How To Foster A Dog: Preparation And Expectations

Are you thinking about fostering a dog? Fostering a dog is a very rewarding experience that involves caretaking for a dog in your home for a predetermined amount of time or until it is adopted. Making the decision to foster a dog in your home can be a big one because of the possible emotional toll, time commitment, and preparation for your home. Here are some tips on fostering a dog, from a fellow foster. 

Why foster a dog? 

Fostering is a great thing because it frees up space in shelters and helps shelter dogs adjust to home living. By opening up your home, you are giving a dog a fresh start to its new life beyond a shelter. When a dog leaves a shelter, it will experience shelter shock, and the adjustment period can be different for every animal. During a foster experience, you will learn about individual dog personalities, learn about various training techniques, and get love from grateful animals as you help them find a forever home. 

Am I ready to foster? 

If you want to transform a shelter pet into a family pet, and in turn help a family find their new companion, then you are ready to foster. If you have space and free time, consider the extra accommodations another pet would require. If you are ready to make those adjustments and give them the attention they need, then you are ready. Other perks of fostering are getting experience taking care of a dog without the lifelong emotional and financial commitment and having temporary companionship in your home. 

What am I responsible for?

When you foster a dog, you are committing to taking care of the dog as if it were your own. You have to take it to vet appointments, care for it when it gets neutered or spayed, give it medications, train, and socialize it. You will also be required to attend adoption events and meet with potential adopters. The cost for food and vet bills should be covered by the rescue. Talk with the rescue you are working with beforehand so you understand their requirements. You will also need to take photos, write a bio, and try to make your furry friend the best dog citizen ever. 

Adoption events are required for fostering a dog.

How do I prepare? 

Preparing your home is important for an easy transition for your new house guest. You will want to ensure the dog has its own space to feel safe and secure. You will want to get a crate, dog bed, bowls, dog toys, training treats, a leash, and a pet cleaner. You should expect accidents because oftentimes shelter pets are not potty trained. You should also expect things like shoes, cords, and furniture to get potentially chewed. You will want to puppy proof your home even if you are not expecting to foster a young dog. This means to put away any toxic items like plants or cleaners, get lids for trash cans, and stow away electrical cords. Oftentimes animals will come with fleas, ticks, or even illnesses that went unnoticed in a shelter. You should be prepared to give them a bath almost immediately, as they are likely to smell coming from a shelter. 

Overall, the experience of fostering a dog is gratifying, and it feels good to make an impact on an animal’s life. Do your research beforehand so you are prepared and talk with the rescue you work with if any questions or concerns arise. The rescue will most likely do a screening beforehand, which is a great time to go over any questions and their procedures. For example, many rescues require all animals to be fixed before being adopted which could mean you are responsible for caring for the animal after their procedure. Familiarize yourself with whatever their procedures are so that there are no surprises. You want to be fully committed to the process so the animal has a loving and stable environment with you as it adjusts to home life. 

What if I have a foster fail?

And finally, with any foster pet, you bring into your home, you are at risk for a “foster fail.” A foster fail is when you fall in love with your new animal friend and decide they are a good fit to stay forever. This is a common term in the foster community because it happens so often.

Foster fails are beautiful love stories that lead to happy pets and owners. When this happens, the rescue will no longer try to get the animal adopted and you will take over full responsibility for the pet. You will want to inquire about pet insurance options and look into pet care insurance reviews. 

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