A Guide to Pet-Proofing Your Home for a Foster Rescue Animal

April 08th, 2021

A Guide to Pet-Proofing Your Home for a Foster Rescue Animal

A Guide to Preparing and Pet-Proofing Your Home for a Foster Rescue Animal

If you love animals and want to support your local pet shelter or animal rescue group, consider fostering a rescue animal. By providing a safe place to grow, you could play a crucial role in a foster pet’s new and happy life. Not only is this a fun and rewarding experience for you and your family, but fostering allows shelters to open up more space for other animals. If fostering sounds like a good option for you, there are some things to consider beforehand. Read on to learn more about pet safety tips and pet-proofing your home for your foster pet!

Pet-Proofing Your Home - A Guide to Preparing your home for a Foster Rescue Animal


Is Your Living Situation Suitable for Fostering Animals?

Before fostering an animal it is important to first understand your options regarding living space and property type. While fostering can be really exciting, it is also a big financial and emotional commitment. Part of being a foster parent to an animal is making sure that your home is an ideal living situation to ensure that this animal is in the best environment to receive all of the love and support that it needs. Depending on your property type, you may be eligible to foster though there may be certain limitations if you live in a condo or another HOA. Each animal is different and may require certain home types. For example, a rescue group may require foster parents to have a single-family home with a fenced-in backyard for an animal to run around and play. Before deciding to foster, check the requirements with your local shelter.

If you are in a rental situation, you may be wondering if you can or should foster animals. While renting may not be a big deal to some shelters, it is crucial for the pet parent to understand any lease restrictions before agreeing to a foster animal. If you find yourself in this situation, it may be a good idea to seek pet-friendly rental properties when possible to allow yourself the ability to foster and make an impact. Again, check with your local shelter or rescue group about any property-type restrictions before fostering. Even if you own your own home, some shelters may still require proof of ownership.

A dog named Max on his way home from an animal shelter after being rescued and fostered

Once you have figured out if your property type is eligible for fostering an animal, the next step is to set any household expectations. Consider if the animal will have enough space and if there will be any other cohabitating pets. If you currently have your own pet, make sure that both your pet and the foster animal that you will be bringing in are good with others. Bringing in a foster animal is a huge time commitment. With that being said, personal availability is another crucial consideration. Ensure that you will have the time to properly care for a foster animal before agreeing to take one in. Not to mention, explore any family or roommate dynamics and figure out if other members in the home will be alright with a foster animal around. Although not a service dog, a foster dog can greatly benefit anyone who is suffering from hearing lossby alerting them to potential dangers - they make a great security system for those who live alone as well!

Before agreeing to a foster animal, make sure that you will be staying in the area. If there is any potential for unexpected moving such as the end of a lease, sale of your home, or moving regarding a military situation, plan for this beforehand. Realize that any foster animal, especially puppies, kittens, and animals with behavioral problems can be destructive to property. With this in mind, once your living situation is secure it will be time to prepare your home for your new foster animal.

Preparing your home for fostering a dog you will need a dog crate

Preparing Your Home for Fostering

Even if you may already have your own pet, fostering an animal comes with its own preparation. Ensuring that your home is safe is part of your job as a foster parent whether you live alone or with others. Consider your home from a “pets-eye level” for hazards and any potential safety issues. Keep all medications, cleaners, insecticides, and chemicals in a place that pets cannot get into. Foster animals will be coming into your home with nothing. While some animals may be provided with a toy or some food from the shelter or rescue, it will be up to you to invest in pet supplies and equipment.

Here are some must-have pet products to purchase for your new foster animal:

  • Baby gates are a great way to baby-proof your home and for fostering a dog. To keep your foster pet in certain areas of the home.

  • A bed. Many may come with a crate but a pet bed will provide comfort.

  • Toys. Give your pet something to play with. Ask the shelter about appropriate toys suitable for your foster pet.

  • Brush. This is important for shedding dogs or animals that need frequent grooming.

  • Training treats. Treat your foster animal for good behavior and these are great for teaching new tricks.

  • Litter box or pet training pads. Teach your foster pet good habits.

  • Food and water bowls. While some food may be provided, ask the shelter about certain dietary needs and restrictions.

