As wonderful and giving as it is to foster or adopt, it should never be at the expense of other pets already in the home. They are priority. You never compromise the integrity of your existing pack or you weaken your standing in their eyes. Whenever I foster a dog, they are kept crated in my office in a separate part of the house. They are never allowed in my living quarters as this is my dogs home and this foster would immediately be perceived as an intruder and disrupt pack order.

With adoption, your first introduction can either make or break your success in allowing your own animals to accept this new “guest” or family member. The rescue you where you obtained your dog should have already done initial testing with other dogs, BUT that dynamic is different when the dog enters you own dog’s HOME. Dogs should be introduced on-lead in a neutral zone. Walk them without letting them have contact for a few minutes. Then when body language appears comfortable, allow them to get closer and closer, till they can properly introduce themselves. This will lessen the feeling of intrusion for all concerned. That process should be repeated with each member of the existing household separately to avoid pack panic. In other words if you have three dogs and take in another , don’t let them all meet at once as pack dynamics can overtake the situation.

Once an initial intro has been made, the adoptee should be kept separate and allowed contact only in certain specified areas (backyards, basements etc.). If you allow the new dog total access, you completely change the dynamics of your own pack and this will stress the house dogs out. Your own dogs have a right to pack structure and stability. Keep the rescue dog in “guest” status and you will lower your risk factor of problems. NEVER FEED THE NEW DOG WITH THE HOUSE DOGS unless you have had this dog for at least 30 days. They should always be fed in the crate for at least the first 2 weeks. All the dogs have a right to security while they acclimate to each other.

When new dogs are allowed to mix with house dogs, there should be no food based toys (rawhides, pigs ears etc). Nylabones, balls, Frisbees are fine. These toys will give you an idea of how well the new dog can “share” without tapping into the primal food instinct. Put no toys at all down if you have a house dog with possession issues.

If you do have a new dog for more than 30 days and want to feed him with your house dogs, start by feeding him last in an area away from where you feed the house dogs, but within sight. If there is a problem, this gives you a chance to grab the new dogs leash and control the situation. If your own dogs have food issues, NEVER FEED WITH THE NEW DOG. The process will be different for every dog and never RUSH to teach the dogs to eat together. Let it evolve.

Cats or other pets are a judgement call. Always introduce with foster on leash and give the cats an escape route. If you have Parrots, with bird secured in cage, bring dog up to cage on leash. In either case, if there is no reaction by the foster dog…immediate praise and treat.

Next Month Adopting a Dog ~ Children