Ask the Pet Expert | Adding a foster dog

I'm considering applying to be a foster for a local dog rescue but am not sure how my 6-year-old Lab will react to having another dog around or to that dog leaving for a forever home. How can I prepare my dog and what should I expect?

It's always recommended, even sometimes required, that you take your pet to the rescue or shelter to meet the potential foster dog. If all goes well with that meeting, you will be ready to take the new foster dog home with you. The rescue or shelter may want you to come in for additional meet-and-greets because shelters can be stressful for your dog and the foster dog, so their first encounter might not be perfect.   

For the first couple of weeks, keep both dogs in a controlled environment. Initially, the dogs should not be off-leash together. You can do this by crating your new foster dog in his own portion of the house, away from your dog. This will allow him to comfortably become acclimated. Dogs react because of stress, and you want to make sure the new dog has acclimated before allowing off-leash play and interaction. I always recommend having a trainer or rescue rep available to call on during the first few weeks. 

Dogs being adopted from foster care typically do fine with leaving that home for a new one. Your dog may be used to being the only dog in the house currently, so once the foster dog leaves, he'd be the center of attention again. If you notice your dog is saddened by the foster dog leaving, you can offer to foster on a regular basis and save more animals. This is a great way to better socialize your dog and maximize the number of lives you save by keeping a spot open in your home.

This week's expert is Danielle N. Payne, volunteer and foster coordinator with the Baltimore Humane Society. Send your questions to sun.unleashed@gmail.com.