What Is Dog Fostering?

Fostering a dog can be a very different experience between people. However, whether seeking a trial run for future adoption or simply giving back with short term care for shelter animals, fostering is not something to enter into lightly.

dog in a kennel

With a little research, it is possible to determine whether fostering a dog is a good choice for you. Here are some thoughts and guidelines that will bring you closer to an answer and help you get started if fostering still seems like a good fit.

Understand your own limitations

Before opening your home to any animal on a permanent or temporary basis, it is crucial to understand your personal needs and limitations. Even if fostering seems like a wonderful development for your life, logistical problems may prohibit doing the job properly.

Time and space are the first and simplest considerations. Does your work or family schedule allow for proper dog care? Do you have frequent travel on the horizon? Is your home or apartment large enough and pet friendly? Certain answers to these questions will illuminate your ability to provide a dog with the care it needs.

Aside from the limitations of your home and schedule, it is wise to consider the emotional impact of fostering. Not all stray and shelter animals will be simple to care for, and many will arrive with some trauma or baggage. Additionally, the act of caring for and then giving away a dog tests the emotional strength of some new fosterers.

Mention of these difficulties is not intended to scare a prospective dog fosterer, rather, to encourage serious thought about the emotional cost of the experience and preparation for the potential emotional impact prior to fostering.

Communicate clearly with the shelter

It is crucial to work with people or a shelter that you trust, and to set manageable expectations for you and the shelter, especially when fostering for the first time.

Starting small is a great way to set yourself up for success. Communicate, in writing, timeframes for accepting a dog into your home. Check-in points at two or three weeks can be chances to make changes to the situation as you go. Also, asking to foster a certain age or size of animal is completely fair on the first go around, so don’t be afraid, with a little advanced notice, to communicate any anxieties you have to a shelter.

Learn about your new roommate

Not all dogs have the same needs, and educating yourself on an incoming animal is the best way to ensure comfort for you and them. The American Kennel Club is an excellent resource for learning about dog breeds, providing a database with information about food needs, exercise demands, and temperaments of different dogs.

Getting an idea of the wants and needs of a prospective fostered pet will also allow for an adequate reflection on your preparedness to foster! Without a big yard and lots of time to exercise, fostering a young husky may be a bad idea.

Think long term

Many people who enter into fostering to help animals wind up officially adopting their first housemate. There is nothing wrong with this, but before fostering, it may be wise to lay out your goals in doing so. If your aim is to find a new lifetime family member, it can be a wonderful way to ease into that relationship with an animal. However, if it is to help as many animals as possible, fostering one pet a year can mean saving 10, 20 lives over the course of a career in fostering.

There’s no wrong plan here, but making a plan in advance can be a helpful tool in achieving your goal without getting clouded by the emotions that will inevitably appear.

Fostering can be a challenging, but extremely rewarding gift for sheltered and stray animals. If you still feel equipped after reading these guidelines and reflecting on your self and home-life, contact your local shelter, and get started on a wonderful, charitable journey.