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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi All,

I foster dogs for a rescue in Ontario, and I've kind of adopted my own "way" of training them.

It is expected of me to expose the dog to a wide range of situations, of which I do so confidantly and regularly.

Where I worry, is we're starting to foster larger and larger dogs now, as its easy for the rescue to find foster parents for small dogs.

My Fiancee isn't very big or strong, and I feel that she isn't authoritative enough to pull the "I'm the boss here" We work different shifts (Great for the dogs!) So I can't be there all the time.

The hardest thing I find is that she wants to "Coddle" the dog at inappropriate times. The last dog we had was very submissive and shy/skittish. When it behaved in this way, she'd go "ohhh baby.... and go and pet it." I Personally feel that this is "rewarding" the dog for this behavior, and justifying the behavior.

Maybe i'm a bit to hard-nosed with the foster dogs, but when I bring them into my house, I make sure they know that _I_ am the boss. I show them around my house on leash, Show them their bed, Food, Water, Take them outside in the backyard until they do their business, (food reward then) I get their food out, make them sit and wait for it, and generally after a few days of "following the rules" will I then show affection. Its usually around a week before I get on the floor with them and "coddle" or play.

My question to Foster "families" is, How do you manage inconsistencies between you and your spouse? Clearly I know communication is key. When we moved in together, I had a dog. She coddled it too, However I had Buddy long enough that he was unequivocally "my" dog. Complete Trust, Both ways. (wasn't like that when I first fostered him!)

Am I being to "hard" on the dogs by withholding praise until I'm sure they see me as the boss? Should I be giving these poor pups more love? I find it hard not to, but I see what I'm doing as a kind of "boot camp" to get the dogs as "adoptable" as possible. I don't want them trying to Mount their future owners when I interview them.

I have 2-3 weeks (ideally,) but I can take as much time as I need though, to get an idea of these dogs personalities, quirks and traits. I also generally leash train them, House Break (if needed) and basic commands (sit, stay, come... (Come seems to be the hard one!) I Teach them "humans first" through doors and stairs and such, and ensure they have no dominant/aggressive traits. I'm never need to Yell, I never chase them, and I have never hit. I'm just "strict" I guess.

Kind of a mouthful for one of my first posts!
 

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The whole "boss" thing reminds me of the dominance theory, so I'm going to be the first to let you know that that is a myth.

I foster large dogs (mostly pits and pit mixes, other big dogs here and there), and I NEVER need to act like "I'm the boss". There should be boundaries, but there shouldn't be any need to be dominant. Your fiancee is not rewarding the behavior. When a dog is skittish, it is an emotion, not a behavior, so she is not rewarding the dog for being skittish. I use positive reinforcement only and I see the best results this way. My sister is like your fiancee; she's much more gentler with the dogs (I am by no means mean or aggressive, I just have more boundaries). I tell her that the dog is not allowed to do certain things, and I teach her how to handle situations like that (I have more experience with dogs than her).
 

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My boyfriend and I are on the same page in that I am the crazy dog one, and he's along for the ride. He loves dogs and treats our foster kindly. He follows any management plan I make.

I also do not make myself the boss of my fosters, or dogs period. I don't even know what that really means, so I guess it would depend on your definition. However, I'm barely 100 lbs and can work with any size dog just fine. I also have a tiny voice and am very affectionate with all dogs that want affection.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I guess there is a fine line between dominance and respect? I haven't read anything about the dominance theory - I just kind of use what I saw what was used growing up.

I want the dog to know that there are things it can do, and things it can't. The dog should seek its owner for approval.

Some Examples:
My old dog would wait in the apartment hall for us to Get inside, take off our shoes, and lay down the towel to wipe his feet. Only once I said "ok" would he come indoors. The same when he was off leash. He'd stick to my side and heel, until I said "ok, go-on!" and would run off. I'd say the only "flaw" to this was he wouldn't by default listen to strangers or aquaintenances if I was around - Someone would tell him to come, He'd look at me, and I'd have to say "ok" for him to go.

For Foster dogs,
if we go for a walk, and the foster dog is pulling, the walk will stop until he stops pulling and calms down. I then resume walking. I will add a Snap of the fingers or a "ah ah" noise if the dog starts to pull again, and if it continues, I stop. I stop randomly (first with an audio cue, then eventually without one) when the dog stops with me, it gets a reward/praise. Same as getting through the door first. If the dog darts ahead of me, I bring it back outside, and then I walk through the door first. Same as Stairs, etc. I'm just VERY consistent.

When you say dominant, I instantly feel like a meanie. lol. Perhaps I am being "dominant", but its how all the dogs that have been in my life have been raised. They've never made good protectors (they'd hold a flashlight for a robber, if they though they'd get a cookie/bellyrub for it) But they've made excellent family pets/dogs that i can take anywhere in any situation.

