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So you've decided to take the plunge and foster a dog in need! Hooray!

First stop: the pet supply store. You're going to need to stock up. Even if you already have a dog (or dogs) and three full cabinets of dog stuff (*cough* which I do...), you're going to need to stock up.

The Necessities

  • Chew toys: A lot of them.
Nikki, a Yorkshire terrier mix pulled from Liberty County AC by Carpathia Paws in November 2011
  • Crate: This is a necessity. An absolute necessity. I am not kidding. Crates are a crucial aid in potty training your foster mutt and keeping him out of trouble when you can't supervise him directly. They are key in teaching impulse control. Additionally, a crate allows your foster dog to have a safe space where he can eat, sleep, and enjoy chew toys without worry of being disturbed by other pets or kids in the household. At least in the beginning, your foster mutt should sleep and get all his meals inside the crate. Crates can certainly be abused, but when used judiciously, they are a vital tool. WAGS can provide a crate for your foster mutt.
  • Food and Water Bowls: I recommend stainless steel. Durable, inexpensive, easy to clean (dishwasher safe!) and no risk of BPAs or other nasties seeping into your dog's meals. Have separate bowls for each dog.
  • Food and water to go in the bowls
  • ID Tags: Always have ID on your dog. Fosters and newly adopted dogs are at high risk of running away. They don't have a bond with you yet, they don't know that this is their home-for-now, they're frightened and stressed and trying to get back to somewhere familiar. They have no way of knowing that their old home is 500+ miles away. So they try to run. WAGS will give you temporary tags for your foster. Keep them on.
  • Leash and Collar: A 4' to 6' long flat nylon leash and buckle collar is best. WAGS will provide these.
  • Kongs
  • Poop bags: Even if you have a yard of your own, and don't mind turning that yard into a minefield of turds, you'll be taking the dog out for socialization walks and to adoption events, so you'll still need poop bags.
  • Potty cleaning supplies: Bucket, sponge, dishwashing detergent (use dishwashing soap to clean potty messes instead of strong detergents, which will set the odor), and an enzymatic odor neutralizer such as Nature's Miracle. In a pinch you can also use white vinegar instead of commercial odor neutralizer. It works almost as well, provided you don't mind your house smelling like salad dressing for a while.
  • Training treats: Get a couple of different kinds. You're gonna go through these real fast.

Not Strictly Necessities, But Real Nice to Have

  • Bait bag: This is a small clip-on bag with a velcro, drawstring, or snap fastener. Also known as a "treat bag," it holds your high-value meaty treats so you don't have to stain your pockets. There are a couple of downsides to relying on a bait bag regularly, which I'll address in the training section, but it's still a very nice piece of equipment to have.
  • Chew deterrent spray (Bitter Apple works well)
  • Clicker
  • Dog bed
  • Front-clip harness: The Freedom Harness costs a little more and, having two clips, is a little trickier to get onto a squirmy mutt, but is more secure and less abrasive to the dog's skin; the EasyWalk is a single-clip harness that is much easier to get on a dog that doesn't like to stand still, but thick-bodied dogs with short legs can sometimes step out of it. Either one is a lifesaver when you're wrangling a dog who has no leash manners yet. Front-clip harnesses are vastly more humane and effective than prong or choke collars, and I'm a huge advocate of them.
  • Grooming implements: Nail clipper (or grinder), brush, small scissors for trimming ear and foot hair, etc. Even if you normally rely on a professional groomer to take care of your dog, the adopters may prefer to do basic maintenance at home. It's good to have these things on hand so you can get your foster pup used to them.
  • Other toys: Balls, rope toys, tug toys, stuffed animals