WV Pet, Inc.
Morgantown, WV


Foster Information

                           Working with a rescue dog

While your foster dog is living with you, you can provide some basic
training along with lots of tender loving care. No formal training regime is needed for most foster dogs, but if you can work on the following, it will make your foster dog much more “adoptable.”

• Socializing is definitely the first priority. This means ensuring that
your foster dog is acclimated to meeting new people, dogs, cats,
children, as wide a group as possible. If you have a shy dog, this is
a big task, and should be approached slowly (but all the more
important to address it so that your dog overcomes his/her
shyness.) With a more outgoing dog, it’s more about curbing
enthusiasm so that people aren’t overwhelmed upon meeting the
dog (or knocked over with love!)

• Food aggression with other dogs is a fairly common trait, however
food aggression towards people is not acceptable. If you’re foster
dog is growling when you are near his food, you need to work on
correcting this behavior. Hand-feed the dog, so that it’s clear the
food is yours, and you are the giver of food. Then, when feeding
with a bowl, take it away several times during the meal, giving it
back after the dog sits & waits politely. With a non-food
aggressive dog, these are still good tips, along with taking chewies
away & giving them back. If the dog growls a bit, tell them “no”,
and then practice taking it until they get the idea. Repeat daily. If
your foster dog is showing food aggression with your dog over
food or chews, always feed them separately. Another good reason
to crate your foster dog, as you can use that place as a safe place to
give treats, chews, and toys.

• House training (potty training) is definitely desirable for both and the
future adopter. The best way to house train is to use a crate,

and to be vigilant about taking the dog outside regularly, including
after naps and meals. If a dog is particularly stubborn about house
training, keep them on a leash in the house; this will prevent them
from wandering off to hide to go potty.

• Crate training is a great way not only to potty train, but also to
establish general house manners since the dog will not be roaming
free in the house unless he/she is being supervised. So, no chewing
on couch cushions, counter-surfing, or garbage can diving if the
dog is not left alone. Dogs should not be left in crates for extended periods of time.  

• Sitting is relatively easy to teach and pays big dividends. A dog
that sits for his/her leash and food knows they are subservient to
the person commanding them to sit. It also helps to get an overly
excited dog under control.

• Jumping up is a common problem with our foster dogs—they are
so happy to have someone to love! But, it’s best if they are taught
not to do this, since it can knock people over or just be rude. The
best prevention is to see it coming and tell them to stop and sit.
Once they have this down, they can be invited “up” for a visit, but
only with an invitation.

•Leash walking is challenging to teach. Many of our dogs have
never been on a leash and have no idea how to behave. If you’re
ambitious, you can work on “heal”, but even “easy” is fine. “Easy”
is when the dog isn’t necessarily healing at your side, but they are
also not dragging you down the street. This takes time to learn and
patience on your part. A nervous dog may not be pulling but
reluctant to walk or trying to get away from you and the leash.
The goal then is to get the dog to relax and walk confidently with
you. We can give you some pointers on either of these cases.

• Squirt bottles can be a great way to get the point across to a dog
that is not responding to a verbal correction. Fill a squirt bottle
with plain water, and set the nozzle to stream (not spray.) A quick
squirt in the face with a verbal command such as “no” or “down”
at the same time can be very effective. It does not hurt the dog, but
it catches them off guard and can be helpful in getting their
attention. Generally, you can move to verbal commands only after
a time..

DOGS & PUPPIES (over 8 weeks)
Fostering a dog or puppy can be an extremely rewarding experience. While perhaps slightly more involved than fostering a cat, fostering a dog can be very satisfying and a lot of fun. By providing a little training and a lot of love, foster homes can drastically affect the “adaptability” of the dogs they foster. This information will help you familiarize yourself with some of the needs, behavioral issues, and health concerns that are associated with fostering dogs and puppies.

The following is a checklist of items that you will need to foster a dog or puppy. 
Food and water bowls
High-quality dog or puppy food (it’s a good idea to have both dry and canned food on hand in case you have a picky eater)
Chew toy
Crate or kennel (for keeping dogs safe and out of trouble while you’re away and to help with house-training)
Dog bed, blankets, or towels to provide your foster dog with a comfortable place to sleep

It is common for a dog to experience some behavioral problems and need a period of adjustment when placed into a new environment. Foster homes are in a unique position to help increase the “adaptability” of their foster dogs by providing some basic training. The following is a list of common behavioral problems as well as suggestions for behavior modification.

