Fostering Information and FAQ
~Please read and then complete the Foster Application found within the Forms/Apps by clicking here or via the menu on the left menu bar~
Foster homes allow our partners to rescue homeless animals from a variety of situations by providing these animals with temporary care and shelter until they are adopted. Foster homes are asked to provide foster animals with plenty of love, adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, and exercise. Administering medication may also be necessary.
In addition to providing the basics, foster homes may also be asked to transport foster animals to veterinary appointments and adoption events. Foster homes are responsible for the day to day items required by the foster dogs such as food, toys, etc. FSBR pays for the veterinary care of the Foster Dog. Foster homes play a crucial role in rehabilitating rescued animals. They are in a unique position to help abused or neglected animals learn how to love and trust again. Foster homes can help these animals become more “adoptable” by providing socialization and basic training. By teaching or re-teaching an animal how to live in a home setting, foster homes help increase the odds for a smooth and successful transition into a permanent adoptive home.
What kinds of animals need foster care?
Foster homes are needed for adults, babies, moms with newborns, and orphaned newborns. Foster homes are also needed for animals who are ill and/or need medical care. Many foster homes choose to specialize in fostering a specific kind of animal, while others choose to foster whatever animal is in need.
The majority of animals in need of foster care are rescued from shelter environments. Dogs usually need help with basic training and sometimes need a refresher course in house-training. All foster animals will need plenty of love and reassurance that humans are not to be feared.
How long do animals spend in foster care?
The time an animal needs to spend in foster care ranges from one night to several months. Any time commitment a foster home can make is desperately needed and appreciated.
How do foster animals find permanent adoptive homes?
Our rescue partners take full responsibility for finding permanent adoptive homes for foster animals. Foster homes are encouraged to let people know that their foster animals are available for adoption, but any person interested in adopting an animal needs to contact the rescue partner to complete the adoption application procedure. Rescue organizations show their animals at offsite adoption venues around the state, usually on a monthly basis. Foster homes are asked to bring their foster animals to adoption events and are encouraged to stay as long as possible in order to provide information to potential adopters. Adoptions are handled on a case-by-case basis and every effort is made to match animals with homes that meet their specific needs. Foster homes can help immensely in this process by providing information regarding an animal’s personality, training, time requirements and other needs. Any input given by a foster home is appreciated and taken into consideration during the adoption process.
DOGS & PUPPIES (over 8 weeks)
* Supplies needed
* Behavioral issues
* Health issues
Fostering a dog or puppy can be an extremely rewarding experience. While perhaps slightly more involved than fostering a cat, fostering a dog can be very satisfying and a lot of fun. By providing a little training and a lot of love, foster homes can drastically affect the “adoptability” of the dogs they foster. The information in this chapter will help you familiarize yourself with some of the needs, behavioral issues, and health concerns that are associated with fostering dogs and puppies.
The following is a checklist of items that you will need to foster a dog or puppy.
Please know that these items can be used as tax deductions as FSBR is a non-profit 501c3 organization.
* Food and water bowls
* High-quality dog or puppy food (it’s a good idea to have both dry and canned food on hand in case you have a picky eater)
* Chew toys
* Crate or kennel (for keeping dogs safe and out of trouble while you’re away and to help with house-training)
* Dog bed, blankets, or towels to provide your foster dog with a comfortable place to sleep
It is common for a dog to experience some behavioral problems and need a period of adjustment when placed into a new environment. Foster homes are in a unique position to help increase the “adoptability” of their foster dogs by providing some basic training. The following is a list of common behavioral problems as well as suggestions for behavior modification.
Lack of House-Training
Chances are your foster dog will need at least a refresher course in house-training. Many rescued dogs have spent most of their lives outside and never learned the rules of living indoors. Other dogs may have once been house-trained, but may still have an accident or two when transitioning into a new home.
The most important element of effective house-training is extensive supervision. Correcting a dog for eliminating in the house is only effective if the dog is caught in the act. For this reason, it is essential that the dog be under your supervision at all times. There will, of course, be times when you are unable to watch the dog constantly. During these times, you can confine the dog to a crate. The crate should be just large enough for the dog to be able to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down. Because a dog will try not to soil the area where he sleeps, he will usually not urinate or defecate in a crate.
When the dog is allowed out of the crate, he should be taken outside immediately. If the dog eliminates outside, give him lots of praise. If the dog does not eliminate, it is important that you supervise the dog closely once you re-enter your home. If you catch the dog having an accident in the house, tell the dog “NO” in a firm (but not angry) voice. Take the dog straight outside and give him a chance to finish eliminating outside. If the dog does eliminate, give him lots of praise. When house-training a dog, use common sense. Give the dog a chance to eliminate outside following meals and naps. Pay attention to the dog’s behavioral signals. If you observe the dog circling, sniffing the floor, or moving toward the door, take the dog outside.
