If you have been following this series of blogs, welcome back! We have been talking about types of cats and kittens that require foster care, and now we will move into dogs and puppies. Dogs and puppies are a bit different than cats in terms of requirements, time commitment, and space needed. Puppies can be a lot of work, but if you are up for it; it will be a very fulfilling experience.
Most puppies arrive at the shelter still in utero. It is slightly less common to find puppies without their mothers until they are more than a few weeks old. Female dogs have incredible maternal instincts, and it would take something huge for them to leave their puppies. Therefore, you will most likely come across a pregnant pup or a mother who has already given birth to her puppies. In both cases, they will need your help through foster care.
A mom and her puppies will need their own space that has a closed door and is large enough for her to move around. Mother dogs are very protective and will need space away from any other pets or children in the home. This is for the safety of all involved. You can still foster if you have small children, but you will need to make sure the child can not enter the room on their own, ie. by opening a door or knocking over a gate.
Puppies will need to be fed and potty trained as they get older, and will need fresh air every once in a while. Puppies should be kept away from other pets in the home for their first few weeks, as they are extremely susceptible to illnesses diseases. You will also need to make sure they are getting proper veterinary care and vaccinations as needed.
Depending on the size and breed of the puppies, they will be spayed and neutered around 10-12 weeks of age and will have reached a certain weight. For larger breed dogs, it is about 3 pounds. If you have a pregnant dog in your care, keep in mind that the care could be 12 weeks long, plus the amount of time before she gives birth.
When the puppies are born, it is important to ensure that they are all latching throughout the day, they are gaining weight, and mom is tending to each one. This does require a steady time commitment to ensure all the puppies are healthy. Once the puppies start growing up and walking around, they will need to be potty trained, fed, and taught manners. This is a big time commitment.
As mentioned above, a closed space is best for a mother dog and her puppies. This space would preferably be an empty or guest bedroom, a large bathroom with a door, or even a large empty closet with a door. You will need plenty of puppy pads, blankets and towels for comfort, and plenty of food and water. I have also found, through research, that velcro collars or other tracking methods help keep a chart for each puppies’ growth.
You will also need a lot of cleaning supplies as puppies can be very messy. You will need a scale that can adequately take the weight of each puppy. You will also need a yard, or some sort of ‘bathroom’ area, for the puppies to be potty trained. It is also a good idea to keep a lot of toys and enrichment activities on hand for the puppies as they get older and are learning to play – this will help protect your feet, hands, and furniture!
In conclusion, puppies and their mothers can be a very rewarding experience to foster but they are a lot of work. These animals will be best in a home where someone is there to check in on and take care of them. In their first few weeks of life, it is less often, but as the puppies get older, they will need a lot of care to become dogs ready for their forever homes.
If you are a stay-at-home parent, you are retired, or someone who works from home – these animals would be a great fit! They are a joy to have around and you will feel extremely fulfilled when they are adopted out into their forever homes. If you are not quite ready for this commitment, but you want to foster dogs, subscribe to my blog for more on adult dogs that need care!