Are you interested in fostering a dog?
It’s a wonderful way to help a dog in need while bringing a big source of love into your home.
Research shows that even short-term fostering reduces stress in shelter dogs, helping to bring out their truly unique, lovable personality and giving them a better chance at finding a family.
In return, you’ll have more opportunities to love dogs, and to learn about them. Here’s how you can become a fantastic foster to a lucky shelter dog.
How Does Fostering A Dog Work?
Shelters are often overrun with animals and have no choice but to euthanize to make room for more intakes. By allowing you to keep a dog until they are adopted, the shelter can free up a kennel for another adoptable pet.
You can also foster for a rescue. Some private rescues are not actually facilities, but a network of volunteer foster families.
The shelter or rescue typically provides medical care, and you will usually have to fund day-to-day costs like food, a bed, and toys. You’ll treat your foster as a member of your family, going for walks, doing basic training and providing love and attention.
You typically do not have to worry about finding the dog a home, though you can help by having the dog wear an “adopt me!” collar or bandana when you’re out and about. The shelter or rescue will screen out adoptee applications and communicate with you to find the perfect forever home.
Increasing Your Chances Of Getting Approved
Every shelter and rescue has their own set of requirements for foster homes. You may be required to have a fenced-in yard, for example. They may have guidelines for people with children and other pets. Your children may need to be older than a certain age, and your pets may need to be spayed/neutered and up to date on vaccines.
Do not be discouraged if your application is not approved. Though you may not have a fenced-in yard, for example, you may be willing to walk the dog several times per day. A private rescue may have more lenient requirements than your local city shelter.
Bringing Your Foster Dog Home
Taking your new foster dog out of the noisy shelter and into your warm, comfy home will be a great source of stress relief. Even so, it will take them at least two weeks to fully adjust to your home – maybe longer.
Your family, including your own pets, may be excited to greet your new foster. Allow your foster to acclimate at their own pace. You should give your foster their own, isolated space to eat and sleep, either a crate in a quiet room or an area sectioned off with baby gates.
Once your new foster is settled in, you can start bringing them to public places. Socialization is important for fosters of all ages. A friendly dog will be more likely to find a home.
Another way to give your foster dog a better chance of finding a family: teach them to walk calmly on a leash.
While teaching tricks is fun, foundational skills are more important for helping your foster get adopted. If you need help with potty training, loose leash walking, or other skills, use a positive trainer like Healthy Houndz.
Foster dogs are especially prone to fear-based behavioural issues, but compassionate training brings out their hidden talents and their enthusiasm to learn.
We provide humane, positive training in North York and Toronto. Contact Healthy Houndz today to get started.
Alternatives To Fostering
Have you discovered that fostering a dog is not right for you? There are many other ways you can help dogs in need.
Can you foster a dog for a limited period of time? Look for organizations that support military families who may need care for their dog while they are stationed for a few months. Another option is to seek out a homeless shelter or women’s shelter that does not allow pets. You could care for a dog while their owner gets back on their feet.
Also consider becoming a puppy raiser for a guide dog organization. During the first year of the puppy’s life, you’ll teach them basic commands and provide early socialization. Then, you’ll return the puppy to the organization, where they will graduate to advanced training to later become a service dog for a disabled person.
If your life or your household does not have room for a dog, you can also try volunteering at a shelter. It can be as simple as taking a dog out for a walk once a week.