Fostering a Dog: What Does it Entail and What Does a Dog Foster Parent Do?


How to foster a dog

Fostering a DogFostering a dog is something that has been playing on my mind lately.

Since losing Jet, I’ve spent a lot of time promoting rescue organizations in an attempt to fill the void.

Throughout this interaction, a lot of people have recommended that we look in to fostering a dog.

I have a few friends who work with rescue organizations and who open their home to foster pups, but with Jet’s poor health, it was never something we considered taking on…we already had our hands full. Now that our home and our hearts are both empty, though, fostering may be a possibility.

Rescue organizations and shelters are always on the lookout for foster homes for dogs, but as rewarding as the experience can be, very few people step up to the plate to become dog fosters.

Today, in hopes of convincing more of you to consider fostering, I want to talk about what fostering a dog entails and what your responsibility is as a dog’s foster parent.

Fostering a Dog

What is a Dog Foster?

What is a Dog Foster?

A dog foster is someone who opens their home to a homeless dog that is under the care of a shelter or rescue organization. The foster dog lives in a foster’s home as any pet would.

What Do You Have to Do For a Foster Dog

What Does a Dog Foster Have to Provide When Fostering a Dog?

Your main responsibility as a dog foster parent is to provide shelter and love.

Yes, I know, you’re wondering about the financials of it all.

What you have to provide financially for your foster dog varies depending on the organization you are fostering for.

In most instances, the cost of vet visits and any necessary medications is usually covered by the rescue organization or shelter, but you may be required to take your foster to these appointments and you will be responsible for dosing medications.

Food for your foster dog is almost always donated.

Supplies like toys, blankets, bedding etc. are usually handed down or donated.

So, your main responsibility is to provide a safe loving home for a dog without one. Depending on the dog, you may also need to put a little time into house training or working on manners, but financially, your expenses are minimal.

Newborn Puppies Need Foster Parents

Why Do Rescues and Shelters Need Fosters?

There are many reasons why a shelter or rescue rely on fostering.

  • Not all shelters or rescues own commercial space large enough to house animals, these organizations depend on fosters to provide living space.
  • Some dogs simply don’t thrive in a shelter atmosphere. These dogs can become nervous, loud, depressed or even physically sick when confined in a shelter. This makes the dogs much less likely to be adopted, so foster parents help these dogs to decompress and relax so that they become more adoptable.
  • Some dogs need medical recuperation time after surgery or treatment. These dogs may require bandage changes, monitoring of their health or quarantine from other dogs and they can find this with foster parents.
  • Some puppies are too young for a shelter environment. Young dogs do not have the immunity against diseases that other dogs may have which makes shelter life a risk for them! These dogs are usually placed with fosters.
  • Very tiny puppies may require round the clock care! Some very brave fosters take on litters of puppies that need bottle feeding and round the clock care due to being abandoned, their mother being ill, being dumped without their mother, or their mother passing away. These fosters take on A LOT of work!
  • Senior dogs with arthritic joints need somewhere soft to lay their head, fosters offer this opportunity and get senior pups off concrete floors!
  • Previously owned dogs who are dumped by their owners can become extremely distressed at the shelter and overstimulated. This can create a very depressed or anxious dog, so rescues and shelters try their best to place these dogs with foster parents.

Why Foster?

Why Should You Consider Fostering a Dog?

Fostering a dog does come with its responsibilities, but there are plenty of perks with the job as well!

  • Fostering a dog provides the companionship of a dog without the financial expense of being a pet parent.
  • Being a foster parent to a dog means opening up space at a shelter for another dog to be saved from euthanasia.
  • Fostering a dog is a wonderful transition for families who aren’t quite ready for another dog after losing a beloved furkid.
  • Bringing a foster dog home gives a dog a chance to know love.
  • Fostering a dog will fill your heart with joy, knowing that you have made a difference in the life of a living breathing soul who may otherwise have been denied a life at all.
  • Being a foster dog parent gives back to your community and makes the world a better place.

How to foster a dog

How Do You Become a Foster Parent to a Dog?

So, how do you go about fostering a dog?

There is no shortage of shelters and rescues out there looking for foster parents, so you don’t have to go too far to start your search!

Begin by asking yourself (and your family) a few questions…

  • What breed of dog do you have experience with or would you most like to foster?
  • Does your current living situation allow for this type of dog in your home?
  • What type of dog would best suit your family situation? Do you have an active lifestyle? Do you have young children? Do you have experience with anxious dogs?
  • Do you have a rescue organization or shelter in particular that you would like to work with?
  • Do your current pets seem like they would be accepting of a foster?

By answering these questions, you will be able to build a blueprint for how to begin your fostering experience. For example, if you have a breed preference, you should look into a local rescue for that breed and you will have more luck. If, however, you have no preference, or simply want a “small dog”, a puppy, a senior, or are open to anything, try your local shelters, particularly kill shelters that would otherwise euthanize dogs for lack of space.

Contact the organization of your choice and ask them about fostering opportunities.  Most often you can hop online and check out their website and you’ll find a foster application right there!

Application for fostering

Why do you have to fill in an application to become a foster?

Many people ask this question, but it’s simply a matter of common sense. A foster application allows rescue organizations and shelters to identify potential fosters who have ulterior motives or who do not have the well-being of the dog in mind. The application also allows organizations to match you with the right foster dog so that your fostering experience is as positive as possible!

Do you have experience fostering a dog? Leave a comment below and share your story!

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