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Thank you so much for your interest in fostering a dog from Pixie Mamas Rescue! By opening up your home to foster pets, you’re not only helping to save lives, but you’re also providing the individual attention and love these dogs desperately need to help them prepare for their forever homes! Many of the dogs who need foster homes require extra care and attention. Most that come to us are very scared, nervous and un-trusting of us—especially those who have come from a bad past. Fostering is a  big commitment. While fostering, all we ask you to provide is a healthy, safe and loving home with socialization, exercise and positive stimulation to help them develop into great dogs! 
Although fostering is a lot of work, it is a very rewarding experience. By participating in our foster program, you are saving lives and helping many different types of dogs find the families they’ve been longing for. Through fostering, we can work together to save them all! 
Here are some tips to help get you started!

Preparing for your Foster

When you take your foster dog home, they may be frightened or unsure about what’s happening, so it’s important not to overwhelm them. Prepare a special area for the foster dog to help ease their adjustment into a new home environment. Sometimes it is better to confine the foster dog to a small room or area at first to let them adjust before giving them free rein in your home. This area should be large enough for an appropriately sized crate for the dog and should allow the dog access to his food and water dishes and toys. 
Minimize the people and pet introductions to your foster dog initially so that they are only meeting immediate family and your personal pets. If you have other pets at home, it is especially important to give your foster dog a space of its own where it can stay while getting used to all the new sounds and smells. Don’t leave your foster dog unattended in your home with your personal pets - crates are our friends!
Most foster dogs come from a shelter environment, and even if they have previously lived in a home, we don’t always know how they will react in a new home. So, before bringing home a new foster dog, you’ll want to survey the area where you are going to keep your foster dog. Remove anything unsafe or undesirable for the dog to chew on, and latch securely any cupboards and doors that the foster dog could get into. 

Dog Introductions

If you have personal pets who are dogs, you’ll want to introduce them to your foster dog one at a time and supervise their interactions at first. It’s a good idea to introduce them outside in a large yard, keeping all the dogs on a leash and allowing them enough space to get adjusted to one another.

Make sure that high-value items (food, chew toys, plush toys, Kongs,  or anything else that your dogs hold in high regard) are put away whenever the dogs are interacting. You don’t want to allow the possibility of a fight. Those high-value items are best placed in the dogs’ personal areas. Finally, never feed your dogs in the same room as the foster dog; always separate them at feeding time.


Cat Introductions

We can’t ensure that a foster dog has been “cat-tested,” so if you have pets who are cats, you’ll need to make the introduction to the foster dog carefully and safely. Start by keeping them separated at first. You can keep your cats in a separate room (equipped with food, water, litter boxes and beds) or confine your foster dog to a room. Over a one- to two-week period, let the dog and cats smell each other through the door, but don’t allow them contact with one another. Exchanging blankets or towels between the dog’s area and the cats’ area will help them get used to each other’s smells.
After a while, do the face-to-face introduction. Keeping your foster dog on leash, allow your cat out in the same area. (If you have more than one cat, introduce one cat at a time.) Do not allow the foster dog to charge or run directly up to the cat. Try to distract the dog as best you can so that the cat has the chance to approach without fear. Watch the body language of each animal closely and don’t continue the interaction if either pet becomes over-stimulated or aggressive. The idea is to keep the interactions positive, safe and controlled. Never leave your foster dog unsupervised with any cats in your home until they are both 100% okay with one another.

Children and Dogs

Since we don’t always know a foster dog’s history or tolerance level for different types of people and activities, please teach your children how to act responsibly and respectfully around your foster dog. We will do our best to place you with an appropriate animal for your home situation, but you should still supervise all interactions between children and your foster dog. Key things to remind your children:

  • Always leave the foster dog alone when he/she is eating, chewing or sleeping. Some dogs may nip or bite if bothered while eating or startled while sleeping.
  • Do not take away a toy or prized possession from the foster dog.
  • Do not tease the foster dog.
  • Don’t chase the foster dog around the house or run quickly around the foster dog; it may scare him.
  • Pick up all your toys. Some dogs may not be able to tell the difference between what is theirs and what belongs to the kids.    

