Fostering dogs can be a real success story for both the canine and the foster caregiver.
Not only does the foster dog receive a much-needed break from shelter life, but they are also given the chance to develop social and behavioral skills that can help them become more likely to be adopted.
While there are many things you may want to check on before fostering a furry friend, here are five questions you should ask before taking a dog home with you.
Medical care and health issues
Ask about medical care your potential foster may need and how to refill prescriptions. This includes asking about heartworm medicine, immunization status, and any injuries or infections. Often, shelters can provide tips about successfully giving dogs medicine to ensure you are comfortable with any issues that might need treatment.
Sometimes, medical care means examining previous or ongoing concerns. Asking questions and reporting concerns can help prevent emergencies.
Socialization: People, children, and personal pets
Many times, dogs available to foster have little background information except for what shelter workers or volunteers have observed and recorded about their behavior.
When possible, speak with those who have worked directly with the dog you are considering fostering to see if there’s more information they can provide about the dog’s interactions with other animals and people.
Asking the proper questions about social behavior is especially important if you have children or other pets in the home.
Some organizations have specific guidelines for separating foster pets.
Foster program workers can also provide information if a particular dog does well around children, along with tips and tricks to introduce your foster friend to others to help reduce anxiety.
Potty training behaviors
Whenever a dog is placed in a new home environment, potty accidents can (and often) happen until the foster dog is comfortable and understands the new home and expectations. However, some dogs have little or no potty training and need time to adjust and learn.
Before you foster a dog, ask about their elimination habits and what supplies can help make the potty-training process more successful at home.
Some foster dog caregivers use potty training sprays to help guide their new furry friend to an area in their home or yard. This can be useful to speed the training along, especially in a new environment.
Many dogs can be potty trained at any age, but training will take extra time and effort. As the American Kennel Club mentions, just because a dog has lived in other homes or is an adult doesn’t mean they are housetrained.
Ask about age
When possible, find out the age of the dog you are considering fostering. While you might like the idea of fostering a specific age range, it’s also essential to understand and be willing to accommodate age-related needs.
Even if your fostering experience is short-term, there are specific steps you can take to prepare your home (and yourself) for a positive stay by addressing age-related care.
For example, puppies might need extra breaks outside, have more energy, and may require additional visits to a vet for immunizations and care.
Some older dogs might be housetrained but require other accommodations to help them navigate unfamiliar environments and receive proper medications.
Some dog foster organizations will also ask if you have experience or are comfortable fostering pregnant dogs. New or expecting mothers often require a separate space away from other pets.
Foster program guidelines and policies
Since guidelines vary for each foster program, it’s important to read individual policies and ask clarifying questions related to your situation.
Medical care coverage
Foster programs have guidelines or recommendations for where their animals receive care. Ask about routine medical care, immunizations, and emergencies so the foster dog receives appropriate care and you understand how they handle billing.
Many shelters prefer foster animals to continue the same or similar diet they were fed in the shelter. This helps with monitoring their dietary needs and can be helpful to address any food-related concerns that might develop.
Some fostering organizations provide a particular kind or certain amount of food for your foster friends while you care for them. Not all organizations have a food allowance for foster programs, so it’s good to ask beforehand to ensure any expenses fit into your budget.
Leash and fence guidelines
Additionally, some organizations have policies about keeping their foster canines on leashes when outside. There are many reasons for this; most involve safety and security. Some foster dogs are escape artists; others may become aggressive if other animals are outside. If you foster a larger dog, ask about any fence height requirements.
If you already have a furry companion in your family, let the foster program leader know. This is a crucial detail to ensure you are paired with a foster dog that fits your lifestyle.
Asking the right questions before fostering can help lead to a positive, successful fostering experience for everyone.
Sarah is the founder and writer of Dog Training Boss. As a parent, dog owner, and dog foster caregiver, she strives to create a loving home environment for all two and four-legged creatures. Her background also includes research analysis, education, and journalism. Sarah works closely with animal experts and dog lovers to provide clear information that helps dog owners make the best decisions for their furry friends. If you’re looking for tips, barking advice, or online training classes, check out more of her articles.