The first day with a foster he or she may not have an appetite (or even go to the bathroom) - don’t be alarmed! This is totally normal for dogs who need a bit of time and space to adjust to new surroundings and stress may be causing a lack of appetite. Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive with routines so the commotion of being transported to a whole world of new smells, sights, and sounds can be disorienting.
Feeding a foster dog should be done with purpose in order to help accelerate your foster’s acclimation to his or her new normal. A top insider foster dog tip is that food - not just treats – should be used as a key tool for training your new foster dog.
Think of your new foster dog’s food and treats as money that you have at your disposal to pay your foster for the behavior that you want. Below are some tips for breaking out of traditional “mealtime” and using food to help train your new foster dog:
- Crate Training - Only stationary feed in the crate to unlock a strong positive association between the crate and yummy mealtime.
- Obedience Training - Utilize a few pieces of food or kibble in place of treats during training. This is also helpful for dogs who weigh a few extra pounds by avoiding excessive treat consumption.
- Leash Training - Give your dog a food as you walk to help leash train your dog.
- Canine Enrichment - Feed via a snuffle mat, slow feeder or scattered on the ground to encourage nose work, reduce digestive upset, and combat any resource guarding tendencies.
- Low Value Reward - Remember that not all food and treats are created equal. Like money, feed and train you new foster dog with values that match the job. For example, you may need to pay one cube of cheese to have your foster dog ignore the noise at the door, but only three pieces of kibble to sit to get leashed up for his walk.
Whatever you choose to do, try to avoid allowing your new foster dog to passively or freely eat out of a bowl without making it a learning experience. Most foster dogs come from living a hectic life as a stray so there is always room for improving and training!
The Complete Dog Fostering Guide with Jess of @101Fosters
Don’t forget, if you are fostering puppies, you are required to pay puppy tax in the form of cute photos and videos. If you can, consider fostering a mamma dog and her puppies!