Monday, October 1, 2012

Basenji Fostering

BRAT could not function without our foster volunteers however basenji fostering can be a tough assignment.  Bringing a new dog into your pack is never without risks.  BRAT provides volunteers with much information to make fostering as problem free as possible but even experienced fosters can’t always avoid the inevitable conflicts between dogs as the pack attempts to adjust to who will be the alpha.  A common problem is that for reasons not easily predicted or prevented a turf battle will occur.  Resource guarding is a common trigger. 
Basenjis will guard their people, their space, their toys, an empty food dish or anything they perceive is theirs and not to be shared with a new pack member.  Removing things that have the potential to trigger fights is not as difficult as it might seem but how do you remove yourself as the resource??  Not possible! If your basenji is sitting next to you and growls at the approaching foster remove yourself from the situation and verbally correct the offender.  Be prepared to avert a fight if the situation escalates.  Leaving a leash on the foster dog will help to control the situation without getting your hands involved and possibly bitten.  Another method to break up a fight is forcing a child gate between two fighting dogs.  I have kept blankets on sofas for several years and once broke up a fight by throwing a blanket over an aggressor and removing him from the scene.
Foster volunteers need to be very alert to situations that might trigger excitement which can lead to dog fights.  For example, if your basenjis get excited when they see you putting on your walking shoes do not don them in a room where the foster and your own are hanging out. 
If there are squirrels or other small prey in your yard do not put the new foster in the yard to run with the pack.  A collision between an existing pack member and the newbie can result in a fight.  Running two packs can be difficult but certainly better than having your own basenji or the foster suffer an injury.
Even though your own dogs may be perfectly fine with trading dishes at dinner time a foster basenji should be fed in a separate area or in a crate.  Then, pick up all food dishes before releasing the foster to rejoin the pack.  Do not leave raw hides or chew toys out if any of the basenjis are particularly possessive. 
Preventing conflicts is so important because many times once basenjis have fought they will hold a grudge which is never settled.  A common error made by foster volunteers is prematurely trusting that the dogs to get along.  Fostering can be a very rewarding experience and most times goes well.  Carefully supervised integration is one key to avoiding physical aggression.  If a foster volunteer needs equipment to make fostering easier BRAT will reimburse for crates, ex-pens and doggie gates.  An investment in safety equipment is money well spent! 
More tips for adopters and foster volunteers are listed in the Basic Rescue Guidelines found at this link:

Vanna, foster, wears her drag leash while resting on the sofa with Blaze.

Obi and Amara, rescued together, shared an exercise pen in our kitchen.

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