Jeri Wagner, Dog Behavioral Therapist & Master Trainer with Bark Busters Home Dog Training chronicles her dog foster experience in the hopes of inspiring and helping others on their dog foster journey. Read along to follow Jamie’s progress!
Jamie has been with her Foster to Adopt trial family for two weeks now. I had a sense of where she might excel having spent so much time with her over the past three months, and she has been true to form thus far. She gets along great with their dog, Layla, and the two would play all day if they could – Jamie knows when to take a break and rest, even when Layla would prefer to continue playing sometimes! Jamie also loves Margaux, which is no surprise, as she bonds quickly with women.
Margaux and Eddie both know, however, that Jamie has a hard time trusting men. Sure enough, Jamie has had a bit more trouble acclimating to Eddie – much like when she first arrived at my house, she charges, barks, and growls when Eddie moves around the house. If Margaux is present, Jamie will lay on the couch and even curl up next to Eddie for pets and snuggles, but if Margaux leaves the room, Jamie will not stay with him. Fortunately, Margaux and Eddie understand that she needs time to adjust, decompress, and get used to her new home, and they have been very patient.
We have exchanged plenty of texts and a few phone calls over the past two weeks regarding Jamie’s behaviors. Now that she has had some acclimation time, I thought it would be good to check in and start some in-person training, so I made the 90-minute drive to see everyone. When I first arrived, Jamie was hesitant about having a visitor at the house and ran upstairs. I called her to me and she approached slowly; once she recognized me, she quickly became the goofy, wiggly, kissy pup that I know and love.
Once everyone was settled in, Eddie, Margaux, and I discussed the wins and challenges of the previous two weeks. Jamie has done well on walks around their neighborhood, she can be left in the bedroom when they are not home, and she is very lovable under the right circumstances. Understandably, their biggest concern is how Jamie reacts when Eddie moves around the house. I explained how to proactively teach Jamie to relax – by watching her body language and communicating in a language she understands – rather than reacting to bad behavior. I asked Eddie to get up from the couch and walk into the kitchen to demonstrate, and we rehearsed the correct actions several times. By anticipating Jamie’s reaction, they can verbally teach her better behaviors.
Jamie responds well to treats, so I also gave Eddie an easy, everyday bonding exercise to do together. I feel pretty confident that if they pay attention to Jamie’s body language cues, teach her to relax using the methods we practiced, and do their training homework, her status will change from foster to adopt to adopt. Only time will tell, but my fingers are crossed!
Read Our entire Foster Diary here!