Making your foster dog feel at home
Ah the life of an animal rescue foster volunteer. Snuggling on the couch, taking leisurely walks together, and introducing him to your furry family members so everyone can live in peace and harmony.
Snap back to reality. Fostering a dog can sometimes be hard work despite the amazing rewards that come from supporting animal rescue. So here are some pieces of advice for our animal foster friends out there to help you work towards that nirvana relationship.
- Be patient – Whether you’ve been fostering your dog from the local animal shelter for a day, a week or a month, the most important thing to remember is patience. Often you are not aware of the animal’s past and what their experience has been. You’re just trying to show them love and play fetch but based upon their experiences prior to you, humans may not be the best companions and it may take a little time for them to warm up to you and trust you. Be patient and realize that your care and compassion for animals will not be ignored.
- Switch roles – We often say to others to try walking a mile in their shoes and the same applies when fostering a dog. Imagine if you were whisked away to a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language, everything smells and tastes different and the climate even is stranger than what you’re used to. Previously humans brought pain and suffering and now they bring balls, kongs and tasty bones and all they want to do is get in your space and hug you. It’s rather scary. So chillax for a while and let your temporary companion see the world like you see it.
- Establish a routine – Nothing beats a good routine for establishing some sense of normalcy and the same holds true when aligning your foster dog to your way of doing things. Same feeding times, same walking times, same resting times, and pretty soon your temporary house guest will be caught up and ready for more.
- Get some training – Sure you can get some training for your foster dog but likely you’re the one that needs the training. Dogs are pack animals and they are looking to you to be their pack leader. It’s likely your foster friend has not had training in even the most basic commands and everything you’re saying sounds like the adults talking in a Charlie Brown TV special (wah wah). Time to invest in some good quality canine manners training. It’ll be a great experience for you and your foster and will help them to find a new home. After all, who doesn’t want a well mannered pet.
- Act like a host – If you’re hosting guests for the week or the weekend, you go out of your way to make sure they have everything they need. Clean towels, the kind of food they want, and most of all, you give them their privacy. Foster dogs are like houseguests…strike that, they ARE house guests. Treat them with the same level of service as you would other humans.
What are your tips for making a foster dog feel at home? How do you get through the initial adjustments?