Should I Foster a Dog?
Fostering a dog is a wonderful and rewarding experience. You give the dog a safe place to live until he finds his forever home, and in return, you are rewarded with the joys of having a fur baby in your home. If you're wondering, "Should I foster a dog?" remember the decision to foster is a commitment that requires patience, love, and a willingness to say goodbye when the pup's adopted. Here's a look at what it takes to foster a dog, so you can know if you're a good fit for this very important job.
Fostering is a wonderful opportunity to help dogs socialize and live their best lives while waiting for their forever homes. You can foster a dog at any stage of life.1 Some may want to foster "bottle babies." These puppies are two to three weeks old and need bottle feeding because they are too young to eat soft food. These fosters require a lot more attention. Others may choose to foster older puppies or adult dogs, giving them a temporary home for socialization or training, such as housebreaking or crate training.
Still others may choose a medical fostering route, where they foster a dog that is recovering from surgery or another medical issue. The organization usually covers medical expenses, but you'll provide much-needed love and support in caring for the sick pup.
When you foster, you typically take the dog to adoption events as she looks for a forever home. You'll be able to meet the potential family and often be on hand to answer any questions they may have about the pup. It's truly a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
The Pros and Cons of Fostering
There are so many benefits to fostering.2 You can help get a dog ready for her forever family, perhaps by helping a shy dog gain confidence or house-training a puppy. You can give a sick pup some much needed TLC. You may find that fostering is a great way to test being a "dog parent" before you commit to adopting a dog of your own. Or maybe you really just want to do something good for someone else.
Of course, there are some disadvantages to fostering. Some dogs require a lot of attention, whether through vet visits, house training, or socialization.
The biggest disadvantage of fostering is that you eventually have to allow someone else to adopt your foster dog. Saying goodbye can be hard, but it's important to remember you're also making room to help another dog in need.
What if you've become particularly fond of your foster and don't want to let go? That happens more often than you think. Sometimes fosters become "foster fails," which is when the pup gets adopted by the foster parent.
Would You Make a Good Foster?
If you have the space, time, compassion, and love needed to care for a dog temporarily, then you'd likely make a wonderful foster parent.3 The key is to make sure you're a good fit for the particular dog. For example, if you work out of the house for eight hours or more a day, then you might not be a good fit to foster a dog with special needs. If you travel a lot, then fostering might not be the best choice for you.
If you have multiple pets, you might also be a bit more limited on which dogs you can foster. It will depend on their personalities and special needs, along with how well your current pets get along with the new dog. If you have family or roommates, they should be on board too. But don't worry, the organization you work with will help make sure you're the right match for the foster dog.
Supplies You'll Need to Foster
When you foster a dog, the vet and food expenses will likely be taken care of (but double-check with your organization first). Many places will also supply toys and a crate. You still want to take extra steps to make your home as happy and comfy as possible.
First, make sure your home is dog-proofed. This includes keeping any toxic chemicals or human foods out of reach. Make sure your backyard doesn't have any easy ways to escape.
Set aside a space where your dog can be alone if she needs it. This could be a crate with a comfy pad or a separate room with its own bed like the Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper. If your dog has aches and pains, a Coolin' Comfort Bed is a good choice.
You might also need baby gates to keep your foster dog out of areas where she shouldn't be. And don't forget supplies for when your pup's playing outside, like an indoor-outdoor pet bed or a Pet Cot Canopy for shade. You also need a safe carrier for car rides. The Buckle n' Go Pet Seat or the Backpack Pet Carrier are fun options.
You need a collar and leash so you can take your dog on walks, plus food and water bowls. The CleanFlow Filtered Water Bowl is a great option. Invest in some extra toys for games of fetch. Get a good brush for grooming, yummy treats, and cleaning supplies in case there are any accidents.
It's also a good idea to brush up on dog training techniques, like teaching your dog to greet people without jumping. Sometimes you'll need to house-train the dog too.
How to Become a Foster
If you've read all this advice and feel you're ready to foster a dog, contact your local shelter or animal rescue. They have a specific process you need to go through that usually starts with filling out an application.
You might want to ask the organization a few questions too.4 Find out which expenses they cover, how long fostering typically lasts, what to do if there's a medical issue, and how adoption events are handled. You need to know what training the dog will need and who to call if there's an issue. You might also want to learn the dog's background and history.
Fostering is a rewarding experience as long as you and your pup are a good fit. Most organizations will vet you thoroughly and make sure you're prepared before the dog arrives. Then all you'll need is lots of love and time for bonding and play.
Tell us all about your foster pet! Post photos of your foster adventures with the hashtag #FosterToForever and tag us on Instagram @KHpet.
- Operation Kindness. "Become a Foster for Homeless Pets." OperationKindness.org, https://www.operationkindness.org/volunteer3.
- Geier, Elisabeth. "How to Foster a Dog 101: Everything You Need to Know." Rover, 27 March 2020, https://www.rover.com/blog/dog-fostering-101/.
- Scott, Richard and Raye. "Things to Know Before Fostering a Dog or Cat." PetFinder, https://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/fostering-dogs/before-you-foster/.
- Harrell, Jane. "20 Questions to Ask Before You Foster a Dog." Petfinder, https://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/fostering-dogs/20-questions-before-you-foster-dogs/.