What is dog fostering and should I foster a dog?

What is dog fostering and should I foster a dog?

I ask this question because, in conversation with my colleague at work, I told him about me exploring the possibility of getting a dog. I explained to Andreas that I’d started looking at what a dog needs and what is required by a wannabe dog owner to prepare for looking after a dog. He was quick to tell me that the human caregiver of a dog is called a dog parent and not an owner.

Puppy being held in the arns of a femal human

Andreas is a passionate dog parent. He has a toy poodle that he absolutely adores. He’s brought his dog into our office in central London multiple times and last year he even brought his toy poodle to our company outdoor summer party. So, if I could get advice from anyone about dogs and caring for them, Andreas is certainly a reliable source of information.  I recall there was a time when he’d purchased what he described as a LoJack collar for his dog that he used to track his dog’s movements throughout the day.

Andreas asked me what breed of dog I was planning to get, how big my home was, and how much time I planned to spend with the dog, and suggested the possibility of doing agility training to help build a bond with my dog. I told him that I didn’t have all the answers and that I was still learning about the roles and responsibilities of caring for a dog. That’s when he suggested the possibility of me having a go at dog fostering before making a commitment to get a permanent dog in my life.

Dog fostering? What is that? Is there such a thing as dog fostering?

Dog fostering? What is dog fostering? I asked Andreas. I’d never heard of it before. How does dog fostering even work? The only type of fostering I’d heard of before my conversation with Andreas was children fostering, so I was able to understand the inference of the term dog fostering to mean caring for a dog temporarily before the dog is adopted. Which is pretty much how it works with human children fostering.

Long haired dog in abath tub been stroked by human

My assumption was right. Dog fostering essentially requires the temporary provision of care for a dog in a stable environment until a stable, permanent home is found for the dog.  Andreas explained some of the benefits of dog fostering and, as the professed dog lover he is, he only explained the pros of dog fostering.

However, I’m sensible and aware enough to recognize that most things in life have pros and cons, and the only way to get the best outcomes is to recognize these pros and cons, weigh them up, and use the findings to make informed decisions.

I listened to Andreas go on about the positives of dog fostering; mind you, Andreas has never fostered a dog before. Nevertheless, he was determined to sell me on the idea of committing to fostering a dog. His aim was to get me to try fostering a dog to determine if caring for a dog is something I could do long-term.

During the fostering period, I could either commit to keeping the dog I was fostering permanently through the process of adoption, or I could decide to get a dog of my own. I concluded my conversation with Andreas by acknowledging his idea as a sensible idea and thanked him for enlightening me.

How do you know if you are ready to look after a dog if you have never done it before?

The experience gained from dog fostering could be invaluable if you foster a puppy because puppies require a lot more work than adult dogs. Hills Pet advises that caring for puppies can be a time-consuming task, and they recommend that individuals that want to foster puppies should ideally be seasoned dog parents who have experience and knowledge of the dos and don’ts and are also willing to clean up the messes that the puppy makes.

puppy in a mess of torn up tissue paper

When I consider the thought of caring for a dog, my mind instantly concludes on raising a puppy. Giving my pup the care attention and training required to build a bond and integrate into my family. The commitment of fostering a dog before committing to getting a puppy could potentially prepare me and other wannabe dog owners like myself with the awareness of the mental and physical demands associated with having a dog in the home.

How does dog fostering work? And where to go to get started

It’s good to know that when fostering a dog, the dog rescue organization also provides essential accessories like the dog beds, dog toys, and dog crates that are required to make the dog foster parent fully ready, equipped, and prepared to bring a dog home.  Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has a stringent application process that ensures that a person receiving dogs into their home is well-equipped to do so.

puppy laying down in a dog crate

As I normally do, I consulted Google to elaborate on what dog fostering is. First, I would like to acknowledge the fact that organizations that provide dog rescue services and dog shelters are doing a great job, a service to humanity that needs recognition. These organizations are responding to the needs of dogs and taking proactive action to alleviate some of the misery and pain that neglected and abandoned dogs have to endure.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports show that in the USA, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter animal shelters nationwide. 670,000 dogs are euthanized, and approximately 1.6 million dogs are adopted from these animal shelters.  In the USA, approximately 710,000 animals that enter an animal shelter as strays are returned to their owners. From this 710,000, dogs account for 620,000, and cats account for 90,000. Although this report was generated in 2018, it still has value in highlighting trends in dog abandonment and dog homelessness.

