If you are considering fostering a dog, let us first say well done and thank you! There is no greater joy than helping a dog in need, and by giving them a loving temporary home, you are not only assisting the already pressured welfare organisations, but you are also preparing a sometimes-damaged soul for their forever family.
Fostering is becoming an increasingly popular way for people to enjoy the company of a dog without the long-term commitment. Perhaps you aren’t sure if a dog will fit in with your family or lifestyle, or you travel for long periods of time and can only keep a dog temporarily – whatever the reason, fostering has become an essential, life-changing part of the adoption process.
While you will be experiencing the benefits of having a dog in the home, without a long-term commitment, you will also be changing their life by making them more adoptable.
Something as simple as learning whether a dog likes to sleep late or is obsessed with squeaky toys allows for better matches with potential adopters and makes the adoptions a lot more successful – a win-win for everyone!
There are many reasons why a dog may need to be fostered, either the welfare centre is running at a high capacity and doesn’t have enough space, the dog is stressed in a welfare environment, they are sick and need more focused medical attention, or they have behavioural concerns that need one-on-one attention. Either way, the welfare centre will be sure to find the perfect match for you and give you the information, medication, and special details you will need to make your time with your new friend as successful as ever.
What to consider before becoming a foster
While it's understandable that anyone will be jumping at the opportunity to help change a dog’s life, it’s important to take some time and think things through before heading to the welfare centre and making a decision. While volunteering your time and home is an amazing service, you don’t want to realise a few weeks in that this isn’t for you.
# How much care, socialization or training will this dog need?
Depending on the dog's age, condition, and background, they will need different amounts of attention. Bottle-feeding puppies often means round-the-clock dedication. Older puppies, on the other hand, need lots of handling, training and socialization, and they may need to be taken to the vet for vaccinations, to be neutered or to have their teeth cleaned while they are with you. Adult dogs, on the other hand, might just need a place to stay until they are adopted. But keep in mind that sometimes they have special needs as well. Be sure to have a sit down with the welfare co-ordinator to find out about the different dogs available, and be open with them about what you can realistically offer.
# Is the dog house trained?
If the answer is no, are you prepared to teach them and to ensure that your belongings aren’t damaged in the process? If you're up for potty training, you may want to roll up valuable rugs and put them away. Always keep in mind that it’s not just puppies that won’t be house trained. It’s completely possible that an older dog doesn’t have experience in a home environment and has a bit of uncertainty for their first few days.
Keep in mind that these things take time – if and when you do bring your new friend home, give them some time to settle in and practice patience when it comes to little mishaps.
# Are you prepared to treat a foster dog as a member of your family?
Fostering isn’t only about feeding them and keeping them healthy and warm. You will also be showing them how to trust again and be an important part of the family. So, it’s important that everyone in your home is on board with bringing a dog into the house for a few months.
You may want to sit the family down before making the final decision and go through the pro’s and cons together and deciding what you can handle as a household.
If you live alone but will rely on family and friends to dog-sit from time-to-time, we suggest speaking to them first and making sure they have the capacity to help.
# Will your own pets get along with a foster dog?
Do you currently have another pet in your house?
The arrival of another dog, even just temporarily, can upset the entire balance in your home. If your pet is possessive of you, how will they respond when a new dog tries to sit on your lap? Like we said, fostering is an amazing way to help, but it’s important to take your own pets wellbeing into consideration first.
Arranging a meet-and-greet with your potential foster dog, on neutral ground, is highly suggested and will go a long way in making sure your animals can live in harmony.
# Can you afford to care for an additional animal?
While the welfare organisation should cover any medical expenses and food, always make sure to double-check what their policy is. They might only agree to cover certain vet treatments. If that is the case are you able to provide food for your temporary family member or pay for the vet if they get an injury that the welfare maybe doesn’t cover?
# Are you prepared for a long-term commitment?
A foster dog may need a place to stay for only a few weeks, or their stay could stretch out for months. There’s no guarantee that they will be adopted within a certain time frame, but until they’re adopted, they will need a home.
Do you have any travel plans coming up? Are you working from home during lockdown but will be required to go back to the office once regulations calm down?
The amount of time you’re able to spend at home will impact the type of dog you take home with you. While a lot is uncertain at the moment, be as open as possible about your plans for the next few months.
Fostering has its ups and downs, and you will most likely cry when your foster dog walks out the door for the last time — but the rewards of seeing them blossom and watching a new family fall in love with them will have you signing up to do it all over again!