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January 17, 2022

What to Expect When Fostering a Dog

  • Tips
  • Dog
  • Foster
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One study found that interacting with humans may be an effective form of stress relief for dogs in shelters. Helping relieve stress is one of many benefits of fostering a dog. Becoming a foster parent can change your life and the life of your foster dog.

In this article, we answer questions like, 'how does fostering a dog work,' and, 'how to become a foster dog parent.' We also weigh the pros and cons of fostering a dog. Continue reading if you want to learn how to change a shelter dog's life through fostering.

How Does Fostering a Dog Work?

Your first question is likely, 'how does fostering a dog work?' When a shelter needs a temporary home for a dog, they look for those interested in being foster parents.

Shelters experience periods of time where they have a high volume of dogs in their kennels. That means space is limited. In other situations, a dog may have a medical need for fostering such as high stress, injury, or illness.

How to Become a Foster Dog Parent

If you're wondering how to become a foster dog parent, start by contacting your local animal shelter. Shelters are almost always searching for new foster families, especially when they're filling up with animals.

The process typically starts by completing an application where you detail your living situation, any other animals in your home, etc. Then, you'll need to complete a training and/or education program on fostering a dog.

Pros and Cons of Fostering a Dog

Before diving into the process, it's important to fully understand the pros and cons of fostering a dog. While you may want to help, it's not always going to be a perfectly fun job. However, it will be a rewarding experience.

Take the time to consider all of the pros and cons of fostering a dog before committing. Be sure to include any and all members of your household and factor in the well-being of your own pets.

Benefits of Fostering a Dog

One of the biggest benefits of fostering a dog is partaking in a rewarding and life-changing experience.

Fostering a dog means helping improve the quality of life of an animal that has already been through so much.
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When dogs are released to an animal shelter, they're under a lot of stress. With such high levels of stress, it's difficult to determine a dog's true personality.

Giving a dog the chance to adequately adjust to your home allows them to show their true personality. This is beneficial to the shelter because it helps them match the dog to the right family.

The socialization process involved with fostering a dog is another huge benefit. Dog's learning to be around different kinds of people, children, and animals can help acclimate them for their future forever home.

Detriments of Fostering a Dog

The detriments of fostering the dog are much the same as the detriments of bringing a new dog home to live with you permanently.

Some examples include:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Urinating/defecating in the house
  • Showing aggression toward you
  • Showing aggression toward your family
  • Showing aggression/altercations with other household pets

There's also the problem of you and/or your family getting attached to the foster dog. This is why a lot of foster parents end up adopting their foster pets. Saying goodbye when the dog goes to their new home can be upsetting.

What to Expect From a Foster Dog: 3-3-3 Rule

Besides potential behavior issues, it's important to set up a timeline of expectations. You need to consider the situation from your foster dog's perspective in order to give them a fair chance in your home.

A common rule used by foster families is the 3-3-3 rule. A foster dog's first 3 days are going to be the most stressful for them. They will likely be overwhelmed, afraid, may not eat or drink, and may test boundaries.

After the first 3 weeks, fostering a dog starts to get easier as they adjust to you and your family. They start to learn your routine and develop routines of their own. However, they may start to develop hidden behavioral issues at this point.

After the first 3 months, your foster dog will be comfortable in your home since they'll have built a trusting relationship with you. This is when you get to see the best understanding of a dog's personality.

How to Help a Foster Dog

Part of learning how to foster a dog is learning how to make them comfortable. The more comfortable a dog is, the sooner they'll be able to truly enjoy the benefits of being in a foster home instead of a shelter.

Find What They Like

Whether the dog started out in the animal shelter or came almost directly from their former owners, make an effort to learn what they enjoy.

Some examples of beloved belongings include:

  • Toys such as frisbees and tennis balls
  • Soft blankets and pillows
  • Specific kinds of treats
  • Places to hide such as a dog house

Having some of their favorite items can help them adjust more quickly. If possible, try to find items that won't already smell like other pets. This can prevent them from wanting to use the items.

Offer High-Quality Food

Each dog is different in terms of their dietary needs and preferences. Dogs with unique needs are challenging for shelters since they have limited resources. Part of learning how to foster a dog is learning what kind of food they like.

Some dogs are sensitive to certain common sources of protein such as beef or chicken. Other dogs may be picky eaters and only want to eat wet food. Whichever option is preferred, be sure it's of the highest quality to keep them in good condition.

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Start Enjoying the Benefits of Fostering a Dog

Use the above guide to start enjoying the benefits of fostering a dog as soon as possible. Shelters are almost always in need of support and it can change a dog's life for the better. Do your best to be patient with them and allow them time to adjust.

To help make the transition into your home smoother, check out our dry food recipes. Our high-quality dog food satisfies a variety of food sensitivities and preferences.


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Go! Solutions Team

A Team of Dedicated Pet Parents + Nutrition Experts

We all want our cats and dogs to lead happy, healthy lives. We’re here to help you, with easy-to-understand information about your pet's daily care and feeding.