Foster an Ambull
Prerequisites to Fostering an Ambull
American Bulldogs are very people oriented as with most Bull breeds and make wonderful family companions. Being large dogs they need to spread out on their beds so we would suggest a single duvet folded in two or four so they can know their place and stretch out or curl up as they wish. They may chose to hog your sofa and that discussion should be had at the outset!
When fostering an American Bulldog we would advise that you already have dog experience as a family. Ideally this should be with the breed, Mastiffs, Rottweilers or a similar large breed dog as you need to have command and maintain control. You will need training skills to achieve your foster dog’s attention, co-operation and be able to give positive reinforcement of behaviours. We will match you with a dog we know most about so we are able to gauge where your nerves or concerns lie as they reflect on the dog as do we with all first foster placements. You’ll need patience and understanding as to the predicament a foster dog is in within a strange environment with newly introduced people and try to put them at ease.
American Bulldogs are active when we are active and just lay around when we are involved with more sedentary activities. They love to follow you and be involved in what ever task you have set your mind to. You can work from home with an American Bulldog lying down on their bed in your study, but start your gardening and they are standing or sitting watching your every move and walking with you to get your tools out the shed. They can be crate trained but if you use a crate then usually we would recommend an open crate and one that is large enough for them to easily stand up and lie down in with a water bowl clipped to the side or just outside. We would not like to see a large dog crate used closed for more than an hour except perhaps for situations such as cat introductions or small children running amok.
House training is so much easier where there is easy access to a garden. American Bulldogs dogs are likely to want you to go out there with them, offer them privacy as with any dog but be aware enough to immediately praise them as they relieve themselves. Prolonged kennelling can involve a dog’s housetraining needing to be broken down so they learn to relieve themselves in their kennel run. Housetraining often returns promptly on return or may need a praise orientated ‘hype aware’ programme where they are given lots of opportunities and then the ‘get’ it and are going to the exit to indicate need. They go outside, do their business and come right back in. We never say bad dog, we never make a big issue of initial ‘accidents’, better to ignore and clean aware, most dogs are embarrassed to see you clear their mess. American Bulldogs are very intelligent and thrive on praise. Male dogs will mark initially and this should be tolerated first day as they do need to place their scent in their new ‘den’.
Meeting New People
These dogs are beautiful; have an incredible presence and will attract people. Strangers should be told how to approach and put your foster dog at ease and gain their permission and submission. Your foster dog should take their lead from you, if you haven’t seen them with children, then until you really know the dog and can read their relaxed receptive stance as opposed to their apprehensive stance. It’s better not to have people directly approaching outside, especially children.
American Bulldogs are individual personalities; they smile and display their approval. We don’t follow the dominance theory or read dogs’ behaviour in these terms. Very often so-called dominance is simply play overtures and natural ways of relating. We need to be the commander and leader but that comes with ‘best friend and trusted person/people’. Am Bulls are playful and love to chase things, balls, frisbees, sticks, empty water bottles, anything really! American Bulldogs can salivate, slobber and drip water on the floor when they drink and shed little white hairs all year long. They need to have respect of kitchen surfaces; their food always goes in their bowl unless you are asking them to sit to receive their reward. Treats should always be earned and give pleasure in the bonding relationship between dog and their treat giver.
Dos and Donts
Never leave in a hot car, this goes for any dog. Always have windows a little open to create air circulation but not enough that the public can poke their hands through as they might be judged as intrusive. Usually those who are relaxed around this breed know how to relax an Am Bull; those who are not, will tend to respect and avoid.
The Invaluable Role of the Fosterer
Providing a home environment where one of our Staffies is getting individual love and attention is far more preferable than the alternative kennel environment. A domestic situation where they can stay, ideally until their forever home is found, is so important to them.
Fosterers provide invaluable information about our dogs and we encourage them to keep our on-line forum up to date with the dog’s progress. This helps us to ensure we match our Staffie to the right home. We can review or confirm knowledge held about our dogs, such as housetraining, acceptance of visitors, car travel, adaptability, behaviour on being left, to mention but a few key points. Fosterers also provide vital care. Some dogs come to us in a very poor condition e.g. under or grossly overweight, infected ears etc, these conditions are better managed in a home environment.
Some dogs come directly from their homes so we can match them into a suitable foster home straight away and avoid them going into kennels. This helps to retain and, often improve, their skills further. Foster homes also allow us to optimise our available kennels so we can help more dogs. Many of the dogs we help would have been put to sleep if a rescue like Rescue Remedies could not take them in. Fosterers save lives by allowing many others to be helped and generally fostered dogs move faster through to their permanent homes.
Our Fostering Process
General Requirements of Fostering
1. Complete our online Fostering Questionnaire. This information will allow us to match up a dog to your lifestyle and experience. We will place a dog that is already known to us, or has a full history, with a first time fosterer.
2. Now have a look at the Rescue Remedies fostering agreement It will help to ensure you understand our policies. The crucial elements are do not shorten or change the foster dog’s name; refer all enquirers to complete a homing questionnaire and if you decide you are serious in wanting to adopt our dog, let us know at the earliest opportunity.
