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November 17, 2021

Fostering a Dog for the First Time: What You Should Know

  • Tips
  • What to Expect
Boxer and French Bulldog on front porch

Fostering a dog for the first time can be an enriching experience. It can be a wonderful opportunity to see if you can adapt as a pet parent if you are considering a future adoption, or it’s a great way to help dogs in need for shorter periods of time if you’re unable to commit to a long-term companionship.

Even though fostering a dog is typically short term, it can still feel a bit overwhelming the first time if you’re not fully prepared. Thankfully, there are a lot of resources for bringing a dog into your home temporarily through rescue groups, support dog services, and animal shelters. Here are some areas to think about to help you successfully foster a dog for the first time:

When Do Dogs Need Foster Care?

When agencies, such as shelters, place dogs into foster care, it is often because they do not have enough space to accommodate them. By placing a dog into foster care, agencies can also determine if the dog is the right fit for an adoptive family. Service organizations also place dogs into foster care to get them off to a good start in their jobs of serving humans. 

If a mother dog is nursing a litter of puppies in a shelter, a shelter will put the pups into foster care to lower the risk of infection. Because dogs enter and exit shelters regularly, the risk of infection is higher. Shelters may place unvaccinated weaned pups in foster care temporarily. 

How Long Does a Foster Assignment Last?

The length of a foster assignment depends on the situation. Some pets are fostered for a couple of weeks while others live in foster care for a couple of months. Some foster care givers sign a contract that gives a deadline. However, dogs, like people, have unique needs and personalities, and those traits normally determine the time.

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Are You Prepared to Take Care of a Foster Pet?

To prepare for fostering a puppy, you need to pet-proof your home. The AKC (American Kennel Club) gives guidelines to keep your home secure for your new foster puppy or dog. The following are six tips to get you started.

1. Keep Cords and Wiring Out of Sight

Keep electrical cords from the reach of your new house guest by hiding them with wire concealers or unplugging them.

2. Don't Feed Your Dog Table Scraps

Avoid feeding your foster dog food from the table. While they may look endearing when begging for food, you should not give human food to dogs, especially candy, cookies, or raisins. Stick to a dog food diet and brand that provides specific and healthful recipes for dogs, depending on their stage of life.

For example, Now Fresh recipes for dogs offers recipes specific to life stages life stages — Puppy, Adult, and Senior — and breed sizes. Choosing the correct recipe can help ensure your dog's health and overall well-being.

3. Place Cleaning Supplies in High Cabinets

Place your cleaning formulas in cabinets or latched behind doors safely out of your dog's reach. Keep your dog in another part of the house when cleaning to avoid problems with vapors or fumes.

4. Store Medicines Safely from Reach

Clear medicines off counters or nightstands where a dog or pup can snatch them.

5. Remove Choking Hazards and Sharp Objects

Clear away choking hazards, such as coins, paper clips, jewelry, or rubber bands. Keep objects such as scissors, knives, and razors out of the reach of your canine visitor.

6. Secure Lids on Trash Cans 

Dogs may upset trash cans or eat from them, which can make them sick, if you do not secure the lids.

Other Preparations 

Not only should you dog-proof your house, but you also need to prepare yourself for fostering a dog in your home. Determine how you would answer the following questions:

  • Are you willing to help a foster pet with health concerns who may need medicines?

  • Can you cover the pet's medical needs or get to the vet quickly in an emergency? Speak to the shelter or rescue group about emergency care.

  • Are you emotionally prepared to give up the pet when you must return it? Remember, by your intervention, you have made it easier for the dog to find a forever home. 

Successful Fostering 

To be successful as a foster pet parent, you need to have:

  • A compassionate temperament
  • Cooperation from roommates, friends, or family members
  • A knowledge of dog behavior and basic commands
  • A living arrangement that accommodates pet care for puppies, grown dogs, and older dogs

To take part in a foster parent program, a shelter or agency may ask you to complete an application and attend a meeting or training session. You must set aside time and make a commitment to the activity.

If you already have pets in your home, you also need to consider their possible reactions to foster pets.

Bonding with Your Pet Guest 

While researchers believe hugging increases the level of oxytocin in the system — which lends to improve emotional health — it may not be so good to hug a dog, according to Psychology Today. Instead, psychologists suggest that hugging a dog can build up its level of stress.

Why Does This Happen?

While they may be cute and cuddly, dogs are cursorial, meaning they are made to run swiftly from stresses or threats. Behaviorists believe when a dog feels immobilized, he feels deprived of this choice of action. The increased anxiety may cause him to bite. If you have kids in your household then, encourage them not to hug your foster pet.

The best way to bond with a dog is to be gentle but firm. Remember, what works for humans does not always work for dogs. You need to make this distinction when fostering a pet.


Now Fresh Team

Now Fresh Team

A Team of Dedicated Pet Parents & Nutrition Experts

We all want our cats and dogs to lead happy, healthy lives. We’re here to help you, with easy-to-understand information about your pet's daily care and feeding.