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CPR Foster Handbook

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Thank you for agreeing to become a foster home for California Pit bull Rescue (CPR).  Fostering is important, valuable work and best of all, fostering saves lives. Taking an animal into your home, loving them, training them, and then letting them go requires a special kind of person.  Your role as a foster home is to prepare the animal for adoption into a loving forever home. Contrary to popular memes on the internet, it’s not just love and a soft bed, so thank you for stepping up to the challenge and helping further our mission of rescuing pit bull type dogs, increasing public awareness and changing the perception of our beloved friends!

This guideline is designed to provide foster homes with a comprehensive overview of the California Pit bull Rescue Foster Dog Program and what is expected from the foster home and of CPR.  This is meant to be a helpful resource for foster homes and should answer many of the questions that may arise before and during foster care. Fosters should always consult with the rescue’s staff for specific help and assistance.  All information is subject to change.




Approved CPR foster homes can benefit from the relationships we have with many of our local area shelters.  We are often contacted by shelter staff or volunteers to bring our attention to specific dogs that could benefit from being in a foster home.  Other times, when there is a foster home with an opening, we will visit a local shelter of our choice and meet the dogs available there and choose a foster dog that way.  And finally, sometimes approved foster homes become aware of a dog in a shelter that “calls” to them via social media, etc. In any case, CPR will work with the foster home to pick an appropriate foster dog and provide you with many of the necessary supplies you’ll need for fostering, support you throughout the entire process, and will be available to address any questions or concerns.

Types of dogs in need of foster care:

  • Puppies too young and/or immature to be adopted

  • Puppies and young dogs that require more socialization than available at the shelter

  • Older or senior dogs that will be more comfortable in a home environment

  • Injured dogs and/or those recovering from surgery

  • Neglected dogs that need tender loving care

  • Dogs suffering from “shelter stress” in need of a calming home environment

  • Dogs with colds or with special medical needs

  • Abandoned mothers with litters of puppies

  • Any dog when the shelter becomes overcrowded



Your particular household situation should be taken into consideration when choosing your foster dog.  You will want to consider how the animals in your household will adjust to having a foster dog. Some animals do very well with a temporary friend and can help socialize the foster dog.  Other pets have a harder time with new animals moving through the house. You are the best judge of your personal animals. Cat testing a new foster dog can be important if you have feline housemates.

You should think about what sort of energy level you want in your foster dog and how much time you can commit to the foster dog on a daily basis as well as how much medical attention you are willing to give the foster dog. 



Getting everything set up and planning where you will keep your foster dog before you bring them home will make the process easier for everyone.  At first, it is not recommended to give your foster dog the run of the house. Close bedroom doors or keep the dog on leash with you around the house or utilize tie downs, baby gates, and x-pens.  When you are at work or away from the house, you’ll want to confine them in a crate or separate room of the house. Make sure you have all of the supplies you’ll need – before you need them!


Supplies you will need may include: food, bowl, supplements, leash, collar, crate, medications, poop bags, and treats.  Most everything you will need will be provided by CPR.


Setting up a space for your foster dog before they are home is essential.  Walk into the room where you plan to confine your foster dog and ask yourself:

  • Is there room for the crate?

  • Is there quick access to the outside for potty breaks?

  • Is there anything that can be chewed, such as drapes, a couch, or rugs?

  • Are there exposed electrical wires?

  • Is there anywhere the dog can hide? Will you be able to get the dog out if hidden?

  • Are there coffee tables with objects that can be knocked off by a wagging tail?

  • Are there plants in the room? If so, check the list of toxic plants in this manual.

  • Is the crate in a spot that is low traffic, yet not isolated from the rest of the house?

  • Is there a soft blanket or pad in the crate to make a cozy bed?



One of the most important things you can do for your new foster dog once you bring them home is to not expect too much from them for the first week or so.  They are stressed out. They have probably been in the stressful shelter for quite a while, they don’t know who you are, or what is expected of them and they will need time to just calm down.  Studies show that it takes time for the hormones in the dog’s body that are a result of stress to dissipate. Give your foster dog the time it needs to feel normal again. This means that you should let them nap a lot.  Don’t jump right in to a heavy training schedule. Don’t have a bunch of people over for a party. Don’t push meeting a bunch of new people and other animals on to your foster dog.

Instead, just go about your normal household routine and let them observe and learn what their new house is all about.  Keep stimulation to a minimum.


Some recommendations include: 

• Find a quiet route to walk or run your foster dog (depending on energy level) to familiarize him with his new environment. This also helps start the bonding between you and your foster dog. 

• Don’t introduce your foster dog to people you meet on your walk. For the first 7-14 days (could be more or less) your foster dog should lay low while he tries to figure out just what this new situation is. You may not see any unwelcome behavior initially. Eventually all will be revealed. 

• Do not introduce your foster dog to other dogs (other than your own resident dog). This includes neighborhood dogs, and dogs belonging to your family or friends. Why? There is no way to tell how your foster dog will behave when introducing him to other dogs. If your foster dog bites a person or dog you are required to report it to the CPR team immediately. 

• Don’t throw a party, or have a lot of people over to your home. During the first week you should try to spend quality one-on-one time with your new foster dog.



This introductory period is a great opportunity to get your foster dog crate trained. Crates can provide a dog with a safe, calm, cozy space that is all theirs.  Crate training your foster dog also helps prevent destructive chewing, barking, house training mistakes, and allows for slow and safe introductions to resident animals.  In some instances an x-pen can be used instead of a crate, but the same principles are involved.

Puppies should not be crated for more hours than they are months old, plus one. For instance, a four month old puppy should not be crated for more than 5 hours.  How long an adult dog can be crated depends on many factors, some of which we can’t know about your specific foster dog. For example, if your foster dog lived outside its entire life, they have never had to hold it for any length of time and they will need time and patience to learn how to hold it for longer periods of time.  Dogs with medical issues often have to relieve themselves more often so will only be able to be crated for shorter periods.

