Before anything else, thank you for becoming a foster parent with From Foster to Forever (FFTF). Remember, you are rescuing a dog from a miserable, cruel and often very short life. Please be aware patience and time is what they need.
At the earliest opportunity see if they will drink. Then, still on the lead for comfort and security, show them around their new home. Take them into the garden, on their lead, and see if they will go to the toilet. Bear in mind that it would be unusual if they didn’t have a loose or upset stomach due to the stress of their journey. If the dog wants to eat, give them a small meal only on the first day.
For the first few days, it is essential that you take the dog out into the garden on a lead.
The dog is likely to try to run away from you or look for places to hide or even escape. The lead keeps them safe and secure and may help to prevent you spending some time outside in the rain or the cold, trying to persuade the dog back in again!
NEVER let the dog off lead outside the boundaries of your home and garden.
It is also possible that initially your dog might bark or whine, particularly if you leave them for any time. They might not sleep well or might have “accidents” in the house. None of these things should come as a surprise given their recent history but you should nevertheless anticipate having to dedicate quite a bit of time and a huge amount of patience (and cleaning materials!) for the first few days of their arrival.
Please try to avoid inviting lots of visitors to your home for the first few days. Give the dog the chance to settle before overwhelming them.
Do not bath the dog yet! Even if they are dirty and smelly, please resist the temptation to bath them. The dog will have been flea-treated so you must not wash that off.
Additionally the dog may find a bath stressful.
When you signed up to be a fosterer, you signed a contract. In this contract, you acknowledged that at all times the Organisation owns the dog; in effect you are looking after it on behalf of the Organisation. This also means you must always ask permission of the Organisation before you subject the Organisation to any costs. This is particularly important if your dog needs to see a vet, for example. The Organisation has good relationships with a local vets and under no circumstance should you take your dog to any vet without expressed permission of the Organisation.
We maintain a WhatsApp group for all the fosterers. Please use it to send messages for the benefit of all the fosterers in the group (if you want to send a message to one person, please sent it to that person and NOT the group). This also goes for any issues you may be having or help you might need. Not all dogs are as easy to take care of as we might like (after all, most have gone through some terrible experiences). This can lead to difficulties that we can’t always overcome or cope with. If, for any reason at all, you are struggling to cope with a dog then please let Mandy or Pam know. There is usually something we can do, between us all, to help. Please don’t suffer in silence!
When you believe the dog is ready to be adopted you should fill out a dog assessment sheet and send it to Ebony along with some photos and a video. Ebony will then do a structured write up for both this site and Facebook. You will then be asked to arrange a meet-up between you, the dog and the potential adopters. You should arrange a time/place that suits you and the dog. We highly recommend doing this in the potential adopters home. This will allow you to see how they interact with each other in the new house. Assuming this goes well, the adopter must contact the organisation to arrange payment of the minimum donation and the legal change of ownership of the dog. Only when this is completed and the donation paid can the adoption be completed and the dog handed over. before hand over. Make sure the new owners have a slip lead, ID tag and correctly fitted collar. We recommend doing a meet at a pet shop so they get the correct sizes. Also make sure they all the basics needed to care for the dog.
When it’s time to hand the dog over to the new owner, take the dog to the new owner’s house and leave it there rather than them collect it from you.. Although this is a heart-wrenching moment, it’s best for the dog if you just sneak out without the dog seeing you go or making a fuss over the dog. It is also secure in a house. Your job is now done.
As a fosterer, you will be asked to collect the dog on its arrival. Please make sure you know where to go and be on time, we recommend taking the day off work in case they are early/late. Come equipped with a slip lead (these can be purchased from FFTF) and a second clip-lead and collar with a dog tag with “Foster Dog” and your name/phone number on it (sometimes the dogs arrive with absolutely nothing).
You will also need a way to secure the dog whilst travelling such as a short clip lead that attaches to a seat belt or a car crate. Please let us know if you need help with any of this equipment; we may have some supplies that you can borrow but we recommend getting your own.
If the dog has come from abroad, it is possible that they have spent up to 5 days in transit or temporary accommodation. When they arrive, they are quite likely to be hungry, thirsty and/or dirty. They may be scared and their behaviour may be out of character; don’t expect them to be glad to see you! They may behave instinctively (e.g. might try to run away), defensively (e.g. growling) or occasionally aggressively. They may also be “full of beans”, relieved to be out of a kennel and dash about all over the place! Not until they have got over their journey should you expect to start to see the real dog. The time this takes varies hugely; some dogs won’t eat or toilet for 24hrs or more. Flexibility and lots of patience is required on your part.
DEFRA’s explicit instructions are that all imported dogs must remain within the premises of the adopter and Foster for the first 48 hours.
There are probably four areas of interest, in roughly this order:
Assume the dogs will NOT be house trained. They may never have even lived in a house.
To help to avoid them messing in the house take them into the garden frequently, maybe even hourly, until they begin to understand that’s what the garden is for. Always take them on a lead and begin their house training by praising them for going in the garden. When they’ll take treats, give them treats for using the garden too. Try hard NOT to be angry with them if they have accidents in the house but instead take them out more frequently.
Don’t expect them to give you any sign at all that they want to go outside!