However I've gone off topic (this happens frequently, sorry)

The largest dog we fostered (named "bear" was only about 70 pounds, but was VERY VERY strong). My Fiancee was taken for a ride when she'd take him out, and would nearly be in tears in frustration/sholder pain. When I'd take him for a walk, I'd snap the leash back (lightly) and bring out a deep "ah ah" cautioning tone, and the dog would stop pulling for a minute or two.

I guess part of my question should be "how do you work with an unknown dog that is stronger than you"

I'm a big guy (6 foot, 290 pounds) so never had the issue. I'm more just worried about fostering large dogs if my Fiancee has to walk them too.

@Thosewordsatbest - how do you manage a head-strong large dog?
 

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Yeah I'm 107 lbs, 5'6" and I usually do fine with bigger dogs.

Well it sounds like you're not being mean at all (at least with the walking example). Consistency is always good! If you are fostering larger dogs, maybe you can go ahead and purchase an EasyWalk harness to make it easier for your fiancee to walk the dog(s)? That's what I use for my fosters if they are no good at loose leash walking. But I would cut the leash popping, and even maybe the "ah ah". I know some people use the "no" command (much like your "ah ah"), but personally I don't use it, because to them it just means "stop temporarily". The stopping movement thing is a good way to get them to walk loose leash, though.

It sounds like you are more knowledgeable than your fiancee about certain things, so why don't you maybe try to teach her how to handle the dogs?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I think my fiancee gets flustered easily. Maybe its exciting the dog and compounding the issue. I thought it could be because she immediately gets on the floor with all the new fosters. I try and get female dogs because the last male dog (Bear, the big one) tried to mount her whenever she was on the ground.

I'm going to get her to walk the next dogs when we go out together, so I can see how she reacts.

The last foster dog I had (2 weeks ago) was adopted by my brother - this dog was an ANGEL for me - Easiest dog I ever fostered. Shes giving my brother a hard time. I feel like its his Wife whose very "high energy" and squeaky herself. I feel like every time I see a dog I fostered... that I should have been conditioning the owners for 2-3 weeks, not the dog.
 

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@Thosewordsatbest - how do you manage a head-strong large dog?
You mean like this guy?



;) He's 85 lbs and the world is his oyster. I train at a rescue with strange strong dogs as well. I credit getting a dog to listen to me by individual needs, but largely I am just calm, quiet, and friendly. Physically I am quite a bit stronger than I look, but I avoid having to use physical strength unless absolutely necessary- like a surprise squirrel putting a large dog over their threshold and we have to bail. Otherwise, I start bond building immediately and working within an individual dog's parameters.
 

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I think my fiancee gets flustered easily. Maybe its exciting the dog and compounding the issue. I thought it could be because she immediately gets on the floor with all the new fosters. I try and get female dogs because the last male dog (Bear, the big one) tried to mount her whenever she was on the ground.

I'm going to get her to walk the next dogs when we go out together, so I can see how she reacts.

The last foster dog I had (2 weeks ago) was adopted by my brother - this dog was an ANGEL for me - Easiest dog I ever fostered. Shes giving my brother a hard time. I feel like its his Wife whose very "high energy" and squeaky herself. I feel like every time I see a dog I fostered... that I should have been conditioning the owners for 2-3 weeks, not the dog.
I don't really see anything wrong with getting on the floor with the new fosters... except I would be more cautious since I wouldn't know their background and what they're confident with lol.

I do feel the same way myself lol. We have a very difficult foster at the moment (really dog reactive), and she was returned to us twice because both adopters felt they couldn't handle her... Now the rescue gives me more power over who gets to adopt dogs and who doesn't :p I don't adopt any dog out to any person until I am sure that they are a good fit. It's like an interview for a job whenever someone comes in. I scrutinize every interaction they have with the dog :p
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It's like an interview for a job whenever someone comes in. I scrutinize every interaction they have with the dog :p
LOL I totally know what you mean. My First Foster dog was returned because "her condo doesn't allow dogs over 20 pounds" (25 pound dog)
Since then, I've pretty much got the final go/no-go say as to if a dog would be appropriate. I've never had to pull the trigger yet, Generally the applications are screened pretty well before they get to meet the dog/me. The only time I was hesitant, I wish I had the guts to back out - because they ended up giving the dog back.

