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May 14, 2019

How To Prepare Your Home for a Foster Dog

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Whether you've owned dogs since childhood or you're just learning about the need for foster owners and deciding to bring a dog into your home for the first time, helping an animal in need is a truly wonderful experience. Of course, it does require some preparation. Before you bring a dog (or any pet) into your home, it is important to do the legwork to ensure you are creating a safe environment.

 

Decide if Fostering Is the Right Choice for You

Fostering is a rewarding experience but also a huge responsibility. Before you put in the work to foster a dog, it is important to determine if it will fit into your lifestyle well. You'll need to consider several factors, including time constraints, finances, space, and lifestyle.

  • Time - Consider how long you're away from home each day, whether someone will be available to spend time with pets when you're working, how often you must travel, and whether you're in a position to take time off work if you need to deal with a sick or injured foster dog.
  • Finances - Fostering a dog is also a large financial responsibility. Most shelters need foster owners because of budget issues, which means you can't expect compensation for the job. In addition to food, treats, and toys, you'll need to pay for veterinarian visits, obedience school, and any emergency expenses that pop up along the way.
  • Space - Do you have enough space to bring an animal into your home? Foster pets often need to be quarantined, so you'll need a spare room that is safe for him or her. It is also important to consider whether you have a landlord who will allow fostering.
  • Lifestyle - Finally, consider your lifestyle. Do you have small children or other pets in the home? Are you active or do you prefer to spend weekends watching Netflix? Do you like large or small animals?

Animal-Proof Your Home

Fosters tend to be especially challenging because they often come from situations where they weren't given the care or training that they needed to thrive. This means it is more important than ever to animal-proof your home before inviting a foster into it. Start by moving any medications, chemical cleaners, laundry supplies, or other dangerous substances up high enough that a dog can't reach them. If you absolutely must store these items within a foster's reach, secure the cabinets using childproof latches that paws won't be able to operate. Search each room for exposed wires that belong to your electronics, as many foster dogs will chew on them. Chewed wires mean expensive replacements and possibly expensive vet bills. If you have one room dedicated to gaming, computers, or other expensive electronics, you might even consider blocking it off with a Primetime Petz Safety Mate Extendable Dog Gate . There are other areas to puppy-proof as well:

  • Cover garbage cans and put them out of reach

· Close up any small spaces where smaller dogs can easily hide

  • Keep your washer and dryer closed at all times
  • Put up all food sources
  • Close the lid to the toilet
  • Keep plants out of reach of dogs
  • Block off bedrooms where dogs can easily hide
  • Vacuum regularly

 

Prepare Your Resident Pets

If you already have pets living in your home, you need to prepare them for the new addition(s). Remember, your resident pets were there first and are likely to feel at least a little bit territorial. The week before your foster arrives, don't schedule anything too strenuous for the dogs (or cats, or other pets) that already live in your home. Both types of stress ("good" and "bad") have the same effect on the body, so going to the vet and going to the dog park are both out the week before the foster(s) arrive. Try new toys, long walks, or simply give some extra cuddles instead. If necessary, you might also consider calmative aids. ThunderShirts, music, massage, calming treats, and even lavender oil (for dogs, not cats) are all good choices; however, never use a calming aid without first talking to your veterinarian about it. Finally, you may need to brush up on your pets' training, reminding them how important it is to listen to commands like "sit" or "go to your crate."

 

Purchase Your Supplies

Before your foster comes to stay with you, it is imperative to purchase the right supplies. First, you'll need dog food and treats, not to mention some special food and water bowls for your new friend. Remember, only purchase vet-recommended food or treats, as many foster dogs have special dietary needs due to lack of medical care or other issues they endured before being rescued.

Your new foster will likely want to spend plenty of time outside, which means you'll need a sturdy collar and a non-extendable leash, such as those from Barking Basics , to ensure his or her safety. Remember, you should never allow a foster dog to run free, even in a fenced in yard, as their behavior can be unpredictable due to a lack of socialization. Unfortunately, dogs do sometimes get loose, so don't forget to purchase an identification tag with his or her name and your contact information on it.

Finally, you'll need the fun stuff. Your foster pet will want a safe crate, a comfortable dog bed, and plenty of clean blankets. Don't forget to bring him or her lots of new toys. You might even want to buy a cute new outfit for your special foster pup.

 

Introduce the New Dog

The final step of bringing a foster dog into your home is performing the introductions. Never rush a dog into a new situation. Instead, try to introduce your foster to other pets or family members in a neutral environment, keeping all dogs on leashes during initial introductions. Remember that you'll likely need to feed your foster dog away from other dogs, and you should never leave the new addition alone with your resident pups.

Despite the work that goes into it, fostering a dog that otherwise would be living in a shelter (or worse, be euthanized due to his or her breed, a lack of space, or a lack of funding) is a rewarding experience that allows you to bond with new animals and rehabilitate them into becoming the pets they were meant to be. Of course, be aware of the "foster fail," a term that means you end up keeping your foster for yourself instead of finding him or her a new home!

Heather Mickelson on May 14 at 1:17 PM said:

I think this article is good in some ways but it is way off regarding finances! That can have someone not even continue to read and it is an untrue statement. I have been fostering and volunteer in rescue in MN for 7 plus years. I am with 3 different organizations and they cover everything. I rather pay for the toys and food and write it off on taxes but they pay for the vet care. Shelters may do it differently. But if I wanted to know more about fostering and had an interest I would be discouraged by that bold statement. Also time off from work again it depends on the organization we have such a large pool of volunteers and people to help and pick up a dog. Make the article more rewarding and positive. This is very discouraging and there are thousands of dogs that need help volunteer as a foster or transport driver. Every rescue and shelter does things differently do your homework/research on what is a best fit for you.

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