IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR ANYONE APPLYING TO FOSTER
Please note that due to the COVID 19 lockdown we have not been able to undertake home visits. As lockdown is eased we are able to resume these, albeit with lots of caution. We have a huge backlog of home visits to get through so please be aware that new registrations to foster may not be actioned until later in 2021.
We understand that this may be very frustrating but please rest assured that the regional teams are working flat out around their personal and working lives to action home visits as quickly and safely as they can. Thank you for your understanding in advance.
Where a dog with specific needs is identified there may be exceptions to this rule. Please remain in contact with your Regional Manager/Coordinator, but we would ask for your patience as we all try to maintain best practice for the safety of the dogs and our Team.
Bringing the dog home ....
If you already have a dog(s) it is important that you introduce your dog(s) to the foster dog on neutral territory, not in your home, if possible. Walk them together before taking them into the home. If this is not possible, put your dog(s) outside in the garden or block them off in the home so that they do not overwhelm the foster dog when it first enters. We suggest that you let them greet each other through a baby gate if in indoor introduction is your only option.
Discourage the foster dog from getting on the furniture and on your bed. You may enjoy it, but the new adopter may not. Your role is to assist the dog in becoming more adoptable. In addition, this provides a clear signal to the foster dog and to your own dog(s) that the foster dog has a lower status in the pack, meaning human as well as canine. This is reassuring to your own dog(s) and also to the foster dog who is trying to figure how where he/she fits in. It can help to avoid any possible guarding issues.
Don’t take any unnecessary risks ...
Crating the foster dog at night or when leaving the home is a good idea. It will give your dog(s) a break and also protect your home from accidents and/or destructiveness. At night, the crate can be moved into your bedroom if you prefer. The foster dog should never be out of your sight for the first week. If you can’t watch it — crate it! REMEMBER: your dog(s) were there first. It doesn’t hurt a foster dog to crate it when necessary to give your own dog(s) a break and many dogs find the crate reassuring too.
Be very cautious when taking the dog away from your property. Until the dog has bonded with you it is very likely to bolt at the first opportunity. Some dogs back up when frightened or startled and can slip out of their collars. Check the foster dog’s collar and if this seems a possibility let us know; we will provide a more secure collar. If the dog does happen to break free try to approach it as calmly and nonchalantly as possible; rushing up to it will only make it run away. The foster dog must be kept on a lead at all times.
PLEASE LET US KNOW IMMEDIATELY IF YOU LOSE POSSESSION OF THE DOG AND INFORM THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES TOO.
Be cautious when exposing the foster dog to children that are not in your household and to strangers. Get to know it a little first. In most cases, we do not know the dog’s history and so we cannot predict how it will react in some situations. Be aware that if the dog bites, even if through fear, it may have to be euthanised. Don’t put your foster dog in a situation that could cost him his life.
Food for thought .....
Your foster dog should always be fed in a crate or a safe place. Some dogs may have issues with food as a result of their past and might not eat well with other dogs, or maybe humans, so separation at mealtimes is advised. Please do not over feed the dog. A fat dog has a shorter lifespan and can develop multiple health problems. If the dog is food-aggressive please do not try to overcome this by removing the bowl whilst easting to accustom the dog to it; it won’t work and you could get hurt. Wait until all food has gone and the dog has walked away. If necessary, distract the dog before picking up the bowl. We do not need to exert our human desire for supremacy by unnecessarily antagonising a dog that has ingrained, learned behaviour. Would you want your food to be taken away before you had finished?
Toileting matters ....
Toilet the foster dog outside on a lead or in a restricted area until it has adjusted to the new surroundings and you feel comfortable that it will come into the home when called; it could become confrontational if the dog is unwilling, stressed or scared. Don’t assume the foster dog is house-trained - changes in homes and families are stressful for the dog and it may “forget” or need some time to adjust to your routine. Praise the dog when it does its business outside and don’t be harsh with accidents. Sometimes a foster dog will need to be taken all the way back to basics with toilet-training and patience is a must.
Making friends ...
On meeting the dog, do not reach over the head to pet it as they may perceive this to be a threat. Instead, pet the dog under the chin with slow and steady movements as you approach, allowing the dog to sniff your hand first – treats may be offered. If the foster dog is shy or fearful do not make direct eye contact or stare. Again, the dog may consider this to be a threat. Do not pick up a foster dog that doesn’t know you very well; this is good way to get nipped and have an enemy for life!
The best way to allow a dog to settle is to simply ignore it until it comes to you; let the dog wander about the home and garden as you observe and praise the dog when it does come to you. The dog needs to find confidence before you can interact together successfully. Just talk to the dog so it can hear your voice saying his/her name pleasantly as you go about your business.
Teach the dog basic manners – “sit”, “down”, “leave it,” “wait” (as in ‘don’t bolt out of the front door’), “stay” “quiet” and how to walk on a lead. Good manners help the dog become more adoptable. This is good confidence building for the dog and will give you good one-to-one time with them.
Just some general reminders ...
The dog must be returned to us if you are planning a holiday or break. Pet sitters are not approved to foster and we will ensure that an appropriate fosterer is available.
Fosters must be kept clean, brushed and have their nails clipped. Grooming can be arranged if necessary but weekly brushing is essential. Let the dog adjust for at least 2-3 days before attempting to groom it.
If a veterinarian is needed, please contact us for an approved facility and/or permission. The foster-carer must be willing to take foster dog to vet appointments when needed. All vet visits and procedures must be pre-approved by a member of the Management Team.
A Confidentiality Agreement must be signed by the fosterer and they must agree to a home-visit. A Foster Agreement must be signed for each dog fostered.
If you are fostering an unneutered dog it is your responsibility to ensure that it is kept to ensure that it is kept away from unneutered dogs of the opposite sex. PFBR will strive to have intact males neutered as soon as possible but this is not always possible with females as it will depend on the cycle of that dog’s season. If you have an unneutered dog in your care that you suspect may have been compromised you must inform your Manager as a matter of urgency.
Your foster dog must stay with you for at least 3 weeks before it is available for adoption so that it can be fully assessed and an Assessment Form should be completed at the beginning of this period and again after 2 weeks prior to departure. Some foster-dogs can stay much longer if they have specific needs but you will be advised of these in advance and would not be expected to take on a dog that you were not experienced to manage.
Not quite going to plan ...?
If the foster dog isn’t working out for any reason, contact your Regional Co-ordinator immediately. You are not a failure - the foster dog just might not be the right match for your home or you may need to speak to our Behaviourist for some support. We don’t expect anyone to have all of the answers about a dog that we may know very little about and we are all here to function as a Team to help the dog in need.
Make sure you have the Emergency Contacts sheet handy, just in case
We are always here to help you, so if something isn’t working or if you are struggling, STAY CALM & ASK FOR HELP!
And finally, what if you can’t bear to part with the little treasure ...?
Then don’t! You will have been given Adoption Guidelines, just in case you may have thought about this, these also show the Adoption Fees. We would much prefer to let a settled dog stay put than make it move again. Chat to your Regional Co-ordinator to find out more, you will still be fully supported where needed.