Dog Fostering 101 – Guide to Fostering Basics
So you gave your dog a new home, now what?
Fostering programs are a foundational part of animal shelters and rescues across the nation. Animals need foster homes for a variety of reasons like; lack of space in shelters, injury, illness, environmental stress, and around-the-clock care. Animal lovers with the right home environment, time, and training are able to lend a helping hand to make a positive impact on the lives of animals and their communities.
Reasons to Foster
There are a variety of reasons to bring a foster dog into your home. If you’re thinking about signing up to become a foster, here is a list of potential reasons that fostering might be right for you:
- You’re interested in getting a dog, but you’re not sure if you want the lifetime and financial commitment.
- You love dogs and want to help them by getting acclimated to a healthy home environment, so they’re able to find their forever home.
- Your home has the space to house a dog who needs a transitional family if rescues and shelters are in need of the extra space and help.
- You have a pet who could use additional companionship and enjoys teaching other dogs their positive behaviors.
Every shelter and rescue has different requirements and onboarding practices. A few things that they might ask for before you can be approved as a foster are:
- Making sure your current pets are up to date on all of their shots and immunizations.
- Your current pets don’t have any aggression towards other animals.
- You have a trusted veterinarian or can find one close by.
- You have ample space in your house and if possible, a fenced-in backyard.
- Your schedule gives you enough time and flexibility to care for an animal that might need extra attention and care.
The process might seem overwhelming, but it is important to vet all candidates to make sure they are ready for this short-term (but big) commitment.
It’s important to have your house and supplies ready before you pick up your new furry friend! While many shelters and rescues have donated items that they will provide along with necessities like food, here is a list of items we’d recommend getting before you’re busy with your pup.
- Dog bed
- KONG Classic dog toy
- Baby gate(s)
- Dog brush
- Food & Water bowl
- Training treats
- Dog Shampoo
Rescues and shelters also provide or pay for the cost of vet visits and medication, however, be prepared to pay for a few extras (trust us, it’s worth it!).
Doggy-Proofing Your Home
To make sure your fostering bills don’t break the bank, we recommend doggy-proofing your home to ensure the dog and your belongings are safe. Once you get to spend some time with your new four-legged companion you’ll learn their quirks and what to be most cautious of! When doggy-proofing, keep these points in mind:
- Make sure that all doors can be safely secured (we’ve known some master escape artists)
- Consider getting a tall trashcan that has a secure top to keep out curious noses
- Put shoes and all other floor-dwelling belongings in secure places, like your closet
- Cover or move all electrical cords
- Block out areas of the house that are not dog friendly
- Elevate kitty litter boxes or gate them out of your dog’s reach
- Move all toxic cleaning supplies to a secure, out-of-reach area
- Tie up your curtains so they cannot be chewed or tugged on
- Move all houseplants out of reach or into a closed-off area
Dogs Need to Play
We’ve covered a lot of the critical pieces of fostering a dog that might sound intimidating, but don’t worry! Fostering is an incredibly fulfilling and life changing experience. And the most important part is to spoil your foster dog and have fun bonding with them! Because after all… dogs need to play.
Play and enrichment can be used to redirect behaviors that are deemed inappropriate and channel the dog’s energy in a more constructive manner. KONG dog toys have been tried and tested by dogs globally for decades and we have a few favorites that fit this natural dog need.
Interactive Chew Toys
KONG Rubber toys are an excellent way of keeping a dog happy and busy for extended periods of time because you can fill them with different foods. Additionally, you can put them in the freezer for a few hours before giving them to your dog to further extend the challenge. This makes the stuffing last longer and gives your dog a satisfying feeling while he is chewing.
Treat Dispensers and Food Puzzles
Treat dispensers and food puzzles, like the KONG Wobbler, are a great way to feed your dog a meal. These toys will encourage your dog to slow down its eating time, requires physical interaction and improves their problem-solving skills. There are many different kinds of puzzle feeders that present challenges and provide dogs with varying degrees of difficulty.
Tug toys are great for playing the game of tug and retrieve. These toys often take the form of knotted ropes or are made of durable material that provides a good surface to bite on. Tug play has been found to be a cooperative game that can be used to facilitate learning and establish boundaries. Whilst tugging can be an arousing and stimulating game and through its established rules, dogs can learn impulse control and good manners. Tug games can be used as a valuable reinforcement tool to reward good behavior.
Most dogs enjoy a game of fetch and retrieve, so chase-style toys can be highly stimulating. Fetch and retrieve games can provide exercise and enjoyment for many dogs.
The most important thing is love.
A lot of shelter dogs and puppies may have forgotten what it is like to be loved or even what it means to be a dog. By giving them love, affection and just playing with them, these dogs will be on the fast track to improving their lives and becoming the happy-go-lucky family member that people are looking for. Or even you, if you become a foster fail and decide to be the ones that get to give them the FUR-ever home they have been looking for. It can be so rewarding to see them change from a scared little puppy that may not want to leave their kennel, to a spirited, fun-loving dog that enjoys life.