The time to begin preparing your dog for adoption is the day s/he is rescued. There are no guarantees but the more adoptable your dog is, the better his/her chances and the faster it will be placed. The dogs we list for adoption are all competing for homes and, here in La Paz, there are more dogs than there are homes. So we work with volunteers in the US and Canada to find homes there as well. This means, if your dog is adopted to the US or Canada, the family adopting it will not have met your dog physically. So the more you can provide in photos, video, and verbal descriptions and stories the better.
Here is an excellent article on the correct mindset to have while you are fostering you dog. Neither this article or the tips below are exhaustive but designed to guide you so your dog will be ready sooner and to increase his/her chances of success in his/her new home.
You will notice throughout this guide, we use the term “your dog” or “your rescued dog” and that is because when you rescue a dog here in La Paz, it is your property. The role of Baja Dogs is to support those who rescue dogs by helping them get the dog adopted. We do not have a shelter and we do not receive dogs that one person rescues and assign them to another person to foster. The shear volume of dogs needing rescue prevents us from doing this. If you take in a dog, it is your property until you relinquish it for adoption.
What we will do is offer assistance to get your dog adopted as quickly as we can by advertising it in various locations, qualifying adoptive homes, and getting your dog transported. We need you to help get your dog ready for adoption so we offer these tips to speed up the process.
- Medical ReadinessYour dog will need to pass a medical/veterinary checkup, have proof of vaccines, and be sterilized prior to adoption. Unfortunately, funds do not allow us to pay for all of the veterinary care of all of the dogs in our system. So you will need to be prepared to pay the veterinarian when you see them about your dog:
- Vaccines – All vaccines will need to be current and the rabies vaccine must be 30 days prior to entry to the US.. Consult your vet for the appropriate vaccines.
- Deworming – Your dog will need to be dewormed and your vet will probably want to do this before applying vaccines. Consult your vet for details concerning your dog.
- Sterilization – There are often free sterilization clinics in town and periodically, Baja Dogs will pay for a group of dogs to be sterilized at DogClean in Camino Real. We will publish any events that we know about or that we conduct.
- SNAP test for Erlichiosis, Heartworm, Lyme, and Anaplasma – This is a test that Baja Dogs will provide and have performed prior to your dog being transported. Because about 70% of the dogs in La Paz have Erlichiosis and this disease does not exist in Canada or northern parts of the US, we need to test for it and treat it. We will start testing/treating dogs as soon as they are accepted into our program so this is completed well in advance of adoption/transport to the US/Canada.
- Bravecto or flea/tick treatment – Baja Dogs will provide Bravecto to dogs accepted into our system. Bravecto will kill ticks that bite your dog before they have a chance to infect your dog with Erlichiosis or Anaplasma. We trust you to give the Bravecto to your dog so we do not have to worry about infection once we test/treat the dog. Funds do not allow for a second test and treatment. So this is very important! If, after being tested/treated, the dog contracts Erlichiosis and is sent north, we risk its health and life as well as the other dogs in the new home.
IMPORTANT: Please keep all of your records (carnets) and make sure that all treatments, vaccines, deworming, medical care, results of SNAP and other tests are documented. Lack of documentation results in retesting, retreating, re-vaccinating and this is stressful for the dog and expensive.
- Behavior, temperament, and training
From the moment you rescue your dog or decide to put it up for adoption, start preparing it to succeed in its new home. The goal is for your rescued dog, when adopted, to think his/her new home is WAY better than yours ever was and for him/her to bond with the new family rather than miss you and wish s/he could be back with you. Here is a document you should read that provides and excellent explanation of the mindset to have: Fostering Success. Most potential adopters are looking for dogs with basic manners. You might feel it’s appropriate to let your own dog jump on people, get mouthy during play, or beg for food, but please do not let your rescue dog have these same indulgences. Set boundaries for your rescue dog, and be consistent.
