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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Concerns About Fostering Dogs

Jennifer asks the following....
I have been thinking for a while about becoming a foster home for a bichon rescue group in my area. I am at home during the day so I would have time to be with and work with the rescue dog, and I have a fenced in yard for the dogs to run around in. I am concerned about how Sparky will react to the rescue dog. He is very friendly and energetic when other dogs come over to visit, and wants to run and play chase games. I understand that it is important for these poor little dogs to go to a home where there is a dog who is well socialized and friendly who can show them that people can be trusted. I am wondering though how do the 'home dogs' react to the very frightened and abused newcomers? Is it difficult for home dogs to adjust to a scared newcomer? I would like to be able to help abused animals in this way, however I don't want to harm my own pet in the process.
First, I want to commend you on wanting to become a foster parent for dogs.  This is truly admirable and it sounds like you have the right situation for it.
The concerns you have are valid, but there are no general answers that can be made.  Really this is very much a "it depends" situation.  If Sparky is generally friendly and gentle around new and unknown dogs, he should be a great foster brother.  If he is friendly but too energetic, he might frighten a very nervous dog with his exuberance.

On the other side it also depends on the personality and behavior of the fostered dog.  Some of them will not have been socialized well and will be nervous around any other dog, regardless of the other dog's behavior.  This can potentially result in fights from a scared or dominant dog.  It may also confuse Sparky when he wants to play and the fostered dog cowers or snaps.  Some fosters will actually like the social interaction once they get used to it, and it may be hard for you to give those up if they form a bond with Sparky.

If Sparky is as good with other dogs as you say, I would take the plunge.  It will help many otherwise homeless dogs and can be very rewarding.  But keep in mind that every dog is an invididual, and no two dogs are going to react exactly the same to the same situation.  Some of the dogs you foster simply may not be good fits in your home, and you shouldn't take that personally or think that it reflects poorly on you as a foster parent.  Have lots of love and patience with Sparky and the newcomers, and partner with an experienced foster parent who can help you though any challenges.