Making your foster dog happy can be easier than it sounds. Our best advice? Follow your gut and treat your new buddy with the respect you’d want for yourself.
At our most basic level, we require shelter, food & water to survive. And as we work on growing friendships, learning and expanding our living circumstances, happiness fills the space between. Dogs are very much the same in that we can enhance their lives by providing companionship, medical care and emotional stimulation.
Rescue dogs have often come from less-than-ideal circumstances. Hoarding, heavy-handed or under-stimulating environments can cause a dog to shut down personality-wise. As a foster home, our goal is to make the dog happy. This can take a few days, to weeks to months of consistent effort and patience.
So how does someone make a foster dog happy?
- Offering comfort. For some dogs, this means a cozy bed and lots of space. For others this means being able to hear you as they snooze in the other room. Some dogs will act as a shadow, following you around to make sure you’re not going to leave them.
- Talk to your dog in a soothing manner. Little things like asking them if they’d like to go for a walk or if they’re ready for dinner in a happy, calm and light tone will alert them to your voice as being someone to pay attention to because good things happens when they do.
- Have some high-value treats and toys on hand to make reinforcing good behaviour fun!
- Encourage them to use their nose. One of the ways to reduce anxiety in an animal is to transition it from using eyes to gather information about the surrounding environment to their nose. Check out this post where we talk about dog stress signals and what you can do about it.
- Take them outside and allow them time around other dogs (so long as it doesn’t create more stress for them by doing so). Being out in nature feels so good – it helps us to think clearly and lets us relax. Dogs are stoked on walks, being stimulated by all of the smells and sights. Going for walks outside also helps them to get their energy out, which = a happy mellow dog.
Using tips like these can set you in the right direction and when in doubt, go with what feels right to you at the time when picturing what could make your foster dog happy.