Before crating your foster dog for any period of time you will need to make sure they have just gone potty, have had some good exercise and are ready for a nap, and have a cozy blanket and a good chew toy to keep them occupied. The crate should never be used as a means of punishment for your foster dog.  If used for punishment, the dog will learn to avoid going in the crate. Crates should not be used for keeping dogs and puppies out of mischief all day.  The crate should be thought of as a play room – just like a play room for a child – comfortable, with toys and games – a place the dog feels safe and secure and likes to be.


Place the crate with a blanket and toy inside in an area of the home that is not too busy, but close enough to the household activities that the foster dog doesn’t feel isolated.  Introduce them to the crate after a good walk, when they are tired and sleepy. Keep interesting toys in the crate. Feed your foster dog in the crate with the door open. If the dog hesitates going in, place the bowl inside the door so their head is inside and their body outside and gradually move the bowl farther inside the crate.

If your foster dog still refuses to go near the crate, put the smelliest, tastiest wet food (or a steak!) in the crate and shut the door.  Keep the dog outside of the crate for a few minutes, smelling the food inside. Soon they should be begging you to let them in.

Now that the dog is familiar and willing to go near the crate, throw some of his favorite treats in the crate. Let him go in and get them and come right out again. Do this exercise three or four times. Then, throw more treats in and let him go in and get them. When he is in, shut the door and give him another treat through the door. Then let him out and ignore the crate for 3 minutes. Then, put some more treats in the crate, let him go in, shut the door and feed him 5 bits of treats through the door, and then let him out and ignore the crate for 5 minutes. 

Next time, place treats, peanut butter, freeze-dried liver or frozen food and honey in a Kong (so it is time-consuming to get the food out of the ball), and put the Kong in the crate. After your foster has gone in, shut the door and talk to him in a calm voice. The foster dog must be quiet for a few minutes before you let him out. 

Gradually increase the time in the crate until the dog can spend 3-4 hours there. We recommend leaving a radio (soothing music or talk radio) or TV (mellow stations: educational, art, food) on while the dog is in the crate and alone in the house. Rotate the dog’s toys from day to day so he doesn’t become bored of them. Don’t put papers or potty pads in the crate - the dog will instinctively not go to the bathroom where he sleeps/lives. Instead, put a blanket in his crate to endorse the fact that this is his cozy home. 


To help your foster get accustomed to the crate, place his favorite blanket inside it and place it in your bedroom. If you’re fostering a puppy, you can try placing a warm hot water bottle wrapped in a towel next to him. Warmth makes puppies sleepy. Make sure the sides of bedding are tucked in firmly so the puppies don’t get lost or suffocated in a fold of the bedding. Be wary of dog crates during hot weather - a dog may want to lie on the cool floor, instead of the crate. Make sure the crate is not in direct sun.




Some animals do very well with a temporary friend and can help socialize the foster dog. Other pets have a harder time with new animals being added to or leaving the family. You’re the best judge of your pets personality. 

For the safety of your pets and the foster animal, it is important to keep your pets up-to-date on vaccinations. In many cases the foster pet will need to be isolated from your own pets, either temporarily or throughout the foster period.

Our team will be happy to assist you with introducing your dog(s) to a foster dog. You should bring your dog to the headquarters for a meet and greet before you bring a foster dog home. Typically dogs of the opposite sex do better together. And even if your dog has many different canine playmates, you should still bring your dog to the shelter to meet a potential foster dog. Dogs are like people, and sometimes a dog may not like another dog for no apparent reason.


The following are some helpful tips on doing the introductions:

• Do be alert and make the reintroductions with resident dogs gradually and calmly. Even if they got along great at the shelter, your dog may be extremely territorial in the home. 

• If possible, go for a walk around your neighborhood with both dogs and two handlers keeping space between the dogs and only allowing them closer once they are no longer very excited by each other.  Only calm behavior will get them closer to each other.

• Walk the dogs side by side on leashes and allow them to sniff one another’s urine markings, eventually sniffing each other’s rear to become familiar with each other. 

• Do give your own dog LOTS of love and praise. 

• Do leave leashes on the dogs when you are in the home, so that you can get immediate control if needed. You may only need to do this for a short time.  Another option is to have the calmer dog off leash and the more excited dog on leash and attached to you while they are getting to know one another.

• Do talk normally. Letting the dogs know that you are fine; they are fine; everything is fine! 

• Be patient and go slowly with your foster dog as they may have been through a stressful surgery, abusive situation, or a lot of recent changes. 

• Don’t leave your foster dog unattended with your resident dog. Even if they seem to get along well in your presence, you should separate the dogs when you leave your house. 

After a while (maybe several weeks), you may determine that these steps are no longer necessary, but be sure to always remove all toys, food, chews and start slowly. 



• Taking things too fast.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Going slow with introductions can prevent friction and bad feelings from getting started in the first place.  It is easier to go slow and prevent issues from happening in the first place than to fix the issue once it’s started.

• Holding the leash too tensely as dogs may react with defensiveness. 

• Leaving toys, bones or chews around the house. This can cause resource guarding which can escalate very quickly. Remove all of these items prior to bringing your foster dog out. 

• It is best to feed your foster dog and your resident dog separately. 

• Over-stimulating your foster dog with introductions to many people or your neighbors’ dogs



1996 SF/SPCA. Written by Kristie Bradley, update/rewritten by Laura Harris, additions by Seattle Animal Shelter staff/CPR

Before you introduce your foster dog to your cat, you may wish to wait a few days until you have confirmed or instilled basic obedience in your foster dog. You will need to have your foster dog under control and know which behaviors are appropriate when interacting with a cat. The personality of your cat will also dictate how this process goes.  Some cats hide or avoid interacting with the new dog, some will attack, and others will be friendly. You know your cat best, and need to anticipate what the possible outcomes may be.

Allow your foster dog to settle down and get to know your surroundings first before you start introductions to unfamiliar animals. Introducing a cat to a dog is similar to introducing dogs to one another. Take your time and create a stress-free environment. 

