What is it like bringing a new foster dog home? It’s different every time.
But I thought I’d share Titus’s first few hours with us to give you a taste.
Titus – The Beginning
3:00 p.m. Two awesome SPCA staffers pull up in front of the house (their willingness to drop Titus off seriously decreased the stress-level of this car-free family). Although he looked uneasy, Titus perked up once he met Honey on leash and had a little frolic. Off to the back yard for some off-leash play time and last-minute instructions.
4:00 p.m. After some crying when his friends left, Titus alternated between pacing and panting and lying down in the grass. Every time I come near, he turns his head away. I pull weeds in the garden to give him time to get used to things.
4:30 p.m. Titus lets out a few pitiable howls. Perhaps this pit is mixed with hound?
5:00 p.m. Titus approaches me, allows me to scratch him under the chin, and offers “kisses.”
5:30 p.m. Dinner time. I’m thrilled when Titus finishes every morsel.
6:00 p.m. Honey is not too sure about Titus. He solicits play but she wants nothing to do with him. Is it because he’s an intact, adult male? I’ve never seen Honey refuse to play.
7:30 p.m. Now that he’s been here a few hours, Titus appears to be settling in. Oops, there’s Mike coming home from work with his bicycle. With something/someone new in the environment, Titus reverts to the fearful and tense behaviors he showed when he first arrived.
8:00 p.m. My neighbor meets Titus from her back porch. He’s curious and interested and does not bark or act afraid of her.
9:00 p.m. Titus is more relaxed and seems comfortable in the house. Although he’s concerned when I go upstairs, he won’t follow me. Honey, surprisingly, decides to stay upstairs with Mike while I’m downstairs with Titus.
10:00 p.m. Titus will not follow me upstairs. Rather than leave him downstairs alone, I toss my sleeping bag on the living room floor next to his blanket. He settles down to sleep. Luckily, he does not snore.
What I know about Titus
Titus is a very gentle and mild dog. If this is what he’s like as an adolescent with testosterone coursing through his body, I can’t imagine how calm he’ll be once he’s neutered.
We’ll spend the first 24 hours not expecting anything from him. That’s his time to get used to being around our home.
I did try luring a sit with a piece of hot dog. But raising the treat over this head frightened him and he backed off. Way off. Two rooms away off.
I’ll have to see if he minds the noise of a clicker and try capturing a sit.
Titus also needs antibiotics in his ear. But he was frightened when I tried to clean his ears. I’ll spend the day trying to get him used to me handling his ears and try again later with the antibiotics.
It’s all about helping Titus feel comfortable with normal things that make him uncertain now—leashes, harnesses, a crate (maybe), stairs, strangers.
As long as Titus doesn’t exhibit some weird, antisocial behavior once the honeymoon is over, he should be a gentle family dog once he gains some confidence. I can’t wait to see who this sweet boy turns out to be.
Your Turn: What’s your best advice for introducing a new dog to the household and building his confidence?