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I'll try to keep this as short as I can. I have 4 cats and 1 dog - Cobber is a 7-mo, 20-lb Aussie Terrier who is just now starting to calm down somewhat from the crazed puppy and adolescent phases. I own a house with a fenced-in yard. Cobber goes to doggy daycare while I'm at work during the week. It's the evenings and weekends when I wish there were another dog around for Cobber to play with. I can get him to play limited fetch indoors and occasionally fetch or flirt pole outside, but in general he seems bored on the weekends and even though he's becoming more mature at being calm, napping, chewing on bully sticks, etc, he still frequently asks to be taken for walks. As we head into winter, walks in my area become more treacherous (sidewalks aren't cleared, there's ice and I have a bum foot, etc).

A couple weekends ago, a neighbor's 8-mo shih-tzu pup came over and the two dogs ran like maniacs in my yard; it was fabulous! But I can't ever seem to get ahold of that dog's owners to set up more regular play dates. It's sort of a fluke when we all manage to get the pups together.

Last night a friend was telling me that what she did for her dog was to foster another dog. She adopted her big 2-yr dog Tucker from a local shelter, and when she and her husband started having trouble keeping Tucker exercised enough, they talked about day care but decided fostering might be cheaper, so they are now fostering a beagle from the same shelter. They explained their situation to the shelter, took their dog over to see which of the shelter dogs might get along, found this beagle. And now her dog and the foster play constantly in the back yard and wear each other out. My friend said it's fantastic! And the foster stays crated all day while she and her H are at work.

So I've started wondering if fostering might be beneficial for my dog (as well as helping out a shelter dog to have a home). Cobber loves to play with dogs and is very sociable thanks to his time at the day care. I'd be thrilled to have another dog so they can both play in our yard all weekend and evenings, holidays, etc.

I just find myself wondering if it would be a mistake. What if having a second dog ends up being harder for me in some way I'm not seeing as I look at this situation? If it hadn't worked out so well for my friend, I probably wouldn't be considering it because the whole puppy phase Cobber and I went through this summer was really HARD, so I'm not entirely sure a second dog -- even an older one -- would be the right move.

So I just wondered if outside perspective might help me with this. If I qualify as a foster and the shelter has a dog that my dog likes and gets along with, and if it also happens to be housebroken and/or crate trained so it can stay in the house alone during the day when I'm at work, that seems like a great situation. But I can't help feeling like I'm not seeing the complete picture or thinking of every possible downside.

Please feel free to be a Devil's advocate and help me with this, especially any of you who have fostered -- thank you in advance!
 

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Ok, Devil's advocate here....potential problems:
Foster dog doesn't get along with yours (do you ditch the foster or do crate and rotate, will you have time to exercise them separately?)
Foster dog doesn't do cats (are you set up to keep them separated and if at all possible do some good desensitizing training? this would be a HUGE benefit to the dog)
Letting go of the foster. It is HARD. Forget dogs, I have separation anxiety. I'm still anxious about the foster that left us months ago, and after Dexter got adopted out and then his new owner lost him, and Dexter came back to us (and we DO have to adopt him out again), I know I'm anxious about adopting him out. Not just that, letting go can be tough. I know I'll miss Dexter, despite the lower level of chaos our house will have (or because of it).

That's just a couple of things that come to mind....but to me they are some of the biggest (aside from the fact that you might end up getting a pretty troubled foster, opening a bag of worms you may not be ready for).

On the flip side, having a foster, and working with them, teaching them and sending them along with the skills you have given them, knowing you have improved their life is a wonderful feeling!

Either way, I would think long and hard about fostering and not do it simply as a solution to have a temporary playmate for your current dog. Despite the fact that it is temporary, and if you foster through a shelter there is backup, it shouldn't be considered casual and without commitment. What your foster learns and experiences with you can impact them in their future home, both good and bad.
 

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Fostering is not about having a dog so your dog can be entertained. Dogs are fostered to get them out of shelters. Most dogs being fostered are fostered because the shelter is the wrong environment for them, like dogs with medical issues, behavioral issues or dogs who would just greatly benefit from that in-home time. Fostering is a way to get the dog that experience of being in a home so they will be more adoptable. It saves their lives.

Most agencies will provide the finances for food, vet, etc. but you will have to do everything their way. You will be responsible for training, feeding, exercising, and transporting that dog. You will have to set up the vet appointments, take the dog to adoption events, etc.

