We realize that our foster homes may also have personal dogs. If you do have a personal dog or dogs, then you will want to do the introduction one at a time. We find that the best idea to introduce them is by doing this outside in a yard briefly then taking them on a short walk. If you have multiple dogs in the home bring the least reactive one out first on a leash keeping them close to you and allow them to sniff at each other if it feels safe to do so then move that dog off to the side and bring out the next dog in the same manner. The last dog to meet the foster should be the most reactive dog. This order works best because bringing out the most reactive dog first gets all of the other dogs feeling that there is a threat and they too become reactive. It also helps the foster to gain a bit of confidence when they are already intimidated by all of the drastic changes in their life. We then recommend the short walk with the dogs so that they can get used to each other’s scents and the foster can assess the group’s order. Allow your alpha to lead the walk so they are less threatened and allow enough space to get adjusted to one another without any of them feeling fenced in. When you arrive back home and it is time to go indoors go slow and be patient. ALL DOGS REMAIN ON A LEASH. Keep the most dominant of your dogs at a distance and allow the foster in meeting all of the others then allow the dominant one a short amount of time near the foster at first and then gradually increase their time together. At this point it might be best to have an area gated off where you can allow the foster to relax, calm down, get familiar with sounds and smells, get some water and not feel challenged. If necessary block the view between dogs with a blanket. Remember that heavy panting and lip licking is a sign of stress and this will reduce once they become more comfortable. This step can be the hardest and most frustrating so keep in mind that it is a slow process and they are following their canine instincts but they can learn to adjust.
Please keep in mind that these are suggestions that we have had success with but if you have any concerns at all consult a professional trainer and make safety a priority.
It is also best to keep your dog’s “valued items” such as food, toys, rawhides, bones or anything else up and away while the dogs are interacting. Such items can cause a fight or disagreement known as resource guarding as most pets will regard what is theirs, as theirs. It is also important to note that a dog can also resource guard a person or another dog by becoming jealous when their person is doting on the new dog or even if the foster dog sees that person as their safe person and therefore does not want the family dog to interfere. The same is true when you replace the person with a 2nd family dog. It takes time for everyone to adjust and to learn the boundaries. Also, it is best to not feed your pets with the foster in the same room initially. This is something that should be worked up to. Once you feel ready we recommend keeping the foster on a short leash with you close by and the first one done should leave the area and allow the other to finish. Next, you can remove the leash and just stand between them keeping your attention on them and eventually they might be able to eat together without issue.
It is very hard for us to “cat-test” our dogs. For this reason, we ask that you make the introduction to cats as safe as possible. We do suggest that you keep them separated at first. Over the course of one to two weeks, let your foster dog and cat smell one another through a door or through a crate, but do not allow them contact to one another. Another helpful tip is to exchange the bedding that they sleep on. For example, if you have a blanket for the dog and one for the cat, switch them so they can get used to one another smell.
After the week or two slow introductions, you can allow your foster dog on a leash in the same area that your cat is. If you have more than one cat, we still suggest that you introduce them one at a time. Watch the body language of each animal closely to determine if it is safe play or not. Finally, never leave your foster dog and cat unsupervised.
Keep in mind that the litter box and cat dishes should also be inaccessible to your foster dog and that cat toys should be kept out of reach because they can be too small for your foster dog to play with and can easily be swallowed or become lodged in the dog’s airway.
As with cats, we cannot “kid-test” our dogs while they are in Turkey. For this reason, we ask you to please use caution when introducing your child to your foster dog. Some of our dogs have lived their entire life in the landfill and never met a child. While some of the street dogs we rescue we don’t always know their history or tolerance level for children. In either case we do ask that you please teach your children how to act respectfully as well as responsibly around your foster dog. Some key things to remind your children are:
***Once again, please keep in mind that these are suggestions that we have had success with but if you have any concerns at all consult a professional trainer and make safety a priority.