The Truth About Fostering Dogs: Debunking Common Misconceptions [part 2]

Brieanah Schwartz

Fostering a dog can be one of the most rewarding things a dog lover can do to help a pup in need. At Caim, we are all about giving every dog the best chance possible to find their loving forever home, but that isn’t possible without the generosity of foster homes!

In Part 2 of this blog, we continue to break down some of the most common concerns of first-time foster families so you know how it works, what to expect, and feel prepared to get in touch with a rescue or shelter today!

Looking for Part 1? You can find it here.

I tried fostering in the past, but it was a bad experience. I don’t want to go through that again.

We get it. It can be difficult to move past a negative experience in anything, especially when you are donating your time, opening your home, and giving your love to fostering a dog. However, it’s important to remember that fostering is ultimately about helping dogs in need find a permanent and loving home. 

If your last experience with a foster dog was not positive, remember that all dogs are different! Talk to the rescue about your experience. Be honest and open about what happened and how you felt. The more open you are, the better able the staff will be to help you find a pup that is more suitable for you this time!

If you had a bad experience with the rescue last time, take time to look for a different rescue that would be a better fit for you. Ask the new rescue about their process and any concerns you have from your last experience. Let’s say the other rescue didn’t communicate well, ask the new rescue about their communication policy and who you should contact if you have any questions or concerns while you’re fostering for them. 

At the end of the day, try not to let a negative experience discourage you from fostering in the future. There are too many other dogs out there in need of temporary homes and care, and your love and support can make a real difference in their lives. We highly encourage you to get out there and help the next dog in need!

I can’t foster because I rent.

Fostering a dog while renting an apartment can be challenging, but it’s usually not impossible! If you are interested in fostering a dog but are unsure about how to make it work in your apartment, there are a few things you can do. 

First, check with your landlord and/or apartment complex to see if they have any specific policies regarding pets in the apartment. Whether or not you are allowed to have pets, it may be helpful to discuss your plans to foster with your landlord and get their thoughts. Many landlords are open to discussing foster dogs, even when the lease does not allow pets, because they will be on the property temporarily.

Second, once approved you’ll want to make sure that your apartment is a safe and appropriate environment for you and the foster dog. This may involve making sure that all potential hazards are secured and that you have enough space for the dog to move around comfortably. But it also includes planning ahead for any accidents! We highly recommend that you pick a specific area of your home to keep the pup in for the first few days, lay down potty pads, and remove any furniture or items you wouldn’t want to be chewed. Remember, the pup is coming from the shelter and will need a few days to decompress and require guidance (and patience) as they learn to live in your home. You can also consider using a crate, however, some dogs will not be interested in crate training so try to remain flexible as you two figure out how to live together in harmony!

Finally, consider reaching out to local rescue organizations to see if they have any specific guidelines or requirements for foster homes in apartments. Be transparent with the rescue regarding your leased space. Are there stairs? A safe area to walk the dog? Is there a balcony? Various factors such as these will help the rescue determine which dog will be the best fit for you.

With some planning and communication, it is possible to successfully foster a dog while renting your home or apartment.

I don’t have enough outdoor space for a dog.

If you live in an apartment or in a home with limited outdoor space, you could have reservations about fostering a dog. However, it’s still possible to provide a loving and nurturing environment for a dog with a small or no yard.

When you first bring your foster home, indoor play, training, and quality time will be just as important as outdoor adventures. Indoor play and training can be a great way to both keep your dog mentally stimulated and to build trust with your new foster.

Certain breeds such as toy breeds, older dogs, or those with naturally lower energy levels can be perfectly suited for apartments or small living spaces. But regardless of the breed, regular walks in your neighborhood can provide the exercise your foster dog needs.

With proper care and attention, most dogs can thrive in an environment with less outdoor space. At the end of the day, it’s important to simply be transparent with the rescue you’re working with about your living space and ability to walk the foster pup regularly so they can match you with the animal who will thrive best in your home!

Fostering is only for people with a lot of experience with dogs.

Many rescue organizations will actually provide training and support to their foster families in order to help them properly care for their foster dogs. After all, they want you to be prepared so it’s a positive experience for all involved – foster pup included. 

As we’ve noted, rescues will provide the foster with all the supplies necessary to properly care for the pup, including food, crates, and any medication the dog may need. 

And rescues also tend to provide each foster with information about their foster’s personality, known history, and special needs or concerns you should be aware of (if applicable). Many organizations also have a support system in place, like a Facebook group, where you can reach out to experienced foster families or staff members for guidance and help should any questions or concerns arise while the dog is staying with you. 

Finally, many rescues will explicitly state when a particular dog needs to go to an experienced foster home in order to ensure the pup and the volunteer have a positive time together. If you’re new to fostering, open communication with the rescue about your level of experience will go a long way in helping the staff pair you with the best pup for your experience level. Remember, we all start somewhere, and the rescue would much rather you tell them about your experience and comfort level than have an issue in the future. 

So, do you need to have experience with dogs in order to foster? Nope! Just have an open heart and mind, and work with a rescue that will take the time to pair you with the perfect pup to get started. You’ve got this!

There aren’t any rescues near me, or the ones that are don’t seem to need fosters.

Some people who live in rural and remote areas may find that they don’t have a rescue nearby. In this case, we recommend that you reach out to whichever rescue is closest to see if they’re open to bringing you on as a foster. Many rescues will accept fosters who are within a few hours’ drive, but they may be more particular about which animals you can foster given it’s unlikely you’ll be able to attend many of their adoption events or easily host meet and greets with potential adopters. Most rescues have a range of animals in their care, with some being harder to place than others. Someone in a rural area may be the perfect fit for those animals that are more difficult to place, such as breeds which really need space and to live on a farm / land, or those who need to be the only animal in a home. You can browse our shelter directory to see who’s closest to you. When you speak to the rescue, be honest about your situation and how frequently you’d be able to get to their adoption events or vet appointments. Each rescue will be able to confirm if they have an animal that you’d be a good fit for, or if it’s best that you try a different rescue. 

Another scenario we’ve heard about is people applying to foster with rescues in their area, but never hearing back from them. We understand that this could make you feel as if they don’t need or want fosters, but there are other possible reasons for this lack of response. 

Certain shelter management systems allow rescues to automatically deny applicants based on certain information the applicant shared. Ideally an email is shared notifying the applicant they weren’t accepted, but this isn’t always the case. There are also instances of rescues simply drowning in daily to-dos and firefighting drills to save certain animals that are scheduled to be put down that day. They may have glanced at the application and made a mental note to follow-up, but then forgot in the midst of the mayhem. We’re all human, and sometimes things fall through the cracks. 

If you’re having difficulty connecting with a rescue, we encourage you to apply to be a foster through Caim. When you complete our application, we’ll send it to rescues on your behalf. Rather than completing multiple applications with each rescue, you can complete just one. We’re very hands on with managing our rescue partnerships and we actively follow up with rescues after sharing applications to find out if they signed you up as a foster. If not, we work to understand the reasoning so we can clearly communicate that with you. 

In short, if you are having difficulty starting your fostering journey, don’t give up – there’s a rescue pup waiting and counting on you!

Remember – when you choose to become a foster parent to a pup in need, you’re becoming a part of their story and changing their lives fur-ever. Every animal you open your home to will be better off because of you! 

Ready to foster? Sign up here.

Still have concerns or questions? You can use to reach us.

Other blog posts you may be interested in...

The Foster Process
The Truth About Fostering Dogs: Debunking Common Misconceptions [part 1]