The Umbilical Method
Updated: Feb 1, 2020
Sometimes foster dogs are very shy and they like mom better- so dad has a trick to help encourage them to love him too.
Hey yo, Meatball here. I love dad a lot- especially when he has a blanket...but not all the foster dogs understand how awesome he is at first.
He has a trick for this.
Some people think you should just let the dog "get used to you"...but do people ever overcome their challenges without encouragement? Or would they just continue to go the comfortable route forever, unless something made them change? Dogs are much like people and very rarely will they change on their own without a catalyst to show them a new way.
In dad's opinion, it would take months to do what he can in a few hours or days.
The key is the umbilical method: tethering the new dog to him to help them learn to trust him faster and so they can't rely on mom too much.
This is the method dad tried with our foster, Dove. She was from what we suspect was a hoarding house, where the dogs get lots of time and attention from other dogs, but almost none from people- or at least not enough different people.
Dove cowered and was even a bit snippy at first until she learned to trust mom and dad who were caring for her and her babies.
At first Dove treated dad like mom- although mom was her favorite, she never objected to dad's help. But one day she started barking at dad and getting upset with him when he went to feed her or her babies.
“...do people ever overcome their challenges without encouragement? or would they just continue to go the comfortable route forever, unless something made them change?...”
When this happens it always hurts dad's feelings just a little, but he's a good sport. He just starts the umbilical process so that he is the only one the dog has access to and with the close proximity, the dog learn to trust in and rely on him as much as they naturally want to with mom.
With Dove, when he was working at the computer, he set up a whelping box next to him and had dove on a leash. then he'd pick dove up and put her on his lap. He was also solely the one to feed her and take her out. and when sitting on the couch, dad had dove himself and she couldn't go near mom.
Quickly Dove began to accept dad too, like she did mom. She even submissive smiled at him as she army crawled across the floor when he called to her! This was a special moment for him- as it was a breakthrough and reminded him of his baby girl, Zelda...
Dove is still a bit silly and will run from both mom and dad when they reach for her- or she will just roll over...but she is now able to trust them both the same- and it didn't take too long at all.
Some people in training called this "flooding"- and have an aversion to the method...but mom and dad can speak to it as a really positive opportunity for any shy dog. They have fostered thousands of animals- ones who were even untouchable when they arrived...
But all have good homes now and it didn't take years to reach them. It just doesn't have to be that hard.
Dogs want to be social and loved- they just may not be able to get out of their own way to do it. You can help them with this method- and in our extensive experience, you will only see positive results from trying it!
Keep on wagging!