Fostering a Rescue Dog
21 November, 2011
I have always wondered about the best way to foster a rescue dog. I, personally, have not been through the process but have met some wonderful people who foster dogs on a regular basis. And recently, a friend of mine brought a foster dog into her home. She already has two dogs and doesn’t have the time or resources for three dogs, but wanted to help out this particular dog in need. So, I spoke with some people who rescue dogs on a regular basis to help my friend out and educate myself in the process.
MAKE SURE THE RESCUE DOG FITS WITH YOUR HOME
Some rescue dogs will not know many commands, others may not be house-trained, and some may have had a rough life and be unsure of trusting people. Depending on what your house is like, the rescue team will try to find a dog that can live in your home while finding a permanent home. If you have children, other pets, and other obligations, let the rescue team know this so they don’t ask you to foster a dog that may not get along with other pets, may have a fear of children, or may need more time than you’re able to give.
Once you make the choice to foster a dog, there are a few things you should do to make sure things start off well:
TREAT YOUR NEW DOG LIKE A NEW PUPPY
Even if you were told the dog is house-trained, treat him as if he weren’t. A new home can sometimes make a dog very nervous and then accidents happen in the house. Try to supervise him and take him out after each meal, in the morning, and at night. Praise him when he goes outside.
During the first week, you should not try to teach him any new tricks. He’s stressed and trying to figure out the new routine. Let him settle in and get used to the schedule of feeding times, walks, and play times. If he knows a few commands, ask him to do those and reward him with praise. Positive reinforcement is important as it will give him a sense that he’s being good and help his esteem and confidence.
I love my new family!
DEVELOP A ROUTINE
After the first week or tow, you should have some good insight into his personality and what he or she likes, doesn’t like, and what he thinks is fun. He may like tennis balls over squeaky toys and might like to get into the trash can. You may have learned what can make him scared and angry. Make sure to take note and let the rescue organization know these things so they can find him the right home and give the potential adopters a full rundown of him.
Once it seems as if your foster dog gets rhythm of your house, has become more relaxed, and has become more trusting of you, then you can start some more training. If he doesn’t know how to walk on a leash, this is a good place to start. Taking the dog for walks exposes him to new people and new situations. If he likes other dogs, take him for a walk through well known dog paths or the dog park. This will help him with his socialization skills.
LEARN THE GOOD AND THE BAD
If your foster dog seems to have trigger points that make him or her aggressive, do not avoid these situations. The dog should not train you and these are important points to note. Try to work with him to diffuse the aggression by hand feeding or asking him to trade one toy for another. However, never place yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, and let the rescue team know if you’re not sure how to work on the triggers.
Remember that you are the eyes and ears of the rescue organization when fostering a dog and your observations can help this dog find the right home. Take the time to really get to know him. It will be both a happy and sad occasion when your dog finds the right home, but your time and energy will make his transition into his permanent home that much easier. Good luck!