Fostering: Beyond the Basics
What Are Foster Families?Where Airedale Rescue differs from the local no-kill shelter is that we do more than just keep the dog safe -- we take the dog in as part of our family so that we can observe the dog and learn its particular personality. We then match the dog with a family that will appreciate this dog's personality. Sometimes the perfect family will be waiting. Sometimes we have to wait for the perfect family to appear.
Like any other family, foster families come in many shapes and sizes. Foster parents can be a married couple, or a single or divorced person. They can be young or old, with jobs outside the home or not. They can have children of their own (over the age of 10), grown-up kids, or none at all.
Not just any adult can be a foster parent, though. It takes someone very special to do this job. A foster parent needs many qualities like patience, firmness, and a lot of love.
Most Airedales that come into rescue are simply dogs that had the misfortune to end up with the wrong family. There is nothing "wrong" with the dogs -- they just need to be placed with families that nderstand and love the Airedale personality.
Some Airedales are a little rough around the edges because no one has takenthe time to give them any training. The more social skills we can teach the dog, the more opportunities he will have at finding a good family. We teach him the skills we can and we observe the areas where he will need special handling so the new owners will be prepared.
Here are the basic areas we concentrate on.
Grooming . . not only is it a lot of fun to carve a handsome Airedale out of a matted mop, but a completely unkempt dog is very apt to be bad mannered and a slob (just like people). Once they are groomed and bathed they become much more fastidious. This has happened again and again. It kind of feels like waving a magic wand ... when coupled with neutering, especially.
Housebreaking . . nearly all rescue dogs are housebroken and the ones who have been outside dogs are very easy to train once inside. An adult dog has the physical ability to wait to go to the bathroom and it is usually just a matter of treating the new foster dog the same way you would treat a puppy for a short time.
Walking on a leash . . anything you can do to get the dog started on the road towards walking on a loose leash will be tremendously helpful.
Crate training . . a dog that is relaxed and happy in a crate is a happy dog.
Get along with people . . observe your new foster dog around men, women, children . . the more exposure he gets, the more comfortable he will be and you will know if there is a group he should not be around.
Accept handling . . even if the new owners don’t plan to groom the dog themselves, they should be able to brush his coat, lift his foot to get out a sticker, have him examined by a vet without fear of biting.
Riding in a car and other strange experiences . . take your foster dog for frequent short trips to fun places and soon he will be eager to get into the car. You will introduce them to such everyday items as sliding glass doors, stairs, hardwood or tile floors.
Eating . . doesn’t seem like something you would have to teach, but many rescue dogs have food aggression. Some dogs will simply have to be fed in their crates and not placed in homes with children, but if you can use exchanges to help the dog get over the guarding behavior, you have broadened his horizons.
Get along with other dogs . . if either the dog you are fostering, or one of your own dogs, shows any kind of aggression, it is best to keep them separated at all times until they have become so used to the smell of each other that they start thinking of the other as part of the pack without even realizing it. If it is the foster dog who is the aggressor, this is important information for finding the right family. If it is your dog who is the aggressor, we don't want to make the foster dog aggressive because he has to defend himself.