For the longest time I was one of the only one of my friends to have a dog, but this weekend that changed. My best friend got approved to foster, and she brought her first dog home on Friday! My friend Sarah has never had a dog before, let alone a foster – so she is learning a LOT. It’s almost hard for me to help her because there is just so much I want to explain to her. So I turned to the real experts: you all! On the Peace, Love, & Fostering Facebook page I asked the question, “If you had to tell ONE thing to someone fostering/owning a dog for the first time, what would it be?” As I expected, you came up with thoughtful responses that were all great advice for a first time foster (or any dog owner, for that matter). Check out the wise words of wisdom:
– Have patience. Lots and lots of patience. :)
– I recently fostered for the first time, an adult (not quite senior) male beagle. This is my advice: Don’t be surprised if it takes a dog a long time to get used to you. Some are shyer than others. Also don’t let the shyness fool you. :)
– Stay positive and give it time. Dogs are SO sensitive to negative energy; don’t get discouraged if things aren’t perfect right from the start. Give the dog time to settle in, and in the meantime, keep being kind and encouraging.
– Educate yourself (with updated info) and learn as much as you can about dog body language and how they learn. It’ll come in very handy in helping you understand your dog/foster better.
– Have patience! And don’t be afraid to ask questions!
– Read Patricia McConnell’s Love has No Age Limit. It breaks it down in an easy to digest way!
– The anticipation of sending them off to their forever home is so much harder than the actual event.
– Patience!!!! It took mine 6 months before she would show her belly and truly be petted.. the first time she did I cried, I knew then she felt safe and loved. She was my foster failure! But my others were great and well worth it
– Exercise, exercise, exercise! A tired dog is a good dog :)
– Learn from your foster. Let them be themselves. My other foster failure.. Lol came to me from another foster home. They stated they cld not handle her. I got a 3 page letter about chaquita and not much of it was positive but I was going to let her, chaquita,.show me who she is. She was/is NOTHING like the dog described. She is my baby!!!
– Everyone is adjusting…not just you
– Routine and time. Dogs love routines, it will help them adjust and be less stressed. Also, it’s so tempting to get a new foster (or a new dog in general) and want to show them off and do everything and train everything. Don’t. They need time to just BE. Keep their world small for at least 2 weeks. Not too many visitors, not too much excitement, not too many road trips, etc. Let them learn to trust you (even if they are not a scaredy dog they need to learn to trust you!) and get used to their new environment.
– Don’t be afraid to stand up for your dog, even if it upsets other people. One of our dogs is reactive, and I needed to learn to give a firm NO to people who wanted to bring their dogs over for a greeting.
– You will sacrifice your time, your home,your health and your sanity and it will all be worth it.
– Training, training, training. And don’t be shy to ask for help if you’re not sure what to do next!
– Exercise, exercise, exercise. Exercise body and exercise mind. Tired dogs aren’t worried or bored. A tired dog is a happy dog.
As you can see, there are a few recurring themes. I think it is pretty clear that one of your best resources as a foster home are the people around you who have done it before! I’m so lucky to have this community of support, and I’m also thrilled to be here for my friend as she begins on the journey.
This is Jack (also known as Jack Rabbit, JackJack, or Jack Kennedy). He is about one year old and twenty pounds of total mutt. Stop by tomorrow to learn more about him and how his first weekend went!