Foster carers can pretty much be split into two groups. Those that have family pets and those that don’t. Okay, so not everyone likes the idea of an animal in their home. That’s okay. It’s a free country. And anyone who ever had a puppy will know that doors get chewed – along with shoes and just about everything else that comes to hand – or rather paw. But for those who are chewing over the idea of introducing a dog into their home; or who already have one, for the uninitiated foster carers among us, there are some real benefits. The first thing to do is to debunk the myth that you can’t be a foster carer if you have a dog. For the purpose of this piece, dogs are being considered as they are perceived as the most obvious risk to a foster child.
A dog will be included as part of the safety checks in the assessment process when applying to be a foster carer. If it is judged to present no risks, then there will be no problem. The truth is that dogs like nothing better than to be part of a family and their contribution is a unique one. They can impart some important lessons as well. All dogs need regular exercise and taking your child on a walk with the family dog is a great way of getting exercise. And much needed that is too in the era of smartphones and computers. Its important children experience the great outdoors – even if it is just the local park. Throwing sticks and tennis balls are great exercises and many youngsters are getting nowhere near enough exercise these days. And ask anyone – going on a walk is guaranteed to lift the spirits. Possessing a dog teaches responsibility and taking on some of that can help build a child’s feelings of confidence. This is very important as children coming into foster care understandably lack confidence and feel lost and alone. A dog is a tremendous antidote to this as they simply don’t do loneliness. Exactly the reverse. Tail wagging and licking are their preferred forms of communication and they are always pleased to see you. Just think how beneficial this is for a child who feels lost and alone. One thing a great many children have missed out is affection. A family dog will provide this in abundance. A dog will repay kindness with massive amounts of affection and loyalty. They make you feel wanted – something so lacking for many children who come into care.
Foster communication via your pet.
The thing about having a dog is there is always something to talk about. What fun especially being able to think of a name if it is a puppy. Then there are the trips to the vet – very educational too. These provide more lessons in responsibility. Dogs have to be regularly wormed and will need to be vaccinated against certain diseases.
A word of warning.
It’s easy to think that the potential risks posed are only to a child. Care must always be taken in the early days of a foster placement that a dog is not subjected to having its ears pulled or eyes poked. This is not fair to the animal and can result in a dog with an agreeable temperament snapping. So vigilance is important. Once any teething problems are sorted out, then there are only really benefits for a child. Not all children are lucky enough to be allowed a dog in their home. Having one is a great way for a foster child to make new friends – as they can be invited to family dog walks.
There’s a lot of useful information at https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs
Start your fostering journey right now.
We are a close-knit team of experienced professionals looking to recruit new foster carers in London, Hampshire, Birmingham and Manchester right now. At rainbow we understand
foster parents – just like children, come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. We have foster parents who are single/divorced/married – as well as couples who live together – with or without children. Rainbow Fostering also has same-sex couples fostering children and young people.
You can call us on 020 8427 3355 or our National Line – 0330 311 2845. We’re here to answer any questions you might have.
Please explore our website for more useful information – and remember we’re with you every step of the way! A useful page will be http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/staying-safe/ and also http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/fostering-explained/