Fostering a dog can be a wonderful experience since you get to play a significant part in getting a pet to his or her forever home. These dogs come from all sorts of backgrounds and might require extra love and attention because of their pasts. Since you have a deep love for dogs, you already have a dog and realize this might make fostering a bit different in your situation. How can you ensure a smooth transition for both dogs?
First, you need to ask yourself if your own dog’s temperament allows for another dog in the home. If you know your dog gets nervous or aggressive around other dogs, then try to consult with a trainer for expert advice. Both dogs need to be able to get along to allow your dog comfort and to let the foster dog adjust. Most dogs are socialized at an early age, but that isn’t usually true for shelter dogs. If the foster dog is from a shelter or has an ambiguous background, ask if he or she has been around other canines. This information can help determine if you think it will be safe to introduce the two dogs. Some dogs just do not get along with other dogs. They have not been socialized or have had traumatic experiences with other dogs and that is okay. As a foster, your duty is to help the dog get adopted and placed in a family that will provide care and love. You also help with training the dog in proper behavior, which can include socialization.
If your dog behaves well around other dogs and so does the potential foster dog, that’s a step in the right direction! Make sure these two in particular will get along enough to live in the same home. You can introduce the two in a neutral place (not your home or where the other dog is living) and have other helping hands such as the foster organization or shelter workers. Dog trainers can provide you with information to help you keep an eye on both dogs in the first stages of fostering. During this introduction stage, keep both dogs on their leashes and watch their behavior closely. Negative signs include growling, ears pinned back, tail between the legs or rigged, and showing teeth and snapping. Take it one step at a time and don’t be afraid to step in if you see any signs of fear or aggression. Also, look for positive signals such as a wagging tail, and happy, short barks, or if they already want to play or take a closer sniff, both of which are great signs!
After some time, you might believe these dogs will be best buds. They are playing and getting along well, and you realize this might work. Once the foster dog arrives at your home, don’t assume things will be the same. This is your dog’s territory now, and the foster dog is going to have to adjust to new surroundings and a new set of routines. This can be confusing for both dogs and may take some getting used to. Supervise both dogs closely and reintroduce them on leashes. Move slowly and keep an eye out for negative behavior or a sudden lack of positive behavior. Give both dogs their own space. Many organizations, shelters, and vets recommend keeping the dogs separated for about five days. This allows both dogs to adjust and can be important for health concerns as well. If the foster dog needed to be brought up to date on vaccinations, you might want to keep them separate for a few days to ensure that no health problems arise. The foster dog will need training and will need to focus on you, not the playmate. Walking might be done separately or there might be designated times you spend outside with one dog and then the other. Try to divide your attention evenly.
Depending on who you are fostering for, you may have guidelines and certain responsibilities to adhere to. These can include taking the foster dog to adoption events or the dog park to find potential adopters. While fulfilling these duties, don’t neglect giving your own dog attention and maybe enlist some outside help to ensure both dogs are getting some “human time.” Fostering is a huge responsibility with great rewards. When the dog leaves your care, you know he or she is going to a loving home. Who knows, you might even become a “foster failure,” and your dog might gain a new canine sibling.
At Swifto, we charge just $5 extra for the second dog from the same household. In addition, we’ll be happy to accommodate splitting the dog walks between the two dogs so that each of them get their own personal time with their loving dog walker.
By Callie T.