TIPS AND RESPONSIBILITIES FOR A WAGGYTAIL FOSTER HOME
The following will serve as a guide to fostering for Waggytail. Please read this fully and bookmark it for reference. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks again for your help!
The main duties of a foster parent are as follows:
1) Care for dog
2) Communicate with Waggytail Rescue about dog’s personality and health
3) Communicate with and have potential adopters meet your foster dog
4) Complete adoption process, including collecting adoption donation and completed agreement!
All these duties are integral to the duty of a foster home. If you feel you can’t complete even one of these steps, then perhaps fostering isn’t for you. It’s an incredibly satisfying, but demanding job, and not for everyone!
FOOD AND EQUIPMENT
As a foster, you need to provide your foster dog with food and fresh water. Any of the higher quality foods is fine. We also recommend you provide your foster dog with some hard chews such as rawhide, bully sticks, and marrow bones. Leashes, collars, harnesses, and cold weather outerwear may be provided or can be purchased inexpensively at any pet supply store. An old pillow and blanket or towel is generally fine for a bed, or you can share yours with your foster pal. If you need reimbursement for feeding or other minor expenses just keep receipts and we are happy to do so within reason.
Any supplies (crates, harnesses, etc) provided to you are to stay within the Waggytail foster system. They do not go with the dog. We expect the new adopter to provide collar, leashes, bed and toys for their new friend – plus picking out all this stuff is part of the fun of adopting a dog! It’s of course fine to send the dog off with a favorite toy or blanket, etc
You do not need to supply the new adopter with anything. The new adopter is expected to a provide a clean collar, leashes, bed and toys for their new friend (picking out all this stuff is part of the fun of adopting a dog)!
VETERINARY CARE AND MEDICATIONS
Medical treatment for the foster dog must be approved by Waggytail Rescue and the dog must be seen by one of our approved vets.
Medical treatment is provided for by Waggytail Rescue. Before going into foster care, all of our dogs are given a basic vet check and are fully vaccinated, heartworm tested, and spayed or neutered unless prevented by medical reason. Make sure your foster dog gets any needed medication.
We have accounts set up with several veterinarians and Waggytail Rescue will be billed directly.
IF YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY PLEASE CONTACT YOUR FOSTER ADVISOR OR ADVISORS IMMIDIATELY. IF YOU CANNOT REACH ONE OF THEM EMAIL WAGGYTAILRESCUE@GMAIL.COM
We have accounts set up with several veterinarians and Waggytail Rescue will be billed directly.
The most common illness rescue dogs come down with is Kennel Cough (also known as Bordatella). While it sounds awful with hacking and gasping, kennel cough is usually not serious and goes away on its own. An Internet search on kennel cough will give you lots of information.
Most of the time your healthy dog will not be at risk of getting sick. We at Waggytail all have our own little dogs and foster ourselves we would never put our own animals at risk and would not put yours at risk either.
SUPERVISION AND OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES
We will provide you with any and all information we have about each dog’s history or behavior and do our best to match you with a compatible foster friend. Dogs are given very basic behavior evaluations, which may or may not represent a dog’s behavior in a home environment. Many of the dogs we take in are strays with little or no available background information. Even dogs surrendered by owners may behave differently when uprooted(sometimes owners aren’t particularly truthful when giving up dogs).
By providing your home as a foster home, you are able to evaluate the dog’s personality and disposition around the family members and other pets. This will help determine what type of home is needed. Your evaluation of the dog and suitability of the prospective adoptive family are invaluable to his/her placement. While fostering a dog, it is important that you maintain communication with Waggytail Rescue with regard to the dog’s personality, behavior, training needs and medical status. Unless it is an emergency, this communication can be done through email. This information will assist Waggytail in finding an applicant that might be a good fit for your foster dog.
If you cannot continue fostering, let us know and we will arrange to move the dog into another foster home. Availability of foster home may be limited, so please give us a few days. If you get impatient and call 311 or 911 the dog will end up back at the city pound, and we may not be able to do anything to prevent euthanization. PLEASE CALL US.
