I have a new foster pup, Devon, and she is adorable:
While she is adorable(!), she also came with some baggage, just like all dogs, rescued or not. She’s only my third foster, if we’re not including foster fail Pinot…and I hope to do a lot more fostering in the future.
Here are some tips for helping your new foster dog feel comfortable in their new (temporary) home:
- Give them a cozy spot: Some dogs aren’t used to being in a house, so crating may be necessary to save your house. Make that spot fun and safe by feeding your foster in their crate, and playing crate games so that they WANT to be in their crate. Covering the crate, always offering a treat for getting in the crate, and not leaving the dog for long periods of time are all good ways to make the crate a happy place.
- Feed out of puzzle toys: Maybe not every meal right away, but learning to work on a food puzzle is great mental stimulation for all dogs. Kongs and Busy Buddy toys are just some of the great ones available.
- Handfeeding: This is a great way of building a bond SUPER fast. Simply prepare your foster dog’s meal, and then take the dog to a nice, low distraction room. Offer them handfuls of food until it’s all gone. You can combine this with training, or you can simply feed them! This reinforces to the dog that you are a wonderful person who makes good things happen. With dogs of unknown origin, this is very important.
- Teach them their name: Play the name game! Say the dog’s name one time in an upbeat voice, and feed! Wait for eye contact/ attention before feeding, and try using distractions–for example, handful of food held out to the side. Even if your foster dog is destined for a name change (most are), having a dog that responds to *something* is better than a dog who doesn’t know their name. When your foster gets adopted, tell the new owners about the name game and they can teach their new dog a new name.
- Exercise: Walks, playing with toys, and running in the yard are good for the soul, and are some of the reasons fostering is great. Instead of sitting in a kennel all day, your foster dog gets to be…a dog! See below:
If you’ve never fostered before, I definitely recommend it. You get the fun and excitement of a new (short term) dog, but also the benefit of helping out a rescue in need–and seeing the adopters with their new family member is pretty darn amazing!