Why should I foster a dog?

  • Fostering is a more humane way for a pet to live during the transition period between a past family and their new forever future.
  • By providing a safe and stable environment for a pet, foster families can help pets heal from any physical or emotional trauma and develop into the best family member they can be.
  • Fostering creates space in a shelter for another pet in need, expands marketing opportunities outside of the shelter network, and helps organizations learn as much as possible about a pet in order to make a great match for their new home.
  • By opening your heart and home, your family can learn the value of helping others, while learning the best ways to care for a fur friend in need. The lessons learned through fostering a pet, translate to different situations throughout life.
  • Fostering opens the door to a giant network of pet lovers throughout your community, and all over the nation!
  • When you become a foster, you positively impact your community instantly.

What kind of dogs need fostering?

  • Nursing moms: They need quiet and safe places to care for their babies without fear of predators or environmental challenges. 
  • Motherless puppies: From itty bitty neonates to toddlers learning to play, young pups need an extra set of eyes on them while they grow healthy enough to be adopted.  Have a specific question about this? 
  • Sick and injured dogs who need medical recovery: These fidos often heal and recover quicker in a home than in a shelter environment. Having a quiet, safe home to relax and be loved, allows the immune system to focus on the body’s needs.
  • Stressed dogs: Often adult dogs struggle to make the sudden adjustment from home life to a kennel.  There are strange sounds and smells, their favorite blanket is gone, the food is different, and there’s no doggie door to go outside!  For those dogs that shut down, foster is the opportunity for them to stabilize while the foster parent helps market them for a forever home. 
  • Hospice dogs: No pet should spend the end of their life in an impersonal shelter environment.  As great as your shelter may be, a home is typically better.  A fospice home keeps a terminally ill or senior dog comfortable, for as long as they can, until they can’t.  Many times, a dog that was predicted to have weeks left, ends up sticking around longer due to the love and care they receive in a foster home.
  • Shy dogs: Many dogs only live with one owner their whole lives and when they arrive at a shelter, they are terrified!  Fosters can teach a fearful dog that new people and places are ok!  Using techniques from Andrea Arden, you can teach your fearful foster some basic commands and help boost their confidence!

Will I have to buy anything in order to become a foster?

Many shelters and rescue groups will provide food, supplies and medical care for pets in foster care.  This doesn’t mean you just get a free pet.  Fosters add value by providing care, training, socialization, information and photos.  Information and photos?  Yes!  This may be the biggest way that fosters give back!  In order to help organizations, match pets with forever families, they need to know about the pet’s behavior in a home, their likes and dislikes, and they need to show how cute they are!

So, I don't keep my foster dog?

The pet in your home doesn’t know the difference between foster and adoption but the organizations in your community do.  Fosters are meant to be a safe and stable stepping stone from past to future.  If your intention is to make a pet a part of your permanent family, then adoption is for you.  If your intention is to help prepare a pet for a new forever home, let’s find you a foster!  Sign up to be connected with rescues and shelters in your area that need help!

Ready to be a hero? Sign up through this form be connected with rescues and shelters in your area that need help!

Can I foster a dog to see if he would be a good permanent fit for my family, like a trial adoption?

Foster homes are intended to be temporary, transitional homes between a dog’s past and his future forever family.  If you’re hoping to find a permanent family member, then adoption, rather than fostering, is for you.  A “trial adoption” is really just an adoption and should be treated as such. Shelters across the country don’t mind if an adoption doesn’t work out – it actually provides them with invaluable information to help make a better match next time! 

And there’s nothing that says you can’t adopt a dog and also be a foster parent to another dog. Get your adopted dog settled in at home and then look into fostering. You’ll find all sorts of resources here on FidoFoster to help you with fostering while you have your own resident pets.

If your intention is to help prepare a dog for a new forever home, let’s find you a foster dog! Sign up through this form to be connected with rescues and shelters in your area that need help!

I signed up to foster - why don’t I have a foster dog yet?

For the first time EVER shelters across the nation are housing more pets in foster than in the shelter!  The willingness of people just like you to step up to save lives has provided a cushion so that shelters can continue to serve their communities during this crisis, without running into space constraints.  Puppy season is starting, shelter staff and volunteers are starting to return to work, and weather-related incidents are ongoing.  Don’t give up!  Your help is still needed.

Will my foster dog be good with other pets? How about kids?

Since many dogs enter the shelter system as strays, we often don’t know!  This is one of the ways that foster parents help gather information.  Rescues and shelters will share with you what they know, but it is challenging to get a lot of information in such a stressful environment.

Isn’t it hard to let your foster dog go to another family?

Nothing outweighs the joy of knowing you can now foster another homeless pet!  It can still be hard sometimes, and there are a lot of resources online about processing a foster goodbye and groups where you can talk to others that have had this experience. Fellow fosters are your best source for tips and tricks.

