Fostering Puppies

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Fostering a litter of puppies can be REALLY fun. Puppies are happy about everything! They have no agenda. They are full of unfocused energy and will keep you laughing.

If you have the mama dog, but you DON’T have a private yard, you MUST wash her feet and belly when you take her out to pee to ensure she doesn’t bring in any diseases from the sidewalk or grass. If you have a private yard you’re probably ok until she starts going on walks.

If you have a guest room this is IDEAL for fostering puppies, but if you don’t that’s ok! Everyone will be sleeping a lot so as ling as you can provide a quiet space that’s fine. You’ll need to do lots of laundry no matter what.

  • If you have a digital scale please weigh the puppies in grams, every week, and let your foster mentor know by email.
  • Please try and take a clear photo of each puppy each week and send it to your foster mentor
  • We do not post unavailable puppies on social media because it creates a frenzy, but please, TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS AND VIDEOS so their adopters can learn more about them.  When the puppies ARE ready and available, we share all of the photos/videos online.
  • Although mom should be vaccinated, the puppies are NOT and are NOT protected against Parvo nor Distemper. REMOVE YOUR SHOES and WASH YOUR HANDS before interacting with the puppies. Do not wear outside shoes around the puppies. Parvo lives on surfaces LONG AFTER the sick dog was nearby. You CAN track it into your home. The puppies CAN get VERY SICK!

Here’s what to expect, week by week.

Week 1: The puppies are like worms.  Their eyes are closed and they don’t do much except blindly wiggle to their mom’s nipples.  Mom will lick their bottoms to stimulate urination and poops (which mom eats).  You should spend this time making friends with mom.  If she’s super protective and aggressive, start by speaking sweetly to her and give her chicken (or other yummy meat) every time you need to be in her space.  Get on a routine of cleaning up, feeding, letting her out and bribe her HEAVILY with chicken or yummy meats each time.  It’s important that she learns to trust you because not only will she be easier to deal with for the next 2 months, but puppies with fearful or aggressive moms tend to also be fearful and aggressive!  She will probably not want to go on a walk because she won’t want to be away from her puppies for too long.  The puppies should be kept in a pen with a soft bottom (like a comforter) so they can sleep safely.  You can feed mom in her pen.  If the pen has an opening, you can leave it open as long as no other pets are around.  Mom will need to go outside every few hours to pee and poop.

Week 2:  The puppies are still like little worms, but they are slightly bigger.  Mom will continue to be the primary caretaker.  Keep making friends with her.  She needs your love and patience right now.  Keep her sleeping and eating area as clean as you can.  Keep her food bowl FULL, she needs lots of calories.  Make sure to wash out her water and food bowl EVERY DAY.  We recommend playing some white noise, “music for dogs” or reggae at a quiet volume (dogs love reggae!).  Mom will need to go outside every few hours to pee and poop.

Week 3: The puppies will start to open their eyes and become aware of their surroundings.  They may be slightly more mobile but they won’t be using their legs!  They will be squirmy little things but they should not be able to get out of the pen.  Usually around this time, mom will start to steal stuffed toys and hoard them into the crate with her puppies.  Mom will need to go outside every few hours to pee and poop.  Puppies will continue to nurse.

Week 4: The puppies will be up on their feet, maybe not super well, but they will be trying to walk.  They may consider escaping the pen if the door is open.  We recommend placing LOTS of puppy pads inside and outside the pen to give them ample opportunities to relieve themselves.  Pee pads also help with traction.  Mom will keep licking their bottoms to stimulate urination, but they might start to pee on their own.  They probably won’t discriminate where they pee so remember the laundry advice from earlier.  They will start to interact more with each other in a playful way and they might start to notice the toys.  You can start to offer soft food or soft food mixed with puppy formula.  Primarily, they will still be nursing but it’s not a bad idea to get them used to the idea.  You can smudge some food on their mouths.  You should also remove mom from the room for 30 minutes to 1 hour to give the puppies a chance to investigate the food.  She will eat it when she gets back ?  Mom will need to go outside every few hours to pee and poop.