Providing your rescue dog with basic training and manners will increase adoptability. Shy dogs will benefit from your patience, routine, and slowly exposing them to new people to build their confidence. Rambunctious adolescents who learn good manners will help show off their trainability and long term potential. And while puppies are adorable, they need a lot of love, attention and hand holding from humans to develop properly and feel secure. Here are some things you can do to increase the chances your rescue dog will be adopted sooner. This is not an exhaustive list, but is a good place to start.
- Leash training and socialization
A dog that is leash trained will get adopted much faster than a dog that is not. If your dog is not used to a leash, put it on him/her and just leave it lay without holding it. Give the dog treats and gradually start walking with the dog in your home on the leash rewarding him when he walks with you. Then make each walk outside very rewarding for the dog and gradually s/he will come to love it. As your dog is leashed trained, take it for walks on the Malecon or other busy places where it can get exposed to other dogs, kids, people, skateboards and learn not to be afraid of these things. If you feel your dog would respond well, you can ask strangers or kids to give your dog treats so s/he starts to become more friendly. Once a week, on Wednesdays, we take dogs to Asilo de Ancianos and if your dog is calm enough and friendly, this is a great experience for the dog, the people, and we get video and photos of your dogs that we can promote. Contact us on Facebook or by email at email@example.com for more information.
Remember when you are walking your dog on a leash to remain calm because your dog keys off your behavior. At the same time, always be aware of your surroundings. Always keep a good handle on your leash and be extremely careful around busy streets, or where there are distractions like other dogs, skateboards, bicycles, etc. 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 rescued dog 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.
- Socializing puppies
Make sure puppies have lots of new experiences, so they are well socialized and will be adaptable as an adult. Since it’s best not to take puppies out in public until they are fully vaccinated, bring new experiences to them. Expose them to 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 in car rides (crate them for safety) 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.
Human handling is especially important for the healthy development of puppies. Puppies should be introduced to new people every single day so they learn to be sociable and not frightened. Once they have developed into older puppies or young adults, it is more difficult to socialize them – so doing this while they are young is critical.
- Crate training
If your rescue dog is to be transported, it will be provided an airline approved crate prior to transport. Most dogs find crates to be safe places – think of wolves in the wild that like caves or dens. Most dogs feel safe and secure when they are there – kind of like a dog house with a door! Here are some ideas for introducing the crate:
- Place the crate (with a blanket inside) and toss in some of the dog’s toys. Put some treats inside and if the dog is hesitant, but them close to the door and gradually farther and farther back.
- If your dog still refuses to go near the crate, put the smelliest, tastiest wet food (or a steak!) in the crate and shut the door. Let the dog hang outside the crate for a while, smelling the food inside. Soon s/he should beg you to let him/her in!
- In time, you can close the door to the crate and then open it again. Place treats inside the crate and each time the dog goes in and you close the door, feed him/her some treats through the door and then let him out. You can gradually increase the amount of time the door is closed.
- If you have a puppy, you can try placing a warm hot water bottle wrapped in a towel next to him/her (during the winter months). Warmth makes puppies sleepy. Be careful of dog crates during hot weather and always place them in a shady area
Dogs should not be left in a crate too long especially at first. Do not ever use the crate for punishment — keep it a positive experience for the dog.
- Behavior Problems
A dog with an unknown/questionable history may need to be observed for a while before being adopted. 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.” The easiest way to coexist with our canine companions is to provide more appropriate (aka human accepted) outlets for these behaviors. Some of the most common behavioral issues include:
- Attention seeking
- Garbage hunting
- Leash pulling
- Greeting manners
- Destructive chewing
- Puppy nipping and rough play
- Submissive and/or excitement urination
- Urine marking behavior
- Separation anxiety
- Resource guarding
- Prey drive
If your dog is exhibiting any behavioral issues, ask yourself the questions below:
- Is my dog getting enough exercise?
- Is s/he being left alone for long periods of time?
- Does s/he have interesting toys to keep his mind engaged and stimulated?
