According to the Dog’s Trust, around 130,000 dogs end up in shelters each year. It takes an army of dedicated staff and volunteers to care for these animals, and some of them end up being fostered by carers so they can enjoy time in a proper family home.
Fostering a dog is an excellent way to help shelter pooches. Many shelters are overcrowded. Foster carers help to relieve the strain on underfunded services by taking home dogs that are not coping well with life in kennels or need one-on-one care. This frees up valuable space, so the shelter can help more dogs in need.
In addition, it’s a useful stepping-stone to permanent adoption.
Spending time in foster care gives the carer a chance to try and resolve any behavioural issues and help make them a good pet for their future owner. Many foster carers have extensive experience with rescue dogs, which helps smooth the process along.
Some families offer rescue dogs short-term foster homes as a way of enjoying life with a pet, minus the financial responsibilities that come with dog ownership. Shelters like Animal Samaritans cover the costs associated with foster animals, so all the foster carer needs to provide is their time and oodles of love. What’s not to like about that?
Failed Foster Carer
It’s kind of inevitable that some foster carers end up falling head over heels with their foster dog. When that happens, the next stage is officially adopting the dog and offering him/her a forever home. This has a lot of advantages, as we’ll explore, but there are some pitfalls, too.
Fostering to Adoption
One of the best reasons to adopt a foster dog you already care for is that you know the dog, warts and all. Whereas adopting a shelter dog can sometimes come with a few surprises, adopting a foster dog you’ve already fallen in love with is a much easier process. You will already be aware of any behavioural problems and little quirks, as well as how to deal with them.
This is very important if you have children or other pets.
It can take several weeks or longer for a rescue dog to integrate properly into a new home. Many rescue dogs are traumatised from abuse or emotionally switched off after living in a rescue centre. They may not show their true personalities for a while. They may also be on their best behaviour until they decide whether they can trust you.
Fostering a dog first lets you get to know them better. If you have kids, you can watch them to see if they are tolerant of your children. If a foster dog struggles to cope with young children, it’s something to pass along to the shelter, so they can inform any potential adoptive parents. It may not be too much of an issue for you if you’re only providing a temporary foster home, but it would be an issue if you wanted to adopt the dog. By fostering the animal, you know there is a problem, so you can make an informed decision.
It’s the same if you have another resident dog or cat. Not all rescue dogs tolerate other pets. This is something to bear in mind if you’re thinking of adopting.
Adopting a dog you’ve fostered first means you know that the animal is compatible with your other pets. This is extremely important if you want a peaceful, harmonious home. It’s not always apparent whether rescue dogs are sociable with other pets. Even if the shelter tests the animal with other dogs and cats, the test won’t be accurate because the dog is already stressed by the environment he’s in. Dogs often don’t reveal their true temperament until they are relaxed.
Your home will also be equipped for a rescue dog since charities like the RSPCA vet potential foster carers very thoroughly before they offer them a foster dog.
Finally, by taking the step to adopt your foster dog, you are giving a deserving dog a permanent, loving home.
Take Your Time
Even if you fall madly in love with your cute foster dog from day one, don’t immediately decide you want to adopt him. Take your time and let him fully settle in. When he’s relaxed, test him by introducing him to other dogs, children, and anything that could be a potential stressor.
- Does he bark a lot?
- Does he have separation anxiety?
- Does he dislike small children?
These are all things you need to be aware of before adopting a foster dog, so you can make an informed decision.
Beware of the Costs of Dog Ownership
Make sure you are fully on board with the costs of dog ownership before you take the plunge and adopt your foster dog. Fostering is easy because there are very few costs, but once you take full responsibility for the dog, you will have to pick up the tab for food, vet bills, and other incidentals such as flea treatment, wormers, collars, leads, etc.
Work out what it will cost you to have a dog. Remember, vet bills can expensive, so consider taking out a dog insurance policy for peace of mind. You can find more information here if you want to see what coverage is available. Everypaw lets you choose from Lifetime cover, Maximum Benefit or Time Limited cover. Fostering allows you to get to know the dog first, which means when it comes to their dog insurance you have the advantage of being able to choose one that fits their needs.
A Dog is for Life
Finally, don’t let your heart rule your head. Think long and hard whether adopting your foster dog is the right decision, and if your life is unpredictable in any way, stick to being a foster carer.