Week 5: Your puppies will start to show interest in mom’s food, if they haven’t already, and you should be offering them soft food or soaked kibble every few hours.  You should place the puppies near the bowl and encourage them to eat the food.  Typically, they will try to go after a nipple instead.  They will start to show interest in drinking water.  They will be using their legs more and will be trying to jailbreak out of their pen and explore.  They will be pretty wobbly still.  You should continue to lock mom out occasionally so they can try and learn about food on their own.  Mom will need to go outside every few hours to pee and poop.  Puppies might begin to show moments of “littermate syndrome,” which is when they become unexpectedly aggressive or mad at their siblings.  Please make a note of it and try to get a video so we can see if it’s an indication of something bigger or just a natural part of their interactions.  A little playful growling is nothing to worry about, but if any of the puppies are attacking each other let us know immediately.

Week 6: This is when the fun begins. You puppies will start to really grow into their bodies and personalities. They will be playing, running, eating food, drinking water, chasing, chewing on your toes and finger, trying to steal your socks, and mom should be playing with them to encourage proper interactions. She maybe urge shyer puppies to play with her, or interrupt bullying between siblings. The puppies should be given LOTS of food every few hours, and you will probably need to keep mom away from it while they eat. They will start to recognize you and be interested in you.  Offer them new environments to explore if you can (if you’ve been keeping them in a guest room, bring them into the living room). Mom might be interested in walks and getting a short break from her puppies. She might also just jump onto furniture that’s higher than her puppies can get to.

Week 7:  Total chaos.  Your puppies should be completely mobile, running around, playing, making noises and chewing on toys (or anything they can get in their mouths).  They will have 20-30 minute bursts of energy at all hours of the day and then they crash out.  They will still try to nurse on mom but she will probably be irritated and run away from them.  Give them FOOD when they start to harass her.  They will drink water regularly.  They will be pooping regularly and peeing everywhere (sorry).  Mom will STILL try to eat their poop and clean up their pee if you’re not on top of it.  PLEASE try to keep on top of it.  They will recognize you and be happy to see you.  They will want to cuddle with you, lick you, play with you and engage with other pets in the home.  You MUST supervise them when they are not in a pen or they WILL chew all of your cables!  This is puppy love.  Use their names regularly when interacting to help them learn.  Mom might be interested in walks and getting a short break from her puppies.  She might growl at them when they try to nurse (it’s fine).  Everyone and everything will smell like pee if you don’t take our laundry advice from earlier.

Week 8:  These babies are almost ready to go to their forever homes.  You should know them well by now and we need you to write a short description of each dog so we can make sure they end up in the right homes.  Typically, there is a variety in personalities- some are more affectionate, outgoing, braver, shyer or grumpier than their other siblings.  Make sure you let us know the little details.. Here’s some examples:

NAGA is the smallest puppy in this litter. She is very loving and outgoing. She loves to play with her siblings but will also have you wrapped around her little paw when she stares lovingly into your eyes. She LOVES to give kisses, snooze in your lap, and will make a wonderful companion for someone who wants an adorable co-conspirator.

LAMIA is the shyest puppy in this litter. She was originally the biggest puppy, the first to open her eyes and the first to start walking around but now she is a bit more reserved. She enjoys playing with toys on her own, chasing with her sisters, and shows a lot of interest in the adult dogs in her foster home. It seems like she would love a mentor dog who will teach her about life. Lamia will often put herself to bed in her crate when her sisters are still playing.

PADMA is the largest puppy in this litter. She loves people but can be a bit bossy with her siblings.  She sometimes gets frustrated or mad when she loses a game of chase or wrestle.  This behavior might disappear when she’s separated from her sisters or evolve into aggression toward other dogs.  Her adopter should be a “dog person” who can read dog body language well.  They should intercept unwanted interactions calmly, swiftly and without intimidating her.  She is otherwise a very happy, playful puppy.