Many shelters and rescue groups depend on their doggie foster parents to provide a life-saving service. When you take a foster dog into your home, even for a short while, you allow the rescue or shelter to take in another dog that may otherwise not survive.
As a doggie foster parent, you open your heart and your home to a homeless, neglected, or throw-away fur-baby. By giving him/her the love, attention, and care they need, you're helping prepare them for their future forever home.
The shelter or rescue organization for which you foster will provide you with the specific responsibilities you'll take on as a doggie foster parent. There are, however, some general responsibilities that almost all shelters and rescues require.
- The biggest responsibility is to provide shelter and love.
- You may need to put in time working on manners, such as jumping on people, getting on furniture, or house training.
- Helping the dog learn to walk on a leash is an important skill fosters can help their fur-baby master.
- You may need to take your foster baby to appointments, such as vet visits, trips to the shelter or rescue to meet with potential adoptees, or "meet and greet" events.
- You'll be responsible for dosing your foster with any prescribed medications.
- Most, but not all, shelters and rescues want their foster babies to be inside pets.
In most cases, the shelter or rescue will cover veterinary costs, including costs of medications. Food, toys, blankets, crates, bedding, etc., are usually provided, usually through donations and hand-me-downs from previous fosters.
5 Tips for Providing Doggie Foster Care
There is no one key to success in providing foster care for dogs. Time and patience are the two main ingredients for both you, your family, and your foster fur-baby having a great experience while fostering. Some dogs will adjust to new homes readily while others will take some of that time and patience you're offering.
As a foster parent, you'll need to remember there are going to be bumps in the road. To help get past them and into some smooth cruising into doggie foster care, the tips below can help you and your foster make the transition to a great experience.
Try to see things from the dog's point of view. Even a well-adjusted adult dog can find adjusting to a foster care situation stressful. He or she may be a bit 'shell-shocked' when they're first introduced into the foster home. Be prepared to see some changes in the dog's demeanor and/or behavior over the first three days or two weeks. Be patient and give the fur-baby time to adjust.
Make the introductions slow. Let your foster fur-baby meet one family member at a time so as not to overwhelm him/her. Keep some treats handy to encourage making a good first impression by remaining calm, being patient and approachable. Go slowly when introducing a foster doggie into a home where you already have pets. Your shelter or rescue can help you with this.
Keep the family circle small at first. Avoid big parties and family gatherings with your new foster baby. Get to know the dog's personality better, and give your family - especially your kids - time to adjust to the newest addition to the home before expecting the fur-baby to function appropriately in a large crowd of strangers.
A leash is a must. Take the dog outside on a leash so he/she can sniff around as soon as possible. Even if you have a fenced yard, keep the dog on a leash when going out.
Make a den with a crate. Dogs have a natural 'den' instinct, so set them up a cozy space in their crate for sleeping. Let your foster fur-baby sleep in the same room as you, if possible. Sleeping alone in a strange place can be frightening and anxiety-producing for these social animals. Dog-proof the room by clearing the floor and providing them a chew toy in their crate.
Fur-babies with Special Needs
In addition to dogs needing foster care because of shelter overcrowding, there are certain types of dogs that aren't eligible for adoption unless they've had the benefit of foster care. The types of doggies needing special foster homes may include:
- those too young for adoption (some may need to be bottle-fed)
- abused doggies that need help with socialization and extra love and affection to help them heal
- those who've suffered injury, are recovering from surgery, or who are sick
- an abandoned mother with a litter to nurse
If you're up to fostering these special cases, talk with your shelter or rescue personnel to find out how you can help.
The Goal of Fostering
As a doggie foster parent, your goal is to help your foster fur-baby find their happily-ever-after home. The organization for which you foster will have the final say in who adopts your foster baby, but your input is invaluable in helping them select the right forever home.
A foster placed in a loving forever home is a goal reached and a job well done.