Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Secret Language of Dogs by Victoria Stilwell and Dog Fostering

So I decided to go into dog fostering. Yay! I wanted to do something good in my life and looked into this extensively. I don't think anything will prepare you for that first Foster though. You will learn everything after that first experience.

This book has certainly helped me a bunch with my first Foster, Mimi. She's a Bichon Frise and Poodle mix. She has so much energy and her moods constantly changed. I looked through this book for every little thing she did. I used to have a dog about 10 year ago but his personality was completely different from Mimi. He was an American Eskimo (See photo of fluffy white dog howling below- not my dog but same breed). He would lay down when I sat down and follow me everywhere. He was an outstanding dog. Mimi was obviously a damaged dog. I would put on my shoes and if I lifted my shoe too high she would flinch. I knew she was hit in the past. She barked constantly at anything and everything. I'll go more into this soon.

The Secret Language of Dogs was laid out so thoughtfully. The pictures in the book are gorgeous. You will learn everything you need from this book to help you learn cues. It maps out every single behavior quite clearly along with some depictions. You will learn playing, aggression, depression, fear and anger. There's not much to say but this book is pretty awesome. It's just been such a big help to me. I'd totally recommend it for anyone getting a new dog or thinking about fostering a dog.

A little more on Mimi. I have only had her for a few days but I have learned so much from her. Here's my advice for first time dog Foster parents. Have pee pads on hand. You never know the complete background of a dog sometimes. Even if they have perfect "housebroken" habits they can change completely while with you. Mimi never peed in the house until I noticed at bed time she would pee on a pee pad while everyone slept. It was apparent she couldn't hold it in for 8 hours even though she eliminated outside perfectly.

Then there was the barking. Nothing will prepare you for the constant barking. A big help is having treats and toys on hand. I wouldn't reward the barking. Just wait for it to stop when you say NO barking and THEN reward. I also tried crating her when she would not stop barking. I walked away and when I went back to her I found ripped up pee pads. She had become destructive when I left her alone.

Separation anxiety is probably a big problem in dogs who are moved around constantly. You will have to be prepared for the dog not wanting to leave your side. You are all they know in their lonely little world where they came from. Be gentle but be firm when you need to.

I think I have learned that I will be mostly trying to inquire about older dogs to Foster. Little Mimi is 3 years old and she still exhibits a bunch of puppy behavior. I am more inclined to Foster a dog who just wants to lay around most of the day by my side and go for walks 3-4 times a day.

Also, be mindful of your pets you already have home. My cats have never been around a dog before so it was crazy new to them. They hissed and growled constantly. My grey cat , Theon got used to Mimi pretty quickly soon after and my other cat felt comfortable enough to lay around but still hissed if she got near him. I feel like it was a good experience to have them get comfortable with a dog so they will already know for the future.

Definitely check out the book if you decide on getting a new dog. If you have any Foster tips of your own let me know in the comments section, thanks!!

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