Tag Archives: canine socialization

Working with Martie

Working with dogs who have experienced low, poor or no socialization with humans is probably my favorite kind of work I do with the SPCA.  Mostly, I do this kind of volunteer work in my home as a behavior foster, but I also work with some of these kinds of dogs in the shelter as well.

This week I worked with Martie, a five month old Shepherd mix.


When I met Martie, she wouldn’t move off of her dog bed in her kennel.  My job that evening was to introduce her to the leash.  Other volunteers and staff had worked with her, so I wasn’t starting from scratch.  But I still gave her space to get to know me and get comfortable with me.

A staff member helped me get her into one of the indoor “getting acquainted” rooms.  I left a leash on her and let her choose where she wanted to go, which ended up being a corner of the room, right next to a couch.  She would take a step for a treat, but then go right back into the corner.  I read to her for a little bit, to get her used to my voice.

Then, using the leash, I prodded her gently.  When she came near to me, I petted her and found out that she has a spot right in front of her left ear that she particularly likes getting scratched.  When I moved a step away, she followed for more petting.

Eventually, she walked on the leash for me.  We even went outside.  However, she scared very easily, and if I stopped paying attention, she would freak out.

Part of me hopes that she’s there next week so that I can work with her again.  It’s harder to build up a reputation with a dog while they are at the shelter.  I get to spend more time with the dog when they are in my home.  But working with the dogs at the shelter has its benefits too.

There, it’s more of a team effort to work with these dogs.  We build off the work of the last volunteer or staff member that worked with them.  And I know that even after I leave for the week, the dogs will continue to receive love, support, and trust from many people after me, ultimately from their loving family who adopts them.


Speaking of adoption, Rowdy went home with his forever family this week!  I’m so happy for him.  I know that the family will receive so much love from that pup.  He really is such a good dog.  I’m so glad I get to be a part of a program that likes to deal in happy endings.  I look forward to seeing Martie find her happy ending soon as well.

Have you ever encountered a shy or poorly socialized dog?

My Experience with Dog Fostering (So Far)

Last week, I said goodbye to my fourth foster.


The Fourth Foster

She returned to the shelter so that she could be put on the list for available adoption.  When we got her, she was terrified of every little sound or movement.  She didn’t trust humans at all.  A lot of people think that this kind of behavior means that they were abused.  Sometimes it does, but it also can mean either they had very little to no exposure to humans or it could just be their breed.


She spent the first two days under the chair in our living room.  She started trusting our dogs immediately.  One of the advantages I have in my foster situation is I have two pretty calm dogs who create a low key environment.


Eventually, with time, a lot of patience, and about a month and a half, she warmed up to me and learned how to trust and interact with humans.  She was still jumpy and not very social, but she could walk on a leash, which she couldn’t do before fostering.

But not every foster experience is the same, and each foster can be there for different reasons.  My first foster, which I talked about in this post, was another socialization case.  She’s in a happy home now, living it up and being spoiled.

But my second foster was a home evaluation.  It was just a day long, and it was to see how he would do in a home environment.  The shelter is pretty stressful.  It affects some dogs more than others, which makes it hard to tell how they will do if they go home.  Hence, the home evaluation foster.


The Second Foster

Another kind of foster is the high energy behavior training.  My third foster had a crazy amount of energy.  The stress of the shelter can make that worse.  So he came into my home for 5 days to be observed and to work on some of his challenging behavior.


The Third Foster

Fostering is something I really enjoy, something I’m truly passionate about.  All of my foster dogs have found forever homes, except the last one (as far as I know).  I’m so glad I had the opportunity to be a step on their path to their families.  Have you ever thought about fostering, or do you foster animals?  What is something you are really passionate about?