If you’re considering opening up your home to a foster dog, there are some things you should probably know first. While it is a selfless and wonderful thing to do, and many animals are in need, it might not be the right move for you. Here’s what you need to know before fostering a dog.
It’s Giving a Dog a Home… For a While
Fostering a dog means you’ll be taking in a homeless animal instead of having it live at a shelter. There are lots of reasons a dog may be placed in a foster home instead of at a shelter. Your local rescue organization may not have the physical space to care for all the animals but instead rely on a roster of foster homes.
In some cases, a dog just might need extra hands-on attention that they wouldn’t receive in a shelter with other animals. These dogs might be young puppies that require training, dogs recovering from an injury or surgery, or those that have never lived with people before and require socialization. You may be expected to care for a dog for a set period of time, like while they recover from an injury, or until they are adopted into a new home.
It’s Hard Work
Owning a dog requires a lot of work, so many people think fostering is a good way to test out or ease into adopting a dog. However, fostering a dog might be harder work than owning one. A lot of foster dogs will need some level of training, and some may have been rescued from difficult situations that will require extra patience.
You may also need to buy supplies for the pet, much like you would if you had adopted a dog. While some shelters and rescues provide things like carriers or crates, you might need to buy other essentials like dog beds, leashes, and toys. You can do bulk orders on websites like Pet Life to get all the supplies you need for your foster dog at once.
Saying Goodbye Will Cause Mixed Emotions
One of the biggest reasons people turn away from fostering is because they think it will be too difficult to say goodbye to a foster dog once it’s time for the pup to get adopted.
While parting with a pet you’ve cared for will invariably be emotional, many fosters say it’s rewarding to see an animal they cared for grow into becoming the perfect pet for someone. Each time you say goodbye to one dog, you’re opening up your home for another to come in.
You’re Not Just Helping One Dog
Fostering a dog is also helping out your local shelter. You’re taking on responsibilities like driving the dog to the vet for checkups or medical issues and feeding the pup regularly. This frees up shelter staff to take in even more dogs in need. In some cases, it even saves lives! Some shelters still euthanize pets that come in as strays and stay in the system for too long. By taking an animal into your home to foster, you’re taking away the probability of euthanasia.
It also helps get the dog adopted more! Dogs that are in foster care get a lot more individual attention than those living at the rescue or shelter. You can help provide a more accurate look at the dog’s personality, temperament, and needs for its forever home.
You Have to Think About Your Current Pets — or Kids!
If you have pets in your home already, you have to be careful about how you introduce your foster dog. It’s recommended to keep the pets separate at first, in different rooms of the house, and slowly introduce them to each other in a controlled and supervised setting. Then, if they don’t get along at first, you can send them back to their separate rooms and try again later.
If you have young kids, make sure the shelter or rescue is aware before you bring the dog into your home. They should make sure to pair you with an animal that has no history of violence and is known to be good with children.
Different Dogs Will Have Different Needs
It’s important to take your current lifestyle into consideration before fostering a dog. Some dogs require a lot more care and supervision than others. If you work from home, you might be better suited for a puppy than those who would be away all day. Similarly, some dog breeds require more exercise than others, so if you live in a downtown condo and don’t have access to parks, you might not want to bring in a high energy breed like a border collie or a husky.
After you meet with the rescue or the shelter, they will ask you questions about your lifestyle and abilities in order to pair you with the right dog. They want to ensure the dog will be cared for as best as possible and will often do home inspections to make sure you have the space and equipment to care for their dogs.
Always Do Research on the Shelter
It’s important to know that you’re working with a reputable organization that will properly care for, not only the dogs but also you as a foster. Talk to them about their expectations and closely read the contract. You can also research the organization online to see if they have a good reputation in your town or community and make sure they are a legitimate operation.
If you can contact other fosters who have worked with the organization and get their opinions. It’s important to know what will be expected of you and how much support they will offer.
Some rescues will provide food, while others will give you a regular stipend. Some may ask for regular updates in the form of photos or emails, and others may ask you to bring the pet in regularly for adoption fairs. It’s important that both you and the shelter are on the same page about what each of your responsibilities and goals is for this process.