By Courtney Emken
co-written by Jen Larson, KPA-CTP, and Amanda Ott, CPDT-KA
Sometimes you know you need a dog in your life, but aren’t sure whether you’re ready to adopt just yet. Adoption is an incredible commitment. You’re signing on to be an animal’s caretaker for the foreseeable future, and many of us simply aren’t in stable enough living situations to be comfortable bearing that long term responsibility.
Luckily, there’s a solution. Fostering presents an amazing opportunity for both the owner and the foster dog, without the years-long commitment of actual adoption. In this article we’ll detail what kind of responsibilities fostering entails, and provide tips and advice for would-be fosters through a series of questions to ask before making your decision.
5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Fostering A Dog
Most of us at DogBoy’s have fostered before, and we’ll be sharing advice, tips, and tricks that we’ve learned from our experiences. However, fostering is ultimately a very personal decision that relies on understanding your needs and capabilities. These questions should help guide you towards making that critical decision.
Do I Have The Time To Care For A Dog?
Even though fostering is a much lower time-commitment than adoption, your foster dog will still demand a portion of your time and energy every day. While you can use puzzle toys and other treats to provide mental enrichment in your absence, you still need to interact, exercise and play with your dog for them to have a fulfilling life.
Do I Have The Resources To Feed And Shelter A Dog?
You’ll need to provide your foster dog with food, shelter, and space appropriate to their breed. If you’re fostering a little Chihuahua, then you won’t be breaking the bank to keep them well-fed. But larger breeds like German Shepherds and Labs can rack up expensive dinner bills.
Similarly, if you live in a small apartment then that Chihuahua is going to feel comfortable, but a German Shepherd (especially a younger one) will be cramped and bored. A lack of mental and physical stimulation can lead to destructive behavior, so be sure you have the kind of space that your foster dog requires.
Foster dogs, like fully adopted dogs will also require veterinary care and boarding. Both services can get costly, depending on their health and how often you travel, so be sure you have the financial resources for these services before committing to foster a pet.
Does My Potential Foster Dog Match My Lifestyle?
As we just mentioned, a German Shepherd is not going to be happy in a cramped apartment with nothing to do. In the same way, a tiny lap dog won’t be able to join you on long distance runs or go hiking through the wilderness with you.
When choosing a dog to foster, make sure the breed’s temperament and activity level is harmonious to your own. Check out our article on how to pick the right dog to get a better idea of what breed will match your lifestyle.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask the organization you’re fostering with to pair you with a dog. Tell them what your schedule, lifestyle, living arrangements and availability look like to help them find a candidate who’ll work best for you.
For example, Amanda used to commute to work, having her gone over nine hours a day, which is typically too much time for dogs to be left alone. That’s why the shelter recommended that she just foster Heartworm-positive dogs. These dogs simply needed a place to stay settled and someone to take them to their vet appointments; and Amanda was more than happy to provide that.
Am I Fostering In Order To Find An Adoptable Dog?
Fostering is a great way to provide both temporary companionship and allow would-be owners find the perfect pal. However, if you do find a foster that you want to permanently adopt, be prepared to have significantly reduced fostering options in the future. If you’re more interested in adopting rather than fostering, we recommend that you check out our adoption article.
Do I Have Access To Support Networks And Other Resources?
One of the most common issues we see with foster owners is that they aren’t adequately prepared for foster dogs who have more serious behavioral problems than anticipated. Without access to local support organizations and positive reinforcement trainers, foster pet parents can easily become overwhelmed.
Why DogBoy’s Loves Fostering
There’s so many positives to fostering a dog and, if you’re properly prepared, very few drawbacks. You’re giving a fighting chance to the many animals don’t do well in shelters, like:
- Geriatric dogs and cats
- Puppies and kittens
- Pets with chronic illnesses
By fostering, you’re saving one animal from the shelter environment and making a space available for one who’s stranded on the streets. Plus, it only takes a few weeks of shelter and care to forever change a foster pet’s life and improve their well being.
If you have more questions about fostering, or want more specific advice, please contact us today. We’ve been through the fostering experience time and time again, and we’d love to help you get started.