You have the right to refuse a foster for whatever reason, but you will be insanely lucky to get hold of a dog that not only gets along with Cobber, but is house trained, crate trained, or trained at all. Part of your job is to house train the dog, and no foster agency will allow you to keep the dog outside.
 

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Fostering is about preparing a dog for a new, permanent home and keeping the dog safe and healthy while waiting for that home.

Which means that regular leash walks are a priority.
As we head into winter, walks in my area become more treacherous (sidewalks aren't cleared, there's ice and I have a bum foot, etc).
A huge thing with adopters is, does the dog walk nicely on a leash? Unless the dog is getting at least say, 5-6 walks per week-- real walks with training and exercise both, not a 20 minute stroll around the block unless the dog is a senior or very calm dog-- then the dog probably isn't getting the leash training he needs to be adoptable. In really bad weather, I might even end up walking in circles around my yard doing leash training inside a fenced area if needed.

Cobber loves to play with dogs and is very sociable thanks to his time at the day care. I'd be thrilled to have another dog so they can both play in our yard all weekend and evenings, holidays, etc.
a lot of dogs, even those that end up being very friendly, are too stressed out after the shelter to play. It can take several weeks to gently ease a dog into the full on playfulness of a young dog. There are playful and lively dogs in shelters, sure, but they tend to get adopted straight from the shelter. The ones that need foster are often the ones that are a little shy, a little unsure, a little stressed etc.

I think it is great that you are considering fostering and it can be a fun benefit for your own dog, but it is also a ton of work and a ton of responsibility. The dogs that are in most desperate need of foster are the ones that take a little more work. Ones that need a lot of exercise, training, comfort, and security. You HAVE to go into it knowing that you are acting for the foster dog. Not for yourself, not to exercise or entertain your own dog, not to make things easier in any way shape or form. Rather, you are the one that is putting forth the effort for a dog that doesn't have another advocate.

I've had fosters de-stuff my couch. Destroy my door frame. Chew leashes, crate pans, bowls etc. Pee inside. Poop inside. Vomit inside. Wake me up because they were in pain from getting neutered or spayed. Spray blood all over my car because the dog had happy tail and wagged his tail too hard. Vomit in my car. Go wild on a leash at the sight of (fill in the blank here).
I've loved every single one of those fosters, in spite of the hardships. Fostering isn't about entertaining your dog or making your life easier. It is about saving those dogs that need it. My dog, for the most part, has a great time playing with the fosters. But he also gets the short end of the stick sometimes when the foster needs extensive training or there is an adoption event etc. I do my best to make it up to him, but in many ways, he's like the older sibling that has to help take care of the younger siblings.
 

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So I've started wondering if fostering might be beneficial for my dog (as well as helping out a shelter dog to have a home). Cobber loves to play with dogs and is very sociable thanks to his time at the day care. I'd be thrilled to have another dog so they can both play in our yard all weekend and evenings, holidays, etc.

I just find myself wondering if it would be a mistake. What if having a second dog ends up being harder for me in some way I'm not seeing as I look at this situation? If it hadn't worked out so well for my friend, I probably wouldn't be considering it because the whole puppy phase Cobber and I went through this summer was really HARD, so I'm not entirely sure a second dog -- even an older one -- would be the right move.

So I just wondered if outside perspective might help me with this. If I qualify as a foster and the shelter has a dog that my dog likes and gets along with, and if it also happens to be housebroken and/or crate trained so it can stay in the house alone during the day when I'm at work, that seems like a great situation. But I can't help feeling like I'm not seeing the complete picture or thinking of every possible downside.
It reads to me like you might be thinking a foster will make your life easier in dealing with Cobber. That they will wear each other out in the backyard (so fewer walks) and keep Cobber occupied and a bit more out of your hair. Like a low-rent doggy daycare for him. If that is your motivation I would strongly advise against. The point of fostering is teaching the dog manners, housetraining, leash walking and other skills required to be a good housepet. Those skills will need to be taught by you, so it will be a lot like handling Cobber when he was untrained. Dogs also tend to teach each other bad habits so you'll need to keep up with Cobber's training to avoid him regressing (on top of training the other dog).

If on the other hand, you're prepared and excited for the challenge of training and exercising two dogs it could be a really great thing to do. I don't know which your answer will be, but think about it honestly. If you're expecting less work, a foster dog is not a good idea. If you're prepared for the challenges of handling two then it could be fun!
 