Begin by keeping your cat in a different room. Allow the dog to become comfortable in his own room. Once the dog is comfortable, let him explore the rest of the house for short periods each day while the cat is in another room. This will allow them to pick up each other’s scent. 

After a few days, allow the two to meet but keep the dog on a leash or in their crate or an x-pen. Observe their interactions - a dog that is showing overt aggression, such as snarling, growling, baring teeth, etc., will probably never accept a cat. The cat and dog should be kept in separate rooms. 

If all is reasonably calm so far, have the cat and the foster dog in the same room with the foster dog on leash, but don’t let go of the leash in case the dog decides to chase the cat. On leash interactions give the cat the opportunity to approach the dog if they choose, or to find a route of escape. 

During the first few meetings, the cat and dog will probably not interact face to face. A dog is a predatory animal. It’s a natural instinct for a dog to want to chase a cat. Assume the dog will chase the cat so you are prepared. Never allow the dog to intimidate the cat by barking or chasing. 

Each time the dog acts inappropriately (barking), let him know these behaviors are unacceptable; try using a quick sharp tone, like “Aah-Aah” or water spray bottle to get their attention and redirect their energy. On the other hand, if the cat bops the dog on the nose as a warning, that’s a good sign and should not be discouraged; however, do not let the cat really attack or get their claws into the foster dog.  When they set up boundaries between themselves, they are beginning to establish a working relationship, but you don’t want it to be a bad relationship. 

Let them interact with the dog on leash for about 30 minutes, then return the cat back to its safe haven and bring the dog to its dog crate or bed. Give the dog a treat and lots of praise. 

Increase the amount of time they are together a little each visit. It’s important to be patient and encouraging in their interactions. If you’re relaxed, they will be more at ease. Always praise friendly behavior profusely. Don’t rush the introduction or force them to interact more than either is willing. Pressing them to accept each other will only slow down the adjustment process. When the cat and dog seem to be getting used to each other, let the dog go, but keep his leash attached to his collar. Let him drag it around the house as he wanders, that way you can control him at any time. The cat will probably hide at first. You should use your best judgment as to when they can begin supervised sessions with the dog off-leash.




Some foster dogs will have specific needs regarding behavior, training or socializing. CPR will advise you if your foster dog has a behavior problem that may require your help, such as an abused or fearful dog who needs socializing or confidence-building with other dogs or people. A rambunctious puppy may benefit from an adult dog in your home to “show them the ropes” and appropriate behavior. Many times it is the foster parent that is the first to learn about a foster dog’s specific behavior so constant communication with CPR is important. There are many resources that we can provide to help you manage most behavioral issues. 

Many of the behaviors that we find problematic, such as barking, whining, digging, chewing, scavenging and hunting other animals are really just normal dog behaviors and can be explained as “dogs truly being dogs.” In many ways, modern or urban dog training is what we do to decrease normal dog behaviors and increase those behaviors we, as city dwelling humans, prefer. But we should keep in mind that these behavioral “problems” are usually only problems to us. And remember that historically these behaviors were usually bred by humans into a particular breed of dog. For example, Siberian Huskies and others in the Spitz breeds are descendants of sled dogs and typically pull when on a leash. Australian Cattle Dogs drive cattle by nipping at their heels or tails and may do the same to children, bikes and cars. The easiest way to coexist with our canine companions is to provide more appropriate (aka - human accepted) outlets for these behaviors.  Additionally, it is always easier to set the dog up for success by arranging their environment to prevent them from making bad decisions in the first place.


• Barking 

• Humping 

• Digging 

• Begging 

• Attention seeking 

• Garbage hunting 

• Leash pulling 

• Destructive chewing 

• Puppy nipping and rough play 

• Submissive and/or excitement urination 

• Urine marking behavior 

• Fearfulness 

• Separation anxiety 

• Resource guarding 

• Prey drive 


If your foster dog is exhibiting any behavioral issues, ask yourself the questions below: 

• Is my foster dog getting enough exercise? 

• Is he being left alone for long periods of time? 

• Does he have interesting toys to keep his mind engaged and stimulated? 

• Is he getting enough attention and playtime? 

• Am I reinforcing bad behavior? An example is verbally scolding a dog when they are seeking attention, etc. 

• Does my foster dog have a safe place that is dog-proofed with appropriate chew toys, or am I leaving my own belongings within reach? 

• Am I providing specific outlets based on their specific needs? 


Additional training resources to help deal with these behavioral issues are listed in the appendix of this manual. You should also talk with the CPR team about any behavior issues. We don’t expect foster parents to be miracle workers. If your foster dog requires more attention, exercise or training than you can provide, the best solution for you and your foster dog might be a different foster home or call in an expert trainer.




All veterinary care must be pre-approved by calling our number at (510) 463-4277 or email Once a visit has been authorized, we will make an appointment for you at our vet. If you are unable to bring your foster to the vet, we will help you with transportation. CPR has basic supplies and medications available, including flea and parasite treatments. Please contact us for more details. 

  • Primary Veterinarian: VCA Animal Care Clinic, 3340 San Pablo Dam Rd, Ste.K, El Sobrante (510) 222-9966 

  • Emergency Vet: PETS Referral Center, 1048 University Avenue, Berkeley, (510) 548-6684 

  • VCA Bay Area Vet Specialists & Emergency, 14790 Washington Ave, San Leandro, (510) 483-7387 

For emergencies and any questions you may have, please call these numbers immediately: Kate Wolfson: (510) 282-9884 


Please note: CPR has a policy that it will not reimburse you for vet bills for foster animals if you did not receive pre-approval or go to an approved vet clinic. Emergency / night time clinics are incredibly expensive and should only be used in cases of dire emergencies, only after prior approval. 


