Dog Fostering 101

Have you ever considered fostering a dog, but just didn’t have the knowledge about what it takes? This is the guide for you! Fostering a dog is not only a great process, but it’s also a wonderful way to make a difference in a dog’s life. With shelters running out of room and dogs spending their entire lives in them, fostering is an incredible opportunity for you to make a difference.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. shelters every year (which has declined almost a million since 2011) and only 1.6 million dogs are adopted. We’ll give you all the basic and complex information you may need to decide if fostering is for you.

What is fostering?

If you don’t already know, fostering a dog is a process in which you give a homeless dog a home that would otherwise be in a shelter until they find a home. This can take weeks to years depending on the dog’s age and breed. Some of the reasons a dog might need to stay with a foster home include not enough room in the shelter, too young to be adopted, recovering from a surgery or other reasons they may need a safe place to recover, showing signs of stress from a shelter, or needs to be more socialized. For all of these reasons, a dog may need to be in a more stable environment like your home instead of a shelter.

Why should I foster?

There are many reasons you should foster a dog. If you are passionate about dogs but want to make a difference in a homeless animal’s life, fostering is a great opportunity. This not only helps the dog, but it is a very rewarding experience for you also. Dogs who need foster homes oftentimes never had a great home in the beginning, so learn about how dogs get heartworm. This means they may need some time to get used to you and your family, but they will live a more fulfilling life with you until they are able to find a forever home. To be a foster dog parent means you meet all their necessary needs (food, shelter, walks), but also give them the love and attention they need to thrive in someone else’s home. It also just frees up some room in the shelters that are more times than not overcrowded.

What if I get attached?

Many people are reluctant to fostering because of the possibility of getting attached to the pet. There’s really no solution to this, because dogs are such sweet, protecting creatures. You can over time decide you want to adopt and let the shelter know. However, if that’s not a commitment you want to make, then knowing that you gave a pet that’s never had a stable home the love and attention it deserved should help you get through the process. The sad fact of the matter is not enough dogs are getting the homes and lives they deserve. Most of the time, people get puppies and once they get a little overwhelming, they either abandon them or leave them in shelters where they stay for many years. There’s also the fact that animal abuse is a very real and common occurrence, as horrible as it is. These gentle creatures deserve loving homes, even if it is only for a couple of weeks. The process doesn’t necessarily have a predetermined period of time most often, but it would be enough to give these dogs a second chance.

How do I get started with fostering?

To get started, you’ll want to find which shelter near you is the most overcrowded. More and more shelters are in need of foster homes, so you probably will be able to find information on fostering easily on their website or social media. After that, you fill out your application. Most shelters require you to be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and most of the time have your own home. Most shelters will help you find the right pet for your household. After you’re approved, you’ll need to go get the necessary items for owning a pet, such as a food and water bowl, dog food, a leash and collar, and any other items you may need. Once you get your new family member, you’ll need to give them a couple of days to get used to your home. It’s important to remember that most of these shelter pups haven’t had a stable home, so they might not instantly trust you. You’ll need to give them plenty of love and time to feel safe in your home.

That’s fostering a dog 101! It’s not a difficult process, but it is something that is important and necessary for many shelters. It takes a brave and courageous human being to take in a pup that needs a temporary home, even if you can’t provide a forever home. If you’re considering this commitment, we highly recommend going to a nearby shelter and asking about the process. If this is something you feel you could provide for a homeless dog, it’d change their entire lives by going through with the process. It’s an extremely challenging, but extremely rewarding process that will make a dog’s life so much better.