How to Become a Foster Home for Dogs

How to Become a Foster Home for Dogs

I Want To Foster a Dog

I realized I wanted to start fostering dogs after adopting our dog JJ. He was listed for adoption on PetFinder by a local all-volunteer dog rescue. This was our first experience with a foster-based rescue and it really had a huge impact on how I viewed the process of adopting a dog.

The idea of being part of saving a dog’s life was very intriguing to me. Fostering was also going to be a great way for my dog-loving daughter to learn more about different dog breeds, personalities and the acts of kindness that comes from volunteering.

I researched several local rescues in our area before deciding on Fetch WI Rescue. Since then, we’ve learned so much as a foster family.

I truly feel we are receiving just as much we are giving! The fact that we are connected with an awesome rescue group has helped tremendously.

JJ was My Inspiration to Start Fostering Other Dogs

JJ was My Inspiration to Start Fostering Other Dogs

Are YOU Ready to Help Save a Dog’s Life and Become a Foster Family?

Fostering can be a great option for people that aren’t sure they want to make the long-term commitment that owning a dog brings.

There is a certain level of time commitment you need to be ready to take on. If you enjoy picking up and taking an unplanned weekend getaway, you will have to hold off until your foster dog gets adopted. Some rescues will have options for dog sitters when you do need to be away. If this is a concern, please ask before committing to taking a foster dog into your home.

Keep in mind that not all dogs get adopted in a few days or even weeks. Our first foster, Silla, was with us for 5 months! The fact that she was 10 years old and black, diminished her adopter pool, but she did finally find her forever family. You can read Silla’s foster tail here

After Silla, we fostered two young puppies for about 4 weeks. And even though there is a waiting list for puppies, they needed to be spayed and neutered which we had to wait for an appointment and healing time before they could be adopted.

Our first Foster Dog Silla Senior Dog

Our first Foster Dog was a 10 year old black lab named Silla

 

Fostering a Dog for the First Time

Bringing any new dog into your home is a lot of work and can add a level of stress to your household. It takes time for any dog to adjust to a new environment. I talk about the 3-3-3 Rule in a previous article, which applies to foster dogs too!

Before making the commitment to foster, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you willing to travel to vet appointments, training programs, and adoption events?
  2. Can you keep your emotions separate and keep strong when it comes time to adopt out your foster dog? This may be the hardest part of fostering dogs. Puppies and dogs have a way of stealing our hearts, and I know I’d love to be able to keep them all. I continually tell myself (and my husband, which is worse than I am), that this foster dog needs to find a great home so we can save another dog!
  3. Do you live in an apartment or rent? While this may not be a deal breaker, it is important to check with your landlord that you will not be breaking any terms of your lease. Think about what you will do if the foster dog barks all day, pees on the carpet, or chews on a door!

Here is a list of supplies you may need to purchase before bringing in a new foster dog. Ask your foster group if they have supplies that are available to foster homes. I also recommend checking out Craigslist or local garage sales.

If you’ve never had a dog before, read my New Puppy Shopping List for a complete list of items you may need. 

The Key to Understanding Your Dogs Body Language Cheat Sheet

Solve 99% of Your Dogs Behaviors By Learning This One Thing...

You love your dog, he is your family and you'd do anything for him, right? Then you owe it to him to learn his language. 

Quickly learn your dog's body language, and understand why he does what he does... all with our Dog Body Language Cheat Sheet....

envelope
envelope

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive personalized, must-have tips on adopting, loving and training your dog PLUS get instant access to this free PDF.  If you're worried you already get too many emails... I keep my emails fun , short and sweet. Plus, you have the option to opt-out at any time. We take your privacy seriously. Read our Privacy Policy here.

Finding a Shelter or Rescue to Volunteer as a Foster 

First, make sure to research all of the local rescues in your area. Google them, check out their websites, their about pages, reviews, learn as much as you can about each rescue.

Read What’s the Difference Between a Dog Rescue and Humane Society or Shelter.

