Fostering a Senior Animal: What To Expect
As a foster Mom or Dad or Family, you are entrusted with the safety, well-being, and often recovery of an animal from health issues or trauma.
Remember that for these dogs, being pulled out of a home is traumatic. Spending even one day at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC) is traumatic. You are the port in the storm, the recovery room, a place for the dog to feel safe and be loved — and to overcome any issues that might cause him/her to lose his home again.
Fostering is full of hard work, inconveniences, patience, love, and understanding. You will learn as much from the animal as he does from you. You will receive comfort by giving comfort. You will love and be loved. Your heart will break a little each time one of your foster babies walks through that door, but remember you simply cannot adopt them all.
What you can do, and it is the heart of rescue, is give the dog time — time to heal, time to learn, time to recover, time to find a forever home. Without fosters, we as a group could not exist.
Remember, you are not alone in this endeavor. If something comes up and you don’t know what to do, or you get frustrated, pick up the phone and call your director of foster. We as a group are a wealth of knowledge ready to share our experiences.
Contact our Director of Fosters
Following are some pointers we have developed to help you and your foster dog succeed in this journey. Thank you for your help!
Foster Home Do’s & Don’ts
Communication with FLPS
- Call your foster coordinator or a board member in the middle of the night if there’s a medical emergency.
- Provide a status update to our Director of Fosters at least twice a month.
- Call your Director of Fosters with any questions and/or concerns regarding behavior of foster dog.
- Keep us updated on any home changes: if you move, new people living in your home, etc.
- Let your Director of Fosters know if you will be out of town and need care for your foster dog. Foster families need vacations too! We will coordinate something for you.
- Cooperate with the Director of Adoptions to help us adopt out your foster. We rely on your personal experience with your foster animal to create the most accurate informational materials.
- Do not arrange adoption appointments without involving our Director of Adoptions or our Director of Fosters. Have anyone interested complete our online application.
- Expect the dog to have some bad manners. Work on them! (Ask us how!)
- Wait at least 24 hours before introducing your new foster to your personal dog(s) to reduce stress on the animals.
- Do everything you can to prevent the foster dog from having an opportunity to chase your cat.
- Expect new dogs to be nervous, pacing, panting and/or whining for 24‐48 hours after you get them. They may also not eat much or urinate, etc.
- Pick up all toys and put away before introducing dogs. Dogs may get possessive with toys. Evaluate for aggression.
- Be aware of dominant or aggressive traits as the dog becomes more comfortable in your home. This can especially begin as a very ill dog begins to recover and feel good again. It’s the exception to the rule, to be sure, but be aware.
- Notify your Director of Fosters or Director of Intake/Behavior immediately in the event of a bite, snapping, or inappropriate growling.
- Do NOT hit or scream at the dog. DO NOT USE A CRATE FOR PUNISHMENT.
- Do not introduce your foster dog to your cats and other small animals without having a FLPS representative present.
- Leave a collar and name/ID tag on your foster animal at all times.
- Provide your foster animal with a crate, leash, its own food dishes, training collar if needed, blankets, and an FLPS tag.
- Supervise your new foster dog at all times when they are in your yard. The dog needs to bond to you and settle in.
- Have a separate area in your home should the dog need to be isolated, quarantined, or alone while you’re gone. We suggest a baby-gated off area such as a kitchen, large master bath, or spare bedroom that has been doggie-proofed.
- Regularly inspect your yard for attempts to dig out, loose boards, holes in the fence, etc.
- Ensure all gates are padlocked.
- Never leave your foster dog unsupervised with your owned pets.
- Do not leave a dog unsupervised around water. The same dangers apply to dogs as they do infants and toddlers unfamiliar with a pool.
- Do not allow pool cleaner, yard men, or other service personnel in your yard with your dogs. All foster dogs must be secluded away from workmen at all times. Huge liability issues if a dog should bite or accidentally hurt someone.
Family & Children
- Set up boundaries for kids and dogs. Specify an area where kids can go and dogs cannot, and vice versa.
- Use caution with children around the dog’s toys – there may be some aggression related to toys.
- Do not let strangers (and even your family members) put their face close to new foster.
- Do not let kids feed treats or meals to fosters. Do not allow kids around dogs as they eat their food.
- Take your foster dog on walks regularly!
- Train your foster dog to ride well in the car. This may take some time. Show them that the world is a fun, interesting, safe place.
- Plan to bring your foster dogs to FLPS-sponsored events.
- Whether you’re out for a walk or at any of the pet-friendly restaurants in town, please try to always be ready to talk about FLPS and what we do! You never know when someone might offer to help FLPS in some way.
- Do not leave the house with dog for several weeks. Let him get used to you and your family so he feels safe. Build trust before you take him out into the world.
- Do not take your foster dog anywhere outside of a home OFF-LEASH.
- Do not take a rescue dog to a dog park — liability and health issues!
- Use a high quality food that contains no meat by-products and limited grain, or grain‐free. Food may be obtained from the rescue if you are not able to provide it. If you do purchase food, it can be considered and in‐kind charitable tax deduction
- Pick up all food bowls when dogs are finished eating. Although there may be no food left in the bowl, some dogs are possessive of their bowls.
- Teach them to take treats gently, or place treats in the palm of your hand so fingertips are not mistaken for food.
- Do not feed your foster dog and personal dog(s) together. This is the number one reason dogs fight. Please separate them during feeding times. Keep children away when dogs are eating.
- Do not overfeed your foster. It is very unhealthy for dogs to be overweight.
- Only use authorized animal clinics for emergencies, and alert Director of Fosters of the emergency immediately.
- Ensure all your owned dogs are up to date on vaccinations.
- Administer all medications, and report it when they are getting low – not when they are out!
- Limit all activity following a spay or neuter and make sure a cone or similar device is used any time the dog is unsupervised.
- Be mindful of Upper Respiratory Infections and Kennel Cough (sneezing, coughing, honking, goopy eyes, runny nose). Dogs can often be infected before they get to your home. It is contagious, and your dogs may catch it, although they are less at risk if fully vaccinated and up to date.
- Watch for behavior issues related to health: tucking hind quarter means pain; eating feces could be a vitamin deficiency.
- Check with our Director of Fosters before scheduling a vet appointment.
- Follow all veterinary instructions precisely.
- Do not allow sick dogs to share water dishes.
- Do not walk a sick or unvaccinated dog.
We are extremely grateful for your time and commitment to help our seniors move one step closer to their forever home. We are here to help you. Please let us know how we can!