3. If you haven’t heard from us in the next few days please drop us an e-mail at email@example.com
4. A home check will be arranged by one of our volunteers to confirm your home environment is suitable.
5. When your first dog arrives, you and a representative from Rescue Remedies will sign the fostering agreement, if this hasn’t already been done. This agreement relates to your first dog and will also cover you for future dogs.
When we won't take up a fostering place
On rare occasions we are unable to accept a foster place. There are a few reasons why we might be unable to:
- If you live too far away and aren’t ready and able to travel to where the dog is.
- If you have un-neutered pets including puppies.
- If you have resident dogs fostered from another rescue
- If you have other animals and /or small children we may not immediately have a dog whom we feel could cope in that sort of environment and in this case we will keep you in mind for the future.
First Time Fostering
We try to place dogs we know and are ‘easy’ to first time fosterers. We aim not to stress you, we need it to feel a pleasurable experience for you all and our dog. We need all members of your family on board and to stick to house rules like not leaving the front door open, leaving food lying around or supervision around visitors and children. We still need all homing enquiries to come via our homing questionnaire so we do ask our fosterers to direct any interested parties to our websites. We will support you via our on-line forum where you will have access to our wonderful community of volunteers who have a wealth of experience to draw from.
General Requirements of Fostering
Rescue Remedies fosterer’s agreement covers everything you need to know about the responsibilities of caring for one of our dogs and how we will support you. We will offer a set-up package and try to help towards on-going costs if required. Most fosterers offer their foster dogs the full provision of needs during their stay, funding basics such as food, bedding, toys and other equipment.
Provisions for veterinary care, illness and emergencies are also covered in the agreement. You will be made aware of the person you will liaise with and you will be given an enquiries line and emergency number which will be available to you to cover all but the very late and early hours. We have a list of Rescue Remedies approved vets which we trust. In the case of an emergency we would expect you to contact us or, should this not be possible, one of our approved vets, immediately. Either way, every possible effort must be made to contact Rescue Remedies at the earliest possible point. We are not responsible for vet bills without such involvement.
We are looking for foster homes to provide a minimum of two week’s care, but ideally until a forever home is found. Some of our dogs have been waiting a long time in kennels or are just not coping. We may suggest such a needy dog if your circumstances suit and once you have become more experienced.
We accept applications from foster homes that are only available for short periods like weekends or a spell of three weeks, e.g. prior to going on holiday. We need to have foster homes within easy travelling distance of Surrey, but if you are mobile and willing to travel, we may be able to place our dogs further afield. We often need a place for our dogs so they can receive post-operative care or cover for other fosterers in the event of illness or a weekend away. Over public holidays we have to severely restrict the number of dogs in kennels as kennel owners need boarders to come in therefore a holiday or long weekend would take pressure off us and offer a break to a dog that we judge would not be too upset by the return to kennels.
Each dog will have different requirements and abilities in areas such as being left or exercise. We consider this when placing a dog with you. The maximum time we will allow them to be left alone is four hours on a regular basis. Lunchtime company and exercise for our dog or a reliable dog walker maybe acceptable for full time workers. Organising daycare arrangements with a neighbour or relative might be acceptable but we would need to discuss our dog with these supportive individuals.
Selecting a Foster Dog and if things go wrong
We will work with you to ensure the dog selected for you to foster is the most suitable for your circumstances. Occasionally some fosterers may agree to take a dog in as an emergency which may not entirely match their circumstances e.g. you don’t have a fully secure garden, but are prepared to manage them on an extender lead for a short spell to save a pup going into kennels. This will always be discussed with you. We will not always have a suitable dog available. You may need breaks between foster dogs, that is fine too. We will need to know of any periods when you can’t keep our dog e.g. a planned holiday, so we can organise cover.
From time to time we have instances where a dog taken on, does not work out. This may be as a result of inaccurate information given by the previous owner, the dog displaying new behaviours in the home environment that we had not experienced in kennels, or the fosterer realising that they cannot cope with a particular type of situation. On these occasions we will always endeavour to take the dog back as soon as we can arrange an alternative foster place or kennel. You may be asked to hold on for several days. If the foster place doesn’t work out or the dog needs to go into kennels as planned, we expect our fosterers to arrange transport back into kennels. In such circumstances the more notice we can have the better.
If you find you want to offer your foster dog its forever home, it is important you discuss this as soon as possible with Rescue Remedies as per the agreement. Without this discussion and where a good family is already in the motions of applying, we will continue to pursue the family who have emotionally committed.
Fostering through to homing
Hospitality offered to our dogs also extends to ‘would be adoptees’ coming to meet their potential dog. You will need to be comfortable with them visiting your home to meet our dog. You may have already spoken with them. You play a vital role while trying not to be too judgmental or prescriptive. We take great care in selecting our adoptees, but you may see aspects that haven’t been appreciated before e.g. mention of a change of job or problems with a neighbouring dog. If at any point, you feel uneasy about the adoption, it is important you raise your concerns with your Rescue Remedies contact before letting the dog go.
All being well, the adoption process will be completed there and then, or a mutually convenient time will be arranged for the new family to collect. The joy of seeing a dog that arrived on your doorstep with nowhere to go but a kennel, then going on to light up the lives of their new found family, is one of the most rewarding experiences you