If you have considered fostering a dog and found a local rescue in your area to volunteer with, there are a few things you need to know to help make a rescued dog feel at ease in your home. It’s a special task to help guide, teach, comfort, and help a homeless dog find a new home. You’ll spend time and energy learning about him and showing him what’s ok and not ok.
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 what you can take on and what your house is like, the rescue will work to find a dog that can live in your home while finding a forever home. If you have children, other pets, and other obligations let the rescue 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.
When you do start fostering a dog, there’s a few things you should do to make sure things start off on the right foot:
1: Even if you were told the dog is house-trained, treat it like it wasn’t. A new home, new environment, and new smells can sometimes make a dog very nervous and they may have accidents in the house. Supervise him and take him out after each meal, in the morning, and at night. Praise him when he goes potty outside.
2: During the first week don’t try to teach him a bunch of 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 of that he’s being good and help his esteem and confidence.
3: After the first week, you may have some good insight into his personality and what he 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, be very detailed about these things. Let the rescue know these things so they can find him the right home and give the potential adopters a full rundown of him.
4: Once it seems your foster dog gets the day to day 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, begin there. Going 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 like around the park. If your friends have pets, go for walks together.
5: If your foster dog seems to have “triggers” that make him aggressive, do not avoid them. The dog should not train you. At the same time, do not provoke them. If your foster dog is food aggressive or possessive, work with him to diffuse the aggression by hand feeding or asking him to trade one toy for another. Do not place yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, however, and let the rescue know if you’re not sure how to work on the triggers.
You are the eyes and ears of the rescue organization when fostering a dog and your observations can help this furry fellow find the right home. When learning about him, take into account how he reacts to other people, small children, small animals, thunder, rain, loud noises, having his feet touched, grooming, and exercise.
Take the time to really get to know him. It’ll be sad when he leaves your home but it’ll pay off when he finds his new home and they are prepared and know what to expect. It’s totally worth it! Take a lot of pictures too!