- Is s/he getting enough attention and playtime?
- Am I reinforcing bad behavior? Some examples include verbally scolding a dog when they are seeking attention or engaging the dog when s/he uses bad manners to get you to play.
- 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 his natural instincts and drives?
Regardless of the issue, most trainers now believe that punishment does not work because it will not address the cause of the behavior. In fact, it may worsen any behavior that’s motivated by fear or anxiety. Punishment may also cause anxiety in dogs that aren’t currently fearful. A common mistake is to discipline your dog after the fact. People often believe their dog makes this connection because he runs and hides or “looks guilty.” But dogs display submissive postures like cowering, running away, or hiding when they feel threatened by an angry tone of voice, body posture, or facial expression. Your dog doesn’t know what he’s done wrong; he only knows that you’re upset. Punishment after the fact will not only fail to eliminate the undesirable behavior, but may provoke other undesirable behaviors, too. Instead, look at the questions above and try to address the cause of the behavior.
- Leash training and socialization
- Feeding Schedule and Quantity
Create a consistent schedule for feeding your rescued dog and feed at the same time and in the same space. If you have other dogs at home, start off you new rescue dog in a separate room and close the door – to prevent arguments over food. Train your rescue dog to sit and wait for you to put the food bowl down and to only eat from his/her food bowl. When you have done this, you can start feeding him/her with other dogs as long as all of your dogs are trained to eat from their own bowls. 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. By feeding only dog food, you are also discouraging begging. Feeding will depend on the age and size of your foster dog.
- Adult dogs: dry adult dog food twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.
- Adolescent dogs (4 months to 1 year): dry puppy food, twice a day.
- Weaned puppies (6-8 weeks to 4 months): dry puppy food three to four times a day. Can be moistened with water or puppy formula.
The quantity of food you provide your foster dog will vary depending on weight, age and activity level. If your rescued dog is underweight, it will need more food to bring it to a healthy level. Once your dog is at its optimum weight, remember to reduce the feeding amount to compensate for any treats, including chews. Obesity is an epidemic for pets and can lead to health problems, exacerbate existing health issues and reduces overall quality of life. Please do not overfeed your foster dog. Please refer to the suggested amounts on the dog food package because the amounts may change depending on the brand.
If your dog is on the Baja Dogs food program, here are the recommended amounts, ingredients, and details of the food we provide:
- Adult Dogs (12 months or older) - Kirkland Signature Adult Lamb, Rice, and Vegetable
Dog wt. in kgs Cups per day Cups per kilo 0 – 04.5 1.00 .222 >4.5 – 09.0 1.50 .167 >9.0 – 13.5 2.0 .148 >13.5 – 18.1 2.3 .127 >18.1 – 27.2 3.3 .119 >27.2 – 36.2 3.8 .104 >36.2 – 46.0 4.5 .099
- IngredientsLamb, lamb meal, whole grain brown rice, ground white rice, rice bran, egg product, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried beet pulp, potatoes, fish meal, flaxseed, natural flavor, millet, brewers dried yeast, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, carrots, peas, dried kelp, apples, cranberries, rosemary extract, parsley flake, dried chicory root, glucosamine hydrochloride, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, taurine, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, chondroitin sulfate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, folic acid.
- Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein 23.00% min Crude Fat 14.00% min Crude Fiber 14.00% max Moisture 10.00% max Zinc 200 mg/kg min Selenium 0.35 mg/kg min Vitamin E 150 IU/kg min Omega-6 Fatty Acids* 2.20% min Omega-3 Fatty Acids* 0.40% min Glucosamine* 300 mg/kg min Chondroitin sulfate* 100 mg/kg min
Total Microorganisms* Not Less Than 1,000,000 CFU/lb
(Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactobacillus reuteri)
*Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.
