When you foster dogs and bring them to adoption events, there are a few things you hear constantly from those who stop by to visit. One is, “If I could take them all, I would.” (Yes, so would we. But we don’t want to get arrested, so instead we do this.)
Another is, “I wish I could foster, but my dog would be jealous.”
Let’s address the latter, because sometimes it’s a legitimate concern. But oftentimes, it’s not. I mean, no dog ever died from being jealous provided he has a strong pack leader in the house.
I’ll start by saying that my dogs were absolutely jealous of foster dogs at first too. Three years ago when we brought home our first Companion Animal Alliance foster, Rosie, we kept her in the backyard and never even let her sniff our two female dogs unless it was through a glass door. Rosie was definitely a dominant dog — I could tell by her growling at my girls through that glass door — and both of my dogs would have fought back if she started something. Fortunately, Rosie was quiet and very easy going in our backyard and there was shelter out there for her and the weather wasn’t cold. When my husband took Stella and Luna out for a walk, I brought Rosie inside and carried her up the steep steps to my office where she spent a few hours a day with me while I worked. When my husband took our dogs outside again later, I brought Rosie back outside to our fenced yard. In two short weeks, Rosie was adopted by this lovely woman:
It wasn’t the ideal foster dog situation, but it all worked out. And Rosie has been living a great life for more than three years now.
As I trotted another 30 or so foster dogs through the house, I realized I needed to hone in on some criteria for who we would foster. This way they wouldn’t all have to stay in the backyard and could be integrated into our home, which makes it possible for me to tell a potential adopter whether a dog is house trained. And that’s a big deal for many adopters.
Unless you have a dangerous, dog-aggressive dog, chances are your dog will do just fine with foster dogs in the house. You just need to establish your criteria for which types of dogs you might foster most easily. Our criteria includes the following:
- A submissive dog
- A dog who will be mostly quiet if left outside
- A dog who can’t or won’t climb our fence
- A dog who is calm and happy in a crate
- A dog who is ideally more than two years old and won’t run laps around our house and tempt our dogs to join in that fun.
- Absolutely no puppies. A lot of people LOVE fostering puppies. We, however, are too cranky and we value our sleep too much.
We will take dogs who are injured or sick, depending on the illness or injury. We will take shy dogs, because our confident dogs often bring a shy dog out of her shell, and shy dogs are usually really low maintenance. We will take pit bulls, because our dogs have never met a pit bull they didn’t like, nor have I. (I won’t take a male Rottweiler because for some reason Crespo wants to pick a fight with every big male Rottie he meets). We will take 100 pound dogs. We will take dogs that we personally think are ugly (and I’ll never, ever tell which) because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Plus, a dog who unveils a beautiful personality very quickly becomes a movie star in our eyes.
We introduce the dogs through a variety of methods. Sometimes I put them in the backyard kennel and bring our dogs down to investigate:
Sometimes I’ll come home from the shelter with a new foster and have my husband meet me out on the street with our dogs leashed. We immediately go for a walk around the block together because dogs hunt in packs and going on a walk together is a dog bonding experience. If there is growling, we correct with a yank on the collar and pick up the pace. After about a half a block, we let them sniff, nose to butt, which seems to be less of an affront than nose-to-nose.
Usually it all works out just fine. Once Bear was back at our house, however, he began to shove my other dogs out of the way to get loved on first. But when Crespo reacted by going after him and pinning Bear to the ground, Bear was so easy-going about it I was able to pull Crespo off, correct him and put him in time out. (He has never bitten any dog, but he will make a big show of his machisimo at times). In fact, it improved my dog’s behavior overall, and I have Bear to thank for that! They got along swimmingly after I made it clear who was the boss: Me.
Sometimes, Luna’s not the most gracious hostess.
We do try to take breaks between foster dogs, and to give our own dogs a lot of individual love and attention too.
Ultimately, working foster dogs into our pack has made them less jealous not more. It has also improved their training, socialization skills and it reminds them of their roots every time I have to refresh their memories and say that they were once foster dogs too.
DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL DOG TRAINING CONSULTATION OR MEDICAL ADVICE ABOUT THE PETS YOU BRING INTO YOUR HOME.