Foster Dog Facts Every Dog Lover Needs to Know

Ask anyone who has fostered and they will tell you fostering dogs is one of the most rewarding and transformative things they've ever done.

It not only benefits the pups who need you most but also enriches your life and builds bonds and bridges in communities.

Whether you're an experienced dog lover or new to the idea of fostering, what do you need to consider about being a dog foster parent?

Let's dive into exploring the process, emotional aspects, myths, and the hugely positive impact of fostering.

The first thing you should know is that loving foster homes are needed now more than ever!

Since the pandemic, the number of dogs ending up homeless has increased exponentially, and shelters and rescues everywhere are desperately in need of more space and options for all the pups needing a safe haven on the way to their forever homes. More dogs and more rescue organizations need you now than ever before.

How fostering a dog impacts adoption rates and shelter welfare

Fostering a dog plays a crucial role in increasing adoption rates and improving the welfare of shelter dogs.

When you foster a dog, you bring countless and lasting benefits to both the dog and the community. Foster homes have been the quiet heroes of rescue, now being recognized for the indispensable role they play with rescues and shelters large and small by making it possible to save more dogs and prepare them for their forever homes.

How your fostering helps the dogs

  • Increasing their adoption chances: Dogs in foster care often receive more one-on-one attention, training, and socialization, as well as the chance to live in a calm, family environment and show their personalities, likes/dislikes. All of these advantages plus the fuller knowledge of who they are makes them more adoptable.
  • Reducing stress: A home environment is less stressful than a shelter environment, which can significantly improve a dog's health and behavior (again, becoming more easily adoptable into his or her forever home... which is the happy point of fostering!).
  • Recovering in a comforting environment from medical issues: Foster homes allow dogs to recover from surgery or illness in a comfortable setting where they can relax and heal, whether from giving birth, having a routine spay/neuter, or bouncing back from any procedure needed to be at their healthiest. Recovering in a home environment can significantly improve a dog's physical and mental health, also increasing adoptability.

How fostering a dog helps the larger community

  • Relieving shelters: Fostering helps alleviate overcrowding in shelters and rescues, allowing them to focus resources on other dogs and literally save more lives.
  • Engaging the community: Foster families often share their experiences and promote their foster dogs on social media and within their networks. In the process, they're raising awareness, sharing success stories of wonderful adoptable dogs thriving in family life with them, and encouraging others to consider fostering or adopting. All increase the chances of adoption.

The result: getting more dogs adopted and opening up space in shelters to save more dogs.

The process of becoming a foster parent

How to apply to start fostering

  1. Research local shelters and rescue groups: Start by finding a local shelter or rescue organization in your area that offers fostering programs. You can get a sense of their approach to fostering on their website and social media, and rescue groups are usually more than happy to answer any questions you have about fostering.
  2. Complete an application: Most rescues and shelters require an application form for a better understanding of you as a prospective foster parent.
  3. Home visit and interview: Some groups may conduct a home visit or interview to ensure a good environment and match for the foster pup and foster home.

What to expect as a foster home

  • Training and Support: Many organizations provide training and ongoing support for foster parents.
  • Supplies: Rescues and shelters typically provide medical care, and many provide food and other necessary supplies; others may expect foster families to cover some costs. Just ask your rescue group how they work if it's not clear.
  • Foster period: The length of time a dog stays in foster care can vary widely -- sometimes days if you're a resting spot on the way to a pre-scheduled adoption or a few weeks to sometimes months. Ask your rescue group about a specific situation and talk about what you're able to manage.

Responsibilities involved as a foster family

  • Daily Care: Feeding, exercising, and grooming your foster pup.
  • Medical Appointments and Adoption Events: Taking your foster dog to veterinary appointments as needed. (Rescues typically cover all veterinary costs and plan appointments and medical care with vets they work with regularly.)

You'll also be asked to bring your foster dog to adoption events run by your rescue so your dog can meet potential adopters. If it doesn't work with your schedule, other rescue volunteers or staff can usually make sure your pup gets to the event.

  • Behavior Training: Helping your foster dog with basic training and socialization. Your rescue organization often has training classes and resources in partnership with professional trainers in person and/or online that they'll make available to you.

