Monday, July 25, 2011

The Things You Don't Think About: Part I

When it comes to fostering a dog there are the basic items that you want to have on board before you bring your new temporary family member home. Even seasoned dog owners can sometimes be unprepared because they forget or often don't realize that many of these rescue dogs are not ordinary dogs. Many of them have had little to no positive human interaction and come with their own emotional baggage and often no training - or what I like to call anti-training. They may have had bad behaviors reinforced in their previous lives and before they can become ready for the permanent homes, it is a good idea to start working on issues to make them more attractive to prospective adopters.

For some absolutely great advice you can check out the Waggy Foster Essentials which give some great tips and also provide links to some awesome resources, but here are a few of my own tips, tricks and recommendations. (Some of them borrowed from Waggy, of course, I can't suggest enough how great their foster essentials tips are.)

To make it simple, and because I like lists, I'll lay out the essentials and the not-so-essentials that I find really helpful.

Foster Must-Haves: Part I

  • You will need to provide a collar or harness and a leash for your new foster friend. For smaller pups, I'd strongly recommend a harness because they have tiny little tracheae that don't hold up well to pressure.
  • A high quality food can also make a huge difference and I think that Dog Food Analysis does a good job of laying out some good food choices, but I can write a whole separate post on this and will at some point soon. 
  • Treats. These can be great for getting a timid dog to open up to you and also for working on basic obedience and behavioral training. Believe it or not, dogs can be very treat picky, so having a bit of a selection on hand never hurts. Positive reinforcement goes a long way, but don't over treat your dog or you'll end up with a dog that refuses to eat their food and has a whole world of tummy problems.
  • Poop bags. Be a good neighbor, pick up your dogs poo and help prevent the spread of disease and parasites. No need to buy fancy ones from the pet store - any plastic bag will do and I find that the ones that they deliver newspapers in to be particularly well suited for the job.
  • Paper towels. And more paper towels. And when you think you have enough, buy another roll or two. Many of these dogs have never been housebroken food changes and environment changes lead to tummy upset.
  • Cleaning supplies. Everyone seems to love Nature's Miracle but I'm personally a fan of Simple Solution (I like the smell of it). If you're a bit dense like I am or just a victim of circumstance and have a heavily carpeted house and multiple dogs, I also strongly recommend a Resolve-type carpet foam cleaner. I'm partial to the Target brand one myself.
  • Wee-wee pads. Many of these dogs have never gone to the bathroom outside and it may take them a bit of time to warm up to the idea and not be nervous going outside. Ideally, you are not giving your foster free run of the house, so make sure they have access to a place where they can go potty and reward the heck out of them with they do.
  • This was a Waggy tip that I have found beyond useful. Stock up on the dollar store shower curtain liners and if you have anything that you don't want peed, pooped or puked on, cover it up with a curtain liner. 99 cents is a lot cheaper than having to deep clean or replace a sofa.
  • Bedding and snuggle blankets and towels that you don't mind ever using again. Petco sells some very inexpensive blankets in the cat section that are extremely soft and my dogs go bonkers for.
There are many other things that I have found to be useful in my few short months as a doggy foster parent and please note that I am NOT a certified trainer or animal medical professional. I am just a foster momma, dealing primarily little dogs, and I love sharing what I know with anyone who may be interested.

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