Want to help out your local animal shelter? Becoming a foster pet parent is one of the most helpful and impactful ways you can lend a helping hand to your local shelter.
Meg Marrs at K9 of Mine shares several ways that foster homes can help dogs in need
Fosters free up room at jam packed shelters
Fostering a dog allows a dog to move into your home, freeing up much-need space at rescue centre, so that your local shelter or rescue can take in more dogs who need help.
Without caring foster homes, many shelters would be unable to take in new animals. This can result in neglectful owners dumping dogs, or worse. Getting pets out of shelters and into homes (even temporary ones) also decreases the need for shelters to put down any animals. By fostering, you are often saving a life!
Fosters can provide hospice care to dying dogs
For poor pups on their last legs, a dog foster can provide a warm, loving, caring environment for the dog to spend his final days. No dog deserves to leave this planet in a stressful, loud shelter environment with no one to care for them.
Fosters provide a safe space for puppies (until they’re old enough to be adopted)
Foster homes allow puppies to grow up in a quiet, relaxing environment, away from the noise and chaos of shelter life.
Puppies are like little sponges and spending their early months in a stressful shelter environment can have a significant impact on their disposition as adult dogs. Fostering a litter of puppies can mean setting up a whole group of dogs for success when they grow into adults!
Fosters allow shy dogs to blossom
Shy and timid dogs suffer tremendously in animal shelters. They desperately require a quiet, peaceful environment to help them blossom and come out of their shells. Dog fosters allow sensitive, sweet canines to get away from the loud kennel environment.
Those who foster shy dogs will want to focus on building the dog’s confidence through various exercises and gentle training activities.
Fosters who provide these pooches with patience and care allow the dogs to feel safe enough to show their true colors and become the happy, carefree dogs they are at their core.
Fosters provide extra care to sick dogs while they heal
Dogs recovering from sickness or injury are often placed in a foster home. A quieter, less stressful environment allows a sick dog to heal and recover more quickly while also minimizing the risk of illness exposure to other dogs in the shelter.
Fosters collect valuable data about a dog’s behavior and personality in a home setting
Foster homes offer an excellent opportunity for shelters to better understand a dog’s behavior and general habits. Many dogs are so stressed in a shelter that they end up shutting down and showing little of their true personality.
However, once a dog is placed in a foster home and is given time to decompress, they begin to act more like themselves. This allows fosters to collect essential data about a dog’s demeanor and personality, which can in turn help the shelter find the best match for that specific animal.
How does a dog handle cats, other dogs, or kiddos? Is the dog potty trained? Does he like toys? Does he prefer to be left alone or is he a huge cuddle bug? Collecting information like this for the shelter will allow the organization to share this info with would-be adopters and help a dog get matched with his perfect home.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Dog Foster?
Dog fosters make a huge difference in the lives of shelter dogs. But what are the common responsibilities and requirements of a dog foster?
In addition to basic caretaking responsibilities, dog fosters will be responsible for the following:
Teaching basic training and manners
Ideally, you’ll spend some time teaching your foster dog basic manners for living in a home, with a family. This is certainly not required to be a foster, but it’s highly recommended and really provides the most benefits for the pooch in question.
Some dogs may just enjoy some basic trick training (which can impress would-be adopters), while others may need to be potty trained – even as adult dogs. Just make sure you always use gentle, positive-reinforcement based dog training techniques that won’t intimidate or frighten your canine guest.
Some shelters will even cover the cost of classes or provide free in-person seminars for you to learn about dog training.
Collecting dog data for the shelter
Foster homes give the opportunity to learn more about a dog’s behavior in a home setting. To really help the rehoming centre, you’ll need to provide detailed information about your foster pup’s personality, preferences, and behavior. A foster parent’s data collection will help ensure that the dog gets matched with the perfect family!
Helping dogs find forever homes
The most important job of a pet foster parent is to help their foster find their forever family! This usually involves taking the dog to shelter-organised adoption events, speaking with potential adopters to determine if they’re a good fit for your pooch, and being available to meet and chat with would-be adopters. There’s a full guide on how to get your foster dog adopted at K9 of Mine with more tips on promoting your pup!
How Do I Become a Foster for a Shelter Dog?
The basic path required to becoming a dog foster can vary depending on the specific or rescue centre you are working with. However, some of the most common requirements include:
- Fill out paperwork about your living situation. Rehoming centres usually want to get a better understanding of your experience with dogs, your living space (do you have roommates? Do you have a fenced in garden?) and potentially even your financial status.
- Complete a basic dog-care course. Many shelters have a short, simple online course or video you’ll be asked to watch to ensure you understand how to properly care for your foster dog.
- Attend an orientation. Most shelters will have some kind of orientation to get you up to speed on the rules and regulations around their foster program.
We hope this foster guide has been helpful – reach out to your local animal shelter today and ask about becoming a foster today!
You can read the full blog here.