Lack of House-Training

Chances are your foster dog will need at least a refresher course in house-training. Many rescued dogs have spent most of their lives outside and never learned the rules of living indoors. Other dogs may have once been house-trained, but may still have an accident or two when transitioning into a new home.
The most important element of effective house-training is extensive supervision. Correcting a dog for eliminating in the house is only effective if the dog is caught in the act. For this reason, it is essential that the dog be under your supervision at all times. There will, of course, be times when you are unable to watch the dog constantly. During these times, you can confine the dog to a crate. The crate should be just large enough for the dog to be able to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down. Because a dog will try not to soil the area where he sleeps, he will usually not urinate or defecate in a crate. (See notes on crate training.)
When the dog is allowed out of the crate, he should be taken outside immediately. If the dog eliminates outside, give him lots of praise and treats. If the dog does not eliminate, it is important that you supervise the dog closely once you re-enter your home. If you catch the dog having an accident in the house, tell the dog “NO” in a firm (but not angry) voice. Take the dog straight outside and give him a chance to finish eliminating outside. If the dog does eliminate, give him lots of praise and treats.

When house-training a dog, use common sense. Give the dog a chance to eliminate outside following meals and naps. Pay attention to the dog’s behavioral signals. If you observe the dog circling, sniffing the floor, or moving toward the door, take the dog outside.

House-training Don'ts:
Do not rub the dog’s nose in it! This method of training has been proven ineffective by trainers and behaviorists. The only message a dog gets from this type of “training” is that you are angry. The dog will likely not learn
to eliminate outside and may instead learn to fear you.
Do not correct the dog after the fact! Again, this method of training has been proven ineffective. Punishing a dog for something she did much earlier will not yield the results you are looking for. Yes, the dog will behave submissively and perhaps look guilty, but this is because the dog knows you are angry, not because she knows that, earlier, she did something wrong.
House-training is not a process that happens overnight. Be patient. Any progress you can make with your foster dog on house-training will make your life easier and help improve the dog’s chances for successful placement.

Destructive chewing is a phase that all puppies go through. It usually starts around three months and can last until the dog is one year old. During this time, the dog’s adult teeth are coming in and chewing helps relieve the pain. Adult dogs may also have problems with chewing, but for different reasons. Adult dogs usually chew on inappropriate things because they are anxious or bored, or because they have never been taught what is appropriate to chew on.
The best solution for destructive chewing is providing your foster dog with something that is acceptable to chew on. Have plenty of chew toys available at all times. If you catch the dog chewing on something inappropriate, tell the dog “NO” in a firm (but not angry) voice, and replace the item with something more appropriate.
If the destructive chewing occurs when you are away, consider confining the dog to a crate. A crate will help keep both the dog and your home safe. (See page 18 for notes on crate training.) It is also important to make sure that your foster dog is getting plenty of exercise. A tired dog will sleep, not chew!

Separation Anxiety
It is pretty common for foster dogs to experience some separation anxiety when left alone. The severity of the anxiety can range from pacing and whining to much more destructive behavior. A dog may experience separation anxiety simply because she has a very dependent personality, or because she is reacting to a history of abuse or abandonment. Whatever the reason, separation anxiety can be difficult to deal with because you are not around when it happens.
The most common sign that a dog may be suffering from separation anxiety is destructive behavior when left alone. A dog may scratch frantically at the door or make other attempts to get out of the house, or the dog may chew on things or engage in other destructive behaviors. If you have reason to suspect that your foster dog is suffering from separation anxiety when you are away, consider confining the dog to a crate. If used appropriately, the crate will help the dog feel safe and secure and hopefully relieve some of the anxiety. And, until the separation anxiety itself can be examined and dealt with, a crate will help keep both your home and your foster dog safe. (See page 5 for notes on crate training.)
If you do have the time to work with your foster dog, there are several things you can try to help alleviate separation anxiety. Start out by leaving the dog in your home for very short intervals. Tell the dog to wait and then walk outside for a few minutes before returning. When you return to the house, praise the dog for waiting. Begin to gradually leave the dog for longer and longer periods of time. It is important that, when you leave, you remain calm and not make a big deal out of leaving. It is also important that you not be too excited when you return. You want to praise the dog, but calmly. You don’t want your return to be such an exciting event that the dog anxiously anticipates the moment of your return. Perhaps the most effective treatment for separation anxiety is time. Be patient. As your foster dog spends more time with you, she will begin to feel more secure in knowing that when you leave, you always come back.
Some destructive behavior that appears to be related to separation anxiety may, in fact, be the product of boredom. Try providing chew toys or other play items that will entertain your foster dog while you are away. There are several products on the market that work quite well. One of the more popular toys keeps dogs engaged by making them work for food or treats. Once the toy is filled with some kind of small food item, the dog must work by rolling and tipping the toy until a treat falls out. Most of these products allow you to adjust the level of difficulty, and can keep a dog entertained for significant periods of time.
Don’t forget to make sure that your foster dog gets plenty of exercise. A tired dog is much less likely to engage in behaviors associated with anxiety or boredom.

