The idea is: you want to help, like dogs and want to make a difference.
The realty is: you are working with rescue dogs, you never know what you will get.
What you expect: you open your home to a rescue pup, they are grateful and happy and integrate into your home nicely. Including playing with your pups that you already have in your home. They are socialized, balanced so you will be fine. You will help the new dog feel better, do better and find it a good home!
What you find out: the dog can be fearful, scared, snippy, unbalanced and can be unpredictable even go as far as aggressive. Some need additional help, you are confused on what to do, overwhelmed and think maybe you made the wrong choice?
Important things to remember: you are there to HELP the dog. Create a good environment and help improvements happen to encourage an adopter to want to accept this pup into their home. You are not a professional dog trainer, you don’t always have every solution and sometimes you just feel helpless. THIS IS NORMAL AND COMMON. This is why the rescue group is there for you as a support system. If you have a trainer nearby to help, follow their advice and see success happen!
Tips on achieving great results as a foster parent:
Tip #1: Always Create Boundaries in your Home.
Make sure that your home stays your home. If you allow rescue life to take over, the dog(s) will also. Crates, gates, leashes and boundary is your best friend. My RULE FOR RESCUE is: Feel bad for DAY ONE, after that start training.
Tip #2: Don’t think about how to integrate them into your home, think about what skills they need to become more adoptable.
Do they need to be potty trained? Do they have trust issues? Are they unfamiliar with basic commands? Do they suffer from anxiety? These are the skills you as a foster parent need to recognize early on. These are the skills you need to work on.
Tip #3: Is your “Pack” balanced?
You may think your pups are balanced because they exist well in your home, however, are they ready to TRAIN a new foster pup? You may have awesome dogs but bringing in a foster pup that needs balancing may create unbalance in your home and the transition can be hard and take more patience and time than you expected.
Tip #4: Understand there may be scrapes and bruises.
Your pups in your home may have disagreements with the new foster. THIS IS NORMAL. Both your pup(s) and the new foster are trying to distinguish what they can get away with, where everyone stands in the pack(household) and how everyday life is going to be. Chances are where the new foster was before there were no rules, no boundaries and everything was fair game.
Tip #5: You have now become the trainer, not the “cuddle-buddy.”
Your job is to create a game plan, provide boundaries, consistently show rules and abide by this EVERY DAY. Cuddling can be done later when the pup understands the rules and is showing behavior that you are looking for.
Tip #6: Don’t give them EVERYTHING.
The couch is not their spot, the bed is not required for happiness and a fenced in yard is not a structured, daily walk. Again, my RULE FOR RESCUE stated above applies again. If you feel bad for them every day and give them no structure, they will take advantage of you every day and run the house.
This is only the first step to success. Once you have achieved structure in your home, you then have to work on the dogs behaviors and what to change to help encourage a potential adopter to be interested. You have to work on reliability with proper commands, realistic expectations, a regular schedule, socialization along desensitization in a home and out in public. Once you do these things, balance comes and so does their new potential family!
Foster families exist all over world and so many people want to help and make a difference, however, education is needed to create balance in the foster world. The RUFF Dog Project works with multiple rescues and provides training for rescue pups that are focused and need direction. There are trainers available to help provide education to foster parents.
If any questions exist relating to this subject, go to http://www.ruffacademywi.com and contact Rebekah Hintzman. Subscribe to our blog for more great training information! Follow us on Facebook! The RUFF Dog Project!