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Foster dog issues(7 Posts)
Hello there - I'm new to MN and to this forum but a good friend told me this might be a place to get some help from normal people As background, I am a British expat in HK (this is relevant to the below).
I am currently fostering for the first time as I lost my old boy recently and as I am currently working from home all the time, now was a good time to help out a charity with some fostering while i have lots of time on my hands.
We are looking after a lovely girl - she's a 18m old mongrel that was rescued about 6 months ago from a man that kept her on a balcony all day. You can imagine how awful that was for her - it's very hot and humid in HK and she's black. We think he broke her tail as a puppy or that she was confined to a smaller space for some time as it's grown at an odd angle, but she's beautiful and has the most amazing temprement.
She was originally fostered for 6m on a quiet island in HK - one of the ones with no cars and very idyllic lifestyles. Lots of beach walks and swimming. Unfortunately, as she is black and many Hong Kongers have phobias and superstitions of black dogs, we really needs to be on Hong Kong Island (where more of the expats are) for any really hope of getting her adopted. So I am fostering her here in the hope of getting her out there a bit at adoption days and the like.
So my questions:
1. She is absolutely terrified of the noises of the city. Walkies on day 1 was fine as it was all an adventure, but we are on day 5 now and she pulls me like mad to go home before we have even got to the end of my (very quiet) road. I am trying shorter walks rather than long ones and playing youtube traffic noises, which she doesnt seem to care about, but any other tips welcome.
2. Her appetite has dropped off a cliff. She will eat a bit of ham etc out of my hand but lthe last 3 days have been a bit low on the food front. I'd say she is eating about 1/2 of her bowl. I haven't changed her eating routine or her food. Is this just fear do we think? She seems fine with us as long as she's inside but I wonder if the stress of walkies has affected her appetite. I dont want to encourage bad habits but I want to make sure she eats properly. If i feed her for a few days whilst sitting by her / helping her, am I going to create issues? Shall I just leave her be, given that she is eating some of it?
Any tips or views welcome.
Thanks in advance!
I’ve fostered before and it’s hard because you don’t always know what behaviours you’ll get from other people’s bad treatment so kudos for trying to help an animal in need.
If the dog is very new to you, look at the rule of 3 which should help you understand where your dogs at
Our last foster was a greyhound who would freeze on walks, so the opposite problem to you, but as he was 45 to 50kg I couldn’t exactly pick him up and carry him home
What worked for us was stopping occasionally to give lots of verbal reassurance while rubbing his side / back and just letting him look around.
We also only did short walks on the same route - try to keep his world small so he’s lot overloaded.
Google dogs emotional sinks - I found this quite useful www.woofliketomeet.com/2018/10/stress-and-small-sinks-is-your-dog-in-danger-of-overflowing/
Food is obviously an issue, but water is more important. As long as he’s drinking that’s good. Try and imagine how anxious he is right now, and trying to eat when we’re anxious is hard, so will be for him.
He has no reason to trust you yet, so until he knows you’ll keep him safe, he’s gone from a very small world to a big world and there’s lots of incoming info that’s hard to process.
Oo and something I had to try and remember was to not talk to new fosters incessantly! I thought my burbling would help reassure them, but it actually added to their stress because they were trying to listen, and understand me while also trying to work out the new house rules.
It’s worth it when it comes good, and you see the joy come back and they let you know you’re a good human
@itslatehumpty thank you so much. This is so helpful! Glad to hear the stopping a lot and praising whilst doing short walks helped - makes me think i am at least on the right lines.
We just had a lovely walk down a very green trail nearby and found a waterfall which she seemed to enjoy - she was fine whilst there but hated the v short walk to and from it and was pulling like mad. We did stop a lot and hopefully if we do it a few times she will associate the walk to and from it with the trail and start to ease up.
She also finished her breakfast when we got back so that was good news for today.
I'll check out the emotional sinks stuff - that's new to me!
If she hates the city, she hates it. It may be too engrained from her time on the balcony. I'm not sure how long you should give it
Is there any hope of her being rehomed in one of the expat oriented areas in the New Territories or somewhere like Disco Bay? Because full on in the city sounds too much for her, but somewhere less densely populated might be much easier on her.
It's been a huge change for her and it's very early days.
Do you have any friends/ other fosterers with confident dog who would walk with you? this can help massively as a nervous dog will learn a lot from a calmer one.
Shorter walks, definitely, and maybe even not walking at all but sitting outside with loads of praise and treats, watching the world go by. Much of the solution is getting her to trust you to protect her in difficult situation, so not forcing it and removing her when things get too bad is part of this.
I foster dogs and in really bad cases I also do use things like Yucalm tablets, Valerian and Skullcap for dogs or CBD oil, all of which can help take the edge off the anxiety, just short term until the world is less scary.
Feeding by hand not do any damage if this is the way you can get her to eat - when she is more confident she will eat from a bowl again.
@meditrina - yeah i think that if she just can't get used to it we will have to ask the charity to look for someone in DB or on Lamma or something. Totally appreciate that she may just not be a city dog. She was on Lantau in Mui Wo before, so super quiet and lots of beaches... South Side of HK Island may also be an option.
@fivedogstofeed - we are meeting up with a friend later this week for dog meetup walks. HK is currently in a bit of a lockdown (not what it was in the UK as we are allowed out etc) so people are a bit wary of meeting up but we are scheduling some play dates. We did take her to the dog park but she just whined to get out... Thanks for the other tips. I'll try sitting for a bit with her in open spaces and we'll consider CBD oil if it gets too bad as it's avaiable here, but I am trying to avoid things like this if possible.
Oh and also thanks for your responses everyone re food. We have just bought a Kong and i am going to try some of her food mixed with peanut butter in that as she seems to (a) like peanut butter and (b) like chewing toys