Do not allow young children to walk the foster dog because they may not be strong enough or experienced enough to handle encounters with other dogs or cats who cross their path.

Daily Routine

When you first take your foster dog home, take care not to overwhelm her with too many new experiences all at once. Sometimes, too much stimulation can cause a dog to behave unexpectedly toward a person or animal, which is why it’s a good idea to keep introductions to a minimum initially after you bring your foster dog home. It’s also important to establish a daily routine of regularly scheduled feedings, potty breaks and walk times. Dogs take comfort in having a routine they can count on.

House Training

It’s unlikely that your foster dog will be perfectly house-trained when you take him or her home. Most of the dogs in the foster program have lived in a shelter for a while, often with minimal walks or chances to relieve themselves outside. At the very least, be prepared for an adjustment period until your foster dog gets used to your schedule.

Because a dog has a better chance of being adopted if they are house-trained, please help your foster dog perfect this skill. Take your foster dog outside to go potty multiple times per day (3-6 times daily, depending on age). Initially, you may need to take them out more frequently to remind them where the door to the outside is and to reassure them that you will take him or her out for potty breaks. Most dogs will give cues — such as standing near the door, sniffing the ground, or walking in small circles — indicating that they need to go out.

If your foster dog has an accident inside the house, don’t discipline or punish them. It will only teach him or her to fear and mistrust you. 

Crate Training

Crate training, done in a positive way, can be an effective component of house-training. A crate can be a safe place for your foster dog to have “down time” and can also limit his access to the entire house until he knows the rules. A crate should never be used as a form of punishment and a dog should never be left in a crate for an extended period of time.

You can prevent problems with crate training by setting your foster dog up for success. He should only associate good things with the crate, so start by putting treats and/or toys in the crate and encouraging him to go in. Some dogs warm up to the crate slowly. If he is afraid to go in, place a treat in the crate as far as he is willing to go. After he takes the treat, place another treat a little farther back in the crate. Keep going until he is eating treats at the very back, then feed him his next meal in the crate with the door open, so that he can walk in and out at will. Crate training a fearful dog can take days, so be patient and encouraging. If a crate is properly introduced and used, your foster dog will happily enter and settle down.


Behavior Support

One of your goals as a foster parent is to help prepare your foster dog for living successfully in a home. So, we ask that you help your foster dog to develop good habits and skills through the use of positive reinforcement training, which builds a bond of trust between you and your foster pet. The basic idea is to reward desirable behaviors and ignore unwanted behaviors.

You must not punish a dog for a behavior that you find undesirable because punishment is ineffective at eliminating the behavior. If the dog is doing something undesirable, distract him or her before the behavior occurs. It is also important for every human in the foster home to stick to the rules established for your foster dogs, which will help them to learn faster.

Some foster dogs will have behavioral issues, which we are aware of at the time of their rescue. These behavior challenges include separation anxiety, destruction of property, fear issues or aggression toward other animals. We will only place dogs with behavioral issues with a person who feels comfortable working with the dog on his/her particular issues. We will provide that person with all the necessary information so that the foster dog can receive proper care and training.

If you cannot manage any behavior your foster dog is exhibiting, please contact us to discuss the issue and options. We will guide you and help in every way that we can. Please understand that we have limited resources, so we will personally work with the dog for basic training and minor behavior problems.

Criteria For Emergencies

What constitutes a medical emergency in a dog? A good rule of thumb is any situation in which you would call 911 for a person. Here are some specific symptoms that could indicate an emergency:

  • Not breathing or labored breathing
  • Signs of extreme dehydration: dry mucous membranes, weakness, vomiting, tenting of the skin (when the skin is pulled up, it stays there)
  • Abnormal lethargy or unable to stand
  • Unconsciousness or unable to wake up
  • Cold to the touch
  • Broken bones
  • Any trauma: hit by a car, dropped, stepped on
  • A large wound or profuse bleeding that doesn’t stop when pressure is applied
  • Loss of appetite for more than 24 hours

Pixie Mamas Rescue, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to rehome abandoned, stray and neglected dogs. Federal ID Number: 27-0876835 NY State Reg. #: 46-37-20 NYS DOA # - RR143
PO Box 176 •  Buffalo, NY 14220  •  info [ at ]