Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Two Week Shutdown"

(Juno, a dog who benefited from "The Two Week Shutdown")

I'm putting together our book about Pit Bulls, and one of my authors, Marva Burnett, who fosters for New Hope Pit Bull Rescue, mentioned some "new foster Two Week Shutdown" policy. Needless to say, I was interested in hearing more, since I'm a foster and the only "shutdown" my dogs get it when I put out my hand to get them to stop jumping on me. Maybe there's a better way?

Alicia from New Hope kindly wrote me back to give me more details. Here's what she said:

"I learned about [the two weeks shutdown] before I became involved in rescue. I adopted a second dog, Cyrus, much more laid back in personality than my crazy girl Deja! We figured we could leave him to roam the house the very first day! After losing some blinds and some trash, it was pretty obvious that wasn't the case. It was on either day two or three when he snapped at Deja over a toy. By nature, I'm a researcher. I'd joined a very valuable resource called The Pit Bull Forum a month or so prior to adopting and came to realize there were a ton of knowledgeable people there that I trusted would lead me the right direction. So, I posted my problem and asked for ideas.

Needless to say, I received a very stern, "You're moving too fast!" and was instructed to slow WAY down with things. At first, it didn't make any sense at all to me because Cyrus, to me, was a naturally GOOD dog. But, what did I have to lose except a dog that I wanted to be mine and that I had committed to? So, for a week straight, my dogs only saw one another in passing. Cyrus had newfound crate issues so it afforded me the chance to work on those things too while giving each dog their own time out. The second week, the dogs got VERY brief play sessions. About 10 minutes or so at first. Over the course of the next few weeks, we increased the time out. We reintroduced toys as well. Overall, it forced me to grow up and be a leader. With Cyrus's crate issues, it took about 2 months before we got to the point that both dogs were out at the same time when someone was home. And two this day, I KNOW that the shutdown SAVED another dog and also gave me the best two dogs ever :)

I've also used the shutdown with my new fosters and it really helps in laying groundwork and giving them a chance to de-stress. Just like with Marva, it helped everyone get to know one another slowly and allowed time for interactions to end on a positive note. I really can't speak highly enough about simply giving the dogs time when they come into a new home. The foster homes who haven't quite followed the two weeks are more likely to come to us with behavioral issues later on.

Anyhoo, when I sit here and look at my two laying on their blankets on the floor or when they're napping with me weekend afternoons, I thank all the stars for having people out there to be bold with me and tell me to slow it down. I'm confident that the simple advice given in the two week shutdown helped me in creating some harmony so that I could enjoy life with two dogs. I wouldn't trade them for the world."

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