Hello!! My name is Ally, and I'm thrilled to be attending the short term/ sleepover foster care apprenticeship at CASPCA that begins tomorrow morning. I am the single Foster care coordinator for our shelter in the small, rural town of Taos, NM. We have always used foster parents for nursing mothers, neo natal kittens, surgery recovery, ect. But have never had a full fledged Foster Program. I am fairly new to this position, and the position is brand new to our organization. I became very enthusiastic, and reached out all over our community to recruit new fosters parents, and was thrilled to get a lot of response! However, with our community being so small, most families who would like to foster for us, tend to already have pets in the home. Without any behavioral staff in our facility, I am struggling to place shelter dogs in homes for recreational fostering. I never want to turn away willing foster parents, but need to prioritize safety. Does anyone have any advice, or share this struggle?

  • December 24, 2019 at 07:13 AM

    This article may help a little, at least to get your fosters off to the right start which can go a long way toward a peaceful integration. https://worldreadypets.com/articles/how-to-prepare-for-and-pick-up-your-new-foster

    Adult dogs with behavior problems mixed in with household pets can be tricky especially for fosters without a good understanding of dog body language and behavior. A lot of people think that two animals have to be directly in contact in order to get to know each other. When you're looking to make a new friend, you don't walk up to a stranger at the park eating their lunch, say 'hi' and take a 'best friend' bite of their sandwich. You can learn a lot about a person just by watching them. Are they high or low energy? Are they friendly to people around them? Do they give me the creeps? Then, after you decide that they 'seem nice' you might walk over and introduce yourself. Most dogs need space and time to feel comfortable around a stranger, just like us.

    For dogs, I recommend a long walk (30-60min) for initial introductions. There should be one adult per dog. Start walking with the dogs fairly far apart (50-100') and the less confident dog in the rear so they don't feel like they are being followed (no one likes that feeling). Slowly, bring the dogs closer together, perhaps changing who is in front . After the initial excitement has worn off and both dogs show either minimal or only friendly interest in each other then they can be walked side by side. This gives everyone the chance to evaluate each other safely and from a distance as well as work out nervous and excited energy. I hope that helps!

    I am currently working on an online foster training series and if you're interested in learning more https://worldreadypets.com/

  • December 10, 2019 at 07:41 AM

    I have been running the foster program for our shelter for 5 years and still share your struggle. We have created a list of rules/guides for folks taking on a foster dog specifically, as well as a 12 point Do's and Don'ts for adding(even temporarily) to the pack. We struggle with balancing the amount of staff time in training and doing dog to dog meetings for short term fosters, with all the other needed activities. We are hoping to streamline by attending Maddie's fund training in January, 2020!

  • December 09, 2019 at 03:11 PM

    I definitely share this struggle! I am the only foster coordinator for my shelter as well. Our foster program has been active for a number of years, but is mainly focused on pregnant/nursing cats and occasionally dogs, kittens and puppies. I have had a hard time finding foster homes for dogs in general, especially if the foster has other animals or the dog has behavior issues, which 9 times out of 10 that's why we need a foster home.

    We typically just require that the foster bring in their dog to meet the foster dog and give info on introductions. We also try to send home a crate and/or baby gates or playpens to help the foster to do slow intro's and have the ability t separate if they need to. We put out a request for used crates, baby gates and play pens on our facebook page to get the items donated for the program, which helped a lot.

    I hope this helps! I would also love to hear other suggestions as well! :)

  • December 03, 2019 at 10:43 AM

    @Lorian Epstein

  • December 02, 2019 at 06:31 PM

    I understand what you’re going through. I coach several national rescues and their foster homes to how into integrate dogs from the shelter or from owner surrender into homes with existing pets. Usually the foster volunteers are attending in a two hour online education class , And we briefly go over their struggles with their existing dogs, help them address simple behavior issues and prepare the dog and the foster to the new addition.

    From this group usually one or two people are more experienced and we offer them to join an advanced foster 12 hour online class.

    And we basically go over everything they need to know about complex behavior issues, trauma related behaviors, and basic troubleshooting skills.

    Happy to share with you more details about these classes, one of which we did at Austin AnimalShelter in 2015

    With measured success.

    • March 02, 2020 at 06:33 AM

      Could you provide a link to the shelter dog online training courses?