General Guidelines for seeking vet care: 

Puppies younger than 12 weeks must see a vet for the following: 

• Diarrhea that lasts for more than a day 

• Vomiting and diarrhea for more than 6 hours 

• Vomiting more than once in an hour 

• Not eating for more than 12 - 24 hours 

• Lethargy without fever for more than 12 hours 


Dogs older than 12 weeks must see a vet for the following: 

• Diarrhea that lasts for more than 2 days 

• Diarrhea and occasional vomiting for more than a day 

• Vomiting more than 2-3 times in an hour 

• Not eating for more than 24 hours 

• Lethargy without fever for more than a day 


Spay / Neuter - Some foster dogs are altered prior to going into foster care, while some are not, depending on the policies of the shelter the dog has been pulled from. Puppies or injured dogs may need to be spayed/neutered during foster care or just before going into their new adoptive homes.


Illness - Your foster dog may not display any signs of illness until quite ill. Therefore, it’s up to you to ob- serve your dog closely each day. Call CPR if you see abnormal behavior; unusual discharges from the eyes, nose or other body openings, abnormal lumps, limping, difficulty getting up or down, loss of appetite or abnormal waste elimination. 


Diarrhea - Diarrhea may be caused by several factors, including stress, change of diet, poor diet, eating garbage, parasites and viruses. If your foster dog has diarrhea and has no other symptoms, rule out change of diet by feeding your dog 2 cups of cooked rice mixed with one cup of cottage cheese for a day or two, and then reintroduce dry kibble.   You can also add a tablespoon of plain pureed pumpkin to their food to help with diarrhea.

Provide plenty of fresh water since diarrhea can cause dehydration. To check for dehydration, pull the skin up over the shoulder blades. If it snaps back quickly, the dog is not dehydrated. If the skin goes down slowly, then the dog is dehydrated and needs fluids. Dehydration can kill a puppy so call us to schedule a vet visit. 


Fleas-  Flea treatments are recommended only on an as-needed basis. If you go hiking frequently or live near a lot of ivy / plants that harbor fleas, monthly flea treatment is recommended (especially during the warmer months). Puppies younger than 4 months should not be treated with toxic chemicals. Puppies over 8 weeks of age and adult dogs can be treated with Advantage, Revolution or Comfortis. 

To check for fleas, inspect your dog daily - inspecting the rear groin, belly, and tail, under the chin and head, and neck (common places for fleas). Look also for black specks of flea dirt, which is actually digested blood. Before you begin combing, get a bowl of tap water and put a few drops of dish soap in it. You can put any fleas you find in the water and they will drown. If you don’t use soap, the fleas may swim to a fluff of fur and jump out of the water. If fleas are present, treat as soon as possible. Change bedding and vacuum the floors daily. The washing machine will remove fleas, eggs and dirt. 

If your foster dog had fleas, watch his stools for tapeworms which look like short pieces of white rice, and come from ingesting fleas. Tapeworms can cause diarrhea. If you see tapeworms, notify CPR and we will provide you with de-worming medication to treat parasites. 


Kennel Cough-  Kennel cough, or the equivalent of a human cold is very common in the shelter environment. The shelter is much like a child day care - as soon as one dog has a cold; most all the dogs in the shelter get a cold. Just like people who have colds, kennel cough develops when the dog is stressed or when the immune system is compromised. Kennel cough usually goes away as soon as the dog has a warm, quiet and soothing place to sleep, and where they can drink lots of water, eat healthy food and receive lots of TLC! 

Kennel cough is typically a dry, hacking cough. There may be some discharge from the nose and a clear liquid that is coughed up. It’s generally a mild, self-limiting illness of the trachea and bronchi encountered in all age groups of dogs, but especially in those under unusual stress, crowding or close confinement. Kennel cough exists in shelters, boarding kennels, groomers, veterinary offices, off-leash areas, etc. 

Because kennel cough is contagious, infected dogs should not be around other dogs until they’re over their cough. If you have a dog at home and plan to foster a dog with kennel cough, we have found that if your own dog is healthy and has been vaccinated annually, then your dog will most likely not get sick. Your foster dog will be regularly vaccinated with Bordetella nasal vaccination and you should consider vaccinating your own dogs with this vaccine as a precaution as well. Immunity to kennel cough is usually established 3-4 days after vaccination. If your own dog is ill or older, we would not recommend fostering a dog with kennel cough. 

Kennel cough treatment - Treatment for kennel cough involves bed rest and bingeing doggie videos! Make sure your foster dog has plenty of fresh water and healthy food. If your dog is not eating, try cooking up something special and smelly such as eggs, chicken or steak. Take short, leashed walks. 

If your dog’s energy is good and the cough seems mild, try some Vitamin C (5-10 mg/lb, 2-3 times a day with food), and Vitamin E (3-5 mg/lb, once a day).  

If you don’t see improvement of the cough or cold after 3 days, OR if the condition worsens, call CPR and we will schedule an appointment for your foster dog to see the veterinarian. Dogs rarely develop a fever and lethargy with kennel cough. In fact, it can be difficult to keep them quiet. Strenuous activity can bring on coughing episodes, so limit activity and encourage rest. Even baths can be stressful to the system and should be avoided. However bringing your foster dog into the bathroom while you’re taking a shower can be helpful as the steam can help loosen mucus. Incubation of kennel cough is 5-10 days; its course is 10-20 days with symptoms generally more marked the first week. Fever, lack of appetite and a yellow-green-brown nasal discharge can indicate secondary infections. 


Parvo - Parvo attacks the intestinal tract, white blood cells and heart muscle. Signs of infection are depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, severe diarrhea, fever and sometimes kennel cough symptoms. The illness is contracted through contact with the infected feces of another dog. It is vital not to take puppies out to public places where other dogs have been, until they have completed the vaccine series against the disease. Parvo virus can be deadly. Call the CPR team immediately if you believe your foster dog may have this illness. 


Parasites  -Parasites can cause diarrhea, stomach bloating or vomiting. Parasites include tapeworms, round worms, hookworms and mange. Tapeworms will look like pieces of rice coming out of your foster dog’s anus or in his stool. Round and hookworms may be vomited, and roundworms look like spaghetti (hookworms are smaller and rarely distinguishable without the aid of a microscope). Mange is an infestation of tiny mites that bite and cause intense scratching, reddened skin and loss of fur. Only rare cases of mange (sarcoptic) are contagious to humans. If you suspect your foster dog has parasites, contact CPR to schedule a vet visit for a fecal test. Once diagnosed, parasites are easily treated with medication. 


