How to Prepare to Foster a Dog
Making the decision to bring a dog into your life is exciting and requires preparation. Whether you are curious about what it’d be like to own a dog, or if you’re looking to bring another dog into your home – fostering is a great way to provide a safe place for a dog in need.
While it may seem like a smaller commitment to foster, it comes with just as much prep work and dedication as if you did adopt. Ensuring you and your household are prepared for the new tenant is key to making it a successful experience for you, your family, and your new foster dog.
Dog-proof your home
If you don’t have dogs already, then you likely need to take a good look at your home and do some work to “puppy-proof” it. This includes putting locks on low cabinets (especially ones that contain toxic products), keeping valuables out of reach, securing your backyard, and buying essentials like food bowls, toys, beds, collars, etc.
Prepare others in the household
This includes both humans and other pets. Explain to any children or roommates that a new dog will be sharing their space. This can include teaching young children how to properly engage with a strange dog, as well as ensuring any current pets have a safe space away from the foster dog – this is equally as important for the new dog coming into the home.
This may include medicating an anxious dog or cat already in your family, making sure they are up to date on vaccinations, and giving flea treatment prior to the foster dog coming into the house.
Take things slow
Once your foster dog is brought home, allow him to have a private, quiet space in the house for him to decompress. Many foster dogs come from shelters which can be overwhelming and overstimulating to many dogs. By providing a space that is secure and private, the dog can begin to let his guard down and adjust to his surroundings – which takes several days or even weeks.
When the time comes to introduce household pets to the foster, slow and steady is best. Begin by introducing through a fence or gate. A few moments to sniff each other in a controlled environment is all that is needed for a first meeting, then the two can be separated given space. Gradually allow the greetings to go on longer and if all appears to be going well, you can slowly introduce them without the fence or gate, but keep them leashed.
The most rewarding part of fostering is showing a dog how much there is to enjoy in life. Expose your foster dog to new experiences like hiking, swimming, attending an event, etc. if the dog feels comfortable. The more he can see and become accustomed to, the more likely he will be to find his forever home.