Pet-proofing your home for a rescue dog and fostering an animal

Pet-Proofing Your Home

When pet-proofing your home, consider things that your foster pet may want to chew, play with, or get into. If there are items in the home that can hurt or harm your pet in any way then it is important to remove them. Also, note that animals can cause damage to the home such as scratching up doors or flooring. Due to this, take precautions and extra care to prevent any damage that may happen in advance. This may include investing in someflooring options that are best for pet owners. Pet-proofing your home is an imperative step in any pet and foster animal family that can be accomplished through some simple home improvement projects. This process can be made relatively affordable and easy.

Pet-proofing Bathroom and Laundry Rooms:

  • Keep toilet lids closed. Pets may be tempted to drink out of them.

  • Put any medications away. You do not want your pet to overdose!

  • Close the washer and dryer doors when not in use and check them before starting. Your foster pet can crawl in without you noticing.

  • Keep any cleaning supplies and chemicals out of reach and locked away. Pets are sneaky and can get into anything.

Pet-proofing Living Rooms and Common Areas:

  • Move any electrical cords out of reach or cover them with PVC pipe. This will prevent chewing.

  • Be aware of poisonous houseplants. Plants are pretty but some may be poisonous to your foster animal. Check to see what plants are animal friendly and only purchase safe ones for your home.

  • Keep children’s toys locked away when not in use. This is another chewing hazard.

  • Do not leave a candle unattended or in reach of your pet. A candle can easily be knocked over and start a fire.

  • Move any curtains or drapes out of the way. Some pets may chew on curtains and pull them off of the wall.

Pet-proofing Kitchens:

  • Use trash cans with secure lids or place them out of reach. Animals can easily dig through your garbage.

  • Put up baby gates or block access to small spaces. Be aware of cramped spaces that your foster animal can get behind such as behind and around kitchen appliances.

  • Do not leave food uncovered on the counter or table. Avoid foster animals from trying to steal food.

Pet-proofing Bedrooms:

  • Keep windows closed and check that window screens are properly installed. Prevent pets from falling or crawling out.

  • Store any jewelry or small items such as hairpins out of reach. This is another choking hazard.

  • Check closets and storage spaces before closing doors. Animals can easily crawl in unnoticed.

Pet-Proofing Your Yard

Since your foster pet will most likely be spending a lot of time outside, pet-proofing your yard is just as important as pet-proofing the inside of your home. This is especially true if your foster animal is a dog. If you do not already have a fence or other enclosure surrounding your yard, it may be a good idea to install one. Not only is a fenced-in yard great for dogs, but it also increases your home value. Dogs need room to roam around and play while staying secure so fencing is a great investment. Another thing to consider is the plants that surround your home. While pretty plants may add curb appeal to your property, unfortunately not all plants are pet-safe.

Other things to consider when pet-proofing your yard include:

  • Put barriers up around gardens or flower beds. This keeps pets from eating anything that they should not be.

  • Ensure safety precautions for fire pits or other open flames. Never leave pets outside near an open flame alone.

  • Add fencing around pools. If you have a pool this will keep pets from falling in. Not all pets know how to swim.

  • Schedule regular flea and tick services. Fleas, ticks, and other bugs love hanging out on pets so regular maintenance and services will keep this controlled.

  • Store all chemicals away in a child-locked space. Fertilizers, mulch, pesticides, and compost may contain chemicals that are bad for your animal.

Dog under blanket on the owners bed after being rescued from a foster home

Considerations for Animals with Behavioral Issues

Animals end up in shelters for many different reasons. One of the reasons being that the animal came from a previous repressive or abusive environment. If the animal has only known abuse, behavioral issues are common and will need to be addressed in a foster environment. On the other hand, all pets can experience behavioral issues under intense stress. For instance, if a pet is moved around a lot this may lead to them lashing out through negative behavior. If this is the case then there are certain ways tocalm an anxious pet when moving that can lead to a positive change in behavior.

Behaviors exhibited by once abused or anxious animals are as follows:

  • Lack of housetraining. Former owners may have left the animal inside for days without potty breaks or were forced to live outside all of the time. These animals may not have any concept of indoors or outdoors when it comes to housetraining.

  • Territorialism. In terms of food and other resources, some foster animals may have been left to starve and had to compete for food. This may lead to territorialism when other people or animals are around their food. It is important to be patient as they learn that there is no threat.

