FOSTERING TIPS & FAQ
Have you ever been tempted to foster, but then thought “What if…?” What if they don’t get along with family? Or the dog gets sick? What if we are going on vacation? What if I get too attached? Or it takes too long to find a permanent home? The adoption group you are fostering for will be able to help you with all of these situations and more! Just remember that fostering is one of the most rewarding things a dog person can do. Whether you are adopting or fostering, the first few days and weeks can be challenging, but there are ways to make it easier on dogs and people alike. Here are some tips for a smoother journey with your foster dog.
First, be sure that fostering is OK with the rest of the family. Even though greyhounds are a very tolerant and non-aggressive breed, all dogs have their limits, and children, particularly very young ones, must be taught that the dog is not a toy and to treat it with care and respect. If you already have pets, take time to introduce your foster greyhound to them, whether outside, at off-leash areas, day care or other “neutral” areas.
The adoption group you are working with will have some guidelines regarding all aspects of fostering. Be sure to familiarize yourself with their expectations and what resources they will provide to you. Many groups provide collar, tags, leash, muzzle, crate and perhaps food. They will have a procedure for veterinary care as well. Put a list of contact numbers on the fridge.
If an adoption counselor has paid a home visit prior to starting to foster, you have a greyt resource for addressing all your concerns. They should also suggest things you might need to have on hand prior to getting your foster dog. Keep their number handy, as you will no doubt have questions as you go along.
PLEASE always keep your foster greyhound on a leash when you are outside of a completely fenced area. If they do not have a microchip, then you should keep their buckle collar on at all times, in case they escape. Your group should have an emergency number for lost dogs.
Once home, introduce your foster to the back yard. With the leash on, walk your greyhound around and allow him time to explore and sniff. Your yard is packed full of new and different smells … grass, trees and flowers. If he seems comfortable and confident you may remove the leash if your yard is fenced but stay in the area with him. In fact, during the first few days you should be with your foster each time he needs to go outdoors. Greyhounds are not used to asking to go outside, but are turned out on a schedule. You will do well at first to take your foster out every hour or two. Praise him profusely each and every time he takes care of business during the first week. Greyhounds do better with abundant praise for a job well done than with correction when they do something wrong. Your new greyhound will quickly learn what is expected of him.
Once that is accomplished, it’s time to explore this place called home. Walk with him (on lead) as he investigates. Allow your greyhound to explore the house at his own speed, offering words of encouragement along the way. A firm “NO” should suffice to show him what is off-limits. Keep an eye on him, if there are any signs of him planning to relieve himself in the house, tell him “NO” loud enough to get his attention.
Your home should be “child-proofed”. As you and your greyhound explore, check for any hazards you may have missed. Electrical cords, household plants, books, magazines, the remote control, video-tapes, shoes left lying about, etc. may prove irresistible. The kids will soon learn to pick up their toys! These are all new things to your greyhound and frequently dogs “discover” by chewing.
Protect your foster by keeping trash and garbage out of his way or by putting a tightly fitted lid on the container. Kitchen counters and the dining room table happen to be at nose level for most greyhounds. The only food they have had access to so far has been for them, so you have to teach proper manners. Remove temptations and reprimand your greyhound with a sharp word at the first sign of temptation.
Set the rules for your greyhound the minute he arrives at your home. Don’t allow him to do things that are not acceptable just because you “want to give him time to settle in”. Treat the dog with love and respect, but firmly enforce your rules. Failure in this regard could allow habits to develop now which may be difficult to correct later. For this reason, most groups will want you to use a crate for your foster, and keep them off the furniture, just in case these are the rules at their future forever home.
You will most likely have to teach your new foster about such things as stairs, mirrors, glass patio doors, screens, hardwood floors, tile or linoleum floors. Placing a strip of masking tape (or post-it-notes) on glass doors and mirrors at your pet’s eye level will alert him that something solid is in the way. Walk slowly with your pet over slippery surfaces until he’s confident. Also remember that a greyhound’s happily wagging tail is at the level of your coffee table, so put up any breakables that you may have.
If you already have a dog, going up stairs with the other dog and the foster on leash is the easiest way to teach them about “one stair at a time”, especially down. If you don’t have another dog to help, just go slowly, on leash, encouraging them as you go. On the way down, hold their collar so they don’t try to jump down all the steps at once!
Be patient. The most important three words to remember when you are caring for a new dog are patience, patience and patience. Do your best to be patient with him and with yourself.
Here are answers to some common questions new foster parents ask:
Can I adopt the foster dog? Generally, yes, depending on your own group. It’s not uncommon to “fail” at fostering if you fall in love with your new foster and can’t bear to part with them.
Can I change the dog’s name? No, unless you have decided to permanently adopt the dog. The pet may already know his or her name, all the adoption group’s paperwork will be completed under that name and the pet may be listed on websites with that name. It’s best to avoid any confusion among group staff members, foster families, potential adopters and the pet.
What if my foster gets sick? Your group will have a procedure for getting veterinary care for fosters, so check with them if it’s not an emergency. If it is an emergency, it is most important to get care for the dog. You can sort out the details when he is out of danger.
Are fostering costs tax-deductible? If you have out-of-pocket expenses for your foster, such as emergency vet care, food or other items, you can deduct the value as a charitable contribution to the adoption group. Check with your tax advisor for specifics.
How to let go of my foster dog? Sometimes people say that they could not foster because they could never give the dog up. It’s true that sometimes we do fail at fostering, but here are some ideas to make sure that doesn’t happen if you don’t want it to:
Remember that letting go of this one enables you to save another life. Not only the foster that will now go to a forever home, but you will then have room for another foster, making space at the kennel for a new dog to come into the program.
Get your friends or family involved. It’s good to socialize the foster with many people so that they are not bonded to just one person. Then you won’t think of the dog as “yours” and you won’t worry that he or she will never be happy without you.
Help find and screen potential adopters. Going to meet ‘n greets is a greyt way to get some exposure for your dog. You can also post about them on social media, where pictures and anecdotes are always welcome. You could make a short video about your foster and be sure to fill out the group’s questionnaire about your foster’s personality to help match with suitable adopters.
Most importantly, remember that your foster greyhound’s world has been turned upside down. Be patient and give him lots of love and understanding, and time to adjust. There’s nothing like seeing a rescue dog blossom into a loving companion, and sending him off to a happy family who found their match thanks to you.
For a more complete resource, see Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home. This book is short and organized so you can check out the relevant sections as you need them. https://bit.ly/LoveHasNoAgeLimit
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