If you are a dog lover, and your New Year’s resolution is to make this world a better place, here is the perfect thing for you to do. Fostering a shelter pet from a local shelter or rescue group will brighten your life, and bring hope to an animal that truly needs it.
Defining Dog Foster Care
What does it mean to foster a dog? Well, it is the same concept as fostering a child. You are providing a temporary home to a homeless animal, with the intention of nurturing them until they are able to be sent to their forever home. Fostering a dog is a vital element of the animal rescue scene. It is a wonderful experience, both for you and for the dog. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.
Why Should You Foster A Dog?
Dogs that come from shelters are often hurt or abused. Having them come into your home into a safe and loving environment can be a truly magical experience for them.
Another particularly important reason to foster a dog is that you are helping to save a life. Each dog that goes into foster care is one less dog euthanized each year. In addition to this, fostering a dog leaves an open space for another animal to be housed in the shelter.
Many people are pleasantly surprised by how truly great they feel by the experience of fostering a dog. Fostering dogs can enrich your life, as you watch them transition from scared or skittish little animals to more relaxed and calm members of the family.
Some foster families are healing from pets that they have recently lost. Fostering a dog is a way to open your heart back up to an animal that desperately needs your love.
Do you have children? They are likely to love the experience of your family fostering a dog!
Don’t have time in your schedule to keep a foster dog full-time? Consider this. You could always schedule a couple of days to pick up a foster. Perhaps try scheduling a playdate with your at-home doggie, to give the shelter dog a break away from his environment.
Which Dogs Need Foster Care The Most?
The answer is simple. Dogs who have special needs are the ones who need the most help.
- Those recovering from sickness
- Dogs who are underweight
- Dogs who are recovering from surgery
- Displaced dogs
- Dogs that have been abused or neglected
- Dogs that are in need of better training
- Puppies that are young and nursing
- Puppies that require more socialization
- Senior dogs that will feel more comfortable at home
- Dogs that have spent too much time in the shelter
- Any dog living in an overcrowded shelter
Considerations Before Fostering
Although fostering a dog is certainly admirable, it unfortunately will not work for everyone. Here are a few considerations to make before deciding if fostering a dog will work for you.
Think about your home environment. If you are thinking of fostering a puppy and your home is full of breakable items and light-colored furniture, this may turn out to be a frustrating scenario for you. What if the puppy isn’t potty trained? Yikes!
Do you have other animals? Will your kitty cat or other dog get along with your new visitor? Experts suggest providing a separate space that your foster dog can have all its own to keep him or her cordoned off until he or she feels comfortable. Will all members of your family feel comfortable with the situation? Remember that you need to have a place outdoors where your new friend can freely exercise.
The fact of the matter is, that many foster dogs are coming from situations that are far from optimal. Some are too young to care for themselves; some are in the process of recovering from sickness, and others are having socialization issues. Any of these situations have one thing in common, time is required to make things better.
Do you have the time and energy that it is going to take to care for a foster dog? Only you know the answer to this question. With that being said, perhaps you are lucky enough to have family members that could help you out. It is not a good idea to bring home a foster dog and then leave him or her inside of a crate all day.
Keep in mind that when you are fostering a dog, you will be responsible for the cost of feeding them. If you have a puppy, you may need other items such a crate, puppy pads and toys to keep the little one occupied. Make sure to keep plenty of chew toys on hand, in hopes that they won’t chew up your fancy shoes.
Do You Have The Patience?
Along with being prepared for a dog that has special needs or issues, you will definitely require a certain amount of patience when dealing with older dogs, victims of abuse or neglect, or rambunctious puppies.
If you have a younger dog, they likely aren’t completely potty trained, and may require some basic obedience training.
Dogs that have been neglected may need some extra love and attention from you, which they may be resistant to at first.
For all these reasons, persistence and patience are key.
Preparing To Foster A Dog
You may need to be approved by the shelter staff as qualified before bringing home a foster dog. Before transporting your new friend home, here are some different ways you need to prepare your life for their arrival.
Fostering a dog is something for your entire family to participate in, so be sure that everyone is ready and willing to give a loving home to a dog that has been orphaned. Also be sure that everyone understands that at some point, it is going to be time to give up the dog to his or her forever home.
Be practical about how much time you have to give to your foster dog. Don’t overdo it in the beginning. You might want to start with watching the dog in small sessions, much like doggie sitting.
Before you bring your dog home, plan where you will be keeping him or her. It is a good idea to keep them confined to a single area, such as the living room or kitchen. Avoid putting the dog in a bedroom, or somewhere that is isolated, as the dog needs to spend time with you and your family!
Block off access to other areas of your home with baby gates. When you keep the dog in one room, you avoid the dog from having accidents that are caused by the dog being stressed out from a new environment. For times when you need to be away from home, you may want to keep the dog in a crate to make him feel safe and sound.
Caring For Your Foster Dog
Realize that the dog will take a day or so for the dog to settle in to his new environment. However, it will take a lot longer for the dog to truly adjust to your home. Be sure to closely monitor the dog’s behavior. Keep in mind that it may take as long as a month before the dog really bonds with you, so don’t expect too much in the beginning. Remember that your foster dog may have gone through trauma. Your job is to let him know that people are trustworthy and good-natured.
Feeding Your Foster Dog
It is important to feed your foster dog high-quality dog food. This is particularly important for dogs who are sick, injured or who were found as strays. According to the Whole Dog Journal, choose dog food that has a whole-meat source as one of the first two ingredients, and whole, unprocessed grains and vegetables. Dog food should NOT contain meat by-products, artificial colors or preservatives, sweeteners, propylene glycol, or corn.
Be sure to establish a consistent feeding schedule for your foster dog, feeding them at the same time each day. Should you have other dogs, feed them in a separate room, so that there isn’t any fighting over food.
Exercising Your Foster Dog
Your foster dog needs exercise every day. Ideally, most foster dogs need two walks a day, that are 30 minutes long. Should your foster dog be a youngster, he or she may need a brisker walk. Dogs that have plenty of exercise won’t be as likely to get into trouble such as bark or chew.
Transitioning To Adoption
What if you hopelessly fall in love with your canine companion? Some pet foster parents find that is it is just too hard to let go of their new found foster friend, due to the strong bond that they have developed with them. Some shelters do have requirements for adopting your foster dog. However, nothing would be a happier ending for a foster dog and its newfound family than for the scenario to end in a loving adoption.