The biggest thing about introducing a new foster dog to your home is to try and act casual. Keeping with your regular routine helps you to not overwhelm the dog in such a new place to them. This helps your dog learn the ropes and set them up for success.
You’ll discover the dog will display different personality traits over the next couple days. Likely, they will become more lively. If you’re lucky, even cheeky!
Here are a few techniques we’ve used to enhance the experience of bringing a new foster dog into your home.
- Make sure your place is tidy ahead of time so you’re setting your dog up for success when they arrive from the shelter. For example, leaving a pound of butter on the counter to be snatched (whoops!).
- Close any doors to rooms you don’t want the dog scouting out just yet, so they learn boundaries. As you grow more comfortable with the way they’re acting, try opening the door to a new room like you normally would. As long as you don’t make a big deal about it, they likely won’t either as they follow you to check it out.
- Keep the dog’s leash on, but release it so they can wander about their new place. This way you can be ready if you notice them starting do something naughty or go where you don’t want them to. Simply grab the leash (rather than raise your voice or grab them by the collar) guiding them to something more positive. Positive activities could include heading out for a pee, lying down on a bed you’ve set up for them or walking around like a little shadow behind you.
- Offer water in an accessible spot, but not too much water. As you’re introducing a new foster dog home, remember they may have had a long car ride to get to you with few chances for a pee break. This is also very new to them so they may over-slurp to calm themselves and if they have too much available to drink, it could lead to you scrubbing the floor.
- Go about your business like you normally would while they settle in, just keep an ear out to hear if anything out of the ordinary happens
Tail wags, eye contact, being receptive to touch, responding to your voice – these are all signs of respect, and happiness. When dogs discover they no longer have to be fearful, they transform. Every movement towards comfort is a little victory worth celebrating. Certain dogs will be sensitive to sound, other dogs walking by on the street and random objects in your home.
Do your best to praise behaviour you’d like to see and ignore the things you don’t like.
We recently got a short-term foster who had clearly never lived in a condo and barked at every odd sound. We used distracting techniques to re-direct her barking to sniffing and searching out pieces of kibble. We also occasionally threw a towel on her head to occupy her brain, but that’s not a proven tactic, by any means. Anything that turns their senses to focusing on something reward-based is great for encouraging good behaviour once they’ve calmed down.
It’s ideal if you’re able to be home with the dog for the next 24 hours so you can keep a close eye on them. We’ve had dogs pee on a TV box, hump couches and throw up a sock in the first few days they’ve been with us so be prepared for some adjustment behaviour.
If you offer enough patience while introducing a new foster dog to your home, the little weirdos are worth it.