- Calorie Content
3,653 kcals/kg (373 kcals/cup) Calculated Metabolizable Energy
- Puppies (under 12 months) - Kirkland Premium Puppy Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula
Puppy wt. in kgs Puppy age Cups/day Cups/day Cups/day Cups/day 0.00 – 02.27 1.00 – 1.30 .75 – 1.25 .66 – 0.75 .50 – 0.66 >2.27 – 04.53 1.30 – 2.25 1.25 – 2.00 .75 – 1.33 .66 – 1.25 >4.53 – 09.07 2.25 – 3.66 2.00 – 3.25 1.33 – 2.25 1.25 – 1.75 >9.07 – 13.60 3.66 – 4.75 3.25 – 4.25 2.25 – 3.00 1.75 – 2.50 >13.60 – 18.14 4.75 – 6.00 4.25 – 5.25 3.00 – 3.75 2.50 – 3.00 >18.14 – 27.21 5.25 – 7.00 3.75 – 5.00 3.00 – 4.00 >27.21 – 36.28 7.00 – 8.50 5.00 – 06.0 4.00 – 4.75 >36.28 – 45.35 6.00 – 7.00 4.75 – 5.66 >45.35 – 54.42 7.00 – 8.00 5.66 – 6.30 >54.42 – 63.49 8.00 – 9.00 6.30 – 7.25 >63.49 – 72.56 7.25 – 7.75 >72.56 – 81.63 7.75 – 8.50
- IngredientsChicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, egg product, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried beet pulp, potatoes, fish meal, flaxseed, natural flavor, brewers dried yeast, salmon oil (a source of DHA), millet, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, carrots, peas, dried kelp, apples, cranberries, rosemary extract, parsley flake, dried chicory root, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, folic acid.
- Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein 28.00% min Crude Fat 17.00% max Crude Fiber 3.00% max Moisture 10.00% max Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA*) 0.05% min Calcium 1.20% min Phosphorus 1.00% min Zinc 225 mg/kg min Selenium 0.35 mg/kg min Vitamin E 250 IU/kg min Omega-6 Fatty Acids* 3.00% min Omega-3 Fatty Acids* 0.50% min
Total Microorganisms* not less than 1,000,000 CFU/lb
(Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactobacillus reuteri)
*Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.
- Calorie Content
3,761 kcals/kg (390 kcals/cup) Calculated Metabolizable Energy
- 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:
- Macadamia Nuts
- Onion, Garlic, and Mushrooms
The ten most common poisonous plants are:
- Sago Palm
- Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
- Promoting your dog to the publicIn addition to all of the things mentioned above, you can promote you dog on your personal Facebook page, to your friends and family, and tell everyone you know about your dog. Once we have your dog’s web page built, you can share the link to that page and potential adopters can submit inquiries and applications to adopt your dog and we will process those. You can direct potential adopters to this section of our website which explains the adoption process. All they need to do is complete an adoption application.
You can take your dog for walks in public places. Use an “adopt” bandana (we can supply one for you) and put it on your dog to advertise that it is available for adoption.
Once a week we take leash-trained, friendly dogs to Asilo de Anciano’s to visit the people there. We video the dogs and photograph them around the eldery who are in wheel chairs and walkers to show that the dogs are comfortable in these settings. This is something your dog can also participate in doing.
Keep your cell phone ready to take photos and videos when your rescued dog is playing or doing something that is really cute or special and send those to us – the more frequent, the better! You can also post those to your Facebook page and feel free to include a link to the web page we create for your dog.
- Finding a home
During the course of finding a home for your dog, we may contact you with specific questions or need specific photos or video of your dog. Once we believe we have found a home for your dog, we will work with you to prepare your dog for the final steps to be adopted. If the home is here in La Paz, we may ask for a meeting, a sleepover or trial period to make sure everything works out well.
At this point, it would be great to give your dog a bath, trim his/her nails and and otherwise get him ready to meet prospective families.
