Fostering Dogs

Get 5 tips for deciding whether fostering dogs is right for you and your family. Plus, choosing a group to volunteer with.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #234

Tip #3: Know Who’s Paying

It’s important to have a written financial agreement with the shelter or rescue. Money may not be an issue if all we’re talking about is a good-quality food. And maybe you’re willing and able to foot the cost of a basic exam, vaccinations, some daily meds. But veterinary bills hit four digits fast once you get into serious illness or necessary surgery. Dentistry costs big bucks, especially if the dog has never had proper care before and needs extra-thorough cleaning and extractions. Qualified trainers spend plenty of time and money to attain their expertise and their fees will reflect that expense. Unless you have access to trainer services through a volunteer program, I guarantee you, a good professional will not come cheap.

Give some thought to what you’ll do if your foster dog needs care that your sponsoring shelter or rescue can’t or won’t pay for. Can you afford to bridge the gap while not stinting any pets you already have? Can you afford that more than once? Ouch, right? You may not be able to come to definite conclusions in advance, but if you’re not a member of the One Percent, you must have some limits, and you should think about where they are.

Tip #4: Know Who’s Liable

I’m often surprised by how often people don’t get sued, but the shelter or rescue you volunteer for should have insurance that covers you in case a dog you’re fostering bites or otherwise hurts someone. If they don’t, and you want to foster for them anyway, then make sure your homeowner’s or renter’s policy applies. Many policies exclude a long list of breeds and their mixes – or dogs who just look like they might be members of those breeds! So check and double-check.

Tip #5: Know What Trainers the Shelter Recommends

A deep desire to help dogs find homes is a wonderful quality, but it doesn’t automatically come with a sophisticated understanding of behavior and training. A rescue group that refers adopters to heavy-handed and even abusive trainers in the mistaken belief that these are the folks who save dogs from certain death may be doing more harm than good.

You also have a problem if the group is willing to pay for behavioral help, but only if the “help” is supplied by someone whose methods are, let’s say, not up to date. Then we’re back to how much you can afford to spend. Get these questions worked out before you sign up.

If fostering is right for you, you can sleep well knowing that you’re doing great good for homeless animals. Learn much more from the book I drew on for today's episode – Pat Miller’s How to Foster Dogs: From Homeless to Homeward Bound. It’s got everything you need to know to get started.

That’s all for this week. Stop by and see me on Facebook, or write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. Thanks for reading!


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).

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