A crate is a great way to keep both your foster dog and your home safe. If you decide to use a crate, make sure that the crate is always a positive place for your foster dog. Never use a crate for punishment. Crate should be the appropriate size which means the dog should be able to stand up turn around and lay down comfortably when inside. When introducing a dog to a crate, use a happy tone of voice and tell the dog to “kennel up” or “go to your crate.”  Use the same command all the time so they will learn what you are telling them. Once the dog has entered the crate, give them lots of praise and perhaps a treat reward. If you have a difficult time getting the dog to enter the crate or if the dog seems afraid, try leaving the crate door open and placing the dog’s food and water bowls just inside the door. Allow the dog to wander into the crate and eat at her leisure. Once the dog seems more comfortable with the crate, you can try confining the dog to the crate for short intervals. Eventually most dogs will find their crate as their safe place and spend time in them on their own.  
Never confine a puppy to a crate for longer than four hours at a time, or an adult dog for longer than eight hours at a time. Remember, the dog will not want to soil his crate, so forcing the dog to stay in the crate longer than he can comfortably “hold it” is inappropriate.

Because most foster dogs are rescued from shelter environments, it’s difficult for rescue partners to ensure that they will always be healthy. A dog that appears healthy at the time of rescue could easily begin to show signs of illness several days later. For this reason, it
is very important that foster homes keep their own dogs up to date on vaccinations.

Common Illnesses in Dogs

The following information is intended to help you better understand and recognize some of the more common illnesses in dogs.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a viral disease that is often fatal. Distemper is most commonly seen in puppies 3-6 months old. Early signs resemble a severe cold. The vaccine for canine distemper is considered very effective.

Signs & Symptoms:  Eye congestion and discharge, loss of appetite, vomiting, weight loss, nasal discharge, and diarrhea
Treatment: Veterinary care including fluid therapy and antibiotics
Transmission:Very contagious

Parvo is a disease that is most common in puppies and young dogs. It causes the sloughing of the lining of the intestinal tract. Parvovirus can survive in the environment for six months or longer. This means that other unvaccinated dogs can become infected with parvo simply by coming into contact with places where an infected dog has been. A bleach solution is the best way to disinfect areas that may have been contaminated. The vaccine for parvovirus is considered very effective.

Signs & Symptoms:  Lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea (usually bloody)

Treatment: Veterinary care, including fluid therapy and antibiotics
Transmission: Very contagious to other dogs, especially through contact with infected feces or vomit

“Kennel Cough”
Kennel cough is a respiratory tract infection that has been linked to several different viral and bacterial causes. Coughing is usually stimulated by physical exertion or by touching the throat area. Kennel cough is self-limiting, usually lasting 1-3 weeks. Antibiotics are often given to prevent secondary infections. Kennel cough is very common in shelters and other boarding facilities. There is a vaccine for bordetella, one of the main agents responsible for causing kennel

Signs & Symptoms:  Cough, runny nose and eyes
Treatment:Veterinary care, including antibiotics and cough suppressants
Transmission:Very contagious to other dogs

Ear Mites
Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal.

Signs & Symptoms:  Itching, scratching, head shaking, dark brown discharge in the ears
Treatment:Veterinary care, including an injection or ear drops
Transmission:Contagious to other dogs and cats, but usually requires direct contact with the infected animal

Ringworm is a fungus related to athlete’s foot; it’s not actually a worm.

Signs & Symptoms:  Irregularly shaped areas of fur loss; the skin of the areas will usually appear rough and scaly
Treatment: Veterinary care, including an injection and/or topical treatment
Transmission:Very contagious to other dogs, cats and people,
but usually requires direct contact with the infected animal

Fleas are tiny insects that feed on the blood of dogs, cats, humans and other animals. Although each flea only consumes a small drop of blood, fleas usually attack in large numbers.

Signs & Symptoms:  Intense itching and scratching
Treatment:Veterinary care, including an injection and/or topical treatment
Transmission:Very contagious to other dogs, cats and people

Round, Tape, and Hook Worms
Worms affect a dog’s digestive system. They are most commonly seen in puppies and young dogs.

Signs & Symptoms:  Large belly, diarrhea, and an inability to gain weight

Treatment:Veterinary care, including de-worming medication
Transmission:Contagious to other dogs and cats, but only through contact with (and subsequent ingestion of) feces

Cleaning Procedures
It is important that all items and areas used by a sick foster animal be cleaned thoroughly. You can use a 10% bleach solution to reliably kill most viruses and bacteria. Items to be cleaned should be thoroughly wetted with the bleach solution and allowed to stand for several minutes before rinsing.
Foster homes that have recently fostered a dog or puppy with parvo or another extremely contagious disease may be asked to wait several months before fostering another unvaccinated dog or puppy
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