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How To Foster a Dog

Foster dog laying on carpet

If you love to help animals but aren’t quite sure about adopting a permanent pet, fostering can be a great way to help dogs and your family.

Fostering a dog is an incredible way to help numerous pups, and it can be extremely rewarding. It’s also not for the faint-of-heart, requiring quite a bit of dedication, time, energy, and of course, having to say goodbye to all of the animals that you’ve come to love once you find them their forever homes. With almost 670,000 dogs being euthanized in shelters each year mainly due to overpopulation, fostering becomes even more critical to saving lives. Do you think you might want to join the ranks of dog foster parents? Here’s what you need to know!

family that has fostered a dog

How Do You Foster a Dog?

Start Your Foster Search

Before you can foster a dog, you need to get acquainted with an animal rescue that is looking for fosters. A great starting point is, a wonderful resource that can help you locate rescue organizations near you. If you're willing to extend past your local area, you can also look into rescues that have personal meaning to you, such as certain breed-specific rescues or organizations that specialize in senior dogs or dogs with special needs.  

Contact Rescues and Apply 

Once you've nailed down a rescue or two that interests you, the next step is to contact the rescue, introduce yourself, and request a fostering application. Review the application carefully and make sure you're fully aware of all that is expected of you if you are selected as a foster. 

Provide References To the Rescues

The rescue will also want to see your references and they may perform a background check. If you already own a pet, the rescue will also most likely want to speak with the veterinary clinic that takes care of your animals.  

white foster dog

Questions To Ask Before You Foster a Dog

Before you decide to be a dog foster, it’s important that you ask a lot of questions, both of the rescue and of yourself. You don’t want to decide you aren’t up to the task after you accept a foster dog into your life.

Here are the questions to ask the rescue before you accept a foster dog:

  • Does this dog have any special needs, medical issues, or require certain medications?
  • Who is responsible for the costs of vet bills, grooming, and other dog supplies, like food bowls, leashes, toys, and other doggy essentials?
  • Is the dog already chipped, and if not, are you required to get the dog micro-chipped?
  • Do you have to have an enclosed yard in order to foster a dog?
  • How many adoption events are you required to attend? What other responsibilities are expected when it comes to finding the dog his forever home? For example, setting appointments with potential adopters, attending meetings at the rescue, and so on.
  • Is the dog good with children and other animals? How does he act with strangers?
  • Does the dog require that someone be with him most of the day?
  • What is the dog’s history, including shot and medical records, where is he from, and was he ever abused or abandoned? Plus, any other questions that can lend some insight into the dog’s personality and behavior are always good to ask.
  • Are you expected to train the dog?

Some additional logistical questions to ask before deciding to foster are:

  • Are there any breed restrictions where you live?
  • Do you have to add the dog to your homeowner’s insurance policy?
  • Does your homeowner’s insurance policy not allow certain breeds of dogs?
  • If you live in an apartment, does it accept dogs, and if so, what are the rules and restrictions?
  • Is everyone in the household on board with your decision?
  • If you are expected to cover some or all of the costs of fostering, can your budget handle it?
  • Does your schedule provide you with enough time to adequately care for a dog? This could make a huge difference between fostering a puppy or an older dog.
  • Is your home equipped to welcome a dog, or are you prepared to make any necessary changes to ensure your home is a safe place for the pup and everyone else?

If you are still willing and able to foster a dog after answering all of these questions, then move forward with the application process and get ready to welcome a pup in need into your home and into your life. 

fostered mix breed dog

What Does It Mean To Foster a Dog?

Your main responsibility as a dog foster is to make sure the pup receives all of his age-appropriate vaccinations, has regular veterinarian well-visits and health checks, and that the dog is properly fed and cared for. It is also essential to provide the dog with a lot of positive attention, love, and necessary training because your ultimate goal is to prepare your foster for adoption. Depending on the dog, this could mean varying degrees of time and effort on your part, so be prepared to do whatever it takes. You might take in a dog that is already well-trained, or you may end up with a pooch that hasn’t even been potty trained yet. It’s important to know these types of things ahead of time so that you can properly prepare yourself and your home for what lies ahead (like a lot of puddles on your floor; get the cleaner ready)!

Since the biggest and most critical part of fostering is finding the pup his forever home, you will also need to take your foster to certain adoption events and work with him on any areas that might be standing in the way of him getting adopted. For example, he might need more socialization or training, have issues with separation anxiety, or he might have a medical condition that needs extra attention. 

Dog fostering is a fantastic way to help animals in need of loving homes, as well as a way to free up space in shelters for more dogs and cats. Plus, bringing a pup into your life can have many positive benefits for you and your family as you work together to care for these amazing animals.

If fostering a dog is something you feel you are truly meant to do, then it can be a very rewarding experience. If you’re looking for more great insights into pet ownership, check out the rest of our blog! Whether you already have a faithful furry friend, or you’re thinking about adding one to the family, we have the answers to your questions!

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