If you find your dog a home after we have listed it for you and do not need our assistance in processing an application or validating the home, just let us know so we can avoid unnecessary work and money advertising and promoting your dog. We are always excited when we know a rescued dog has been adopted whether we are involved or not. The most important thing is to let us know as soon as you think you have a home. If later, things don’t work out, just let us know again and we’ll reactive everything in our system.
- Transporting your dog to the US/Canada
If the adopter is in the US or Canada, we will be in contact with you to prepare your dog for transport and entry into those countries. This involves a health examination and certificate by the vet and we will need all of your dog’s current health records, carnet, and vaccination details in order to create the certificate that the vet will sign. You will be glad you kept all of those documents from the vet and had the vet enter all data in the dog’s carnet/vaccination book because this will be very important.
We will start looking for a “Pet Escort” who is someone flying to the same city your dog needs to go to as well as a volunteer to drive your dog to the airport (generally in San Jose del Cabo.) We will fly your dog into a major airport that is as close as we can get to the new family and recruit volunteers to drive you dog the rest of the way.
Transporting a dog into the US or Canada is a tremendous amount of work, can involve as many as 15 or 20 different volunteers in 3 countries. The timing of every step is critically important. Your cooperation, assistance, flexibility, and patience are very much appreciated as we work on this final step toward getting your dog into its new home.
Prior to your dog’s departure we will also microchip and register him/her keeping Baja Dogs as the Guardian for life. This means we will always be contacted in the event your dog is ever lost and the owner cannot be reached. You can read about our microchip program here.
- Saying Goodbye
Once your dog is adopted through our adoption program, you will relinquish your rescued dog to the new family or to a volunteer who is transporting your dog and it becomes the property of the new owner with Baja Dogs remaining the “Guardian.” Once we have transported a dog to the US or Canada we initiate our follow up program to validate the dog is in good care.
The process of turning your dog over to someone else, either at the airport for transport or to the new family, can be emotional and there is no getting over that. We are all happy the dog is going to its forever family, but we are also going to miss his/her presence in our lives.
Because dogs sense all of your emotions, it is important to try very hard to think about the happiness your dog will bring to someone else and the wonderful life ahead for him/her. Try to approach this with as much of a celebratory attitude as possible so when you dog gets on the plane or goes to his new family, he is not confused, upset, or concerned about your emotions. Let the last thing your dog sees and remembers about you to be as happy as possible. Set the dog up for success in his/her new home by not contributing to the stress of the change by acting too stressful or emotional yourself. This is all easier said than done and all of us shed tears, but we try to put on a happy face and attitude so the dog’s expectation for everything that comes after parting with you is happy and positive – not sad, depressing, or set up to miss you and look for you. Before you say goodbye, this might be a good time to reread Sara Reusche’s article on fostering.
- Adoption Follow upOnce you dog is adopted, we invite the new family and you to a “secret” Facebook group set up to share photos and updates about your dog. This is not a requirement for either you or the new family, but many new adopters like the ability to share updates in a private controlled setting. Due to many privacy laws and concerns, we do not require the adoptive family to share their contact details with the rescuer/fosterer in order to adopt a dog. But we invite them to this page and from there, many new friendships are made. It is a choice on their part to invite you to “friend” them and we love seeing this happen.
Some families and adopters are extremely private and choose either not to join the group or may not even have a Facebook account. So we ask them to share a photo of the dog in its new home that we can pass on to the rescuer/fosterer. We also require them to allow a Baja Dogs volunteer access to the dog so we can follow up and ensure the dog is safe and well cared for. We are very careful to honor the privacy of adopters while still maintaining a relationship that allows our volunteers to check up on the dog.
You are welcome to look at the Adoption Agreement we require all adopters to sign so you know the extend we go to in order to validate that the dog is well cared for and to require that anytime the adoptive family cannot care for the dog, that they give us the opportunity to find a new home for it. Because we now microchip all dogs before going to the US/Canada, we are able to be contacted anytime a dog is located and the owner is not available. Baja Dogs will remain the “Guardian” of the dog for the remainder of the dog’s life.