Dog Fostering Basics: How to Prepare to Welcome a Foster Dog into Your Home

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Shelter in place alert

Want to save a dog’s life, make the world a better place and have a lot of fun while you’re at it? Foster a shelter dog!

At PEDIGREE®, we’re huge supporters of shelter dog fostering and adoption — and right now the need is greater than ever. So if you’re thinking about opening your home to a rescue dog, here are some pointers to help you be an awesome foster parent.

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Before Your Foster Dog Arrives

Bringing home a foster dog requires some prep work, even if you already have dogs in your house. Here’s how to prepare, and what to ask at the shelter.

Preparing Your Home

Many shelters will supply a collar, leash, food, bowls, dog bed and crate. But some dogs will come home with very little, which means you might need to gather all the essentials before they arrive:

  • A comfortable dog bed
  • Clean bedding for the crate
  • A baby gate to keep them in a certain room or part of your house, especially when they first come home
  • A variety of new dog toys (very important if you have other dogs)
  • High-quality PEDIGREE® dog food
  • Training treats like DENTASTIX™ treats
  • Enzyme cleaners with odor neutralizers to clean up accidents
  • Bitter apple spray to spray on things you don’t want chewed
  • A flea comb and dog brush (really important for long-haired breeds)

Once you have the supplies your foster pooch needs, it’s time to do some dog-proofing:

  • Move anything breakable or delicate away from “tail-wagging” level.
  • Clean up odds and ends like coins, rubber bands, paper clips, buttons and batteries from all low tables.
  • Remove decorative rugs.
  • Tie back curtains and put up mini-blind cords so they can’t be chewed or pulled.
  • Make sure you have a tight-fitting trash can lid to keep out a nosy nose.
  • Tuck away or cover all electrical cords.
  • Put houseplants out of reach.
  • Keep your toilet lids closed.

Be sure to crouch down to a dog’s eye level to look for safety hazards you might have missed.

Visiting the Shelter

Ask the shelter about medicine your foster dog might need and find out how to administer it properly. Also ask about any rules the shelter has for fosterers. Many shelters, for example, don’t allow you to take a foster dog to off-leash dog parks and require your foster dog to be on a leash all the time unless they’re in a securely fenced yard.

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After Your Foster Dog Joins Your Pack

Your job as a foster parent or family is to give a shelter dog a safe, loving home environment. This is where the fun comes in! All you have to do is to care for your foster pup as if they’re your own dog: Give them nutritious food, basic obedience training, tons of affection, socialization with other animals you might have and the daily exercise they need to be healthy and happy.

As a doggy foster parent, you also have to give them any medicine they need and take them to the vet if necessary. Shelters usually cover medicine costs and vet bills, so all you need to focus on is giving your foster pooch plenty of love, training and playtime.

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When Your Foster Dog Is Ready to Fly the Nest

When your time together is over, there are a couple important things you can do to help your foster friend find their forever home. First, give the shelter workers detailed information about the dog’s personality and behavior. Second, talk with potential adopters about your foster pooch and help them figure out if they’d be a good match.

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Warning: You Might Just Fall in Love!

That’s the chance you take when you open your home — and heart — to a foster dog. Who knows? You might decide you can’t imagine your loyal companion belonging to anyone but you. (And we hope that’s exactly what happens.)

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