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A Guide for People Considering Fostering a Dog

By Jenny Wise

dogFostering provides much-needed care, love, and attention for a homeless dog. Some foster families give a dog a home until he is adopted, and others provide a loving environment for a predetermined amount of time. The reasons for fostering a dog vary: some may need a safe, quiet place to recover from an illness or injury, some may be too young to be adopted or enter a shelter, and some may be from a rescue group that does not have a shelter. If you are considering fostering a dog but aren’t sure of what it entails, the following guide is a helpful resource for you.

Reasons for Fostering a Dog

Fostering a dog can be a rewarding experience for an individual or an entire family. When you foster a dog, you know that you are providing a temporary home full of love and attention for a dog that needs a place to live until he is adopted or taken in by a shelter. In most cases, foster families help shelters or rescue groups by freeing space in a shelter or rescue facility. Some dogs need help being socialized, getting used to other pets, or getting used to people before they can be adopted. By fostering a dog, you are helping the dog prepare for his forever home and you are more than likely making it possible for the shelter or rescue group to take in more dogs and help them than they could without the help of a foster parent.

Other people choose to foster a dog because they love animals and want to have one of their own but cannot provide a forever home because of work or family situations. Some people foster dogs because they enjoy taking care of other people’s pets by boarding dogs in their own homes and want to help homeless dogs receive the same love and attention.

Know What to Expect

Sometimes, people who foster dogs are surprised by the amount of time and energy that goes into providing a home for a homeless animal. All dogs are different, and some may need more love and attention than others, especially if they need to be socialized or if they need your help breaking a bad habit like chewing or having accidents in your home. As a foster dog parent, you may be responsible for training the dog, acclimating him to living inside, and helping him become ready for adoption. You may need to purchase a crate to train the dog, invest in a sturdy leash, and more in order to provide the dog with all of the structure and walks he needs.

While you do not need to be home 24 hours a day to foster a dog, you do need to be home often. Working 16-hour shifts is not ideal if you want to foster a dog, nor is going away for an entire weekend. Agreeing to foster a dog requires a time commitment, and you should be prepared to stay in more than you do when you aren’t caring for a dog.

Be Prepared for a Difficult Goodbye

One of the most difficult aspects of fostering a dog is saying goodbye when the time comes. Eventually, you will need to give up the dog. The good news is, there are steps you can take to make the process a little easier. One of the first things you should do is select a foster dog that you would not necessarily want to keep long-term; for example, consider choosing to foster a large dog because you prefer small dogs. Another step you can take is to ask the rescue organization if you can assist in the adoption process; you will have an easier time saying goodbye to your foster dog if you know that he is going to the best possible forever home. You also may ask the adoptive family to send you photos and updates so you can keep tabs on the dog and feel better knowing how happy he is with his new family.

Of course, the best way to get over saying goodbye to your foster dog is to foster again. There are countless dogs in need of good foster homes, and opening your home to more dogs will give you more chances to share your love and attention and ensure the dogs in your area are going to be adopted by caring families.

How to Start Fostering a Dog

The best place to start the process of becoming a foster parent for a dog is to check out the rescue organizations in your area. (If you're not aware of any organizations in your area, check out 911 Foster Pets.) You want to be sure that they are run professionally and that you know exactly what the expectations and requirements will be for the organization and for yourself. In most cases, fosters must be at least 18 years old and submit an application to become a foster for a dog. Some organizations require training or classes before you can provide a home for a dog; others have an orientation process.

Once you are accepted by a rescue organization to foster a dog, they will match you with a dog that fits your lifestyle and the answers you provided on your application and during training or orientation. Typically, you will pick up the dog and provide transportation to your home.

Fostering a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience, and it is one that saves the lives of dogs looking for good homes.

Image via Pixabay by vylip

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