We will always do our best to support you and attend to any needs you have as promptly as possible – we care about these animals as much as you do and truly appreciate your help! Please remember that Waggytail Rescue is a completely volunteer-run organization ~ this means that we all have jobs outside of Waggytail, and there may be times when we cannot get back to you immediately. You can also find many tips and some great advice by checking out our Waggytips and our Links and Other sections on our web site.
Waggytail Rescue actively discourages any form of physical punishment or discipline. If you or any member of your family are having a problem with your foster dog, it’s vital for you to call us immediately. You must not everscruff, shake, smack, strike, or “alpha roll” any dog that is in your care. Getting physical and trying to dominate a dog has been shown to increase aggressive behavior in dogs – the last thing any of these rescued dogs need! Waggytail offers free training workshops that are meant to make your fostering much easier. Attending a behavior workshop will show you how to work with dogs in ways that are kind and effective.
Please evaluate your dog’s behavior and personality. Take photos so we can post them on Petfinder. We will place each animal’s profile on our web site and screen applicants. Those that pass our general screening criteria will be passed on to you. You can arrange to meet with potential adopters at your convenience. As a foster parent, you know the dog best and you will be an important part of deciding if your foster dog is right for a potential adopter. DO NOT HESITATE to voice your observations and concerns about a family. One thing we are trying to avoid is the rescue dog being returned to Waggytail!
When the perfect adopter is found, you are responsible for collecting a completed adoption application and the required donation from the adopter. No dog may be taken without these two things being placed in your hands. We will collect these from you at your convenience. Waggytail will mail the adopter the animal’s medical records – we can even do it via email so it’s quick! If you have the rabies tag, give it to the adopter – if we have it we will mail it.
Required donation amounts do not directly reflect the amount spent on the individual dog, but go into a collective veterinary fund. We have spent as little as $50 and as much as $3,500 on a dog, but to give everybody a fair shot at adoption, we base the donations on age and general health.
Sometimes potential adopters will ask us to “hold” animals for them. As policy, we do not hold animals. In addition to the obvious space issue, even the most sincere seeming people change their minds, leaving us to start all over with the adoption process.
If you fall madly in love and wish to adopt your foster ~ as many of our foster families do – of course we’d be thrilled! You must still complete the agreement and donation part.
LENGTH OF STAY AND TRAVELING OUT OF TOWN
We cannot say how long your foster dog will be with you. The average stay is usually about 2 weeks, but it could be longer. If you must go out of town while you are fostering a dog, please let us know ASAP. Please don’t wait to make arrangements at the last minute — especially around the holidays. If you wish to take your foster dog with you when you travel out of town, just let us know – it’s usually not a problem!
INTRODUCING YOUR FOSTER DOG TO YOUR HOME AND TO OTHERS
Keep in mind that your foster dog may have passed through many hands before you get him and may be feeling very stressed. Dogs may display this stress in different ways: panting, pacing, crying, diarrhea or growling. Usually these symptoms subside within 1-3 days. Tip: Petting and giving treats to a crying dog will just reinforce this behavior and the dog will cry in order to gain attention/treats.
Many of our foster dogs may not be housetrained, and many housetrained dogs may have accidents in a new environment. Be patient and understanding. Give your foster a chance dog to settle into his routine and get to know you. A firm “no” when you catch the animal in the act is fine; do NOT rub the dog’s face in an accident. Positive reinforcement works wonders – give a treat when the dog “goes” where he is supposed to.
Please see our tips on housetraining for more advice.
When bringing your new friend home, take him or her for a walk, make him or comfortable, and then leave him or her be. Come and go as you normally would. This will help prevent separation anxiety when you do have to leave. Also remember that while it’s instinctive to want to lavish your new friend with attention and love, excessive coddling at the get-go may cause problems in the future, mainly foster dog thinking he is the boss of you! This could lead to biting as he tries to keep you in line. If the dog has to “earn” your attention, he will respect you more as his leader and you will have a much easier time of things. Trust us on this! Google the term NILIF(Nothing In Life Is Free) and you’ll find some more information.
Allow the dog to come to you rather than “forcing yourself” upon him, even with affection, which could be misunderstood by a dog that is scared and confused. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. For example, if the dog growls and shows signs of “guarding” when you approach him as he’s chewing an object, do not grab the object. Contact us for advice on how to handle the situation.
