Since May 2021 we asked that all applicants register to foster before they are considered to adopt. All dogs must be assessed prior to Adoption anyway and, even if the dog has been in a previous foster-home, it must be fostered by the intended adopters so that both the dog and the new home have the opportunity to settle and get to know each other, with our full support for a period of no less than 2 weeks. In October 2021 we also introduced a short, on-line course that all Fosterers must undertake before receiving a Phoenix dog.
Bringing the dog home ....
Before the dog arrives in your home you will have completed the ISCP course for Fosterers (this will be arranged by your Regional Manager) – please try to keep all of this information in mind and use the Pet Remedy products that will be sent to you to help settle the dog into your 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, first letting them spend time in the garden if you have one. If it is not possible to walk them together first, 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 through a baby gate or on the lead if an indoor introduction is your only option.
Discourage the foster dog from getting on the furniture and on your bed. You may enjoy it, but if you do not keep the dog a new fosterer/adopter may not appreciate this. Your role is to assist the dog in becoming more adoptable – even if this may be by you. 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 and where he/she fits in. It can also help to avoid any possible guarding issues.
Don’t over-stimulate the dog ….
It is possible that the dog is scared, nervous, unsure. It may have been taken from a loving home for the first time and have no idea how to cope. Give the dog space! Don’t invite all your friends, neighbours and family round to meet your new arrival. We know you will be excited; we are, too, to place a dog in what we hope will be the forever home, but the dog needs time to decompress, to adjust and feel safe, even if displaying friendly and excitable behaviour. Initial walks should be kept short – and alone, unless with other dogs of the household. All changes need to be instigated very slowly, because an overly stressed dog can manifest in many different ways and can also take a long time with a lot of effort to unpick. Avoiding that from the beginning will pay dividends. Please ensure you have watched the Pet Remedy short video that will have been sent to you to watch after your home-visit.
Don’t take any unnecessary risks ...
Crating the foster dog at night or when leaving the home is a good idea. If you have dogs already it will give them 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 dogs were there first. It doesn’t hurt a foster-dog to crate it when necessary to give your own dogs a break and many dogs find the crate reassuring too; it should be spacious enough to stand and turn around, and comfortable and welcoming, a safe space they like to go to.
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/harness. 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 on walks and wear a collar with our ID tag (supplied) 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. Please 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 eating 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?
Equally, we do not recommend allowing a foster dog to ‘graze’ throughout the day. Feed twice daily and if the dog is a fussy eater simply take up the bowl after around 15 minutes and do not feed again until the next mealtime. This will establish a better feeding routine and also ensure that no guarding is likely.
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 dog’s 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 you 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 if you decide not to do so. 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 whilst fostering – unless you would like to take the dog with you. Pet sitters/kennels are not approved to foster and we will ensure that an appropriate fosterer is available.
Dogs in foster 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 or bathe 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.
Please know your limits on what you are able to undertake with a dog placed in your care; it is okay to have limited experience, we can make sure that you are matched to a well-behaved dog, but please don’t over-promise in enthusiasm because under-delivery in reality can be very stressful to you, the dog and to our Team. As long as we know your strengths and weaknesses as a fosterer and potential adopter, we will do our very best to match you to a dog within your capabilities. There may be the odd exception if a dog is not as expected, but we do our very best to avoid this and are always available to support you. Please do remember though, a dog in your care can’t always be collected ‘now’ if things don’t work out, and so that should be carefully considered.
If you are fostering an unneutered dog it is your responsibility to ensure that it is kept away from unneutered dogs of the opposite sex. PFBR will strive to have intact males neutered avsap 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 2 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 or 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 or Manager 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 and to help you to do so too.
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! Please read the 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 Manager and/or Coordinator to find out more, you will still be fully supported where needed.