Vaccination and Deworming - CPR will keep records of your foster dog’s vaccination and worming history on file. Your foster dog has most likely been vaccinated for Distemper, canine Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, and Bordetella. Rabies vaccinations are only given if the foster dog is old enough to receive this vaccination. 

Adult dogs are vaccinated once a year, while puppies may be vaccinated starting at 8 weeks of age and should be given boosters until they are 16 weeks old. If you are fostering a very young orphaned puppy, we will refer you to a Vet to determine age and vaccination schedule. 

If you’re fostering a puppy, you need to return the puppy to CPR for the following vaccination boosters: 

8-10 weeks: DHP-P and Bordetella vaccinations. 11-13 weeks: DHP-P vaccination. 14-16 weeks: DHP-P vaccination. Annual boosters are recommended. 


Poisonous foods and household items  - Many household products can be toxic to dogs. Remove any rat or mouse poisonings, antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid from your home before fostering! And store cleaning products and other items listed below out of reach of pets. 


The following common food items are poisonous for dogs: Chocolate, Caffeine, Grapes/Raisins, Macadamia Nuts, Mushrooms, Onion and Garlic 


The ten most common poisonous plants are: Azalea, Kalanchoe, Oleander, Yew, Castor Bean, Lilies, Sago Palm, Cyclamen, Marijuana, Tulip / Narcissus Bulbs





Create a consistent schedule for feeding your foster dog. Follow suggested feeding instructions on food packaging (unless separate feeding schedule has been discussed). Please do not over feed your foster dog. If you have other dogs at home, feed your foster in a separate area and close the door (or baby gate) - this will help prevent any arguments over food. Do not feed any “people” food. You do not know what the adoptive family will want to do, so don’t start a habit they will have to break; and by feeding only dog food, you are also discouraging begging. 

Practice basic obedience during feeding time by asking your foster dog to “sit” before putting the food bowl down, asking them to “wait” until you’ve given them your release command to eat. 

CPR usually provides Taste of the Wild kibble. If you prefer to feed your foster dog something else, this will be at your own expense. CPR will not reimburse for any purchases you make for your foster dog, unless arrangements have been discussed ahead of time. 

Some dogs react to a change in diet with diarrhea. If this happens, feed them cooked white rice mixed with cottage cheese (two cups rice to one cup cottage cheese) or boiled chicken for two days. Then reintroduce the dry kibble.  A tablespoon of pure, pureed pumpkin with their meal can help with this as well.


Food should NOT contain:

• Meat by-products. 

• Fat or protein named generically (animal, poultry fat, meat meal), it should instead read beef, chicken fat or lamb meal. 

• Food fragments (brewer’s rice, corn gluten, etc.). 

• Artificial preservatives, artificial colors or sweeteners. 

• Propylene glycol. 

• Corn


Food allergies If your foster dog is experiencing hot spots (red patches of hairless skin), it may be due to food allergies. We recommend a simple, grain free diet. If your dog appears to be allergic to chicken, look for food & treats made with potatoes and duck, or fish. Some dogs react to food allergies by getting raw sores on the pads of their feet, between their toes. Try an over the counter skin & wound cleanser to help clean and soothe raw spots and prevent infection. 

Benadryl 2x’s daily can help seasonal allergies. Dosage is 1 mg = per 1 lbs. So if your foster dog weighs approximately 50 lbs, you will give them 50 mg. (2 pills) 2x’s day. There are minimal side effects to giving this to your foster dog regularly, if it helps. 

Food supplements If your foster dog is in need of extra nutrition (very thin, ill or poor coat), we recommend a product like Salmon, Cod Liver Oil or Coconut Oil, which is a tasty to dogs and can easily be added to their food. These supplements provide essential fatty acids and omega-3 oils. Remember to always provide plenty of fresh water! 



Many of our adoptable dogs are “adolescent” dogs between the ages of 1 to 3 years. They typically have a lot of energy and require vigorous daily exercise and plenty of mental stimulation. This means at least a 30-45 minute brisk walk/run in the morning and again in the afternoon, with plenty of play time in between. Older dogs may only need a morning and evening stroll. The CPR team will be happy to review your foster dogs’ needs and assist in creating a tailored exercise / activity schedule. 

Please remember that exercise is an integral part of your foster dog’s health and emotional stability. If your status changes and you are no longer able to provide this basic need for your foster dog, please notify CPR immediately. Alternately, if you wish to hire a dog walker or send your foster dog to a doggy day care facility, CPR must sign off on any new handlers, so please send us all necessary contact information to coordinate a meeting. Keep in mind that CPR does not have a budget to pay for these services and will be at your own expense (although definitely a write-off for tax purposes and we may be able to help negotiate a discount for you). 


Leash walking: CPR requires that all foster dogs are walked using “the six foot rule.” When walking your foster dog, leave at least six feet between your dog and any other dog you meet. This keeps handlers and dogs safe from possible conflicts and also reduces the transmission of diseases. Foster parents need to be extra diligent because many dog owners seem to encourage their dogs to “greet” every dog they encounter out on a walk. This nose-to-nose greeting is particularly stressful for many dogs, as dogs typically greet each other from an angle. One simple way to avoid an oncoming dog walker is to just cross the street, or start to walk in a wide semi-circle around them. Most people recognize that this is a sign that you don’t want your dogs to meet. If this isn’t possible, just announce to the oncoming walker that you would prefer that the dogs don’t greet each other. Sometimes you must broadcast this loudly if their dog is off-leash or on a retractable leash. Keeping your dog to your side (rather than at the end of the leash) and creating a “body block” with your own body is also helpful. Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid another dog, so just stay calm, and walk between your foster dog and the oncoming dog and move past quickly. Also try talking to your dog, “Fido, keep with me” and giving them treats as you pass an oncoming dog will help keep their attention on you, not on the other dog. 

