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Fostering for the Holidays

Short-term fostering over the holidays can help a dog in need, but also help perfect your training skills.

The American Animal Hospital Association recently posted a blog with tips on fostering a dog or cat for the holidays. It definitely can be a great time of year to do some short-term fostering. After all, many of us are home for more days due to paid holidays and vacation days.

Fostering can have great benefits for your training as well, though! Taking a puppy who needs socialization and basic manners, or an older dog that "needs some work," can really help strengthen your training chops. It's easy to get comfortable when working with your own dog whose body language and habits you know so well. Working with a new dog can help to "stretch your training muscles" and practice your timing and reinforcement.

It also can add in some distractions for your dog to work around, not to mention offer some play time with a new short-term buddy.

You can also think of it as a way to get used to some other breed types and tendencies. For example, if you've always worked with and owned Golden Retrievers, taking in a herding or sighthound type of breed or breed mix can add some additional challenges for you. It might even give you ideas on new ways to work with your own dog. On the flip side, don't take on a dog you don't think you can handle, whether it's related to breed or the behavior and training issues they have.

If you do decide to try a short-term "holiday foster," the AAHA has a few tips to consider:

1. Only do it if you really do have the time. If your holiday is going to be filled with tons of guests, outings, and activity, it's not the best time to do it.

2. Make sure you work with a reputable rescue who will cover things like medication and food (although any non-profit will, of course, appreciate funding from you on these things if you desire to!)

3. If you feel stuck, reach out to the rescue, their veterinarian, and trainers, who can assist you with any issues you might be dealing with.

4. Make sure you have not only the time but also the emotional ability to handle taking in and caring for a dog that you will keep only for a short time. If you've never fostered before, think hard about it first and what the emotional impact on you will be.

If you've decided you're ready to go, contact your local rescue group or shelter and talk to them about their fostering process. Every group is different, so it may involve an interview, some training, and possibly a home visit. They may also want to have the foster dog meet your dog or dogs, and any other pets in the home, before placing the foster.

Good luck and happy holiday fostering!


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