Keep your foster dog on a leash and introduce to strangers slowly and with caution until you find out how he will react. It is often less threatening for a dog to meet new people outside of your home. We strongly advise outside meetings of strangers and coming into the home together until your dog gets used to visitors.
When introducing your foster dog to your other animals, please keep your foster dog on a leash. Your foster dog must always be on a leash when he is not confined in a fenced in area. You may also want to leave a short leash on your foster dog at all times for the first few days so you can easily lead him around and “catch” him without grabbing him and risking a bit from startling him.
We advise you to separate your foster dog from any pets already in your household for the first few days. When bringing any new animal into a household, you can expect some bickering at first – this is totally normal. The animals usually work things out within a few hours or days. Praise the dogs when they are being good together so they associate this with good things. Lots of positive reinforcement works best!
We recommend planning to confine the animal to a limited area until you figure out housetraining habits if accidents in the apartment will bother you. Hint: inexpensive shower curtains purchased at a dollar store are great for covering furniture you’re worried about, or for putting down in your foster dog’s “area” until you get potty habits down.
If you put this foster dog in a position where it does bite you or someone else because you did not heed our advice, you put Waggytail Rescue in a position where we, by law, may have to surrender the dog to quarantine, where they may euthanize your foster dog. Clearly, we do not want that to happen!
Of COURSE we want you to make your foster dog a member of the family! Give him your love and affection, but first some initial caution, rules, and routine.
Finally, there are many resources on the Internet that can explain some of the issues you may encounter. Below are some terms you can Google to find some information about problems you may encounter. Of course this is just to supplement and help you better understand advice given by experienced Waggytail people and trainers/behaviorists!
Separation Anxiety – When your dog cries, barks, scratches at the door whenever you leave
Leash Aggression – When your dog lunges, barks, etc at other animals and people when on a leash
Resource Guarding – When your dog growls, snaps, etc when approached while with an object or item he thinks is “his”
Food Aggression – When your dog is protective of his food – growling, lashing out, etc when approached while eating
NILIF – check this term out for a plethora of positive handling and training advice
FOR GREAT ADVICE AND MORE TIPS ON FOSTERING, VISIT FOSTERCARE FOR DOGS.
This is a great site to see if fostering is for you and to get more insight!
GREAT WEB LINKS
This is a great Animal Behavior site, sponsored by the Animal Behavior Resources Institute.
2. Kennel Cough explained http://www.auntjeni.com/kennel.htm
3. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6606465.html?q=dog%20training_ – recent (Fall 2008) rundown of good books for training
4. The latest study about why we must not ever use “Dog Whispering” to “show our dogs who’s boss” is here.http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonline/images/stories/Position_Statements/dominance%20statement.pdf
Pat Miller – authored short list of why punishment doesn’t work to solve problem behaviors
6.The Merck Veterinary Manual
http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/140102.htm A handy reference for veterinary questions
Another great clicker site that answers a lot of questions about the current state of modern dog training. There’s a lot of great arguments here that are pro-positive training, and anti-old school jerk-and-praise “training”. If you’ve ever gotten into an argument with someone re: punishment based training, this is a great resource.
8. Ian Dunbar’s http://www.dogstardaily.com
Especially strong for puppies. There’s a “hit list” of behaviors to expect from a puppy, in chronological order – “Puppy’s First Week”, and so on. Extensive how-to articles, blogs from trainers, and problem-solving are all covered here.
Agility site. However, you’ll be amazed at the things that can be learned here – the principles of teaching dogs effectively are all spelled out here in the “Training Articles”.
10. Susan Garrett’s Blog, http://susangarrett.wordpress.com
“I am not afraid to leave what I did yesterday (even if it is a comfortable habit) in order to try to improve tomorrow for my next dog. If you aren’t willing to alter your approach from one dog to the next, you may find dog training frustrating and possibly ineffective from one dog to the next.”
11. Melissa Alexander’s Clicker Solutions
Possibly the best site for specific help on specific problems – incredibly thorough. Melissa is a student of Karen Pryor.
12. Karen Pryor’s site, http://www.clickertraining.com
The Grand Poobah of clicker training. The most basic questions about positive reinforcement based training and how it works are explained here. Books, articles, demo videos – it’s all here.