The only dog that I ever mis-read was the one I ended up keeping. Day 3, he was still super dirty and smelly from the pound, (and sick!) but I decided to groom him against my better judgement. He snapped at me, actually got a bit of skin as well. I have no idea how I reacted as fast as I did, but I realized my face/neck was mighty close to his... I had him pinned before I (or he) knew what was going on and just very lowly said "Don't you ever do that again." Let him go and continued brushing. He never did do that again, to anyone. Over time he became the best dog ever & my sidekick. (link)

I've told myself I'm not keeping a foster dog until I'm married (1 year from now) Almost didn't happen last month, thankfully my brother fell in love as well and took her from me. lol. (nother link)

Anyway, Thank you both for all your advice. I was hesitant to post as I've seen a lot of new people get reemed out for what seemed like innocent questions. (Never mention ceasar milan, Shock collars, and what kind of kibble you feed, apparently? (I don't have TV)) But I'm glad I posted and got feedback! :)
 

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LOL I totally know what you mean. My First Foster dog was returned because "her condo doesn't allow dogs over 20 pounds" (25 pound dog)
Since then, I've pretty much got the final go/no-go say as to if a dog would be appropriate. I've never had to pull the trigger yet, Generally the applications are screened pretty well before they get to meet the dog/me. The only time I was hesitant, I wish I had the guts to back out - because they ended up giving the dog back.

The only dog that I ever mis-read was the one I ended up keeping. Day 3, he was still super dirty and smelly from the pound, (and sick!) but I decided to groom him against my better judgement. He snapped at me, actually got a bit of skin as well. I have no idea how I reacted as fast as I did, but I realized my face/neck was mighty close to his... I had him pinned before I (or he) knew what was going on and just very lowly said "Don't you ever do that again." Let him go and continued brushing. He never did do that again, to anyone. Over time he became the best dog ever & my sidekick. (link)

I've told myself I'm not keeping a foster dog until I'm married (1 year from now) Almost didn't happen last month, thankfully my brother fell in love as well and took her from me. lol. (nother link)

Anyway, Thank you both for all your advice. I was hesitant to post as I've seen a lot of new people get reemed out for what seemed like innocent questions. (Never mention ceasar milan, Shock collars, and what kind of kibble you feed, apparently? (I don't have TV)) But I'm glad I posted and got feedback! :)
I think people are trying to be helpful for the most part here, but many of the older members get frustrated since they get asked the same questions over and over again. Even though the comments can be harsh, I find this forum very helpful and the members are, for the most part, very friendly as long as you are open to suggestions, imo.

The potential adopter for Gotty (the one that was returned) really annoyed me. I wasn't there when he was here to meet the dog (at work, my sister was home) but apparently he didn't even want to try walking her before he decided to adopt her. The couple was SO sure that they could handle her leash reactivity because "they had other dogs before" and then we get a call the next morning saying that the husband is bringing the dog back because the wife was terrified of the dog after how she reacted around another dog... So she came back to us, and is not on foster trial with a friend who has rehabilitated another problem pit bull (dog reactivity). It's really terrible because she had been in several other foster homes before she came to us. She just needs careful management and lots of positive reinforcement training. Besides the leash reactivity she's a very obedient and sweet dog.

Your dog is a cutie! Very unique looking. I have never seen that type of a face structure (especially around the forehead and snout) on a dog that big! She looks almost like a bulldog or boxer mix? Lol!

My first foster was almost a foster failure as well... She will always be the one that got away. I miss that dog. She was my first foster, my first pit bull, and the gentlest, sweetest dog I had ever met :)

EDIT:

And I don't want to chastise you, but please don't pin your dogs down in the future! Alpha rolling scares the dogs and damages your relationship with them. Luckily you and your dog seem close still, but methods like that often cause dogs to shut down.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The Foster Failure (lol, sounds common?) Was the white dog - His name was Buddy, but he was imported with Falcor. But he responded to buddy so whoever had him before must have named him that.

I got a DNA Test from my parents for christmas after I adopted him - He was a Noregian Elkhound Poodle, Brittany spaniel, Greyhound Westie Cross. Big white fluffy Coat, Bare Belly, Brittany Ears, Ran like the wind, and LOTS of personality. Shed like mad twice a year.

It was 3 days in when I "Alpha rolled?" him. The months of feeding him and getting him healthy must have allowed him to get passed that. I was in an awkward position (leaning over him to brush him) and was afraid he'd go for more than just my hand. I reacted how I could at the time. (I pulled back the arm that was holding me up to defend myself - so I was basically gonna land on him anyway) All turned out well.

Well, I'll never run into fostering a pitbull - they're illegal on ontario - stupid law. The nicest dogs I met were pitbulls.

I have no idea what my first foster ever was (apparently a sharpai? mix?) But I thought maybe he had some in him. he was built like an OX... Dumb as a brick though. http://www.happy-tails.org/?p=1872

On that note, I say good night with the following:
Happy almost easter:
 
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