We recommend the use of a crate. If you don’t have one, please ask as we may be able to lend you one. We recommend the use of clean but old towels or blankets in the crate for the dog to sleep on. Stuffed dog beds can end up with the stuffing removed.
The crate should be a safe space for the dog, a place where they can have some “time out”. If you have children, do not let them go into the crate or disturb the dog when they are in there.
Please never use the crate as a form of punishment i.e. shutting the dog in there when they have been naughty. If the dog sits or lies quietly in the crate, you could reinforce this with a treat. Using a crate can also help with house training; dogs are usually reluctant to poo or wee on their beds (although there are exceptions!). Please do not allow foster dogs to sleep on your bed with you even if your resident dog might do this.
On arrival, they may be too tired/wired to sleep or they may just crash-out completely – it’s hard to predict. It is possible that they won’t sleep soundly for a few days or more.
They may whine or bark when you first leave them or they may settle immediately. If you react whenever they bark, you may find yourself being trained by your dog to react to them whenever they feel like barking! Instead, it may be better in the long-term to stay with the dog a little longer until they settle down. It wouldn’t be unusual to spend the first few nights up with them but this is preferable to being woken every night by the dog demanding your attention to their barking at all times of the day and night.
Give the dog frequent small meals for the first couple of days. It should be obvious from their poo if their stomachs have recovered from the journey. Do try to resist changing their food too much, it may take a little time for their stomachs to settle (some rescue dogs have been fed on left over bread in the dog pounds!). We recommend a good quality kibble.
Resist the temptation to give them too many treats until they are eating and toileting normally. As they settle in, increase portion size to normal. Many dogs arrive underweight.
Try not to overwhelm them with large meals but gradually increase the amounts – little and often is the key! Again, we do have supplies of dog food so please let us know if we can help you with this.
As for eating human food, start by being very firm: No begging at the dinner table, no scrounging, no counter surfing or stealing food from anywhere. It’s perhaps best for fosterers to be stricter than their eventual owners (who can chose their own house rules).
Please try to resist sharing your food with them!
Please keep other household pets safe until you are 100% confident in the new dogs’ behaviour. Some rescue dogs may have had to scavenge for food in the past so your pet bunny may look like a tasty meal!
Assume they don’t know any rules or what they can and can’t do. Sometimes, when the dog has gained some confidence, they may push their luck and test your boundaries. This could be anything from jumping up, diving onto furniture, stealing food, slippers, toys, etc. or barking at the postman. Don’t assume they know their name or will come when called. (Although the dog may not seem to know its name, please do not be tempted to change it!)
The dogs might also lack boundaries or socialising with both humans and other dogs. One clear sign of this is mouthing or being “bitey” again with other dogs but also people and things like shoes and furniture. This should not be tolerated and a firm “NO!” should help to teach the dog what is not acceptable. Similarly, and particularly when they are excited.
dogs may jump up at people or lunge at other dogs in the park. This should also be discouraged because it can frighten people or other dogs which can subsequently escalate to more dangerous situations. Use the “NO!” command for any behaviour you wish to curb – it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that (after all, they won’t understand English!).
Please be very careful with doors and gates. It is amazing how quickly some dogs can make a dash for the front door if it is opened! Please ensure that the dog is held or behind another door or stair gate, before opening your door or gate to the outside.
Don’t allow the dog to sleep on your bed and don’t let the dog onto your furniture. Whilst this is something you might want to do, the person who adopts the dog might not and correcting this expectation could be problematic. Set clear, unambiguous boundaries and firmly enforce them.
If you are having problems with behaviour issues, please do not suffer alone! Get in touch for help or advice at any time. With discipline, patience and kindness, most issues can be addressed. Please DO NOT give up on them, remember its not the dog’s fault.
Whenever you take the dog off your premises, you MUST use both a slip lead and a clip lead attached to a collar or harness; there are no exceptions to this rule. You must NEVER let the dog off the lead unless in a totally secure field or paddock that is fenced all round (some are available through the rescue organisation, please ask).
You are not expected to train the dog. But you might wish to make a start on training.
Start simply and always make things fun and stress-free. If they leave your care house trained and walking nicely on a lead, that would be great but not essential. Similarly, since we must NEVER let them off a lead outside the boundaries of your home, you will never be able to complete any recall training in an open space with other dogs around.
This is not important. Our job, as fosterers, is to settle the dogs down from their previous existence and to show them the basics of living with humans in a normal household.
When you think the dog has adjusted to his/her new routine, please let the team know its ready for adoption, we recommend a minimum or 14 days but there’s no science to this – it’s your skill and judgement as the fosterer that the Organisation is relying on. Do you think the dog is ready to be adopted? Has it got over the journey? Can it live in a house?
Is it calm and confident enough to move on? Have you addressed any significant issues you have discovered? In your opinion, the dog has done well and it’s time to find them their forever.
This is the hard part – giving them up! This can be a tearful experience which doesn’t get easier with time or the number of dogs you foster. All we can do is point out how you’ve changed a dog’s life, for the better, and how you are going to change a person or family’s life just as significantly. That’s where our reward lies.
For inquiries, please contact us
If you would like to know more about fostering, adopting or helping the rescue.
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