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by ItsaNewDay

Tips on Fostering Dogs

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I have been a foster “parent” for 40+ dogs in the last three years, and it has been a wonderful experience!  Can you believe that I never thought of myself as a dog person and now I’m considered a dog expert by my foster coordinator?  Pets can change your life, even if you only have them for a short time.  Here are a few tips about fostering:

dog needing a home
dog needing a home
As a foster home you are providing temporary placement for an animal that has been rescued or abandoned and is in need of shelter.  This is a volunteer activity, so you may find that you invest more than just your time into the chore.  

  •  Food:  You are responsible for feeding the animal.  The agency might have donated food that they can provide for you.  You can also solicit donations from friends or family.
  • Training:  You are responsible for housetraining the animal.  You may be taking care of an animal that was abused, abandoned or unclaimed.  A big part of fostering is to prepare the dog for its permanent home, which requires socialization and house training. 
  • Supplies: You will want to have a variety of collars and leashes depending on the size of the animal.  Pick up a dog brush, training pads for puppies, dog shampoo, toys, and lots of cleaning supplies!
  • Veterinary care:  The fostering agency will have established arrangements with selected providers in your area.  They will need to approve taking the dog to one of these locations.  Typically a recently rescued dog will first be scheduled for examination, micro-chipping, appropriate shots and medication, and spaying/neutering.  These costs are paid for by the foster agency. 
  • A protected environment: If you don’t have a fence, look into installing one.  It provides protection and control for the visiting dog, and gives it a place to burn off their energy.  This is also a great place for them to meet their adoptive family.
  • Shelter:  If you are keeping your foster dog indoors try to set aside a particular area or room for them.  This will contain the mess and give rescued dogs a place where they feel safe.  If they remain outdoors, provide them with shelter from the elements.

There is a steady stream of animals that need to be transitioned into a permanent home.  Rescue agencies are always looking for new foster families that help in this process. 

  • Can I pick the dog I want to foster?  Not likely.  The foster coordinator will want to place dogs based on need, temperament, and availability.  If you are waiting for your next dog it could be one of any age or breed.   
  • Restrictions?  Your foster coordinator will want to match animals with the right home.  Let them know up-front whether you have breed restrictions, age preferences, or temperament concerns that limit the animals that are placed with you.
  • What age do I want?  Puppies are great fun and often plentiful.  They are also very messy, sometimes destructive, and require housebreaking.  Puppies generally do not stay in foster homes long, so you can expect more frequent visits from prospective adopting families.  Older dogs are generally housebroken, gentle, and grateful for every rub that they get.  If they come from an abusive home they may require extra care to gain their trust.  They might stay with you for weeks before a permanent home is found, or in some cases will spend their last days with you.
  • What if it is a bad fit?  Let the agency know of your concerns.  They may be able to help with training the dog, or placing them in another home.
  • Can I keep the dog I foster?  Yes.  You will need to follow the adoption policies of the agency.

I am often asked how I can give them up.  Sometimes it is hard to let them go, but remember that they will be placed into a permanent home with a family who will love them.  This makes room for another dog that needs the special care that you can provide. 

If fostering sounds like a volunteer activity that you can get excited about, contact the local humane society or pet store for referral to a foster agency.  You are saving the lives of dogs, and enjoying the company of some wonderful pets!