A Dancing Dog | Athena’s Week 1 in Foster Care

When we first got Athena, during her first 3 days or so she was in our care, she was such a timid dog. However, after a week, she definitely started to gain confidence and even become confident enough to show us her dance move (see below)!

During the first 3 days, when my husband and I were walking Athena, when our neighbor walked by with her small dog who started approaching Athena, Athena would hide behind my husband, seemingly scared. By the end of the week, we ran into the same neighbor with the same small dog and Athena no longer hid behind me. She just stood there looking at our neighbor’s small dog indifferently.

Potty Training

The first 3 days or so, Athena did have an accident inside the house a few times, but as I might’ve mentioned in the Day 01 blog, we figured it might have been due to the new environment she was adjusting to. We started taking her outside as soon as we took her out of her crate after a few hours (Remember we were doing the “Crate and rotate” method described in the Day 01 blog post). We created a schedule that shows when Athena would be out of her crate to roam about on the first floor of our townhome while our Chihuahua Mix would be upstairs with a baby gate on the stairs and when our Chihuahua Mix would be roaming on the first floor of our townhome while Athena would be in her crate. My husband and I would also alternate who will be downstairs with Athena when she’s out of her crate. The schedule also helps us ensure that Athena and our ChiMix each gets about the same amount of time roaming around on the first floor. Having such a schedule definitely requires planning and some communication between me and my husband, especially since my husband’s work schedule always involves a ton of meetings that change all the time! However, having such a schedule works for us.

Walking the dogs

In terms of walking the two dogs, in the first week, we either walk them in pack walks or I walk each dog separately. First thing in the morning at around 7am or 7.30am my husband walks Athena outside for 15 to 30 minutes then feeds her. Around 8 or 8.30am, my husband puts Athena in her crate so I can get our ChiMix ready for a walk (he gets cold easily so whenever we walk him we have to put on a sweater on him and his harness). I walk our ChiMix outside for around 15 minutes (he usually pees and/or poops as soon as we get to the grass) and then feed him when we are back at the house. This whole time Athena is still in her crate. Our ChiMix gets to be on the first floor for the rest of the morning while Athena stays in her crate.

At lunch time, I put him upstairs, take Athena out for a walk for 30 minutes and feed her if she doesn’t eat her breakfast. I give Athena 30 minutes to eat if she doesn’t eat within the 30 minutes, I take away her food and put her back in her crate so I can let our ChiMix out for a walk. When we come back, I put our ChiMix on the stairs to the second floor (with a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs), and let Athena out of her crate. She gets the first floor for the whole afternoon. Whoever stays with her on the first floor (either me or my husband) plays with her for a bit and then goes back to working on the first floor. Athena usually just ends up lying down on the floor next to us or sometimes she voluntarily goes into her crate!

Around 5pm, most times I walk Athena first for 30 minutes then walk our ChiMix for 30 minutes. Our ChiMix usually goes to a playdate with our neighbors’ small dogs in one of the clusters in our complex, however this week I was too tired to take him to the playgroups. When my husband is free at 5pm, we do a pack walk; Otherwise we do the pack walk at the 8pm walk, the dogs’ last walk of the day. A pack walk is where my husband walks Athena and I walk our ChiMix alongside them with some distance in between without letting the dogs get close to each other. This is to help them get used to walking alongside each other. This method is also usually used to test the bigger dog’s prey drive, which Athena doesn’t seem to have any (at least none toward our ChiMix)!

Our ChiMix tends to get excited when he sees other dogs because he always wants to say hi and play with them. However, Athena always seems indifferent toward him and never reacts back whenever he’s barking her or trying to run toward her during the pack walks. This is what we want, because this means she has no intention of attacking him.

Feedings

Athena’s feeding schedule seems to change now that she is out of the shelter. We were told that at the shelter they would feed her only in the mornings, with enough food to last her the day. We noticed that since she has been at our house, she never eats her food in the morning, so we would try to give her the food during lunch time. At first she didn’t eat it during lunch time either but if we leave the food out, she’d eat it at random times in the afternoon. However, just like we had trained our ChiMix to eat at certain times of the day, we wanted to train her to do the same so that she would have a more regular feeding schedule and so that our ChiMix doesn’t steal her food if we leave it out all day. The first couple days we left the food out all day just so she would eat, but toward the end of the week, we started to taking it away after 20-30 minutes regardless of how much she eats it. We give her the food again during dinner time. By the end of week 1, we are still trying to get her to eat her food at the time that we have the food out. We don’t do the same practice with water though- we leave her water out so she can have water at anytime; we do this with our ChiMix’s water too. They started drinking out of each other’s bowl!

Training

We didn’t want to do much training with her because we felt that adjusting to a new environment is already a lot for a dog. Within the first week, we learned that she was already crate-trained! When we tapped the frame of the crate door and say “crate!”, she walks right into her crate and settles down. We felt so lucky for this as our own ChiMix is not yet crate-trained! I also taught her to sit, which she picked up really quickly, so I think she might’ve been trained on “sit” too. I started teaching her “down” but that is still a work in progress.

Medical Check

We didn’t take her to get her general medical checkup in the first week yet as we wanted to focus on getting her somewhat adjusted to our home first. Also since we had never had an American Staffordshire or a Rottweiler or a Pitbull before, we weren’t sure how good she’d be with people so we had been wary of making her first vet appointment in her first week with us. However, it turns out that she’s so good with people and so well-behaved. If anything, she was just timid with people and other dogs in her first few days in our care. We do have a medical checkup appoinment scheduled for her second week.

Overall, week 1 has been all about learning her and her schedule and the start of getting her used to our schedule. Stay tuned for our blog post on her Week 2 in our care!

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