INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW HOME:

 

Although it is not always possible, the rescue should be picked up by the new family and taken home, so that the dog doesn’t feel “abandoned” by the rescue person.

1. When arriving at the new home, the rescue should first be taken out into the back yard and played with gently.

2. The dog should be walked with just one or two older family members until the dog urinates and/or defecates.

3. This is to insure that the first place the new dog eliminates is outdoors and not accidentally in the house. Even well house-trained dogs can become confused in a strange household, especially when upset and/or excited.

4. Next, 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 the house rules. The leash used in the house can be held or allowed to drag, but never used to tie the dog.

5. Don’t let the dog out of your sight unless confining the dog to a crate of a room, and then, stay close by at first to be sure the dog is not upset by the separation.

6. Take the dog three or four times during the first day to the place where he or she will be sleeping overnight, and also to the place where he or she 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.

FEEDING THE RESCUE

1. The rescue’s diet should not be changed for at least two weeks. The schedule for meals and exercise should remain as close as possible le to what the dog was familiar with in the former household, as long as that was adequate.

2. Feed the rescue in a crate. This will help the rescue associate comfort and good things with his new den and when the dog is left alone in the crate, he/she will feel more comfortable.

3. After the rescue has eaten, remove the bowl.  Do not allow the rescue to free feed. This takes the control away from you; and you want your new pet to look to you as the alpha for his/her food.

4. Be patient.  The rescue may be feeling insecure and may not eat in the beginning. He/she will when they are hungry enough. If the rescue is shy, try feeding him by hand in the beginning. This associates you with good things.

AVOIDING SEPARATION ANXIETY

1. Always leave the dog calmly and pleasantly with a radio playing, soft lighting, bedding, water, toys and a treat.

2. Always return to the dog calmly and pleasantly by going to the dog and putting the collar and leash on before taking him out of a confined area.

3. 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 be allowed to sleep in or near the bedroom of a family member overnight.

Dogs that spend too much time away from the family tend to bark, chew, dig, or lick/chew on their coats.

4. If the dog becomes very upset at being confined, be sure you are confining in the same way as the former owners. If you have no information, experiment to see what the dog might tolerate.

5. Spend time with the dog in an appropriate room with the door closed.  Try the kitchen, the laundry room 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, say 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.

6. Experiences of fosters can be very helpful for a new family in understanding their rescue dog’s attitude and behavior. The foster home should realize, however, that leaving the dog in the company of other dogs does not prepare him for being left alone when he goes to his new home.

KEEPING THE RESCUE UNDER CONTROL AND SECURE

1. Keep the leash on the rescue when he is with you. The dog will feel more secure and you will prevent confusion.

2. With the leash you can prevent most mistakes, including escaping out an open door that has caused many rescue dogs their lives.  Nothing is more disturbing to a new dog or puppy than to be loose in a strange house and chastised at random by strangers – which at this point is what the new family (foster or adopter) are to him.

It is grossly unfair to the new dog, but it is also unfair to allow him to make a mistake that will probably 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 or a lightweight chain leash can be used.

Simply take the dog away from any mistake he or she is about to make, then 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.

Attach the leash to a buckle collar or head halter but never leave it 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.

THE RESCUE OUTDOORS

1. The rescue dog should not be left outdoors unsupervised for the first month. Dogs have a strong homing instinct and if a dog left alone can get out of a yard during the first month, he or she will attempt to return to the former home no matter how bad it may have been.

2. Some dogs are very agile and can jump a high fence when stimulated and others are intelligent and curious and can find other ways out of a yard if they have time to investigate. Leaving them outside unattended gives them that opportunity.

THE RESCUE AND CHILDREN

1. If there are children in the household, they should be supervised with the new dog for the first month unless they are teenagers, assuming the role of primary caretaker.

2. If the new pet is a puppy (under two years of age if neutered, or older than two years if not neutered, or males that were neutered late in life) he or she should be with children under eight years of age only under close supervision, until the dog is mature.

3. This is to be sure that rules for both the pet and the children are being followed.  Left unsupervised, puppies and young children will play as if they are all puppies together, usually with poor results, as the dog gets older.  Contact the rescue coordinator, non-violent trainer specializing in pet behavior or a graduate behaviorist if the dog shows any fear of any child at any time.

4. If the dog uses his or her teeth playfully or affectionately at any time, that behavior MUST be totally stopped as soon as possible.

5. Children can be taught to play at retrieving by throwing a second toy rather than take anything out of the dog’s mouth. They can play hide and seek and they can run with the dog. Children should not run toward the dog or after the dog.

6. Children can feed the dog and also add goodies to the dog’s food while he is eating, so the dog thinks anyone around his food dish is adding food to the dog’s bowl. Children should practice heeling and on-leash stays with a trained dog, under supervision.

7. The dog should always sit before being fed or petted by anyone, especially a child.

8. Children or adults SHOULD NEVER roughhouse or wrestle, play tug-of war with the dog, or take anything out of the dog’s mouth. These games lead to the dog feeling competitive with the child as if the child was another dog. This attitude can lead to rough, inappropriate behavior in a clever competitor like the Airedale Terrier.

THE RESCUE AND OTHER PETS

A tip given to us by an animal expert is to put some of your perfume on you, your existing dog(s) and/or cat, and the rescue. Put it right above the tail – just a tiny bit. This gives them a common point of reference – the new owner.

1. Other pets should be out of sight when the new dog or puppy is brought into the house. 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.

2. Then take the new rescue 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.

3. Take them outdoors, out of sight of the new dog, and praise them as they scent the area where the new dog urinated. At that time, very social dogs can be introduced one at a time to the new dog while loose in the back yard.

4. However, if you are not absolutely certain of the results, there are two approaches you can use to introduce a rescue. Use baby gates and let them get to know each other with a gate between them or you can use the approach in steps 5 – 9.

5. Take them both for leash walks outside.

6. To be cautious, walk them on neutral property with a chain link fence between them. You can use a schoolyard, sports field or tennis court.  Walk them parallel, one on each side of the fence.

7. Keep praising them and keep them moving as you gradually let them get close enough to sniff and get acquainted. If either, or both, wishes to stop and urinate, let them. If they seem totally relaxed and friendly, continue the walk without the fence and take them to the house and turn them loose in the yard.

8. If either dog 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.

9. Here is where you must be patient.  This is a long term commitment.  Spend a week letting them 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.

BEWARE OF THE DOMINANCE ISSUE

Rescue dogs are neutered males and spayed females. If you have a male who has been neutered recently, he will retain many of his former habits. You will need 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 arising over food.

Feed your dogs separately; keep them out of each other’s dishes.

Watch for problems over toys. If a dog is becoming competitive or defensive over a special toy, give it to that dog only when he or she is alone.

Watch for problems, either of aggressiveness or shyness, at the door where the dogs go in and out.

Also watch for any dog laying claim to a family member and not letting other dogs approach.

Dogs also 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 “A” 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 Terrier 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. Allow the dog to sniff the cat tray, but otherwise keep it inaccessible because cat feces are very attractive to dogs.

Keep baby gates at the stairs to the basement or upstairs, so the cat can get safely away from the dog if the need arises. It is usually the dog that has to be kept under control around a cat, a bird, bunny or other animal.

Using a leash, take the dog away from the animal, even into another room if necessary to maintain control.