Monday, October 11, 2010

First Foster - Andy: Days one and two

So, the dog we were slated to get for our first foster was a sweetie-pie older dog, with a known history. But, he was adopted, so we ended up with the total experience (well, almost, he is house and crate trained). A young male, lots of energy, pulled from the pound with no known history prior to that whatsoever. I felt like I spent the entire first day saying 'no' or 'leave it' to a dog that would not settle down. He peed a lake over the kitchen floor (my fault, I thought there was no way he could need to go again that quickly, but apparently he'd really been drinking), and threw a screaming fit in his crate at three in the morning.

Then things started to get better. Thoughts as bullet points.

  • He is picture-perfect with the cats. He will politely sniff and investigate, but doesn't push things, growl, or corner them. Of course, our cats are pretty savvy, and while they've swatted his face a few times, they haven't run. For what it's worth, he's taken the face swatting in stride.
  • Thank goodness he respects baby gates (or even a chair placed in the middle of a doorway). He neither jumps, nor pushes things over.
  • He's really intent on knowing where we are, but hasn't been overly cuddly. He follows room to room, and if you go where he can't follow, he'll wait at that doorway until you come back. Sitting in the living room, he will lay down a few feet away, but in sight, and come over to check on me every ten-twenty minutes or so. Sticks his head in my lap and gets some scratches, then goes back to his spot.
  • Similar thing with being outside. If you go out with him, he will trot around happily enough, or chase you, but he stays in sight. If you go back in, he wants in too right away. He seems to prefer indoors to outdoors a little bit in general.
  • He played fetch with M once, and had a pretty good 'drop it'. Other times he's shown no interest at all in thrown objects.
  • He's definetly more interested in me than M. I don't know whether it's because I had him alone most of the first day, or if he just prefers women, but he becomes quite concerned if I'm out of sight, even if M is there with him.
  • He hasn't really played with Kumi yet. They mostly ignore each other at this point. She's offered him some bows and invitations, but he isn't interested so far.
  • M did a two mile run with him both mornings so far. I don't know whether that is helping take the edge off, or whether he's just settling in better. He is still going full speed at the end, unlike M & Kumi, who are pretty tired out by that distance. The first day he did come home straight from three hours of off leash play with other dogs, so I would have thought that would tire him out some too.
  • He seems to already know sit and down, maybe shake. I think I'm using a different cue than he had for down previously, because he doesn't do it very consistently, but he'll sometimes offer it spontaneously when I have a treat he wants, and it's a very enthusiastic, planned movement, like he knows I might be asking for it, not just that he wants to lie down now. I'm less certain on shake - he might just like using his paws for things. We probably aren't going to pursue that one anyway.
  • He pulls like a plow horse. At 93 lbs (him, not me), I physically cannot control him on a leash. He is good on the head harness, but we'd like to move away from that. M spent some time working on heel, and said he was picking it up just they way they say they should in all the books (just like Kumi didn't). I'm hoping we can have him heeling by the next adoption meetup.
  • While M's working on heel, I've been doing touch. We're both trying to get him to sit before he goes outside or gets petted so that becomes automatic. Unlike Kumi, I'm also asking him to sit before he comes inside, since that seems to be quite a reward for him, and he's rushing the door in that direction, whereas Kumi has to be bribed to come in.
  • He's very enthusiastic about training, and loves working for treats. I think he'd be great for someone that wants to do more advanced training, because he seems to be a quick study, and really enjoys it.
  • He takes treats very roughly, biting your whole hand to get at the little nibble. If he's calm, he will sometimes take the first two more politely, so I think it's an excitement issue. I'm going to try turning around and ignoring him when he starts doing that in the future to see it that's successful. I tried keeping my hand closed around the treat, and he did stop chewing on it pretty quickly, but when I tried to reward him for that he took a big chomp again.
  • He's pretty enthusiastic about counter surfing. The first day we had a very hard time keeping his nose off the dinner table when we were eating (probably should have crated him, but oh well). However, some firm 'no's the second day, and he kept away from my dinner while I ate on the couch (slob that I am), so I think that may be fixable, at least while someone is watching.
  • He will go in his crate if you put his food or a treat in there first, but he's leery of it. He very much dislikes being crated where he can't see anyone. Being in sight of Kumi relaxes his somewhat, but he still whines when you leave. He seems to stop pretty quickly though.
  • About that tantrum. He whined when we put him up at first (at the foot of our bed with us in it). It sounded like attention-seeking whining, so we went with the ignore it route. I fell asleep before he stopped, but according to M, he did. Then around 3 am, he started up again, and kept at it through some pretty solid ignoring. We thought it might be a bathroom issue, so we let him out to go outside. He immediately tried to get into bed with us and was soundly rebuffed for that attempt. When he got back in his crate from the bathroom trip he started crying again. Very loudly, almost screams. Counting both before and after the potty break, he probably whined (loudly) for 45 minutes. At this point, M was tried and wanted to sleep and yelled 'No' it took about three repetitions, but it worked. Then second night we told him no when he started whining a few times, and he was good and quiet all night long. I was really surprised that the reprimand was more effective than the ignoring, but mostly I'm happy that everybody gets to sleep now.
  • At this point he's an odd blend of intensity and softness. He cries in his crate and always wants to know where you are, but it takes a pretty firm reprimand for him to listen. He never seems offended by the reprimand, and seems to listen and learn from it very well once you've gotten through to him. With how hard my voice is, I almost expect him to be cringing and making appeasement signals, but he's very resilient without being unresponsive if that makes sense.
  • A bit of the case study of the above. I was trying to trim his (ridiculously, probably painfully, long) nails. I started trading a treat for letting me hold his paw, and then for letting me clip a nail, releasing the foot after each treat. He very quickly wised up that he wasn't going to let me near his feet treats or no, and was actually getting fairly skittish about me. However, when M held him still so I could just go through and do them all at once, he didn't struggle or whimper at all, and was happy and fine with us both when I had finished.
  • He seemed to enjoy gnawing on a nylabone. At once point, we noticed quite a bit of blood on the bone, and took it away, but didn't see any damage in his mouth - just some blood. The rescue claims chewing so much their gums bleed isn't uncommon for the breed, and he'd been vet-checked with no problems recently. However, the second day we noticed one of his molars in the way back is a dark grey color, and doesn't look right at all. The tooth is so far back that it's hard to see when you're trying to pull his lips open, but visible when he's relaxed and panting. I'm not sure I want to question the vet/rescue this early on, but it doesn't seem like a good thing.
  • He has some antibiotics he's finishing up for an ear infection. He is the easiest dog to give pills to ever. Smear some peanut butter on one end and he gulps it down without a second thought.

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