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Dog Fostering – Is It For You?

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Photo credit: twodolla / Flickr

Thousands of dogs are abandoned every year across the United States. Sometimes people can’t care for their dog because of financial reasons, but other times, animals are simply seen as unwanted complications to one’s life. Whatever the reason, unless an organization steps up to provide a temporary or permanent home for the dog, his future is grim.

What is Fostering?

Because of the glut of unwanted animals in many areas, most taxpayer-funded animal shelters must euthanize many of their dogs just a few weeks after the animal is placed in the shelter. Rescue organizations try to step up and take care of animals that no one else wants to prevent the destruction of thousands of wonderful companion animals.

One way that many rescue organizations work is by creating a network of foster homes for the dogs in their care.
When you foster dogs, you are volunteering to take a dog without a home into your own family for an unspecified period of time. Fostering a dog is a big decision, so it should not be made lightly.

While fostering dogs can be extremely rewarding, it is not for everyone. Before you sign up to foster dogs, you should think the decision over for a few weeks, and really contemplate how your life will change.

What About Your Home?

Many foster dogs come with some bad habits. They are often not completely housetrained or have destructive tendencies. How understanding will you be if a foster dog chews up your new furniture or soils your carpet day after day? It could take months to completely correct some behavior issues, so you better be sure that everyone in the house is fully on board for this mission.

Do you have an area where a foster dog can be separated from your own house pets? Especially in the first few weeks while everyone is adjusting, having his own space will allow a foster dog to be able to relax without fear.

Training and Consistency

If you struggle with training your own animals to obey and respect you, you may not be the best choice for a foster dog with training problems. Some breeds are very resistant to training, and if you cannot be both firm and kind, your fostering experience may be one big headache.

Additionally, dogs do much better when they have a reliable routine, especially dogs that have had a tumultuous past. When making the decision to foster, you should think about whether creating a dependable routine for the dog will be difficult for you.


Fostering dogs does take some time, but if you love dogs, it will be enjoyable. Your foster dog will need to be walked and played with, as well as taken to veterinarian appointments. Some dogs may come with medical conditions that must be monitored, so you will need to make sure that you can administer medicines and monitor his health.


Most dogs need plenty of exercise to be happy. If you enjoy getting out after work for a run or game of frisbee, you probably have the energy to keep your dog happy. Most dogs that are kept indoors need about thirty minutes of activity, both morning and night.

Dogs that have too much energy or are bored are more likely to resort to destructive habits like chewing furniture or scratching doors to entertain themselves. Dogs that have adequate exercise will sleep when you are not home instead of tearing things up.

Your Work

Many foster parents have full-time jobs that take them away from their homes all day. If you are committed to providing proper exercise for your dog, you can still have a full-time job and foster a dog too. You should, however, provide a crate in which your foster dog can stay while you are gone.

Your Family

Fostering a dog is a decision that will affect everyone in your home. If you have very small children, you should never leave them alone with the dog. School-aged kids should learn what are the appropriate ways of playing with the dog, and should never bother the dog while he is eating or sleeping.

If your kids have trouble obeying you, you should very carefully consider the decision to foster a dog to ensure safety for your children and the dog.

Can You Give Him Up?

You may have a foster dog for a few weeks or a few months, but you should keep in mind that it is temporary.

Sometimes it may feel that you are doing all of the hard work, so that someone else can enjoy the fun part of owning him. It will be difficult to give up the dog when a new owner is found for him, so you should consider whether you will find the goodbye too difficult for yourself and your family.

Rescue organizations are in great need of foster homes for dogs that are cast aside. However, the decision should not be made impulsively. If you are a caring, responsible pet owner, and you want to help dogs, talk to your local rescue organization about fostering a dog.

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