Never use retractable leashes when walking or running your foster dog. It’s impossible to have control with a retractable leash, and they can easily tangle or break. (We have long line training leashes available for foster parents to practice recalls.) 



Planning where you will keep your foster dog before you bring them home will make the process easier for everyone. At first, it is not recommended to give your foster dog the run of the house. Close bedroom doors or keep the dog on leash with you around the house. When you are at work or away from the house, you’ll want to confine them to a single room, such as a kitchen or family room. This is especially important as your home is a new environment in which they need time to become familiar and comfortable. Use a baby gate to block off the entrances to other rooms. By keeping the dog in one room, you’re helping prevent “accidents” that may occur because of stress or adjusting to your routine. (Even a house-trained dog might have an accident or two during this adjustment period.) For dogs that are not house trained, keeping them confined to one room will help start this important training as you must be able to monitor their activities. You can also use a crate in this room for times when you are away from the house. 

Especially if you’re fostering a puppy, keep them indoors in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room (you may want to use baby gates to limit access to other parts of your home). Puppies should be around humans for socialization purposes and should not be isolated. Do not place your foster dog around other strange dogs for the first month of fostering, as you are still learning their full behaviors . 


Foster dogs should not be put in a position of possibly fighting with a strange dog, reducing their chances for adoption.




Expectations of behavior 

Allow time for adjustment. While it usually takes about 24 hours for a dog to settle in, it will take much longer for their overall adjustment to this new environment. Watch their behavior closely. Remember that it will take up to a month before your foster dog bonds with you, so keep your expectations realistic. On the average, foster parents have their dogs for about 6 months before they’re adopted. While this amount of time will not be long enough to fully train your foster dog, it will be enough time to give him a good foundation for his new family. Begin training with some basic commands and crate training. Your foster may have been traumatized before coming to you – you’ll be teaching that people are good and can be trusted. You should handle and work with your foster dog every day. If they show any signs of aggression or fear (growling over food or toys, snapping or hiding), contact CPR for guidance.


Most potential adopters are looking for dogs with basic manners. You might feel it’s appropriate to let your own dog jump on people, sleep on the bed, or beg for food, but please don’t let your foster dog have these same indulgences. Set boundaries for your foster dog, and be consistent. Additional training resources are listed in the appendix of this manual and included in your foster dog packet. 


Training Tip: Building a positive relationship with your foster dog Andrea Kilkenny, for Pit Bull Rescue Central. 

Establishing leadership: A leader in a dog pack is not the biggest dog, not the meanest dog and not necessarily the oldest dog. It is the one who controls the resources! Within a pack of dogs, strong canine leaders rarely use physical means to control other dogs; this is true in both wild and domesticated dogs. Humans can apply this concept of hierarchy by controlling all the resources in the home and doling them out contingent upon desirable behavior.   This is sometimes referred to “Nothing in Life is Free”. You get the good stuff when you do the good stuff!

Training: We suggest starting with positive, rewards based training for dogs. Increasing your foster dog's obedience skills has many benefits. Not only will the future adopter appreciate these skills, but your foster dog will “show” better when visiting with potential adopters and you will have a much happier fostering experience. Some basic obedience cues that your foster dog should learn are: sit, down, come, crate/bed, stay, heel, and an attention cue such as “watch me.” These are very helpful in managing any dog. If you have a dog that does not like other dogs, these cues will be helpful on walks as well. For example, a dog that can heel nicely and that has been taught to “watch” you has less likelihood of making eye contact with another dog and getting aroused. 


• Short 5 minute training sessions 4-6 times a day is more effective than one long session. 

• Dogs need and respond to positive rewards when learning new behaviors. Remember, most behaviors that we want are boring to a dog, so it’s important to make it more interesting to them. A positive reward is a tasty treat, or a game of fetch, or anything that your foster dog finds rewarding.

• You provide the guidance and information he needs to succeed and build his confidence. Always praise your foster dog when he is doing something good. 

• Be consistent with your terminology and routine. Your foster dog will become confused if you let them steal your socks sometimes, but not others. 

• Start small, easy and slowly build from there. Most people jump too quickly into advanced outside environments, so make sure you start inside in a safe and quiet location. 

• Use Aak-Aak or Ah-Ah to correct unwanted behaviors. The canine mother would use this type of sound to correct her pups. Only use “no” for serious matters, if it is overused the canine will no longer respond. 

• Be patient and calm. Dogs respond to your tone of voice and facial expressions as well as your emotions. Dogs were once predators, and can read your body language quickly. 

• Don’t try to fake your emotions as your foster dog will know. 

• Never lose your temper with a foster dog or strike him- EVER. We want to create and support a harmonious canine/human relationship 



Be patient with your foster dog. Even house trained adult dogs will make mistakes, especially if they’ve been at the shelter for a long time and have been eliminating in their kennel. If there are smells in your house from another dog or cat, some foster dogs may “mark” out their territory. This action should be re-directed immediately with a calm “Ah-Ah” and escort him outside where he can finish. You will then want to use some odor neutralizer (like Nature’s Miracle) on the areas where the foster dog “marked” to ensure he will not smell and mark that area again. 

You can begin to house train a puppy at 8 weeks of age. Even if you bring home an adult dog that is housebroken, you will want to follow these guidelines until your foster dog adjusts to his new situation and to your schedule. Determine where you want your foster dog to eliminate - it could be the backyard, side yard or an indoor substrate such as a Pup Head, litter system or one you have designed. 

When you have determined where he should do his business, take him to the same place every time, and tell him to “go potty.” Take him out when he wakes up, after he eats or drinks, after a play session, or at least every 2 hours. Puppies should go out every 45 minutes until you learn their pattern. Stand with him for 5 minutes. If he eliminates, reward him (with treats, praise, a favorite game and your own special happy dance). If he doesn’t go in 5 minutes, take him back inside and try every 15 minutes until he goes. Every time he goes, make sure you reward him! 

