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Is Fostering Dogs Right for You?

Tips for deciding if you should foster dogs.

Have you ever considered fostering shelter or rescue organization dogs? It's usually a great idea, but here are some things to think about and consider before you commit to being a foster family.

What Does Fostering Dogs Entail?

Shelters and rescue groups for dogs are often overrun with more dogs than they have room for. To avoid considering euthanasia or to make room for more dogs in need, many of these organizations use foster families.

Fostering dogs means bringing one or more puppies or dogs into your home and caring for them for a while, sometimes until they are adopted. Dog foster parents might give medicine to sick dogs, take them to veterinary appointments, socialize them with people and other pets, and host meetings with potential adoptive families.

Why Should You Consider Fostering Dogs?

Foster families make a huge difference in the lives of homeless dogs. When a puppy or dog can stay in someone's home instead of a kennel or cage, it does wonders for their mental and physical health. They are often better socialized, have more training, and are more likely to be adopted and not suffer from being re-abandoned.

Dogs that are fostered often "show" better. In other words, potential adopters can see their personality better, and you can describe how they act in a home. Dogs in a shelter often don't reveal key personality traits that well because they're usually scared and shy.

Fostering also allows more dogs to be taken in or rescued from shelters that euthanize dogs that aren't adopted quickly. It opens up the ability for rescue organizations to spread their resources further and help more dogs.

Most people who foster dogs get a lot back out of the experience. They are often able to watch a transformation in a homeless dog, from scared and timid to well-socialized and confident. Sometimes they can help rehabilitate a sick dog, which is also gratifying and rewarding.

Kids in homes that foster dogs learn responsibility and witness the great emotional satisfaction of helping another living thing.

Many times, other pets in your home have fun with foster dogs too. Of course, you will need to give serious thought to your current pets' personalities and needs before you agree to foster.

What Are the Draw-Backs of Fostering Dogs?

Foster families eventually give the dogs up to adoptive families, which can be hard. There are varying degrees of work involved in fostering, depending on the needs of each dog. If the family already has a dog or other pet, the foster might need to be kept separate for a time, so those types of logistics have to be planned for.

Depending on the situation and the group with which you are working, you might be responsible for taking your fosters to veterinary visits or adoption events. Be sure you know what will be expected of you from the specific organization you are interested in fostering for.

How Can You Help If You Don't Wish to Provide Long-Term Foster Care to Dogs?

Rescue organizations always need donations of both money and supplies. If you have old blankets, dog beds, or dog toys, consider donating them. Grab an extra bag of dog food when you buy yours and drop it off at the shelter when you go by. Ask the shelter personnel if they have specific supply needs that you might be able to help with.

You may be able to volunteer time at the shelter rather than bringing a dog into your home. They often need people to help socialize, play with, feed and water, and walk the dogs as well as help with clean-up and maintenance of the facility.

Sometimes you can bring a dog home for a weekend or take one to play with and walk for an afternoon. Ask your shelter whether they have a need for that type of volunteer.

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