Well, it was time to introduce Bella to Alex today and this is how I introduce new dogs to my pack.
Cynthia, Alex, Bella, and I went for a walk together. At the beginning of the walk, Alex was on my left side while Bella was on Cynthia’s right side. We stopped for a couple of minutes so they can do their business, but they were not allowed to interact with each other yet. Because Alex cannot walk a lot we had to stop after we walked for a little while to give them an opportunity to sniff each other. Bella’s body language was relaxed and curious. So far so good.
Once we got home, we went straight to the deck where Bella, still on leash and collar, was able to interact with Alex. What did I realize? Bella has no doggie manners. She almost stepped on Alex a few times. What did Alex do? Nothing. And that is why Alex is perfect for me and for what I do which is board, train, and work on behavioral issues many dogs have. After a couple of minutes, we brushed their hair and wiped their paws and proceeded to go inside.
Bella’s body language indoors changed. She became tensed and zeroed in on Alex. I redirected that behavior by getting her attention and she was fine.
This is what I realized about Bella:
- Bella’s interaction with Alex outside was great. She did a play bow inviting Alex to play
- Once inside, her body language became tense and on guard. She lowered her head, body was tense, stared at Alex and looked ready to go for her
- Even though I was not crazy about her body language indoors, Bella responded well or I should say amazingly well to voice corrections and commands
- Although she did great while playing with other dogs at the shelter, now she has to learn to live in peace with other dogs in a home environment
- She has to learn doggie manners. She cannot step over other dogs
- On the deck, Bella showed signs of stress, pacing back and forth, but she relaxed after a few minutes when she saw Alex sunbathing
This is just the beginning for Bella. She has a long way to go and this is why a shelter dog, in my opinion, has a better chance to find her forever home when she has been fostered for a while. Why? Living in a home environment teaches her how to be a member of a pack and that is something that she cannot learn in a shelter. I have great admiration for the people who work in shelters. They do an amazing job, and they can always use our help whether this comes in the form of donations, volunteer time, fostering dogs, etc. Have a great week.
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It sounds like Bella is a good student working with an excellent teacher-it can be a real struggle to integrate a pack-I have two that do not get along with each other and it has been a very slow process to try and work that out-the third gets along with both, so it is a real balancing act. Part of the problem as you point out is lack of doggie manners-bravo to you and Alex for teaching Bella how to be an even better dog!
Yes, Bella is a really good student and I’ll post soon the improvements I’ve seen in her now that she has been with us for a month. Yes, many dogs do not have doggie manners and this is once reason of why some fights start. I appreciate your encouraging words:-)
I LOVE what you pointed out here: dog behavior often changes based upon environment. I have seen so many adoptions fail from shelters because a dog did spectacularly at the shelter with another dog, and then the dogs are allowed to freely interact in the car, at home, in the back yard, etc. That’s when a fight happens, and it’s because the humans involved assume that because dog A did well with dog B in one area, everything will be fine in every place they go. That’s why I agree with what you say–while a foster can’t predict everything, getting to know a dog in the home environment gives you a much better sense of who that dog is. Also, you are just plain awesome. Thanks for fostering Bella!
Lol. You are extremely kind with your words, thank you. Yes, many dogs are labeled “ok” with other dogs while at the shelter, but only time and a home environment can really show you how that particular dog really is and what home is the right home for him/her.
Thought I would check out your blog since you liked one of my posts, and I like it 🙂 you got yourself a new follower 🙂 fostering a dog is such an amazing thing to do- I’m not sure I could do it, I wouldn’t want to let the dog go when it was eventually adopted. I’m new to wordpress at nikkiharvey.wordpress.com and it’s all about animals and getting new posts up all the time at the moment until my blog stops looking empty, so keep checking it out 🙂
Thanks for visiting my blog. I think that you should foster only if you feel you are ready to do so, and you also have to get the right foster dog for your family and schedule. I’ll keep checking your blog. Take care.
Being a foster volunteer is tough work and you have such a great approach to it. Socializing and teaching the dog manners is so important. I do need to see a trainer, I’m trying to get Louie over his fear of the car and he doesn’t always come when I call. Good luck with Bella, her forever family will be very lucky she had your help.
Yes, it is a lot of work, but with time Bella should be ready to go to her forever home. Try to work with a trainer that knows about behavior as well as training in order to get Louie over his fear of cars.