Supervise the puppy closely while you’re inside. If he starts to sniff the floor, or even squats to go, interrupt with a calm “Ah-Ah”, scoop him up quickly and take him to the approved spot and praise when he finishes. 

If he goes in the house while you’re not paying attention, don’t correct him - it’s not his fault. Clean it up and go back to your schedule. Use an odor neutralizer (like Nature’s Miracle) to get rid of the smell. Never put the dog’s face in his mess, or yell at him, he won’t understand you, and you will only be teaching him to fear you. 



Lots of human contact is important for recovering, sick, injured or neglected dogs. Human handling is especially important for the healthy development of puppies. Attention and playtime is a reward for your foster dog. Be sure to give your foster dog several minutes of playtime periodically through the day. 

As a general rule, children under 16 years old should NOT be left alone and unsupervised with any dog, but specifically a foster dog. Do not allow children to behave with the foster dog in a manner you would not want the child to behave with a younger sibling. Teach children to leave a dog alone when he is eating, chewing and sleeping. Never allow a child to remove a toy or any other “prized” possession from a dog. A child will not differentiate between a foster dog and a dog they have grown up with, so you must make sure to keep everyone safe. 

Do not wrestle with your foster dog. If you have a shy or fearful dog, do not throw the toy toward the dog, because he may think you are throwing things at him and become more fearful. After you have finished playing with a toy, put it away. You are controlling the toy and the playtime. When giving the dog a toy or treat, have him sit before giving it to him. That way he has to work to get the toy or treat - making the toy a reward. 

After your foster dog has settled in and has acclimated to his new home, it’s time to get him out into the world. The more you can do this, the better socialized he will be. Get him used to different people and different environments. Start slowly and don’t over stimulate as many foster dogs may not have had exposure to what seems like a “normal” environment. When you are out and about, you should remain calm as this will help your foster dog key off of your behavior. But always be aware of your surroundings. Always keep a good handle on your leash and be extremely careful around busy streets, or in parks where there are squirrels, birds or other distractions. If your dog reacts to someone/ something on your walk, interrupt the behavior by crossing the street or walk in a different direction. 

If you’re a runner/jogger, start off slow and keep an eye on your foster dog and see how they react. Many dogs pull when they are in front of you, and running can intensify this behavior. Keeping them at your side, rather than in front can help eliminate this pulling behavior. You may need to start and stop many times, but be patient. Remember, these runs should be about the dog, not about your own exercise. Puppies under 6 months old should not run with you and only occasionally, for short distances after 6 months. Also, remember your foster probably is not used to running regularly, and like a person, will have to improve his conditioning and stamina over a period of time to avoid injury. 

If you’re fostering puppies, make sure they have lots of new and positive experiences, so they are well socialized and will be adaptable as an adult. Since you are not to take puppies out in public until they are fully vaccinated, bring new experiences to them. Find out if there are other puppies in foster care and schedule a puppy play date. Expose them to gentle men and children as much as possible. Have friends over and invite children over to play. Always supervise playtime with children and dogs closely! Take your foster puppy for car rides to get used to the car. Keep in mind that puppies need to go to the bathroom frequently so be sure they eliminate before you go on a car ride, and keep the ride brief, since they will have to go again soon. 

All foster dogs are required to be on leash at all times if outside of your secured yard. You are not allowed to bring your foster dog to an off-leash park even if you keep them on a leash as this can create leash aggression. There are no exceptions to this rule. Do not bring puppies to any public parks. 



In addition to the requirements and responsibilities outlined in the Foster Dog Agreement, and throughout this manual, foster families must abide by the following rules:

  • No off leash dog park visits.

  • Foster dogs must be on leash at all times when outdoors, unless in your own secured, fenced yard.

  • Never tether your dog and leave them unattended in a public space (NOT EVEN FOR A SECOND WHILE YOU GET A LATTE!!!)

  • Any aggressive behavior must be immediately communicated to CPR.

  • All vet visits must be pre-approved by calling or emailing CPR.  You must visit our approved veterinarian if you expect us to cover any medical costs.

  • Foster parents must respond within 48 hours to communications from our team.



Mobile Adoption Events: CPR provides mobile adoption events in front of Pet Food Express stores throughout the Bay Area most every weekend. We are at the Pet Food Express on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland the second Saturday of every month and move around to several other locations the remainder of the month. Your foster dog should attend these events.  If you are able to bring your foster dog to these events that would be very helpful. Otherwise, please notify CPR staff and we will arrange for a volunteer to handle your foster dog for the event. 

Stay up to date on all of our events on our Facebook events page here. 



Help make your dog more adoptable through marketing and basic training. If no one knows about your foster dog, or how wonderful they are, then it will be next to impossible to find them a forever home. Supplying us with great photos and videos regularly, as well as updating their bios every month is very helpful. While marketing provides applicants, it’s always the dog that closes the deal! Providing your foster dog with basic training and manners will increase their adoptability. Shy dogs will benefit from your patience, routine and exposing them to new people to build their confidence. High energy, enthusiastic dogs that learn good manners will help show off their trainability and desire to look to their humans to develop properly and feel secure. 


Here are some simple ways to promote your foster dog: 

• Regular pictures & videos encouraged 

• Social Media: Start a Facebook Page 

• Check out adoptable dog Tulip’s page for ideas: The trick is to post regularly and add lots of pictures and videos. 

• Create Adopt-Me Flyers. Post flyers on Starbucks’ bulletin boards, laundromats, work, dog parks, apartment buildings, local veterinary clinics and cafes. 

• Walk your foster dog around to busy downtown areas with their “adopt me” vest on and pass out flyers to everyone that makes a comment on how adorable they are! 

• Word of Mouth: Tell everyone you know about your foster dog and highlight their awesome qualities. Someone may know someone that’s a good match! 

• Post your foster dog on some of the popular free online classified sites and social networking sites. There are even social networking sites specifically for dogs! 

• Many companies have newsletters, email lists, blogs or intranets where you might be able to post information about your foster dog. See if you can bring your foster dog to work!

