Fostering: What to Expect
So, you’ve joined the foster family! Congratulations on becoming part of an amazing network and family of people passionate about transforming dog's lives for the better. Many of the dogs in our rescue program, truly have never known the true warmth of a loving home. Therefore, my first piece of advice to you is to be patient. Many of the things we think our family dogs naturally know how to do, many of our foster dogs have never had the chance to learn. In the first section, we will discuss decompression and giving your new foster dog the patience and space to get used to living in your home!
Oh, how exciting! You have a new family member in your home! Our natural inclination is to want to give our pets all our warmth and take them to all our favorite places. While we understand, you want to show your mother, brother, sister, in-laws, and neighborhood your new fur baby, but let’s think about it from the dog’s perspective. I mean does this dog even really know you and your family? While your new fur member loves all the belly rubs, dogs thrive on security and routine. Does your new foster dog really know you will feed it? House them? Protect them? It is very easy for a dog who does not know you or your family to be exhausted and overwhelmed by all the new elements in their lives. Therefore, these new elements can cause a dog to act out and become overwhelmed resulting in misplaced behaviors such as nipping or jumping on furniture.
So what exactly are we asking you to do? Be patient and give your new pup space and time to become used to the new routines in your home. Generally, we suggest giving your dog at least two weeks to decompress. Granted some dogs take more time and some take less depending on your dog’s needs.
Okay so then what the heck do we do during that two-week period if I can’t take my foster pup to explore all our favorite places?
To avoid setting our pups up for failure, let them take the time to let them learn that you are their new leader versus adding new people and environments where the pup is not acquainted with yet. Think about how you would feel if you had just met someone, and they decided to hug you, get in your face, then take you to meet all their friends and family? HOLY COW talk about not feeling safe. There’s no way I would feel safe and of course, I would push those people away. That’s exactly what our dogs are thinking when we overwhelm them.
SO WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY FOSTER DOG SETTLE IN?
1. No walks, excursions, rides etc. (the vet obviously is not included). Once your dog trusts you, these activities will be much more pleasant once your dog looks to you for direction and trust.
2. Little or no training: At this point, all interactions should be positive to strengthen your bond.
3. Leash a dog always when not crated: This is a great way to let your dog get used to your home with you. The dog needs to learn to look for direction and having a leash on helps the dog to do this including inside the home. The dog needs to learn to respect your home first and foremost.
4. Exercise makes a dog happy! Regular exercise in the yard or through mental stimulation such as puzzles can help a dog relax in their new household.
5. Ignore, the initial whining, crying, and barking. Our dogs need to learn to be secure even when we cannot run and help their every concern.
After you have implemented this, you will start to notice your dog’s personality to come out. You will see their quirks, needs, and their amazing smiles. Allowing your dog, a chance to get to really know you and your home sets your pup and you both up for success!