What is My Role as a Foster Parent?

Fostering is a way to help a dog that really needs you. At times, it’s incredibly stressful. It requires dedication, hard work, serious time commitments, and above all, an understanding of the purpose of the process. Your foster dog may need your help to become a healthy, trusting, and well-behaved companion. Sometimes they are perfectly healthy and well-mannered, but just need a little extra time and effort to find a new owner who can see their inner beauty. Whatever the situation, your job as a foster parent should ultimately be a very rewarding experience and most of our foster families find it a heartwarming journey with a tremendous amount of personal fulfillment. The following information should help you with teaching your foster dog to become a well-mannered, good canine citizen that any family would welcome into their home. Following are training tips…


  • Rule out medical problems (intestinal problems, bladder infections, etc.)
  • Supervise the dog constantly. Don’t let him out of sight. (Use doors, gates or leash)
  • Confine the dog whenever he can’t be supervised (use a crate)
  • Reward correct behavior: Give praise and treats when he does it right
  • Feed on a set schedule. Don’t just leave food in his bowl all day.
  • Remove water several hours before bedtime
  • Go outside on a schedule. Do not rely on the dog to tell you he needs to go.Go out frequently to figure out his schedule. Gradually eliminate unnecessary trips.
  • Watch for signs like circling, sniffing, and whining – he is probably getting ready to relieve himself.
  • Interrupt the dog if you see him start to go (clap hands, “no, outside!”)
  • If you didn’t catch him in the act then it’s too late to correct him.
  • Clean with enzymatic cleaner to remove odor.

Marking in the house

  • Keep the dog on a leash tethered to your waist
  • Interrupt the dog as he starts to lift his leg
  • Crate the dog when you cannot watch him
  • Tie a “bellyband” around his waist to catch any leaks
  • Spray any marked areas with an enzymatic cleaner


  • Rule out dental problems
  • If caused by stress, try using Rescue Remedy for a few days.
  • Supervise the dog constantly
  • Confine the dog whenever he can’t be supervised (use a crate)
  • Use a bitter tasting spray (found at pet supply stores) on inappropriate items. DO NOT USE PEPPER!
  • Puppyproof the house. If you leave your socks on the floor and the dog chews them, whose fault is that?


  • Dogs bark for different reasons. If the reason is…
  • Boredom: Provide exercise and mental stimulation. Teach games like “find it” and provide challenging, food-dispensing toys like buster cubes and Kongs.
    Loneliness: Bring the dog into the house with you
  • Separation anxiety: Gradually teach the dog to tolerate being alone for longer periods
  • To get attention: Ignore the dog. Reward quiet behavior.
  • Stress: Ignoring won’t work if dog is barking to relieve stress. Refocus the dog with obedience commands (sit, down, watch me, etc.) or move away from the source of stress. If it is general stress try using Rescue Remedy for a few days.
  • Guarding the neighborhood: If you can’t supervise the dog to correct the behavior, confine him in a quiet area away from windows and doors so he won’t be overstimulated by everything going on outside.


  • Ignore the dog when he jumps. Instruct every person the dog meets not to reward jumping with *any* attention. Remember, even shouting “no” is a form of attention.
  • No need to kick or knee the dog in the chest; just turn away.
  • Train an incompatible behavior: sit or “four on the floor.” Dog can’t jump and sit (or stand) at the same time.
  • Be consistent!

Dashing through doors (also known as Door Darting)

  • Teach an incompatible behavior, eg: “wait.” Dog must sit (or stand or down or make eye contact with you) before door opens, and must wait to go through the open door until given permission. Start with the leash attached, and practice until you can open the door and the dog doesn’t budge.
  • Try increasing his outdoor time and exercise. Like people, some dogs just prefer to be outdoors, and find too much indoor time confining.

Pulling on Leash

  • Clicker training — Click and reward (treat) every time the dog is walking beside you with a loose leash
  • Be unpredictable — Abruptly change direction any time the dog stops paying attention to you.
  • “Be a tree” — Don’t move forward unless the leash is slack (this has never worked for me, but may work for some)
  • “Penalty yards” — Return to the starting line each time the leash gets tight
  • “Walking with a goal” — Choose a goal that your dog will find rewarding (put some chicken on the ground several feet away, or choose a favorite smelly telephone pole). The dog must keep a loose leash in order to reach the goal.
  • Targeting — Teach the dog to touch your hand for food rewards. He can’t pull if he is walking beside you.
  • Switch to a Front Attach Harness, the most common brands used are the Easy Walk Harness available in most large chain pet stores, and the Freedom No-Pull Harness, available online at www.2houndswholesale.com/No-Pull-Harness/
  • Please do not use any other means of equipment if your dog pulls on leash. If you do not have any success with the above tips, please let an MPR trainer know so we can help you with training in this area.

More Serious Issues Include:

  • Growling, Biting or snapping at other pets, children, adults or strangers.
  • Staring down or over excessive eye contact with other pets, children, adults or strangers.
  • Growls or snarls when being handled – this could also indicate a medical issue
  • Guards food or toys around other pets, children, adults or strangers.
  • Not willing to sit could indicate a medical issue.
  • Exhibits any other behavior that would make you afraid to have the dog around other people or animals

Mountain Pet Rescue does not expect you to fix unwanted behaviors on your own. We are always he to advise or offer assistance, all you need to do is ask. Any negative behavior needs to be reported to us immediately. Do not let any issue, no matter how minor, go unreported. This could potentially develop into a major behavior problem and decrease your foster dog’s chances of finding his forever home.