Every year, over three million dogs are taken to a shelter. These dogs need homes, but some need special care that a shelter can’t provide while they wait for people looking to adopt. Those who step up to take care of dogs who are in need of adoption are called fosters.
Similar to fostering children, fostering a dog means that you literally take care of the dog until it’s adopted. From vet appointments to daily walks and cuddles, fostering a dog is much like owning one, except with the goal that they will eventually go to a loving family.
If you’re interested in becoming a dog foster parent, there are a few things you’re going to need and some tasks you’ll have to complete prior to fostering.
1. Assess your current living situation
Do you live in a house or apartment? Do you have a fenced-in yard or will your dog have to spend time in a dog park with other dogs? Do you already have pets? You’ll want to take strong consideration into your current living situation to determine whether or not fostering is ideal for you and come up with solutions for any problems that might occur. For example, living in an apartment means you’ll need to invest in a dog collar and leash set for your foster dog so that you can take them on walks around the complex. Seriously assessing your living situation will allow you to plan effectively for bringing a foster dog into your home.
2. Determine your budget
Taking care of an animal is an added expense that many people don’t think about. Besides basic food and water, you’ll also need to account for vet bills, treats, toys, grooming, and lots of other items that your foster dog might need. Even though you aren’t adopting the dog yourself, you still have to treat it as though it’s your own pet. That typically means spending money on things that people without pets don’t have to worry about. While some foster agencies will help curb the cost of vet bills or other expenses, you might have to put the money upfront first and then have them reimburse you. Either way, fostering can still cost you money, and it’s important to have the budget for it.
3. Research local rescues and shelters
Different organizations have different programs with various rules and requirements. Some require fosters to be home all day with the foster dog. Some require you to have a fenced-in yard. Some require that you live in a certain area. Unfortunately, fostering a dog isn’t as simple as walking into a shelter. There’s an application process and sometimes even an interview. Doing your research beforehand will go a long way in ensuring you’re prepared to foster a dog and that you find the program with the right fit. If you’re going to foster through your local animal shelter, consider volunteering at the shelter a few days out of the week prior to bringing your foster dog home. That way, you can get familiar with the way the shelter runs things. This could potentially help your foster dog adjust better if you keep some of the same routines that the shelter does.
4. Create a quarantine plan for any current pets
If you already have pets in your home, you’ll want to establish a quarantine plan for your incoming foster dog. This will help your new pets get used to having another pet around, and it will also ensure that the foster dog doesn’t bring in any diseases from the shelter or rescue it was in. Having a plan in place, knowing what area of your home the foster dog will be briefly quarantined in and when to introduce all the animals to each other will ensure that the transition process goes smoothly.
Items to Get for Your Foster
If you currently don’t have any pets and are bringing your first foster home soon, you’ll want to be sure to have all the necessities on hand. Here are some of the items you’ll need for your foster dog:
- Dog tags: Not every rescue provides dog tags for their foster dogs. And, if they do, they’re typically the standard metal dog tags. Consider upgrading your foster dog to a dog tag tracker, where you can track their location as long as they’re within Bluetooth range. That way, you can keep an eye on them without having to hover!
- Food and water bowls: Stainless steel food and water bowls are great for dogs because they repel bacteria and dirt. While the ceramic ones are cute, they get dirty quickly. Stainless steel also helps to hold temperatures, so your foster dog’s water will stay nice and cool throughout the day.
- Toys: Every dog needs toys! Invest in some puzzle toys to keep your foster dog challenged during playtime. It’s especially important to have some dog toys around if you live in a smaller home or don’t have a fenced-in yard. Since your foster dog can’t go outside unsupervised, they’ll need something to do in the house during the day!
- Dog bed: A dog bed is great for foster dogs. Invest in a plush one that’s large enough for them to lounge in at all hours of the day. Consider adding a soft blanket on top during the cooler months, and place it somewhere that isn’t too far away from everyone else. Dogs might like their solitude, but they don’t need to be isolated!
- Grooming kit: It might be worth it to learn how to groom your foster dog yourself. While it can seem challenging at first, a little patience will go a long way — and your foster dog will sense that! Getting a kit with nail clippers, trimming scissors, shampoo, conditioner and a few different types of brushes will ensure that your foster pup stays in picture perfect shape for all those adoption ads you’ll be posting!