What Does Fostering a Dog Mean?

As dog lovers, our hearts not only belong to the dogs we have at home but also dogs in shelters, stray pups, and abused dogs.

One of the best ways you can show your love for dogs is by fostering. Rescue facilities want to house all the dogs they can, but a lack of resources or space often requires the help of foster parents.

What does fostering a dog mean? What does it involve? 

We share with you what dog fostering is about and what it takes to foster a dog.

We also provide tips on how you can get started with dog fostering.

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fostering dogs meaning

What is Dog Fostering?

To foster means to take care of or to raise. When you are dog fostering, it means you’re bringing a furry friend home and taking care of them until they find a permanent family to live with.

This means you are saving a dog’s life even if it’s just temporary for you. 

6-8 million pets enter shelters every year and only around 4 million end up getting adopted.

Fostering a dog requires a lot of patience and dedication. Of course, you also need some basic knowledge about taking care of a dog and understanding their behavior.

Some organizations offer fosterers training info and essential supplies. If you’re a dog fosterer, remember that you are a temporary guardian to a dog, so you need to be prepared.

Who Can be a Dog Fosterer?

You may think that this volunteering activity is open to everyone, but each rescue group or shelter has its own guidelines on who can foster a dog.

This depends on each organization’s policies. Typically, foster parents must be at least 18 years of age.

Individuals have to apply at their local shelter and undergo the necessary training.

The organization also has to conduct a home visit, especially if you’re a first-time foster carer.

If you have other dogs at home, you need to make sure that they are up-to-date on vaccinations and are either spayed or neutered.

Contact your local shelter about the requirements. If you’re fit for the job, then try it!

It’s a privilege to offer a needy animal a safe and comforting environment while they wait to be adopted or reunited with their family.

The Cost of Fostering a Dog

Now that you know what it means to foster a dog, you’re probably asking if you get paid to foster animals. 

You won’t make any money fostering dogs. In fact, you’ll be spending a lot on different things which we’ll talk about in a bit.

The biggest reward you’ll be given in fostering a dog is the playtime, cuddles, and the bond you’ll have!

You’ll see them grow and you’ll be happy knowing you helped save a life. 

As mentioned, you’ll be spending a lot when fostering a dog, although the shelter or rescue group may provide help. 

They may supply you with food, medicine, and veterinary care to some extent.

Some things you might need to buy for your foster dog include:

Unfortunately, the biggest cost of fostering dogs is your emotional attachment to them. 

It’s hard to say goodbye to a dog after spending weeks or months with them, that’s why they experience foster failure.

What is Foster Failure?

When volunteers get attached to their foster dogs, they legally adopt them. This process is called foster failure.

Fostering becomes a failure because the capacity to “temporarily” care for them is eradicated. 

This isn’t always possible. Sometimes dog owners just need someone to care for their pets due to a disaster or an emergency. 

Another situation is when military personnel get deployed and their dog needs temporary yet long-term care from a reliable family.

How to Get Started with Dog Fostering

As mentioned, there are certain steps you will need to go through before becoming a foster parent. 

Background Check and Training

Once you’ve contacted your local shelter, you’ll undergo a background check and training.

If you already have other dogs, the shelter or dog owners may prefer you. However, you need to make sure that your other dogs are fixed and vaccinated.

Ask Questions

You’ll also talk about the supplies to be provided by the shelter and by you. 

Some questions you want to ask them include:

  • Where did the dog come from?
  • Is there a history of abuse or neglect?
  • Are they neutered or spayed?
  • Are they house-trained and crate-trained?
  • Do they have behavioral issues?
  • Does the dog have special needs?
  • What will be my financial commitment?
  • Who arranges visits with potential adopters?
  • What if I end up adopting the dog?
  • What if I can’t foster the dog anymore?

Prepare Your Home

Then, once they have approved, it’s time for your home to undergo some dog-proofing

Get rid of sharp objects and valuables or put them away out of a dog’s reach. Hide electrical cords and move your curtains too.

Always cover your trash cans and your toilet lids. You may also need to install dog gates to block off some parts of your house. 

Make your home more dog-friendly with some toys and a safe corner for their bed.

Welcome Your Dog Home

Once your dog is ready to enter their new temporary home, make sure they feel welcome.

Dogs may not be on their best behavior when it’s their first time somewhere new. They may show signs of fear and separation anxiety.

As a foster parent, you should know how to handle fear and separation anxiety in dogs.

This video shows everything you need to know about getting started with fostering a dog.


Can I Foster a Dog If I Work Full-Time?

That depends on your time management and willingness to spend time looking after a dog when you are at home. 

At first, this could be challenging. But once you have a schedule and a routine, it’s going to be a piece of cake.

Remember that fostering a dog is not a lifelong commitment, so don’t hesitate to help save a dog’s life by being a foster parent.

We have some tips on how to foster a dog while working full-time which you can check out!

Do You Get Paid to Foster Dogs?

Usually, foster parents don’t get paid for taking in a dog.

But the shelter may provide food, medicine, and vet care while you are looking after one. 

Tax deductions are also possible for foster parents who drive the dogs to an appointment and pay other expenses.

Learn more about compensation, costs, and reimbursements in terms of fostering a dog now! 

How Many Dogs Can You Foster at Once?

You can foster multiple dogs at once as long as you pass the requirements of the shelter.

The number of dogs you take in will depend on your time, space, and the needs of the foster dogs.

For example, you can foster a litter of puppies at once if you don’t have a full-time job and if you have a space in your house that is large enough for them.

Learn more about fostering multiple dogs.

Change a Dog’s Life!

Not everyone can be a foster parent to a dog. 

But if you have the time, skills, and dedication, don’t be afraid to take a dog home and give them the love for a predetermined time or until they find a home.  

Remember that fostering is different from adopting. When you foster a dog, it’s temporary. So, make sure you are emotionally prepared to let go when it is time.

Being a foster parent may cost little to no money since the shelter may provide food, veterinary care, and other supplies for your furry guest.

However, it’s always a great option to spend a little on dog toys, a bed, and to puppy-proof your home.

Learn more about the pros and cons of fostering a dog!