Q: I’d like to start fostering dogs on occasion. How can I warm my own pup, Shaggy, up to the idea? She’s good with other dogs, but I want to make sure she doesn’t feel put out by the addition of some temporary housemates. —Full house in Phoenix
A:I commend you for thinking of your dog Shaggy before fostering other dogs in your home. It can be a fun time for your dog with anew playmate, while helping give a new leash on life to a dog who needs a forever home.
Before bringing “Foster” home, it would be very helpful for Shaggy to know her basic training, especially come, sit/stay, and go to your mat. She should also have a safe place where she can be if you are away in another area of the house, or have left the house for a short period of time. Using crates can be very helpful.
Have one of Shaggy’s dog friends come for a visit and see how she behaves with a dog she is already happy around. Start the meeting outside and bring them in with Shaggy entering first. Don’t leave the two of them alone together, and never leave any dog alone with a child.
Do a feeding time while she has her best friend over. Have both dogs on leash and keep their dishes far apart from each other. This can give you a fair indication of Shaggy’s behaviour around another dog(s) when there is food present and in her own home.
Now it’s “foster-time.” For the best scenario, have Shaggy meet Foster, both on leash, on neutral territory. Have a second person handle the other dog to make it easier as well.
Keep leashes loose to lower stress and aggression. This will help with the introduction and give you a good idea as to how they get along. Not every foster dog will be suitable in every home.
Keep yourself relaxed. Be clear that you are the leader, always through positive methods, and enjoy the satisfaction of helping one more dog get ready for his new home.