If you have spent any time around pet shelters or rescue organizations, you’ve likely heard discussions of how to foster a dog. Foster pets have become a popular option for a variety of reasons.
Once you learn what it means to foster a dog and why people choose to do so, you can decide if fostering a dog is right for you. If you think it is, we have some great tips for how to foster a dog and make your experience seamless and comfortable for both you and your new furry friend!
What Does It Mean to Foster a Dog?
The word “foster” has two meanings: to promote the development of something or to “bring up.” It’s often used in reference to raising a child that is not yours by birth. In the context of foster pets, fostering a dog means committing to temporarily raising a dog that isn’t yours.
To fully understand what it means to foster a dog, you need to know why fostering is important, the costs associated with this process, and how many people often “fail” when fostering a dog. (Spoiler alert: failure isn’t a bad outcome in this scenario!)
Why Fostering a Pet is Important
More than three million dogs enter shelters each year. Most often, these are loving, sweet-natured pets who were born outside of a home or whose families can’t care for them. While shelters work hard to provide the best life they can for these unhoused animals, both rescue organizations and shelters are donation-funded and rarely have all the money they need to hold these pets before they are adopted. That’s where foster pet outreach comes into play.
In addition to alleviating the pressure on shelters, choosing to foster a dog can also help support canines that are not suited to a shelter environment. This may include dogs that are afraid of other animals or need to recuperate from surgery. When people choose to foster a dog, they help those pets become ready for a permanent home, which is the positive outcome we are all hoping for!
Costs Associated with Fostering a Dog
Unlike adoption, which has associated fees – not to mention the cost of caring for a pet once you’ve adopted them – fostering a dog is almost always free. The shelter or rescue group from which you foster usually covers the costs of medical care, food, and other expenses.
But, while the finances make sense for someone who might not have the money to support their own pet, fostering a dog requires significant time and attention. You might also need to be prepared to incur damage that your foster pet might cause to your home, like a chewed table leg or a scratched-up couch.
While the monetary cost of fostering a pet tends to be negligible in comparison to adoption, the time and energy commitment might be more burdensome for a foster parent.
Foster Fails: Adopting Foster Pets
Sometimes, the most well-meaning foster parents are absolute failures. This type of failure is usually a cause for celebration because a failed foster pet becomes an adopted pet!
It’s not uncommon for people who foster a dog or cat to fall in love with that animal and find they just can’t return them to the shelter or give them over to another adoptive family. Instead, many fostered animals end up turning their temporary homes into permanent ones! Part of knowing how to foster a dog includes preparation for the possibility of adopting your foster pets.
Why People Choose to Foster a Dog
Fostering is a very specific scenario that appeals to people for a variety of reasons. Now that you understand better exactly what fostering a pet means, you might already know some of the reasons this arrangement makes sense for certain people: fostering a pet is inexpensive, for one. Another reason people choose to foster is that it’s an opportunity to learn how to be a pet parent. It can offer companionship for an existing pet, and it can be temporary, which often accommodates people with unusual schedules like seasonal work or temporary unemployment.
Pet Fostering Is Inexpensive
As we discussed above, the costs associated with foster pets are usually time and energy costs rather than monetary ones. This is why fostering appeals to many people who have a lot of love to give but not a lot of spare cash to spend on a pet.
Foster Pet Outreach Is a Learning Opportunity
Many people choose to foster a dog because they don’t know a lot about pets and how to care for them. Fostering offers a low-stakes opportunity to learn how to care for a pet and determine if a dog fits into your lifestyle.
Fostering Can Offer Canine Companionship for an Existing Pet
Some foster parents already have a pet and aren’t ready to adopt a second one but want their existing dog to have some canine companionship. Fostering can also be a great way to see if your current pet is ready for a furry sibling. Foster pets can help your existing pets learn how to live with another animal.