Tips for a positive experience as a foster home

  • Involve everyone in your household: Make fostering a family project to ensure everyone is on board. That includes your own dog or dogs if you already have dog family members. Remember to talk with your rescue in advance about your prospective foster dog and any dogs, cats, or young children in your family. Your rescue can advise you on a good match as well as how to make safe introductions and carve out a secure place for your foster to feel secure and comfortable to gradually get adjusted to this all-new home experience.
  • Stay connected: Keep in touch with the shelter or rescue group for support and guidance throughout your fostering.

Myths and Misconceptions About Fostering Dogs

While we're at it, let's debunk a few common myths that might make you think twice about fostering a dog:

Myth 1: "Fostering a dog is too emotionally difficult."

While saying goodbye can be a tough moment, the joy of helping your foster pup realize the dream of finding his or her very own home for a happy everafter outweighs and outlasts a passing emotional tug.

It can be challenging to part with a foster dog you've watched thrive in your care, but knowing your pup is going to a loving, permanent home and that you've forever enriched the lives of your pup's new family makes it more than worthwhile.

And you've opened a new spot to save the lives of two more dogs (the one you'll foster next and the one who the rescue can now bring into the space in the shelter that opens when you foster again)!

Many grateful adopters stay in touch with their foster family, sharing photos and news of your former foster dog and keeping your foster love community ever-expanding.

Myth 2: "I don't have enough time for a foster dog."

Fostering a dog can be flexible, and many organizations offer short-term opportunities. Talk through your timing with your rescue to find a match that works especially if you are new to fostering.

Myth 3: "My home isn't suitable for a foster dog."

Most shelters can match you with a dog who fits your living situation, whether you have a small apartment or a large house, live in the city or country, or already have dog/cat family members in your home.

Practical tips to set you and your foster pup up for success

Prepare your home

  • Safety first: Make sure your home is dog-proofed, removing any hazards.
  • Comfort zone: Remember your home is a whole new world for your foster pup who needs to de-stress and decompress to settle in and flourish. Create a cozy space with a bed, toys, and water that will feel like a safe haven for your foster dog.

Gather supplies

  • Basic necessities: Nutritious food (your rescue can tell you what your pup likes), healthful chews and treats, bowls, leash, collar, harness, identification tags, beds. Many or some of these will be provided by your rescue; check in advance to know what you need to stock.
  • Health essentials: Medications (likely provided) , and grooming supplies like natural hypoallergenic shampoo, brush or grooming mitt.

Refresh your knowledge, utilize resources

  • Training techniques: Learn or do a refresh on basic positive training methods to help your foster dog adjust. Your rescue will help with resources.
  • Behavioral signs: Understand common behavioral issues and dog body language signs and how to address them. Your rescue can fill you in on everything they know about your foster dog's personality and ways you can best support your foster.
  • Support systems: Join online support/information groups for foster dog parents. Some rescues have support and chat groups online where their fosters and adopters can share experiences, questions, answers, and recommendations. And of course, your rescue group is there for you for support and guidance.

Dog fostering is a noble and fulfilling thing to do that has a profound, lasting impact on the lives of rescue dogs. If you're a dog lover considering fostering, remember that your kindness and dedication can make a world of difference. Embrace the journey, and let the love of a foster dog and the joyful ripple effect enrich your life in ways you never imagined!

We're here to help you give your dogs their best lives every day.

At Mighty Paw, we're first and foremost dog people. We believe in helping create a world where it's easier to keep your dog -- and every dog -- safe, healthy, and happy so all dogs can live their fullest, best lives with their people.

That's why we're committed to partnering with rescues to support and celebrate rescue dogs and fosters with wellness and enrichment products, exercise equipment, and our Buy 1, Give 1 Chews for Change program where every time you buy a Mighty Paw Yak Cheese Chew, another one goes to a rescue pup to enjoy!

It's also why we're dedicated to always providing high-quality products that are safe, durable, and practical for everything you need to keep your dog healthy and happily enjoying every adventure large and small by your side.

Explore our products for more of the best for dogs! And don't forget to follow us on social media!

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