Communication is the key to fostering!
Communication between you and your foster dog, you and Waggytail, and between Waggytail the adopting public are all essential parts of the highly rewarding foster experience. We've put together a few ideas on how best to achieve those things, including links to videos and online resources for dealing with common behavioral issues. Remember you can always contact us at !
If you are at all concerned about the health of your foster, email us at with HEALTH in the title. Someone will get back to you as soon as possible. We will provide fosters with an emergency contact number for situations that need immediate assistance. ALL VET VISITS MUST BE PRE-APPROVED BY WAGGYTAIL RESCUE. Waggytail Rescue will cover all pre-approved medical costs during foster care.
Getting your foster seen and adopted!
Once your foster has settled into your home, please email us at to let us know more about them so we can write a killer profile! If your foster is displaying behavioral issues, let us know and look at the links we've provided below to help address common issues. We have trainers that will help if necessary, so keep in contact.
Good photography saves lives. Not everyone has a professional camera, but it is possible to take great photographs of your foster with a standard digital camera or cell phone (tips here). Try to keep a few basics in mind:
Use natural daylight! Flash photography and pictures taken indoors in low light are often very unflattering.
Get down to eye level with your foster, get their attention towards the camera using a treat and focus on the eyes.
Keep backgrounds clear of household clutter.
Waggytail often hosts adoption events around the city and whenever possible, you and your foster should attend! You will be notified in advance of any upcoming events.
Dog Training and Behavior Modification
Many of the behavioral issues that dogs can develop, whether rescued or not, can be greatly helped by two simple actions; increasing the amount of exercise your dog is getting and basic obedience training with clear boundary setting. A tired dog is less likely to act out, and a dog who knows their place in the pack (with you being the pack leader) will often stop misbehaving. There are no quick fixes and we don't expect miracles, but any help you can give to modify your foster's behavior will greatly help their chances of a quick adoption.
Waggytail believes in positive reinforcement during training and asks that you do the same!
Basic Obedience Training
Immediately setting clear boundaries for your foster dog will help them feel more secure, as they will know that you are the pack leader. We advocate a "Nothing In Life is Free" approach (outlined here) as a positive reinforcement based method to teach dogs that you, as the provider of all good things, are in charge and that they can be relaxed in your presence.
It can be useful to teach obedience to reinforce this, so we've assembled some links to help with teaching basics. We don't expect you to train your foster to do any or all of these things but they can be useful tools for dealing with other behavioral issues you may encounter, and they can be a fun game for both of you! Please let us know if your dog has mastered these commands as this something potential adopters love to know.
Common Behavioral Issues
It is normal for a dog to whine for a few minutes after you leave, however prolonged whining or barking, destructive behavior and/or messing in the house when left alone is a sign of separation anxiety. Minor separation anxiety can often be calmed through modifying your own behavior when you leave. Don't make a big fuss over the dog before departing and leave them with an article of your clothing for comfort and establish a safety word cue that lets them know you intend to return. More severe anxiety may need to be handled using desensitization training that gradually increases the amount of time the dog is left alone (outlined here). In some cases, crate training (tutorial) may also help, but be aware that crates may be stressful for some dogs.
Pulling on the Leash
Redirection may help to stop pulling (video), and in some cases, an anti-pull harness may help. Being able to get your foster's attention off the thing they are trying to pull to towards and back onto you (look at me or sit, plus positive reinforcement with treats) can be a very useful tool.
Barking at Other People or Animals while on the Leash
The best way to manage a dog who barks and lunges while on walks is to be aware of your surroundings to be able to spot triggers before your foster does, and then to put space between you and the distraction. This article discusses leash reactivity and offers advice on how to manage and train a reactive dog, while this video quickly demonstrates the "Reassure, Reward, Redirect and Remove" method of handling real word distractions.
The best way to prevent this behavior is to learn how to read your foster's state of mind and respect their boundaries! Please familiarize yourself with the common signs of anxiety in dogs and with the basics of dog body language. Educate all members of your household and any guests to these signs, monitor interactions and intervene to immediately stop whatever activity is causing your foster's distress. Give the dog time to de-stress before attempting to approach again.