Am I responsible for medical bills if something happens?

Rescues and shelters each have different guidelines around this.  While they mostly rely on donations in order to fund veterinary care, they also may have partnerships with local clinics or operate their own on-site clinic.  The level of available resources varies, but the general answer is “no you aren’t.”  But also….  try not to let something happen so those resources can help as many pets as possible.

What breed is my foster dog?

Most likely, no one will have an answer for this.  Shelter and rescue teams are just guessing based on how a pet looks; they don’t have the funding to DNA test hundreds or thousands of pets that they care for.  If you are interested in fostering a specific breed, a quick internet search can likely find a breed specific rescue that needs your help.

It seems like there are only pets available to foster that have medical and behavior issues. Can’t I just foster a healthy normal dog?

Rescues and shelters aren’t design­­­­­­­ed to house animals for their whole lives.  They are just stepping stones on a pet’s path to a forever family.  That means that most highly desirable dogs are adopted, and the organization can help another pet in need.

Can I just keep a foster dog until I go back to work?

When you agree to take in a foster pet, it creates space for another pet to enter the shelter or rescue.  Returning a pet suddenly can create a space challenge and may displace another pet in need.  Talk to the shelter or rescue about pets that may have an expected shorter or specific time frame.  Maybe a pet that is recovering from surgery or getting over a cold and just needs to be housed in foster temporarily.

One of the goals of fostering is for a pet to find a forever home.  The quickest way to do that is for you to take a lot of photos and videos, write a brief biography about your foster cat, send all of that information to the organization you are fostering for and share on your own social network.  Do it quickly and maybe you can foster TWO pets before you have to go back!  Get photo and marketing tips from Seth Casteel, and the One Picture Saves a Life Program.

What if I have to suddenly go out of town? Do I bring my foster dog back to the shelter?

When you agree to take in a foster pet, it creates space for another pet to enter the shelter or rescue.  Returning a pet suddenly can create a space challenge and may displace another pet in need.   Shelters and rescues are legally the owners of the pets and will be forced to accommodate your travel.  What that looks like is different for every organization.  Many organizations have other fosters that can ‘foster sit’ in the case of an emergency, while others may have to find space in their kennels.  Or maybe being a foster sitter is right for you!

Will my foster dog be sick?

It’s possible. When a lot of animals are housed together, they easily spread germs, and the stress of a shelter weakens the immune system. It is not uncommon for a dog to get a cold a few days after being placed in your home. The organization you are fostering for will have a process for getting you the medication and treatment you need. Communicate with them if you see anything suspicious.

Can I pick out which dog I want to foster?

The shelter or rescue you want to foster for will likely have a list of pets that need fostering. Review it and pick which one sounds like a good match! If the pet you are interested in isn’t on that list, it is likely because it is highly adoptable and can be placed into a forever family to create space for another pet in need!

Will my pets at home be ok?

It is important that your pets are fully vaccinated according to your veterinarian’s advice.  Follow the guidelines given to you by the organization you are fostering for about introducing a foster pet into your home.

Can I just foster a single puppy?

Young dogs do best with at least one other buddy so they can learn how to ‘play nice with others.’ When they play, they learn how hard to wrestle, that biting hurts, that sharing food is ok because there will be more…… it’s important for them to have these experiences during development. However, there are times when singletons come into the shelter and are too young or too sick for adoption. Your shelter or rescue organization will have a list of the pets that need foster care.

What if my foster dog gets pregnant? Can I breed it?

If you are fostering a dog that has not been altered yet, it is imperative that you keep them indoors and monitor them during any interactions with unaltered dogs in your home. There are already too many dogs dying in shelters every day and no need for more of them. If you are wanting to share the birthing experience with your family, consider fostering an already pregnant dog for a rescue or shelter in your area.

How do I get more supplies? Who do I call if I have questions?

When you picked up your foster pet, you most likely were given a booklet or at least a phone number or email. Keep this! If you have misplaced it, you should contact the organization directly and get this info – place it somewhere you won’t lose it like on your refrigerator or save it in your cell phone.

Why are there so many pitbulls?

The term pitbull is used as a loose reference to a wide variety of dogs! These include American Bulldog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier and American Bully. There are several other breeds of dogs that are often labeled pitbull such as the Presa Canario, Bull Mastiff, Cane Corso, Bull Terrier and Dogo Argentino. There is so much crossbreeding that most homeless dogs are a mix of four or more breeds.

HELP! My foster dog is acting in a way I don’t want! (peeing, barking, scratching, jumping, digging, lunging, begging, etc.) What do I do?

Andrea Arden has shared tips and tricks with us.  Make sure you communicate this behavior to the organization you are fostering for as well.  They may have their own resources they can share with you.