• Blog about your foster dog, or find a local community blog and blog about your foster dog there! 

• Take your foster dog for a walk around Lake Merritt, around 4th Street in Berkeley, Farmer’s Markets, or any other place that has a lot of foot traffic. 

• If you’re a runner, enter a local 5K race and bring your foster dog. Check with the race rules first, but many will let you run with a dog. Don’t forget your dog’s “Adopt Me” vest! 



CPR often receives donated supplies, so be sure to ask our team when you are picking up your foster dog for any items you may need to borrow , such as:

• Food and bowls. 

• Crate

• Bedding - a clean, old blanket or towel or a dog bed that is washable. 

• Odor neutralizer (like Nature’s Miracle); it’s the only thing to clean potty mistakes.; If you clean mistakes with soap and water, your dog will still smell the urine and go to the bathroom in that spot repeatedly. 

• Flea comb/brush. 

• Toys such as: hard rubber balls, Kongs, fleece toys, rope toys or nylabones. Do not give your foster dog hooves, rawhide, pigs’ ears or vinyl toys that can cause diarrhea or a choking hazard. 

• Collar with ID tag which must stay on the dog at all times. Collars and ID tags are available from CPR

• Leash. 

• Training apparatus such as Martingale collar, harness, prong collar, remote collar or Halti head collar. These should be used only during training periods (i.e not during bedtime). 

• Training treats such as string cheese, squeeze cheese, lunch meat or small dog biscuits. 

• Baby gate(s). 

• Bitter Apple (to spray on leashes, woodwork, drapery — anything you don’t want chewed). 

• Promotional t-shirt or bandana that says, “I’m Available for Adoption!” (we can lend you an adopt me vest)



1-How long will it take for my foster dog to get adopted?

Sometimes dogs get adopted in 2 weeks and others 2 years. Usually puppies get adopted much quicker than senior dogs.  Although we are fully responsible for finding a forever home for the dog, you can help by telling friends, family and co-workers about your foster dog.  We’re open to any ideas you have about helping to get your foster dog adopted.

2- How much time will I have to spend taking care of my foster dog?

The specific needs of the animal will determine how much time is involved.  Newborn puppies, for instance, must be fed every 2 hours. A frightened dog that needs socialization or training will also require some extra time.  Determining how much time you have available to care for your foster dog will be important when choosing a dog to foster.

3- What is your adoption process?

The steps are briefly outlined here:

  • Potential adopters are required to submit an adoption application (online or in person) for review usually before they meet your foster dog.

  • Once approved, suitable applicants are invited to attend a meet and greet with the foster dog.  Foster parents are notified of these meetings and asked to bring their foster dog to CPR headquarters or to an adoption event to meet with qualified applicants.

  • After the meet and greet (and if the applicant is still interested in the dog), CPR staff will conduct a home visit with your foster dog, to ensure it is a safe environment for them to live (and to meet all the members of the household).  The foster dog stays with the foster parents until they hear from CPR staff regarding the status of the adoption.

  • Final approval or rejection of all applicants is at the sole discretion of the CPR team.

  • Once approved, the adopter will pay an adoption donation to CPR, sign the adoption agreement and then your foster dog will go to the adopter’s home and the adoption is official!  In some situations we will do a slower adoption process, in which a weekend or longer trial adoption (foster-to-adopt) is arranged, prior to finalizing the adoption. Foster families will be kept in the loop on this process, as they know the foster dog and their needs best.


4- Can I adopt my foster dog?

YES! As long as foster parents meet CPR’s requirements necessary for adoption, foster parents have first choice to adopt their foster dog.  They will qualify for a discounted adoption fee as well.


5- Do I have to crate-train my foster dog?

Each dog is an individual, so there are always exceptions, but in general the answer is “yes”.  Crate training is one of the most efficient and effective ways to house train a puppy or re-train an adult dog.  Most of our adoptive homes have resident dogs or cats and having your foster dog crate trained will make for an easier and safer transition into their forever home.  In addition, having a foster dog in a safe crate while you are not home will give you peace of mind, knowing they are not getting into trouble while you are gone. Some dogs are not used to crates and most dogs need to be transitioned or “trained” to use a crate. Crates should never be used as punishment.  Additional details on crate training are included in this handbook.


6- Am I responsible for finding my foster dog their forever home?

No- but we do need your help.  If you think you know of the perfect home, by all means, send them our way!  Keep in mind they will have to go through the standard adoption process and be approved by CPR.  Foster families are responsible for making their foster dogs available for our scheduled adoption events and for any requested meet and greets.


7 – What if I go on vacation or have a business trip?

If given enough notice, we can usually find temporary foster homes/volunteers that can foster sit for short durations.  We ask that foster parents always keep our team aware of any temporary foster sitting situations or needs with as much notice as possible.


8- Can I return my foster dog to you if I am unable to foster any longer?

We prefer that foster parents continue to foster until we find a permanent home for their foster dog.  When we pull a dog from the shelter, we are committing to that dog until they find their forever home, and since we don’t have a central facility to house dogs, we truly rely on our foster homes to go the distance.  However, we do understand that sometimes situations change and are not always in your control and it may become necessary to discontinue fostering a dog. We request that a foster parent provide as much notice as possible (minimum 3-4 weeks) so that we can find an alternative foster home to transfer the dog to.  Of course, in an emergency a foster parent may always bring their dog back to us.


9- Are foster dogs ever euthanized?

Much energy, love, time and vet care is devoted to our foster dogs, and we are committed to finding homes for all the adoptable dogs in our care.  Some dogs are in foster care because they’re seriously ill or injured. If, after medical attention, these dogs are still too weak to heal and are suffering, then we will have them humanely euthanized.  Fortunately, most dogs in foster care heal beautifully. On occasion, a dog in foster care may start to exhibit potentially dangerous behavior that was unknown or suppressed when the dog was at a shelter.  CPR may determine that the dog is too dangerous and will humanely euthanize the animal. Your safety is our priority. You must always inform our team if our foster dog exhibits any aggressive behavior.

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