We always say that we learn so much about a dog when in foster and this really helps us target the perfect home for them.
Babar has been in foster for 10 days and we have learnt so much about him. He will be leaving for his new home in Scotland in two weeks but until then I am sure that you will agree that he is in expert hands!
Here is his second foster report by his foster mum, how many dogs come with a instruction manual????!!!!
Observation of Babar: week ending 25 March
We have now cared for Babar for 10 days. He is a total sweetheart but he is very timid and easily frightened, especially of men and people in dark clothing, as well as sudden movements and unexpected noises, so will need quiet patience for some time. He will make a sweet and affectionate pet after he has built up his confidence. He is much happier and perkier dog than when he first arrived. He trots around after me and goes to Philip now for affection. He loves his walks on the beach and would run around for ages. We keep him on a long lead so he is a little limited but is full of enthusiasm. He likes other dogs. He has started eating very well. He would like to chase cats. At first he was nervous about getting in and out of the car but now happily jumps in or out as required. Once in the car he seems fine, interested in seeing what is passing by.
He is a quiet, well behaved dog but he doesn’t know the usual commands in French or English. He pulls on the lead if he is not wearing his halti. He is anxious to please and eager not to do anything wrong, so he should not be hard to train. I thought about taking him to a class in Agde while he is here, but I think he would find it too scary, so we are trying to teach him through the consistent use of words and signs.
Babar has apparently been house trained in the past as his preference is to go in the garden. For the first few days, I noticed he ‘marked’ first thing in the morning and after a meal, so I put him into the garden at these times. I let him into the garden pretty regularly and then let him back in as soon as he wees. We have had no incidents after the first few days.
We are able to stop any unintentionally bad behaviour like chewing the door mat. He stops as soon as he is told ‘No’ (said firmly, but not crossly or loudly). We are using ‘Wait’ (for a short wait such as getting out of the car in an orderly way) and ‘Stay’ (with my first finger up) and he is getting a wee bit better on the Halti collar. As he reaches the end of his extending lead I say ‘Stead-ee!’ in the hope that he will learn to slow down and not jerk himself.
We have had friends over for dinner. They are quiet people who understand dogs. He was fearful when they arrived, but OK by the time they left. Today we went to the beach with our friend Tony and his dog. By the end of the walk, Babar was happy to go up to Tony for a sniff.
Morning: We get up at 8.00. When I am dressed I put Babar into the garden to do his wees. He stays there until Philip is dressed and then we go out. We fix the Halti colour on an extending lead. We keep it short for a walk to the park. We walk very quickly but allow stops to sniff trees and do more wees. In the park I extend the lead, slip off the nose part of the halti and follow him as he sniffs around. Then the ‘nose’ back on and a short lead for a brisk walk home. Breakfast is in the garden where he stays for 10 minutes or so to do No 2 (sometimes he waits till his afternoon walk). Then he is let in.
Day time: He has a ‘safe’ mat next to the sofa where he likes to sit by my feet. He occasionally likes to snooze in his crate during the day too, but Violet often steals his bed. Being with another dog, even the thief Violet, seems to give him confidence. He often copies her, e.g. going outside when she does, chewing the antler after she has finished.
We go out for short periods each day so he gets comfortable with separation. We put him in the crate when we are out.
Mid afternoon we take him for a long walk on the beach. I start him on the extending lead and the halti collar: he is not fond of it, but it helps me to manage him and it teaches him that pulling is uncomfortable. Our halti is too big for him (it is Labrador size), and the ‘nose’ part rides too high and interferes with his eyes when he pulls. This is obviously not ideal, so after a short while we put him of the very long lead and fix it to the collar in the traditional way. By then he has remembered that pulling is a bad idea, so this works well and he has a great time. He loves the beach and will run around, splash about in the shallows and sniff. He enjoys a little play with other dogs. If Philip has the lead, he will run up to me periodically and wag like mad to say he is pleased to see me, and occasionally give a welcoming ‘woof’. Other than that, he is exceptionally quiet. He is nervous of other people we pass walking on the beach and is always interested in other dogs. He does not show any signs of aggression.
Evening: Supper is about 6.00 in the garden or, at first, on his ‘safe mat’ when he was too stressed to eat unless he was close to me. Sometimes I had to hand feed him some or all of his food, but now he eats very well. He stays out for 5 minutes or so to wee.
We let him out last thing at night to wee and then he goes into his crate for the night. Some evenings he puts himself to bed in his crate.
Recommendations for a new family
Do you know if the new family are indeed going to pick him up early April? They are going to be very lucky people.
Before they set out, they may appreciate a little advice based on what we have learned up till now.
- Having his bed in the crate works well. He needs one about 80cm long or larger, preferably one where one complete side will open, as he wasn’t keen to go through the small opening to the one we have. Nervous dogs often feel safer in a crate and are highly unlikely to have accidents during the night.
- He needs a bed about 70 cm long. A soft one is easier to get in and out of the crate.
- He pulls a lot on the lead so a halti collar and extending lead will make life easier. Perhaps also buy a very long lead if there is somewhere open to exercise him. If he is let off the lead before he is trained to recall, if he is frightened by something or starts ‘hunting’, or both, he may be hard to catch.
- At first, we made sure he was secured/his lead held when we opened car doors with him inside so he didn’t escape. Until he feels safe, he will be frightened and if he escapes and may be hard to catch. Now he knows us, this is no longer necessary.
- It might be wise to follow our routine at first. If he goes off his food like he did when he first came to us, feed him cooked chicken and rice with a warm chicken gravy to bring out the flavour, twice a day. After a few days, we substituted increasing amounts of his normal (Royal Canin, medium sized, adult dog) food.
- Introduce him gradually to new people, ask them to let him come to them in his own time and make sure he has a safe spot to retire to until he feels ready to come out.
Could you foster for us? If so please get in touch..