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What to Know About Dog Fostering

What to Know About Dog Fostering

Dog fostering is when a person decides to give an animal a temporary home. It’s a way of giving animals a safe place to stay while the shelter looks for their permanent home.

How To Foster a Dog

Start by reaching out to a local shelter or rescue in the neighborhood! Many shelters have foster programs that allow potential foster pet parents to learn about the process. 

It's important to research online before committing to a shelter. Some shelters have specific rules and requirements for potential foster families. Review the application thoroughly before committing to the animal. 

Rules of Dog Fostering

Shelters can have strict age restrictions for new pet parents. A letter of permission from a landlord may be required if the home is rented. The shelter also might require a minimum foster pet period, ranging anywhere from a couple of days to a few months.

Some shelters will require a foster home check to ensure that the space is safe for a new pet. A foster pet dog will need plenty of space for running around and outdoor playtime. The shelter will also help find the animal a forever home - the ultimate goal of fostering.

Tips for Fostering a Dog

When prepping a home for a foster pet, be sure to stock up on everything the pet needs during their stay. A pet parent should create a safe and cozy space for their new guest. Help make the animal feel at home with a cozy dog bed and chew-friendly toys.

The new animal needs to get acquainted with the home before feeling completely comfortable. Providing a secure area where the pet can roam freely and familiarize themselves with the new space is important.  

HICC Pet™ recommends having pet supplies in the home ready to go for the animal’s arrival, including:

  • Nutritional food: While some shelters will provide food, it’s important to stock up on protein-rich kibble for the animal.
  • Water and food bowls: Provide a safe space for the pet to eat and drink throughout the day. 
  • Identification: Ensure the pet is prepared with the proper ID tags and correct owner information. 
  • Animal crate or carrier: Some animals may arrive in their own crate, but ask the shelter before picking up the animal. The animal should also have a comfortable carrier to be safely transported from place to place. 
  • Grooming supplies: It's recommended to provide daily grooming for the animal with pet bathing wipes, oral care sprays, and dental wipes

How to Read Your Dog

For first-time foster parents, it’s best to stick with adult dogs. Looking after puppies can be challenging for new owners who aren’t familiar with taking care of pets. An adult dog is typically better trained and more comfortable around people compared to young, energetic puppies. 

Make sure to interact with the foster dog on a daily basis. Canine communication is essential during the foster period. Recognizing the dog's body language and any behavioral issues is also important. A rescue dog can be sensitive to new people.

Dog parents should look for calming signals when approaching their pets. These signals include:

  • Tail wagging
  • Relaxed body posture
  • Wiggly body movements
  • Squinty eyes

When the dog’s tail is wagging, that’s a sure sign the dog is happy! A relaxed dog will lie on its back for belly rubs. Approach the dog slowly and allow them to sniff before petting them.

The foster parent can recognize if the dog is in distress by listening for a dog cry or whimper. There’s usually a reason for the whining. The foster dog might want food, water, or even cuddles! Contact the shelter immediately if the dog shows signs of illness or pain.

Responsibilities of Fostering a Dog

Taking care of an animal is a big responsibility! Most shelters will provide basic resources for the foster pet period, including food, toys, litter, leashes, and any necessary medications.

However, the foster family will need to:

  • Provide a good home for the dog to live
  • Provide the dog with fresh food and water daily
  • Transport the dog to any vet appointments at the shelter
  • Interact with potential adopters and attend adoption events
  • Provide regular medical or behavioral updates to the shelter

And most importantly:

  • Shower the dog with love and affection! 

Find Your Foster Dog a Good Home

While the foster family takes care of the pet, the shelter will help find the animal their forever home. Potential adopters may visit the animal to see if they are a good match for their family. It's important to engage with them. They might be the animal's new owner!

It’s not unlikely for a family to want to adopt their animal at the end of the fostering period. The shelter will usually allow the foster family to adopt the animal and make them an official member of the family! 


Dog fostering can make a big difference in the life of just one animal. It helps shelters make space for more pets in need of homes.

Fostering a dog helps prepare the animal for life in a new home. It's up to the foster family to show the dog lots of patience, compassion, and love!

Please note that the information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. We are not veterinarians, and the content shared here should not be considered professional veterinary advice.

If you have any questions regarding copyrights or the use of materials in this article, please contact us for clarification.



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