  • Biting. If the foster animal was abused in the past, biting may be their defense mechanism. When approached and feeling anxious, your foster pet may not be accustomed to love and affection.

  • Aggression towards humans in general. Again if the foster animal was once abused by a human, they will be nervous and suspicious of what once hurt them. Patience is key.

  • Nervous blatter. Anxiety can lead to accidents. Keep the training pads at the ready and do not be angry if your pet has an accident in the house.

  • Inappropriate chewing. This may be a nervous habit which is why pet-proofing your home is so important. Keep plenty of chew toys around to correct this.

Considerations for Elderly, Special Needs, or Disabled Foster Animal

If you are planning on fostering an animal with special needs, you might need to make more comprehensive modifications to your home in order to accommodate their needs. To make the correct home modifications, figure out what they will require to live a happy and fulfilling life. Take their disability into account. Are they suffering from old age, genetics, an injury, or a disease? For animals that are dealing with mobility issues, it may be difficult for them to get around. Arthritis, most commonly seen in elderly animals, will need specific help moving about. If this is the case, invest in nonslip flooring and consider installing ramps at entrances and stairs. Recessed beds and litter boxes are another idea to make it easier for your foster animal to get up and out of bed. You may also consider making an indoor bathroom area in case of an emergency.

If you are dealing with a deaf or blind animal, there are some simple modifications to make in order to make life easier for both you and your pet. Create a safe space that your pet can consider its starting point and base camp if it gets confused navigating the house. Install padding around sharp corners and dangerous areas of the house, and play on the pet’s other senses if they have lost the use of one. Caring for an elderly, special needs, or disabled animal is much like having a child. They deserve love as much as any other.

Benefits of Fostering

Fostering an animal is a rewarding experience. If you have always wanted to help out an animal in need but are unsure of the time and financial commitment, fostering is a great option. Fostering allows you to “test” out having a pet with your family unit or children while teaching them the responsibility of caring for an animal as well as improving your own animal expertise. Not only will you be saving lives, but having an animal is a great form of companionship. Plus fostering an animal will make you happy since volunteering is known to improve your mental health. When you bring an animal home to foster, it makes more room in shelters for other animals and allows more bandwidth to help other animals as well. You will have the opportunity to change a pet’s future while helping out other families.

A dog excited and ready for a walk on a leash and looking up at the owner with mouth wide open and happy

How to Get Started

Once you have shown interest in fostering there is a process to get started. The first step is to reach out to your local shelter. Most shelters and foster organizations will ask for an interview and proof that you can handle the responsibility. Since most of these animals are coming from past abusive environments, shelters want to make sure that these animals are only getting the best moving forward. The interview process may include a written application, video or phone interviews, proof of homeownership, written or verbal permission from landlords, or home and yard inspections.

Next, secure your home and living environment. If you are searching for your next home to help foster animals, consider the area that you want to live in. Decide whether or not you want a new construction home or an already built home that is on the market. Your home environment is part of what will make a great foster animal experience.

Resources for Finding Your Local Rescue, Shelter, or Foster Animal Network

  • Petfinder: Search for animal welfare groups near your area by distance and discover which one you want to help.

  • ASPA: Find a shelter near you or volunteer to help homeless pets in your community.

  • Petco Foundation: Learn more about becoming a foster or pet owner.

  • Adopt a Pet: Seach for thousands of pets, animal shelters, and rescues in your area.

Additional Resources for Foster Pet Parents

  • American Kennel Club: Learn about different dog breeds and get expert advice regarding puppy training, pet nutrition, and pet health.

  • Best Friends: This no-kill sanctuary is helping homeless pets every day. Donate and support no-kill shelters.

  • The Humane Society: Stand up for change and animal rights. Be an advocate for abused animals.

Fostering is a Rewarding Experience

While fostering may be a lot of work, having a positive impact on a pet’s life is worth it. If you love animals and want to help them without lifelong commitment then fostering may be just the answer for you. First, consider if your living situation is ideal for a foster animal, and then make further preparations. Figure out the needs of your foster pet and any behavioral issues that they may have to successfully pet-proof your home. Show your foster pet that they too can be loved.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.