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Getting a new foster...

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I am getting a new foster dog, Dolly, in a week or so. She's a year and a half old. A little bit of her background is as follows:


She was tied up for the first year of her life, with little interaction. She then got "rescued" by another family and has lived with them for the last 6 months. This family decided they can't handle her issues and are passing her off to rescue. Dolly loves people and other dogs and wants to be a lap dog, literally, she just thrives off affection (understandable). She is a digger and digs huge burrows, several feet deep. Mutilates flower gardens. They say she has separation anxiety. She decided to stop eating out of a bowl and now insists on being hand fed. She will only eat if hand fed, so she is real skinny now... I guess the family works a lot. They were confused at why she would be so destructive when she had 40 acres to run on... :blink: I think I had some answers for that one... ;)


My plan for Dolly is as follows... evaluate her when she arrives, put digging on a command (possibly have an area that is just for her to dig in)... not sure about this one yet, give her lots of mental/physical stimulation, start training her in basic obedience, change her name (Dolly has been her name since she was born, bad associations possibly). I have a feeling from the conversations that Dolly just needs interaction and stimulation... she doesn't get any training.


So my question is about the feeding... I've never had a dog that wouldn't eat. Dolly may be depressed, who knows. Has anyone experienced this behavior? Any ideas of what to try?


I will search for old digging topics, but any input won't hurt ;)





Here's Dolly






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Well, digging on command works well. If you do have a spot in your yard that can afford a hole. When I adopted Riley, he was a massive digger, I think mostly out of boredom. He had a foot injury that kept him kennel bound for 3 months, so as soon as he was allowed outside on his own again, he started digging. When he came to my house, the vet told me he should likely dig... it would help his foot, so I found a suitable spot in my yard, under a tree, where nothing grew anyway. Every time he started to dig, I would redirect him there and praise. Now that's his diggin' hole and I fill it in as needed, but he rarely digs anymore... go figure. Perhaps if she's getting mental stimulation from other areas, she won't need to dig anymore. Maybe she was doing it to get attention (yelled at or whatever), negative attention is still attention after all.


Not eating... well, there could be a ton of things. Maybe she doesn't like the dish they've provided for her. Some dogs are weird about dishes. My two prefer to drink water out of a plastic Tupperware container. So maybe try a couple different types, plastic, metal, ceramic etc. Maybe she doesn't like her food? And it seems like it might be better/different because it's coming from someones hand? Try different foods, try putting some toppings on it... canned food, hot water, warm broth, yogurt... you get the idea. As long as she's not sick, I'd just mess around with different food combinations until she started to eat. Although, hand feeding her at the beginning may help you two bond anyway.

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Perhaps food = human contact for her so that's why she insists on the hand feeding?


I'd bring her home, get her in a good routine with a good outlet for her physical/mental energy, then deal with the issues - they may go away as she gets the attention she craves.

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When we brought the neighbors dog to our place last week to watch while they were away, she didn't want to eat. One day it dawned on me that at her place, her bowl was near the back door and she could look outside while eating. As soon as we moved her bowl to the French doors in our house, she started eating. So, maybe it's a location problem--too high traffic, too quiet, too far away from you? Just a thought. :) Good luck!

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Quite a few years ago I rescued a young Sheltie, a mill-bred dog, who had been bought in a feed store and tied out for the first year of his life. He had a lot of anxiety from that, maybe from not being able to get away from things that scared or bothered him. He did very well with a routine that included, especially at first, his own safe place and some time there every day.


We introduced new stuff to him a little at a time; he was tremendously intelligent but didn't have much impulse control due to his bad start in life, and he got overloaded very quickly at first.


Don't know if that will be helpful with your new foster, but maybe so.


As for the food, I would try feeding her in treat-dispensing toys, different ones if you have them: I use TreatStiks, and Kongs, and Canine Genius toys for that. They really seem to engage the dog.


Good luck. My rescue Sheltie got adopted by a teenage girl and her mom, lived to be 14, and was his person's inseparable companion. (He was also known to her granddad as 'the butt-biter' but we don't need to go into that here ...) I hope your foster has a wonderful life ahead of her!

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