Thinking About Fostering a Dog Right Now? Here's What You Should Know

Fostering a dog during the coronavirus pandemic benefits both the dog and the fosterer. Sadly, many people may have to surrender their pets during the pandemic if they are hospitalized or face extreme financial hardship. Too many dogs in shelters means that some will be euthanized unless people step up to foster. Fostering a dog can save a dog's life. It can also bring joy and companionship into a person's life when sheltering in place gets lonely.

What questions should I ask before I foster a dog?

Lisa Bernier, director of Bark For Good, recommends that you find out a bit about the particular dog you'd like to foster before you commit. She suggests that you ask about the behavioral history and medical history so you can adequately prepare. You will also want to know what supplies the rescue agency can provide and what you will need to buy yourself. When you do buy supplies for a foster dog, keep your receipts because you can write these expenses off.

How do I prepare my home for a foster dog?

Make sure that you create a safe space, like a crate, for your foster dog to retreat to and decompress. "This is crucial with a foster dog since they've most likely had a lot of upheaval and stress in their life. You want to be able to give them time to get back to their normal," said Bernier. She also suggested enrichment-focused toys or toys that can be filled with treats to help foster dogs relieve stress.

Since dogs thrive on routine, she also emphasized the importance of establishing one right off the bat. Walks, playtime, and feeding times should all happen roughly on schedule so that the dog knows what to expect and becomes comfortable.

How long do I have to foster?

In some cases, you should plan on keeping a foster dog until it finds its forever home. Returning the dog to the shelter is not always an option because they may have filled its space. If you do have a time limit, discuss this with the rescue agency before you foster, and they will decide if you are a good fit. Lesley Brog of Wags and Walks, a nonprofit dog rescue headquartered in Los Angeles, explained that it's a common misconception that you have to foster for the long term. "We have some fosters that only take a dog over the weekend, or only foster for a few days while we look for more space. It can be as much of a time commitment as you want it to be," she said.

How can I deal with the loss when my dog finds its forever home?

When you foster a dog, you will inevitably bond with the animal. It can be hard to deal with the loss when the dog is adopted. Lesley suggests focusing your mind on what is best for the dog. "Think of yourself as one stop on the dog's journey. You were never meant to own the dog, but instead, to give the dog a safe place while they find their forever home."