* Do not rub the dog’s nose in it! This method of training has been proven ineffective by trainers and behaviorists. The only message a dog gets from this type of “training” is that you are angry. The dog will likely not learn to eliminate outside and may instead learn to fear you.
* Do not correct the dog after the fact! Again, this method of training has been proven ineffective. Punishing a dog for something she did much earlier will not yield the results you are looking for. Yes, the dog will behave submissively and perhaps look guilty, but this is because the dog knows you are angry, not because she knows that, earlier, she did something wrong.
House-training is not a process that happens overnight. Be patient. Any progress you can make with your foster dog on house-training will make your life easier and help improve the dog’s chances for successful placement.
Destructive chewing is a phase that all puppies go through. It usually starts around three months and can last until the dog is one year old. During this time, the dog’s adult teeth are coming in and chewing helps relieve the pain. Adult dogs may also have problems with chewing, but for different reasons. Adult dogs usually chew on inappropriate things because they are anxious or bored, or because they have never been taught what is appropriate to chew on.
The best solution for destructive chewing is providing your foster dog with something that is acceptable to chew on. Have plenty of chew toys available at all times. If you catch the dog chewing on something inappropriate, tell the dog “NO” in a firm (but not angry) voice, and replace the item with something more appropriate. If the destructive chewing occurs when you are away, consider confining the dog to a crate. A crate will help keep both the dog and your home safe. It is also important to make sure that your foster dog is getting plenty of exercise. A tired dog will sleep, not chew!
It is pretty common for foster dogs to experience some separation anxiety when left alone. The severity of the anxiety can range from pacing and whining to much more destructive behavior. A dog may experience separation anxiety simply because he has a very dependent personality, or because she is reacting to a history of abuse or abandonment. Whatever the reason, separation anxiety can be difficult to deal with because you are not around when it happens.
The most common sign that a dog may be suffering from separation anxiety is destructive behavior when left alone. A dog may scratch frantically at the door or make other attempts to get out of the house, or the dog may chew on things or engage in other destructive behaviors. If you have reason to suspect that your foster dog is suffering from separation anxiety when you are away, consider confining the dog to a crate. If used appropriately, the crate will help the dog feel safe and secure and hopefully relieve some of the anxiety. And, until the separation anxiety itself can be examined and dealt with, a crate will help keep both your home and your foster dog safe. If you do have the time to work with your foster dog, there are several things you can try to help alleviate separation anxiety. Start out by leaving the dog in your home for very short intervals. Tell the dog to wait and then walk outside for a few minutes before returning. When you return to the house, praise the dog for waiting. Begin to gradually leave the dog for longer and longer periods of time. It is important that, when you leave, you remain calm and not make a big deal out of leaving. It is also important that you not be too excited when you return. You want to praise the dog, but calmly. You don’t want your return to be such an exciting event that the dog anxiously anticipates the moment of your return. Perhaps the most effective treatment for separation anxiety is time. Be patient. As your foster dog spends more time with you, he will begin to feel more secure in knowing that when you leave, you always come back. Some destructive behavior that appears to be related to separation anxiety may, in fact, be the product of boredom. Try providing chew toys or other play items that will entertain your foster dog while you are away. There are several products on the market that work quite well. One of the more popular toys keeps dogs engaged by making them work for food or treats. Once the toy is filled with some kind of small food item, the dog must work by rolling and tipping the toy until a treat falls out. Most of these products allow you to adjust the level of difficulty, and can keep a dog entertained for significant periods of time. Don’t forget to make sure that your foster dog gets plenty of exercise. A tired dog is much less likely to engage in behaviors associated with anxiety or boredom.
NOTES ON CRATE TRAINING:
A crate is a great way to keep both your foster dog and your home safe. If you decide to use a crate, make sure that the crate is always a positive place for your foster dog. Never use a crate for punishment. When introducing a dog to a crate, use a happy tone of voice and tell the dog to “kennel up.” Once the dog has entered the crate, give her lots of praise and perhaps a treat reward. If you have a difficult time getting the dog to enter the crate or if the dog seems afraid, try leaving the crate door open and placing the dog’s food and water bowls just inside the door. Allow the dog to wander into the crate and eat at her leisure. Once the dog seems more comfortable with the crate, you can try confining the dog to the crate for short intervals. Never confine a puppy to a crate for longer than four hours at a time, or an adult dog for longer than eight hours at a time. Remember, the dog will not want to soil his crate, so forcing the dog to stay in the crate longer than he can comfortably “hold it” is inappropriate.
