Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nuts and Bolts: Equipment

One of the things I'd like to do with this blog is note some of the things I've learned in the hopes that they might be useful to other doggy foster parents down the road. There's rarely One True Way to do anything in the world of dog training, but there are frequently practices that work most of the time for most of the dogs you'll encounter, and I think the same approach is reasonable when it comes to fostering.

In that spirit, here's a list of equipment that is generally a good idea to have on hand when you're getting ready to bring a new foster dog into your home. Most of these things are useful even when you just have one dog and it's your dog. They are damn near indispensable if you're trying to integrate a temporary second (or third, or fourth, or you-must-be-crazy) dog who may not have had the benefit of consistent training, or even know how to live with people inside a house. So here's my list of things that help maintain your sanity (and furniture) as you strive to get everyone acquainted and teach the foster dog what he or she needs to learn to become a well-behaved, "adoptable" family pet.

-- Crate
-- Bedding for the crate (I like to use old towels because they're absorbent, durable, and easy to wash, plus we got a bunch of really nice towels as wedding presents that turned out to be the wrong color for the house. But they're perfect for dog care!)
-- Collar with temporary ID tags (I use Pongu's old tags -- the name's wrong, but the number and address are right, and those are the important bits)
-- Leash
-- Food and water dishes (the foster should at least have its own food dish, if not its own water bowl)
-- Poo bags

Not Necessities, But Definitely Handy:
-- Kongs (two big Kongs for mealtimes, two medium Kongs for distractions)
-- Squirt bottle filled with water (for breaking up squabbles, discouraging barking, etc.)

-- Bitter Apple or similar chew deterrent
-- Rolls upon rolls of paper towels (...actually, maybe this should be a "necessity")
-- Nature's Miracle or similar enzymatic odor neutralizer
-- Your favorite multipurpose furniture/surface cleaner, and lots of it
-- A good assortment of dog toys and "distraction chews" (rawhides, pig ears, etc.)
-- Wet food (for packing into Kongs and freezing; I use home-cooked "dog stew," but canned dog food is fine too, the point is just to have something with a high moisture content that'll freeze solid)
-- Heartworm preventative
-- Frontline (flea/tick preventative)
-- EasyWalk or similar body harness
-- Training treats (Wellness makes a good line of these, also I use cut-up turkey hot dogs)
-- Clicker
-- Dry dog biscuits
-- Adult beverages. Not for the dog, for you. I'm partial to rum, myself.

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