How to Become a Foster Home for Dogs - Rescue Dogs 101

How to Become a Foster Home for Dogs

I realized I wanted to be a foster family for dogs after adopting our dog JJ. He was listed for adoption on PetFinder by a local 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 exciting. I thought it would also be a great way for my dog-loving daughter to learn more about different dog breeds and personalities.

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.

Are YOU ready to help save a dog’s life and become a foster family?

As with owning a dog, 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.

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. Keep in mind that not all dogs get adopted in a few days or even weeks. Our first foster, Silla, was with us almost 5 months! The fact that she was 10 years old and black, diminished her adoption pool, but she did finally find her forever family. After Silla, we fostered two young puppies for about 4 weeks. They needed to be spayed/neutered which we had to wait for an appointment and healing time before they could be adopted.

Our first four Foster Dogs pictured below are: Silla, Apollo, and Calypso, Georgia

Our first 4 foster dogs

Bringing any new dog into your home is a lot of work and can add a level of stress to your household. 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.

It takes time for any new dog to adjust to his new environment. I talked about the 3-3-3 Rule in a previous article, which applies to foster dogs too!

Are you willing to travel to vet appointments, training programs, and adoption events?

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!

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!

Dog Adoption Questions

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Asking all the right questions can be the difference between adopting a dog with unknown health or behavior issues and adopting your perfect and healthy dog. This adoption interview PDF makes it easy to remember to ask those questions! 

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All shelters and rescue groups are NOT created equal.

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.

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

Our few more of our Foster Dogs pictured below are: Mocha, Prada and Suzie

I can’t go without saying, many foster dogs come with baggage. Dogs do not usually come to a rescue as perfectly trained angels, although you will get foster dogs that are just about perfect! 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.

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.

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

About the Author Debi@RescueDogs101

Debi McKee is a dog mom, volunteer foster dog home, and lifetime dog lover. Debi’s mission is to guide you through every step of your dog journey, from adopting the perfect dog for you and your family, to training your dog and keeping your dog happy and healthy. Sign up for our free resource library of must-have resources, containing valuable downloads to help you in your dog journey.

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