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Many thanks to everyone for the reality check I requested -- I really appreciate it! And I was right in suspecting I wasn't imagining a true picture of how things would be. In fact, my friend has since admitted that her foster (who wears out her dog Tucker so wonderfully) isn't housebroken, so the situation is becoming very difficult for her.

I just need to seek out and cultivate more neighborhood dog friends for my pup :)
 

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Many thanks to everyone for the reality check I requested -- I really appreciate it! And I was right in suspecting I wasn't imagining a true picture of how things would be. In fact, my friend has since admitted that her foster (who wears out her dog Tucker so wonderfully) isn't housebroken, so the situation is becoming very difficult for her.

I just need to seek out and cultivate more neighborhood dog friends for my pup :)
Fosters are hard work, and lots of it, they come with baggage, issues and a whole host of potential problems, and some of the problems may not even be the foster's, they may be problems that crop up because of your own pets. I'll be honest, since we started fostering Caeda has become more of a brat. She doesn't get as much individual time with us humans, we try, but there are only so many hours in a day. Some of Caeda's better habits have rubbed off on Dexter, but also the other way around and to make it tougher, they both learn very differently and respond to different kinds of training, so dealing with them at the same time is tough.

Honestly, I don't think your dog needs too many neighborhood dog friends. You said that all week when you work your dog goes to doggy daycare, so Cobber is getting a fair amount of interaction with other dogs, or I would assume so depending on how the doggy daycare runs things (some allow dogs to play together more than others). What is really needed is time with you doing things, flirt pole, fetch, walks and such, which you do mention you do with Cobber. Not saying cultivating more neighborhood dog friends is a bad thing, but if you want to entertain your dog, doing things with him is just as important (and sometimes more so!) than giving him tons of time to play with other dogs. That's just my opinion though, everyone can feel free to disagree (and please do if I'm wrong about this!), I just found that Caeda went from not enough social dog time previously to too much having Dexter around and overall it hasn't been as big of a benefit to her. It wouldn't have helped Dexter so much if we hadn't taken him on, but if I had spent the time directly with Caeda, interspersed with some less rigorous dog social time she would be better off honestly.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you to everyone! I thought a lot about everyone's answers, and I also talked to Cobber about it -- he seems really happy to spend time with me, which is what I want more than anything :). I just worry sometimes that he's bored with our typical home life (I'm not the fun, outdoorsy type) even though I try to rotate in new things to do. Anyway, I heard from my friend this morning that she had to return her foster dog to the shelter due to RG aggression issues. She said the whole thing had taken an emotional toll on her that she wasn't expecting so she probably won't foster another dog.

I wanted to thank everyone here for all the reality checks. I may foster a dog some day when Cobber's more mature, but it won't be for the reasons I'd originally posted. Maybe I'll have the opporunity to give a senior dog a nice home for his/her golden years.
 

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Anyway, I heard from my friend this morning that she had to return her foster dog to the shelter due to RG aggression issues. She said the whole thing had taken an emotional toll on her that she wasn't expecting so she probably won't foster another dog.
Resource guarding is not uncommon for fosters since many come into shelters as strays and with minimal training. Resource guarding is trainable and manageable on the whole and is a perfect example of why fosters are needed. They train the dogs and make the dogs adoptable. Whereas many shelters will automatically PTS a dog that resource guards because the dog "fails" their temperament testing.
If a dog is truly unmanageable in a foster's home, then the dog may need to go to a more experienced foster home or one without other dogs etc, but unfortunately when the dog ends back up in the shelter, his chances probably are worse than they were when he was pulled from the shelter for foster to begin with.

There are some fosters with essentially no issues who are wonderful playmates and nearly stress free. Those dogs get adopted in a very short time, sometimes 1-2 weeks even. the ones that are the most difficult and need the most work are the ones that stick around the longest.

As for new things to do with Cobber-- go new places! They don't have to be "outdoorsy" like a park or wilderness, just outside or dog-friendly. Downtown districts, street festivals, just different neighborhoods and such. Outdoor or sporting goods or improvement stores are often dog friendly etc.
 

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Yep what everyone else said. Fostering is really rewarding but it is HARD work sometimes. I've had a few easy dogs I've foster sat for (vacation coverage for other fosters) but in general it's going to disrupt your normal routine, add to the time you need to spend training, and possibly cause unwanted behaviors in your own dog. That said I'm likely picking up a new foster myself this weekend. For me the reward out weighs the hard work but that is a choice you have to make yourself and go into it knowing it IS hard work.
 
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