If you think you might want to foster a dog for a month or longer, congratulations. You’re helping to give an animal a second chance at a life full of love and fun in a forever home. It’s heartbreaking to think of the millions of animals who don’t get that chance, simply because the shelter they’re in doesn’t have room for them anymore.
Whether you’re bringing in a couple of kittens, a puppy, or an adult animal, foster care is going to be a significant responsibility. Foster parents know that the care they provide will take some effort. But what they do for animals who otherwise wouldn’t make it is incredible.
These are just a few things you’ll need to know before you make the decision on fostering a dog or any other animal.
How To Foster A Dog For A Month (Or Longer): Find Local Resources
Humane Society and rescue organizations are always looking for foster homes in which to place pets. If you are looking for a foster program, you won’t have any problems finding one. All you need to do is go online, do a search for foster programs in your area, and get in touch with the people who run them to find out the next steps.
Some foster parents only want to care for a dog of a certain size or breed. If you feel the same way, that shouldn’t be an issue. You’ll more than likely be able to find a breed-specific rescue group or organizations that specialize in small or large breeds. There might also be organizations in your area that focus on finding foster homes for senior animals.
Applying To Foster And Important Questions To Ask
Once you find an organization you want to work with, you’ll need to fill out an application. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have. Some key questions to ask might include:
- Will the organization pay for vaccinations and general veterinary care?
- Does the animal require any special medical care?
- Are there any behavioral issues I need to know about?
- Will I be expected to bring the animal to special adoption events?
- Has the animal been spayed/neutered?
- Is the animal house trained?
- Can I adopt the animal if I were to want to?1
Consider Your Lifestyle Before Fostering An Animal
Being a successful foster parent means taking time before bringing an animal into your home. You want to consider the impact the foster pet will have on your life and the lives of anyone else in the household.
One of the most important things to remember, for example, is that there will be an adjustment period – for both you and the animal. They might be scared, or they may have come from an abusive home. It could take a few weeks before the animal warms up to you, so don’t assume you’re going to immediately form a bond.2
Talk to the shelter or adoption agency about the health of the animal you’re thinking of fostering. You should be able to get their medical records and find out whether they’ve been spayed/neutered. Also, be sure you have a specific room available for the foster pet as they get used to their new surroundings.3
Can You Foster An Animal If You Have Other Pets?
Prospective foster parents will have another huge consideration. How do you acclimate a foster animal into a home with pets who are already there? You want to make sure you keep a peaceful environment while fostering.
Making The Introductions
Dog, Meet Cat
Do you have a cat and you’re thinking of fostering a dog? See if the shelter will allow you to bring the dog home for a “test run.” It will give you a really good idea of how the animals will get along. Keep them in separate rooms for a couple of days, and then have the dog on a leash when you make the face-to-face introduction.4
Dog, Meet Dog
If you already have a dog and you’re fostering another pooch, take your dog to the shelter if possible. That will help the dogs to get used to one another. Keep both on a leash once they’re both in your home.5
Cat, Meet Cat
If you’re fostering a cat and you already have a cat, keep the foster in a room with a litter box, food, and water. After a day or two, feed your cat on the other side of the door. That way, they can get used to each other’s scent. If things seem to be going well, carefully make the introduction. You might hear some hissing, but unless there’s a serious fight, the two felines should work things out in time.6
Getting Your Home Ready For A Foster Animal
People who want to be foster parents also need to get their homes in order before bringing in their “guests.”
Take a close look around your home and remove any hazards. This could be something as obvious as cleaning products, or something as subtle as a paper clip or a pushpin. A curious dog or cat could easily ingest something that could cause major health issues.7
Here are some other ways to secure your home before your foster pet arrives.
- Make sure your toilet lids are closed in all bathrooms.
- Keep your trash cans covered, and make sure all food is safely out of the way.
- Make sure electricals cords are secured.
- If you have plants, keep them in areas the foster pet can’t get to.
- Shut off access to your bedrooms if possible. There would be far too many potential hiding spots, such as under your bed or deep into your closet.8
Obviously, these just scratch the surface of the many things you’ll need to do in order to keep your home as safe as possible. Talk to your shelter organization or rescue group to learn more.
The Ultimate Goal: Fostering Means Eventually Parting Ways
When you’re fostering a pet, always keep the big picture in mind. The reason you’re doing this is to find a forever home for the animal. Foster care volunteers often find it extremely hard to let go when the time comes for adoption. But remember that you’re doing what’s in the best interest of the pet.
You might be asked to take your foster to different adoption events in your area. This is a normal part of the adoption process. Keep in mind that someone could fall in love with your foster and want to adopt them then and there. Again, this is a good thing. It means that person will give your foster the love and care they crave. If you just can’t bear to let go, it’s time to consider adopting your foster pet.
Whether you give up the animal or provide a forever home, you should feel incredibly proud of the difference you’ve made in that animal’s life.