In the UK, the Express reports that a dog is abandoned every six minutes, and in 2018 the RSPCA received 23,673 calls about abandoned dogs. From these statistics, it’s clear to see that there are more dogs in need of a home than there are people who want to care for dogs.

Why do people abandon dogs?

Why do people abandon dogs?  Is it because of the inability to commit the time? Is it because of the inability of supposed dog caregivers to find temporary care when they decide to go on holiday? Is it because a dog’s caregiver has gotten bored with the dog after receiving it as a present? Or maybe it’s because of financial reasons, and a dog’s caregiver can no longer afford to provide care, which I discuss in a post exploring the financial cost of having a dog.

curled up abandoned dog

It should be noted, though, that many shelters provide food, medication, and veterinary care for the dogs that are fostered while some also provide dog behaviorists to help dog foster parents with training, because some dogs may not be house trained.

Impressive dog fostering scheme

I’m not going to attempt to pinpoint one specific reason why dogs become available for adoption, as I’m certain there are a plethora of potential reasons. Rather, I will commend the work that rescue shelters are doing and commend those individuals who do foster dogs. An impressive practice that the Dog Trust UK performs is to have two types of dog fostering schemes that they list on their website.

Home from home dog fostering scheme:

This dog fostering scheme requires foster carers to care for a homeless dog until the dog trust finds a permanent home for the dog.

The freedom dog fostering project:

This dog fostering scheme temporarily fosters a dog that belongs to a family that is fleeing domestic abuse. The dog is fostered until such a time when the dog can be reunited with its family.

Their Freedom Project work is commendable, and I think deserves an award. Sometimes we take life for granted and fail to recognize the full impact of issues like domestic abuse. The fact that The Dog Trust UK  facilitates the temporary care of dogs in domestic abusive family situations and then reunites the dogs with their families is just outstanding. I’m not sure if other organizations provide similar dog fostering schemes, but a round of applause to The Dog Trust UK,  please, for their implementation of the Freedom Project.

The commitment required for dog fostering

Just as there are many reasons for dogs being homeless and abandoned, there are also multiple reasons why some people opt to foster a dog, like, for example, wanting a second dog but not wanting a long term commitment to the dog, or temporarily caring for somebody else’s dog. The biggest commitment that anybody will have to come to terms with when considering adopting a dog is the time factor.

brown puppy laying down on a full grown dog

Someone who wants to foster will need to be able to allocate a chunk of time to the care of the dog, especially in the early stage of the fostering. I believe that this is the reason why some shelters have a preference for people who have experience with dogs.

Before I can consider the prospect of fostering a dog, I’ll need to perform an audit of my life and commitments to determine if my lifestyle will be compatible with the breed of dog that is available to be fostered.

The requirement for dog foster carers.

Dog fostering doesn’t appear to be an easy role to fulfill, but what I’ve noticed in the videos and the information out there is that those who foster dogs genuinely have a passion and a love for dogs. I commend the selfless jobs that some people are doing to promote the well-being and welfare of some of these canines. The video below gives some insight into fostering from the commentary and point of view of someone who fosters dogs. These are precious insights for a wannabe dog parent that will help to gauge what it will take to successfully foster a dog.


What are some of the challenges of fostering a dog?

I think that someone who is not experienced with caring for dogs will likely struggle with fostering a dog. I may be wrong, but I look at it from my position. Having not had that much experience with caring for dogs, I think I may find it difficult to find my bearings. Only for the process to start again when the foster dog has found its forever home.

Huski dog on a leash with its owner

There’s also the challenge of building an emotional bond with the dog and having that bond broken because the dog will have to be adopted at some point. I’d find that hard to cope with. I wrote an article about how some people cloned their dogs just to preserve the emotional experience and bond of their canine buddy. I think that this category of person isn’t cut out for fostering, and I think I may likely fall into a category, although I may be wrong. There is a saying that goes, you don’t know until you try. Valid point, but with trying comes commitment, dedication, and application of time, money, and effort.

Happily ever after

The story depicted in the video below shows a happy forever after story, which is the ideal scenario for any dog foster and adoption story.

collection of puppy dog

It goes something along the lines of, Stray dog couple found, stray dog female is pregnant, stray dog female has puppies. The mother is able to feed and raise the pups for a few weeks. Mother is eventually adopted, puppies are adopted, new forever families are happy, the foster carer is happy and ready to do it all over again.  That’s why I call it the happy ever after dog foster story. Watch it and enjoy.

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