Here are some things to look for and ask before you sign up with any rescue or shelter:

  • Make sure the group you choose is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. This means they are not in business for the money, everyone who works for this business is a volunteer, by law they are not allowed to pay themselves or employees.
  • How do you get matched with a foster dog? Do you get to choose which dog you want to foster, or does the rescue or shelter decide which dog you foster?
  • Who is responsible to pay for food and supplies? You may be asked to pay for your own supplies, such as food, crate, leash, toys, etc. While some rescues will offer to reimburse you for these items. Some rescues receive donations from the community, which is then passed on to the foster homes.
  • Who is responsible to pay for medical care. The rescue group should be paying for all medical care, period. That includes all necessary vaccinations, spay/neutering, and if the dog gets injured or sick while in your home. And on this same note, make sure the rescue does require the dog to have all of its vaccinations and a spay/neuter BEFORE the dog gets adopted.
  • What happens if you can’t or don’t want to keep the foster dog. For example, you bring in a foster dog and it doesn’t get along with your own dog or has behavior issues you aren’t equipped to handle. Is there someone that you can surrender the dog back to? Or are you stuck with that dog until it gets adopted?
  • How does the shelter or rescue find the dog his forever home? Do they have adoption days or other events? Do adopters come to your home to meet the foster dog? Ask if you are able to take part in the adoption process.
The rescue group or shelter will be a big part of you being a foster family, so it’s important to feel comfortable with the people involved and their policies and practices.Click to Tweet
Our few more of our Foster Dogs pictured below are: Mocha, Prada and Suzie

A few more of our Foster Dogs pictured above are: Mocha, Prada, and Suzie

I can’t go without saying, many foster dogs come with baggage. Rescue dogs have a history, whether it be they’ve been kicked out of the only home they’ve ever known, stuck in a noisy shelter or abused.

It’s important not to feel sorry for these dogs. But to give them structure along with a stable and loving home until they find their forever family. 

Puppies can come with a host of worms, diseases, etc. Behavior problems, separation anxiety, and leash pulling are all real possibilities. BUT, with that said you will learn from all of these, and become a better dog owner because of it.

We personally have been pretty lucky and haven’t had any major problems, but we have had foster dogs with worms, coccidia, leash pulling, barking, chewing, allergies, separation anxiety, and thunderstorm anxiety.

Read some of my foster tails to learn more about our experiences as a dog foster family.

How Much Do You Get Paid to Foster a Dog

Most of the time you will not get paid for fostering a dog. Fostering is a volunteer position. You will be paid with loving puppy kisses and knowing you saved a life!

But you should ask the rescue if you need to pay for food, vet care or any other expenses. Most rescues will pay for expenses related to the foster dog (except maybe dog food and toys). 

The rescue we volunteer for does pay for all the dogs expenses. But we are responsible for food, toys and travel to and from the vet as needed. 

Our resident dog, Ginger, with foster dog Martini

Our resident dog, Ginger, with foster dog Martini

Fostering a Dog When You Already Have One

Adding a second dog into your home can complicate things. Even if your dog is easy going and loves all dogs, a situation where another dog is invading his territory can be challenging. 

You need to plan on slowly introducing the foster dog to any resident dogs or cats. This could mean blocking off certain areas of your home, taking dogs outside at different times and feeding them separately for a few days.

For us, our dog Ginger has resource guarding issues, so it has become very difficult for us to bring in foster dogs. Ginger goes into high-alert mode whenever a new dog comes into our home. We have to be hyper-vigilant, take introductions very slow, and never leave Ginger alone with a foster.

Please read the The Best Way to Introduce a Second Dog Into Your Pack.

Also consider the health of your dog. Many times when we get a foster dog, they have worms or other communicable diseases. So keeping the dogs separate until the foster has a clean bill of health is important. Always pick up the foster dogs poop immediately… just in case of worms. 

Now it’s your turn… are you going to start fostering dogs? I’d love for you to share your story below in the comments.

The Key to Understanding Your Dogs Body Language Cheat Sheet

Solve 99% of Your Dogs Behaviors By Learning This One Thing...

You love your dog, he is your family and you'd do anything for him, right? Then you owe it to him to learn his language. 

Quickly learn your dog's body language, and understand why he does what he does... all with our Dog Body Language Cheat Sheet....

envelope
envelope

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive personalized, must-have tips on adopting, loving and training your dog PLUS get instant access to this free PDF.  If you're worried you already get too many emails... I keep my emails fun , short and sweet. Plus, you have the option to opt-out at any time. We take your privacy seriously. Read our Privacy Policy here.

 

Sharing is caring!

About the Author Debi@RescueDogs101

Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... were she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local rescue and the Dane County Humane Society. Sign up for our free resource library! It is jam-packed with valuable resources that you will use throughout your journey.... all for FREE!

Leave a Comment:

Add Your Reply