Home How-To Let’s Talk: How to Become a Foster Parent for Dogs

Let’s Talk: How to Become a Foster Parent for Dogs

How to Become a Foster Parent for Dogs

How to Become a Foster Parent for DogsIf you're a dog lover, there is one thing more rewarding than owning a canine companion – fostering one. Learning how to become a foster parent for dogs may just be one of the best things that you ever do. You'll work with a local shelter or rescue organization to help dogs in need. These organizations do not have unlimited space. Once they run out, they need to find foster families to house pets until a forever home can be found.

There are certainly some things that you should know, and there will be different rules depending on which organization that you work with. Don't count yourself out just because you already have pets in your home. That doesn't necessarily mean you can't foster a pup in need.

If you've got a passion for dogs, you've probably thought about opening your own shelter once or twice. When you love dogs it's hard not to want to help them all. For most of us, this isn't a feasible option. The time and money that a rescue organization would require are outside our limitations, but learning how to become a foster parent for dogs allows you to give back on a smaller, more manageable scale.

Let's Talk: How to Become a Foster Parent for Dogs

How to Become a Foster Parent for Dogs
Photo: Tom Purves

Foster homes are really just short-term homes for dogs that aren't ready to be adopted just yet. For example, sometimes a rescued dog may need a major operation before he's ready to go to his forever home. A foster home may be needed for the dog during his recovery.

Be prepared for what is to come

There isn't a specific type of person or family that is the ideal candidate for fostering a dog. Depending on the pet's needs they may fit in wonderfully in any home. There are a few things to keep in mind though. Fostering isn't as easy at it may seem.

The time commitment will vary depending on the dog's needs. You may only be asked to foster a dog for a few weeks or it could be a few months. Depending on the needs of the pup, the duration of the foster period could be indefinite. If you only want to foster for short periods of time, say a month or less, you'll need to make that clear to the organization that you're working with.

Shelters need foster families for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a dog may have behavioral issues or, as I previously mentioned, he may need a foster home while he heals from a medical treatment. If you're uncomfortable taking in a dog with behavioral issues, make that clear.

Honestly, you're doing the shelter or rescue group a favor by signing up to be a foster parent. They're going to work with you to place dogs in your home that match your preferences. If you're nervous about caring for a pooch with medical issues, speak up. If you have small children and and nervous to have a dog with behavior problems in your home, make sure you tell them that.

You may be asked to help with training.  Not only will you be responsible for feeding, exercising and bathing your foster pet, you may also be asked to help with some basic training. The dog you take in may need to work on house training or some simple commands.

How to Become a Foster Parent for Dogs
Photo: Wagner Cezar

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You may be asked to work with a dog that has issues with chewing or jumping. The organization that you work with will explain exactly what needs to be done, and they may even supply with you some of the products you'll need to help train the dog. Fostering a dog will be a lot like adopting a new puppy. You'll need to work with him to make sure that he's ready for his new forever home.

How to become a foster parent for dogs

The process is actually quite simple, providing that you meet the required guidelines. First you'll need to find a shelter or rescue organization that you'd like to work with. Perhaps you're interested in a breed specific program or you'd just like to help out your local humane society.

Once you choose an organization, contact them. It would be best to do a little research before going for a visit. See if they post information about their foster program online. Is the application available online?

Reading through the requirements beforehand and filling out the application will give you an idea of what the organization is looking for in their foster families. You'll have a better understanding of whether you are qualified or not, and it may save you some time if fostering a dog isn't right for you and your family.

Every organization has a different application process and most will require a home inspection. You'll also probably be required to participate in some type of training or orientation classes. If you're approved, you'll be put on the list of foster homes and the organization will contact you when a need arises.

Some organizations may do in home checks throughout the time the dog is with you or require you to bring the dog in for a visit every so often. Depending on the dog's individual needs, your responsibilities could be more in depth as well. There may be regular vet appointments that you'll need to keep or checkups that you'll have to bring the dog to.

How to Become a Foster Parent for Dogs
Photo: Julia

In the end, most foster dogs just need a lot of love, a safe home and a welcoming environment. Fostering a dog isn't as easy as simply bringing another pet into your home for a few weeks or months. It requires a lot more responsibility than that, and you'll have to be available to work closely with the shelter or rescue group.

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You won't be able to become so attached to the dog that you're unwilling to give him up when the organization finds him a temporary home. We all have a budget, and if you take another dog into your home, chances are you'll be at your household's limit. That means no more foster dogs for you and one less foster family for the shelter you're working with.

You have to always remember that your home is simply a safe place for the dog until he finds his forever family. You're just helping him on his journey. Opening your home and your heart to a dog for a brief period of time will not only be helping the dog, but it's also freeing up a spot at the shelter. That means you're helping them to be able to rescue another dog too!

Learning how to become a foster parent for dogs won't be easy. It takes time, patience and a lot of dedication. If you ask any canine foster parent they'll tell you that it may be a tough job, but it's completely worth it!

Now it’s your turn!

Have you ever been a foster parent for dogs? Are you thinking of becoming one? We'd love to hear your experience and any advice that you may have for other readers who are considering how to become a foster parent for dogs. Let's talk!

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.