Because most foster dogs are rescued from shelter environments, it’s difficult for rescue partners to ensure that they will always be healthy. A dog who appears healthy at the time of rescue could easily begin to show signs of illness several days later. For this reason, it is very important that foster homes keep their own dogs up to date on vaccinations.
Common Illnesses in Dogs
The following information is intended to help you better understand and recognize some of the more common illnesses in dogs.
Canine distemper is a viral disease that is often fatal. Distemper is most commonly seen in puppies 3-6 months old. Early signs resemble a severe cold. The vaccine for canine distemper is considered very effective.
Signs & Symptoms: Eye congestion and discharge, loss of appetite, vomiting, weight loss, nasal discharge, and diarrhea
Treatment: Veterinary care including fluid therapy and antibiotics
Transmission: Very contagious
Parvo is a disease that is most common in puppies and young dogs. It causes the sloughing of the lining of the intestinal tract. Parvovirus can survive in the environment for six months or longer. This means that other unvaccinated dogs can become infected with parvo simply by coming into contact with places where an infected dog has been. A bleach solution is the best way to disinfect areas that may have been contaminated. The vaccine for parvovirus is considered very effective.
Signs & Symptoms: Lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea (usually bloody)
Treatment: Veterinary care, including fluid therapy and antibiotics
Transmission: Very contagious to other dogs, especially through contact with infected feces or vomit
Kennel cough is a respiratory tract infection that has been linked to several different viral and bacterial causes. Coughing is usually stimulated by physical exertion or by touching the throat area. Kennel cough is self-limiting, usually lasting 1-3 weeks. Antibiotics are often given to prevent secondary infections.
Kennel cough is very common in shelters and other boarding facilities. There is a vaccine for bordetella, one of the main agents responsible for causing kennel cough.
Signs & Symptoms: Cough, runny nose and eyes
Treatment: Veterinary care, including antibiotics and cough suppressants
Transmission: Very contagious to other dogs
Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal.
Signs & Symptoms: Itching, scratching, head shaking, dark brown discharge in the ears
Treatment: Veterinary care, including an injection or ear drops
Transmission: Contagious to other dogs and cats, but usually requires direct contact with the infected animal
Ringworm is a fungus related to athlete’s foot; it’s not actually a worm.
Signs & Symptoms: Irregularly shaped areas of fur loss; the skin of the areas will usually appear rough and scaly
Treatment: Veterinary care, including an injection and/or topical treatment
Transmission: Very contagious to other dogs, cats and people, but usually requires direct contact with the infected animal
Fleas are tiny insects that feed on the blood of dogs, cats, humans and other animals. Although each flea only consumes a small drop of blood, fleas usually attack in large numbers.
Signs & Symptoms: Intense itching and scratching
Treatment: Veterinary care, including an injection and/or topical treatment
Transmission: Very contagious to other dogs, cats and people
Round, Tape, and Hook
Worms affect a dog’s digestive system. They are most commonly seen in puppies and young dogs.
Signs & Symptoms: Large belly, diarrhea, and an inability to gain weight
Treatment: Veterinary care, including de-worming medication
Transmission: Contagious to other dogs and cats, but only through contact with (and subsequent ingestion of) feces.
It is important that all items and areas used by a sick foster animal be cleaned thoroughly. You can use a 10% bleach solution to reliably kill most viruses and bacteria. Items to be cleaned should be thoroughly wetted with the bleach solution and allowed to stand for several minutes before rinsing. Foster homes that have recently fostered a dog or puppy with parvo or another extremely contagious disease may be asked to wait several months before fostering another unvaccinated dog or puppy.
Routine Veterinary Care
Each rescue partner will provide foster dogs with routine veterinary care prior to placement in permanent adoptive homes. The following schedule outlines the various types of routine care provided.
“Distemper combo” vaccine
(distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and caronavirus)
Initial dose given shortly after rescue to dogs that are at least 6 weeks of age Booster given 3-4 weeks later (puppies only) Additional boosters given as needed every 3-4 weeks until at least 16 weeks of age
One dose given shortly after rescue to dogs that are at least 16 weeks of age
One dose given shortly after rescue to dogs that are at least 8 weeks of age
Initial dose given shortly after rescue (only routinely given to puppies under 6 months of age)
Second dose given only if needed
Done shortly after rescue (puppies must be at least 8 weeks old and weigh at least 2 pounds)
To help ensure the health and safety of your foster dog, the rescue organization asks that you adhere to the guidelines set forth, including the following:
1. Always keep an ID tag attached to a properly fitted collar that will remain on your foster dog at all times.
2. Keep your foster dog under your control at all times, going outside only on a leash or into a securely fenced area.
3. Let your rescue partner know if you are no longer able to care for your foster dog. Do not give your foster dog to another person or agency without first receiving permission from FSBR.