Top Tips to Help Your Foster Dog Chill Out in their New Environment
Fostering a dog is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Their love and companionship are unmatched and it’s truly a selfless thing to offer your home, time, and attention to an animal to keep them safe as they prepare for adoption. While many foster parents have repeat experience or have had dogs as part of their family before, it can be a bit unnerving for both you and the foster pup to get comfortable, especially in the beginning.
Since the dog is transitioning from a shelter, which is often a stressful environment full of strange smells and noises, calm and quiet time is key when they first arrive at your home. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time foster family, here are some of the top tips every foster family should know to help the new pup chill out in your home.
Focus on decompression time
It’s crucial that you ensure your new pup has a safe, calm, quiet space in your home that they can go to in order to chill out. This quiet time will help them feel comfortable quicker and is a much-needed change from their previous environment in the shelter and potentially an even more chaotic environment before. The Huffington Post suggests that you should have a quiet, crated area for your new foster to decompress in. These comfortable spaces give the dog a safe “den like” area, which is very natural to them.
If your home is typically quite noisy, you may want to consider putting this crate in an area away from the hustle and bustle and potentially playing classical music or soft, calm music in the room. Remember: stressed dogs destroy crates and act out while calm dogs do not.
Introduce your foster dog to your family and other pets on neutral territory
A calm introduction in a neutral environment is key to helping everyone ease into the transition of having a new dog in the home. You don’t have to go somewhere far for the introduction. For instance, a sidewalk or neighborhood park could be a great place to meet and greet before doing so in a home. Slow and steady in these instances is the best rule of thumb.
Establish a regular routine
Establishing a regular routine from day one is a great way to ensure you and your new pup know what to expect and when. This includes setting things like mealtimes, walks, and bedtime and sticking to those times as best as you can each day. Your new furry friend will begin to learn your behavior patterns and will feel comfort in the expected. It’s also important that whatever routine you establish, you communicate with the family that eventually adopts the dog so they can implement the same, or a similar routine and help with their own transition.
One helpful tip regarding eating and drinking is to ensure your foster dog has a safe, quiet, and – if possible – private place to eat (this is especially important if you have other pets). Routines aren’t just about time, but also about location, so try and decide ahead of time where their food and drink will be and stick to it while they’re with you.
Don’t forget to enjoy the experience!
While following these tips and tricks will certainly help your foster pup gain a successful and peaceful integration into your home, it’s important to remember that each dog you take in has its own past/history and own needs. Patience is key to helping your foster dog chill out in their new environment and once you and your new pup are comfortable and settled, the benefits will be well worth the effort. Don’t forget to have fun, spend time bonding, and enjoy the many benefits you are sure to have with your foster dog before they head off to their forever home!
If you have any questions about fostering, Mark T. Freeley, a volunteer/foster and the pro bono attorney for Last Chance Animal Rescue welcomes all phone calls at 631-495-9435 and he is happy to walk you through the process.