Fostering Is Temporary and Fits an Unusual Schedule
The temporary nature of fostering can be perfect for certain people with atypical schedules. For example, someone who works at a ski resort in the winter and has free time in the summer might choose to foster a dog in the summer months. Also, fostering a pet can be a great way to donate your time when you’re between jobs or if you have a natural ebb and flow in your work, like tax accountants, who are much busier in the spring months but have fewer demands on their time the rest of the year.
Tips on How to Foster a Dog
Fostering a pet is a big responsibility, and it’s important that potential foster parents know how to foster a dog well. Being a good foster parent to a dog means preparing your home properly for the new arrival, committing to training, trying out new environments with your foster dog, helping your foster pet adjust with a calming wellness routine, and always being honest with potential adopting families.
Prepare Your Home for Foster Pets
Your home needs to be ready when you decide to foster a dog. If you already have a pet at home, you’ll likely be somewhat prepared. If you’re new to pet parenting, you’ll need to take some significant steps to get your space ready for a foster dog.
Provide your new foster dog with his or her own special space that includes toys, a bed, and water and food bowls. This space should offer them privacy if they start to feel stressed and need a place to retreat. Also, make sure you’ve reviewed your home for plants or foods that might be unsafe for a dog and put them out of reach.
Be prepared to share your space with your new foster pet and understand that some items in your home might get damaged by claw marks, chewing, or accidents.
Training Is Important
When it comes to how to foster a dog properly, you’ll need to be ready to commit some time to train. Good behavior makes a dog more likely to be adopted, so by training your foster dog, you are giving them a better chance at finding a forever home.
Some ways you can train your foster dog include teaching them to sit and wait before scarfing down their dinner, helping them to stop barking when the mailman comes by, or even training them to wait by the door when they need to use the bathroom. Whatever less-than-ideal behaviors your foster dog may demonstrate, you should commit some time to train them to be the best canine companion they can be!
Introduce Your Foster Pet to a Variety of Situations
Part of how to foster a dog includes introducing them to a variety of situations. This allows you to know what triggers the dog or what causes stress for them, so you can train them to relax during those situations and inform potential adoptive families about conditions that won’t work for this particular pet.
For example, try taking your foster pet to busy places like the farmer’s market or the dog park to see how they react to other people and dogs. Introduce these new settings slowly and carefully, and always remove the dog immediately from any situation that appears to be stressful. The more you know about what your foster dog enjoys and dislikes, the better you can care for them, and the more prepared their future owners will be.
Establish a Calming Wellness Routine with CBD for Dogs
Of course, a major component of how to foster a pet includes establishing their daily wellness routine. This means you are responsible for providing a foster pet with a wholesome, nutritious diet (often provided by the shelter or organization you’re fostering with), plenty of exercise and affection, and possibly some supplemental resources for their wellness.
CBD for dogs can be a useful tool for helping your pet maintain calm as they adjust to their new surroundings. Our calming CBD oil for dogs with melatonin can help your foster dog maintain a healthy sleep schedule, and our calming CBD chew for dogs with L-tryptophan can help them stay relaxed as they adapt to their new environment.
Be Honest with Potential Adopting Families
One of the most important things you can do as a dog foster parent is always being honest with potential adopters. Your foster dog might have some unfortunate but unavoidable behaviors, such as aggression with other dogs or small children. While it can be tempting to bend the truth a little about some of your foster dog’s quirks to increase their chances of getting adopted, this is never a good idea. You want the adoptive family to be a good match with your foster dog, and it’s your responsibility to give them as much information as possible to make the right decision.
Foster a Dog to Support Animals and Shelters
Fostering can be a great option for many people, including those with a limited budget or an unusual schedule or those looking to learn more about the responsibilities of pet ownership in general.
Knowing how to foster a dog means understanding the time commitment of this role and all the ways you can best support your foster pet and help them work toward the ultimate goal of a permanent home.
This knowledge means providing them with a safe, loving home, plenty of training, exposure to new situations, and always being honest with potential adoptive families.