Tips for bringing home a foster pet dog
The following are some ideas on what you must do when you bring home a foster dog.
While these are geared towards foster dogs, they could also apply to newly adopted dogs or even just dogs you’re pet sitting.
I know lots of of you foster dogs, so please add any additional ideas in the comments so this can be a terrific resource for people.
(To foster a pet dog indicates to supply a homeless pet dog with a home and care either temporarily or until he gets adopted.) For a lot more info, check out my fostering category here.
1. Be selective on which pet dog you foster.
I recently applied to foster senior dogs with a local rescue group because seniors are generally easier. They’re typically less energy, nearly always housebroken and normally ok being left alone.
Younger dogs are a lot more likely to be high energy, less likely to be housebroken and a lot more likely to be destructive or loud.
These are things some people don’t mind, but I’m not up for it. I’m going for easy.
I ended up fostering 5-year-old Orie last weekend because the rescue originally thought he was 8. considering that he sounded like a mellow dog, I made a decision to give it a shot. turns out he was about the easiest foster pet dog ever!
2. have a backup plan if the pet dog is not a good fit.
You do not want to be stuck with this pet dog if he’s a psycho. know in development what the rescue will do if the pet dog just isn’t a good fit.
I had two backup plans for Orie. I could either take him back to the boarding kennel where the rescue houses some of its dogs. Or, I could ask another volunteer to foster him.
Don’t feel bad if the pet dog doesn’t work out. You have to put yourself and your family and your own family pets first, and a lot of people who foster dogs have done some “swapping” with at least a few of the dogs.
I have returned, let’s see … one, two, three foster dogs within the first week. (Ginger, Levi and Morgan.) They were just too much for me to manage for various reasons. They would break out of their crates or panic when left alone, and that’s just too stressful for me. (See my ideas on pet dog separation anxiety here.)
3. Bring someone along when you pick up the dog.
A substantial pet peeve of mine is motorists who are distracted by their dogs. There’s no excuse.
In an optimal world, you must have someone go along when you pick up your foster pet dog so one person can drive and one can supervise the dog.
I’ve never actually done this.
Instead, I’ve tethered the pet dog to the door in the back of my automobile or set up a crate on the back seat. Neither is optimal because I have a small car, but it’s worked.
Do not let a pet dog of any size just run around loose in your car, and I don’t recommend tethering the pet dog in the front passenger seat either. It’s too tempting for the pet dog to sneak into your lap.
4. walk the foster pet dog ideal away.
Make sure to walk your foster pet dog when you get home. This will give him some time to go to the bathroom, so there will be less chance of an “accident” or marking in your house. It will also help the two of you begin to form some sort of bond.
Again, this is in an optimal world. I realize often you just can’t walk the foster pet dog for whatever reason.
Maybe he was just neutered, as in Orie’s case. maybe it’s -25 degrees outside (been there!). maybe you feel your collar and leash setup is not safe.
Also, if you’re picking up the foster dog, make sure to choose a short walk before getting in the car. I learned that one the hard way!
5. Introductions to other pets.
I kept my pet dog in my bedroom and my cats in our spare bedroom when I went to pick up Orie last Friday. That way, after I brought him up to my apartment, the other family pets were safely behind closed doors.
After a half-hour or so, I did what I would never recommend. I introduced the two dogs myself in the apartment.
I have a lot of experience with pet dog introductions, and I can tell a lot about a new pet dog by how my pet dog Ace is responding. In this case, he was very relaxed, not making a sound in my bedroom. Both dogs were aware of each other, gently wagging their bodies in a very kicked back manner. When I introduced them, it was like they were good friends.
Still, the best way to introduce two dogs is to do so outside on neutral ground with one person managing each dog. Then, without allowing the dogs to technique each other head on, choose a short walk so they can walk side by side or one in front of the other. a lot more on pet dog introductions here.
I like to keep the foster pet dog in a certain area of the house. I block of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc., so there’s less chance he’ll “wander off” and mark or have an accident. I usually keep the leash on the pet dog for at least a half-hour, often a full day or two to make sure he or she is potty trained and not a “marker.”
I always put my cats’ scratching post away because for whatever reason dogs love to pee on those! (Trust me.)
Obviously, you’ll also want to pick up anything the pet dog might be tempted to chew or anything that could cause resource guarding among the dogs. I put all of the toys away before I brought Orie home, and I even picked up the food and water bowls because you just never know.
Additional ideas on pet dog fostering
Make sure the foster pet dog has been vaccinated and checked for fleas, ear mites and parasites like tapeworms, etc.
Ask in development if the rescue group or shelter will pay for food, flea prevention, etc. Some will and some won’t.
Send the rescue pics and info as soon as possible for the web site, even if your pics aren’t perfect.
Post the pet dog all over social media.
More blog posts on fostering:
Reasons to foster a dog
Returning a foster dog
Fostering a cat
What ideas do the rest of you have for pet dog fostering?
Let me know in the comments!
Also, sign up for That Mutt’s newsletter updates here.