One of the biggest topics I focus on is training your foster dog, regardless of age. I am not talking about getting the dog trained to the point of competition, I am referring to teaching some of the basic commands. Those will translate into manners. Teaching a dog to sit, lay down, off, leave it and go into the crate (for feeding/leaving the house/bedtime/etc.) creates obedience. Obedience does not mean that the dog is free from behavioral issues, so keep that in mind.
The Foster Dog Challenge
When it comes to fostering, this is something that can really help the dogs. Unfortunately when dogs are moved from home to home, this can create inconsistent behavior, behavioral issues, bonding issues, then add in the fact that the dog has no understanding of any obedience, which will make it harder for the dog to find a home. Finding a home is the first battle, but then the second battle is for the dog to keep it.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- If you have multiple dogs, you want to focus on one dog at a time per lesson in the beginning.
- When you’re teaching something new to your foster dog or working with a known command in a highly distractible environment use a higher value treat.
- Training does not mean devoting hours a day to this, but incorporating it into your life. For example: teach sit, use sit to get food, sit to go outside at the door, sit to come in the door, work on sits during commercials, and so on. There is nothing wrong with 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there.
- When you start teaching the commands, you don’t want to overwhelm the dog, so start with one command at a time.
- In the beginning reward your foster dog for each sit, make sure that you start the teaching process in a familiar area. Once the dog understands the command, only reward for multiple repetitions. It makes when rewards arrive, unpredictable. Move the training sessions outside, but increase the value. Go through the same process as you did inside. Lastly, start the command in action, especially at adoption events. Rewards come in a variety of motivation levels. There are verbal, tactile, the dog’s food, dried organs, deli meat, cheese, etc.
Choose The Right Exercises
Sometimes when a new foster dog comes in, especially the energetic ones, you want to wear them out. Turn to a short training session and not laser pointers. Laser pointers create drive and neurotic behavior. Dogs will start to look for the red dot, then will start chasing and looking for shadows. I have had calls about dogs that will literally stare at the wall and bark. We want to teach dogs impulse control and this totally counteracts it.