At Pawtopia, we have a strong commitment to aiding rescue animals in various ways per our previous article. One of the most fulfilling experiences we've had is fostering rescue dogs, particularly those who have undergone trauma and require more extensive socialization and training in a home environment. Drawing from our own personal experience, we have created this article to assist any prospective pet parents who are considering fostering rescue pups but may be uncertain about the process. Our hope is that this article will provide the necessary guidance and reassurance to help families confidently take action and embark on this rewarding journey.1. Why Foster a Rescue Dog?
Fostering a rescue dog can be a very rewarding experience for both the dog and the foster parent. By fostering, you are providing a temporary home for a dog that has often come from a difficult past. This can be especially helpful for dogs that have been in a shelter for an extended period of time or have medical or behavioral issues that require extra attention. Additionally, fostering can help prepare dogs for their forever homes. Fostering can help socialize dogs, teach them basic obedience, and provide them with much-needed love and attention. At Pawtopia, we have partnered with a rescue organization in Asia to foster dogs who have been rescued from a dog meat farm. These dogs are often extremely fearful of humans and new environments due to their past experiences.
2. Understanding the Responsibilities of Fostering
Fostering a dog requires a significant commitment of time and effort. It is important to understand the responsibilities before making the decision to foster. These responsibilities include:
- Providing daily care (feeding, exercise, grooming, etc.)
- Attending veterinary appointments and administering medication if needed
- Socializing and training the dog
- Communicating with the rescue organization about the dog's progress and behavior
- Preparing the dog for adoption
3. Preparing Your Home for a Foster Dog
Before bringing a foster dog into your home, it is important to prepare your home for its arrival. This includes:
- Dog-proofing your home (removing dangerous items, securing loose wires, etc.)
- Providing a comfortable space for the dog to rest
- Having the necessary supplies (food, water bowls, leash, collar, crate, etc.)
At Pawtopia, we have the advantage of having two dogs at home, making the preparation process for fostering a new dog incredibly simple. Additionally, our resident dogs have been instrumental in helping our new foster dogs adjust and settle into their new home quickly.
4. Introducing Your Foster Dog to Your Family
Introducing your foster dog to your family is an important step in the fostering process. It is important to supervise all interactions between your family and the foster dog, especially if you have children or other pets. Fortunately, our dogs are welcoming and amiable to new dogs. However, it's important to note that introducing a new foster pup can cause stress and anxiety for all the dogs involved. We highly recommend exercising extreme care, especially during the first week, to ensure a smooth transition for your new foster dog.
For example, we allow every foster dog to sleep in our bed to facilitate rapid socialization with humans. However, during the first week, we woke up one night to a minor altercation between Stout, our dog, and Juno, our new foster pup, who were sharing the same bed. Although they have since grown quite fond of each other, the first week is always a potentially stressful time for both the foster dog and resident dogs.
5. Creating a Routine for Your Foster Dog
This is a very important step. Creating a routine for your foster dog can help them adjust to their new environment and feel more comfortable. This includes establishing a feeding schedule, setting aside time for exercise and play, and establishing a consistent sleep schedule.
6. The Importance of Training and Socialization
Training and socialization are important aspects of fostering a dog. This includes teaching basic obedience commands and socializing the dog with other dogs and people. In our experience, as we only foster fearful pups, we once had to spend 1.5 hours in our small backyard coaxing Gwyneth, our second foster pup, to enter the house. We highly recommend that until you are confident of your foster dog's behavior, avoid letting them off-leash, even within the confines of your own yard.
7. Navigating Medical Care for Your Foster Dog
It is important to attend all veterinary appointments and ensure that your foster dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations and medications. It is also important to communicate with the rescue organization about any medical issues that arise.
8. Dealing with Potential Behavioral Issues
Fostering a dog can come with its own set of challenges, including potential behavioral issues. It is important to communicate any issues with the rescue organization and work with them to address the problem. Fortunately, all of the foster dogs we've cared for thus far have not displayed any significant behavioral problems apart from extreme fear. Bellini and Juno were initially guarded and anxious around our dogs, but they eventually warmed up to our dogs. To avoid any potential issues during fostering, it's crucial to assess the dog's behavior towards other animals and humans before bringing them home unless you have the expertise to train them yourself.
9. Expect the unexpected
It's always full of surprises and excitement. Sometimes accidents happen, and they may not know how to communicate their needs with humans. We even lost Bellini once when she managed to crawl over the 6ft fence, despite not being an athletic dog that even had a hard time learning to jump into our car. Another time, after 1.5 months of successful off-leash dog trips, Juno suddenly refused to come back home with us from the dog park, and we spent 8 hours trying to retrieve her at 10 pm, the moment that a kind English sheepdog appeared and miraculously herded Juno towards us. Looking back, we can laugh about these incidents, but they're a reminder never to divert our attention from our foster dogs.
10. Enjoy observing their progress
Observing the progress of our fearful foster pups is always an incredible source of joy. Since fostering is often their first experience living with humans, they can be initially scared of even the most mundane things like walking upstairs, getting into a car, or sleeping in a bed with humans. We'll always remember the moment when Gwyneth allowed us to pet her, when Juno began licking our hands with a wagging tail in the morning, and when Bellini started to follow us around the house and the off-leash dog park (and we don't need to chase her in our yard anymore!). These are the moments that make us proud of the great job we've done and signify that it's almost time to find them their forever home.
11. Saying Goodbye to Your Foster Dog
Saying goodbye to your foster dog can be a difficult experience, but it is an important part of the fostering process. The ultimate goal of fostering is to find the dog its forever home, and saying goodbye means that you have helped the dog take a step closer to finding that home. Sending off our foster pups has always been an emotional experience for us involving tears, but it's a necessary part of their journey toward greater happiness and growth.
12. The Rewards of Fostering
While fostering a rescue dog can come with its challenges, it also comes with many rewards. Seeing a dog that has been through difficult circumstances blossom in a loving and supportive environment can be an incredibly fulfilling experience. And we will continue our commitment to helping other rescue pups.
Frequently Asked Questions about Fostering a Rescue Dog
1. Do I need to have experience with dogs to foster a rescue dog?
A. No, while experience with dogs can be helpful, it is not necessary to foster a rescue dog. Most rescue organizations provide training and support to their foster parents
2. Can I foster a dog if I have other pets?
A. Yes, many foster families have other pets. It is important to introduce your foster dog to your pets gradually and under supervision.
3. How long do I have to foster a dog?
A. The length of time you will need to foster a dog can vary depending on the dog's needs and the organization you are working with. Some dogs may only need a temporary home for a few weeks, while others may need a longer-term foster home.
4. Will I be responsible for all of the dog's medical expenses?
A. In most cases, the rescue organization will cover the dog's medical expenses. However, it is important to clarify this with the organization before committing to fostering.
5. What happens if I decide I cannot continue fostering the dog?
A. It is important to communicate with the rescue organization if you are unable to continue fostering the dog. The organization will work with you to find another foster home or a permanent home for the dog.
Fostering a rescue dog can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it is important to be prepared for the responsibilities that come with it. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure that you are ready to provide a loving and supportive environment for a dog in need. Remember, by fostering a dog, you are helping to make a difference in their life and the lives of those who adopt them.
We will cover more details of each of the points that we mentioned above in the future.