How to Foster a Dog: A Detailed Guide for Foster Parents

How to Foster a Dog?

How to become a foster dog parent?

If you’re considering fostering a dog, let me begin by thanking you for your awesomeness. Making a temporary home for a foster dog is easier said than done, as sheltered or rescued dogs need a lot more care & attention than your average domesticated pupper. 

Dogs end up at shelters when people usually abandon them for various reasons: runaway dogs, displaced dogs during natural calamities, and stray dog litter. 

Ending nature’s wrath during a calamity and the challenges the elements throw at a dog is heart-wrenching. The outcome of all these scenarios is dogs that become insecure, afraid, cornered, sick, or angry, and these are the kind of dogs that are usually up for fostering. 

In this article, let’s look deeper at everything surrounding the question “how to foster a dog?”. 


how to foster a pet

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The Kind of Dogs that are Usually Fostered

Shelters usually cater to dogs of all kinds, but seldom they’re equipped to care for dogs that require special attention. It includes puppies that are too young to be nurtured at the shelter or adopted.

These are the reasons why shelters look for foster homes:

  1. To free up space in the shelter when there are too many dogs. 
  2. Young dogs need basic behavioral training before adoption.
  3. Dogs that are recovering from injuries or sickness.
  4. Unwell dogs that require hospice care to live out their final days. 
  5. In times of natural calamities, dogs need a home.

There can be many other reasons why a shelter may seek the help of a foster to take a dog in, but on the hind side, foster parents must think things through before taking up this enormous responsibility.

According to the ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey, pet problems are some of the most recurring reasons the owners rehome their pets, accounting for 47% of rehomed dogs and 42% of rehomed cats.

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Questions to Reflect Upon Before Embarking on Fostering

The initial query should not revolve around how to foster a dog, but rather, why am I considering fostering a dog? If your motivation for fostering a dog aligns with any of the following scenarios, then congratulations, you have sound reasons to proceed:

  1. If you are contemplating adopting a dog of your own but are uncertain about the commitment and responsibility it entails.
  2. If you are seeking a companion for your current dog for various reasons.
  3. If your intention is to rehabilitate a sheltered dog and prepare them for adoption into a loving family.
  4. If you possess a genuine love for dogs and have the necessary space and resources to offer temporary shelter to a homeless dog.

Understanding the Dog’s Backstory

The very first step in understanding how to become a foster dog parent is by thoroughly knowing your sheltered/rescued pup’s past.

As mentioned earlier, the longer a dog is sheltered or abandoned, the worse the situation could be, and the dog could be defensive, and display anger, insecurities, and other misbehaviors. 

Learn the necessity of decompression. Yes, shelters are generally loud, open, cold, and chaotic, making any dog insecure regardless of how bad the situation is. You must create an environment for the dog to decompress from the shelter life. 

In an environment where the dog gets silence, warmth, good food, and a healthy routine, it becomes easier for the trauma to dissipate. What usually takes 1 to 2 weeks of decompression, an impatient or noisy foster home could extend this duration even further, so prepare your home for the fostering. 

Preparing Your Home

Preparing your home to welcome a shelter dog is as simple as creating ‘stations.’ Stations are particular locations in your house where the dog will eat, sleep, pee/poop, and play. 

Allocating fixed locations in your house will discipline the dogs that are ingrained to learn and give them a routine, manners, and a stable mind. 

Let us learn about ‘stations’ in detail. 

Station 1 – Eat & Drink: Eating food is a sacred ritual for dogs, so ensure they have a quiet, safe, and fixed place to munch away. If you have other pets, try to allow a private space for the foster dog to eat in the beginning days. 

Although dogs must be fed twice a day, their drinking bowl must always be full, especially if it’s an energetic dogs. Place a bowl of water inside the house and another outside, ensuring it’s always full and never runs out. Unlike food, dogs don’t overdrink water. 

Crate training the foster pup during the eating/drinking phase can be a great idea, as it is a must for all dogs to be crate trained.

Station 2 – Poop & Pee: Teach your foster dog where you would like for her/him to do their business. Find a place on your property where it is easy for the dog to relieve himself and for you to clean the place right after. 

Ensure the dog never pees or poops anywhere else, and appreciate him by petting him when he does a good job. 

Station 3 – Play: Playing can be fun and a teaching chance for the foster dog, so be mindful of his behavior while playing. It’s great news if you have a backyard where he can run around and burn energy, but ensure the dog plays indoors as well. Because you never know if the hooman’s who adopt him have a yard or not. 

Station 4 – Sleep: Find a place in the house and make a bed out of blankets or get him a soft bed. Train the dog to sleep on his bed the first few days as he will associate it with his safe space to fall asleep. Training a dog to sleep in a crate is also a great idea but discourages him from sleeping in your bed or a room. 

Bringing the Dog Home

Follow the below habits to the tee once your dog is home:

  1. Take him for a long walk before bringing him home, and ensure he pees and poops. It will tire him out and relieve him of the stress from the shelter, and he can also sniff your home surroundings. 
  2. Put him on a loose leash and take him to every corner of the house. He will sniff everything and let you know what he is wary of. 
  3. Wait until the dog is calm and settled before introducing him to your family. Have your family seated on the couch and let him sniff everyone. They can all pet him once he is calm and sits back down.
  4. Foster care is complete when the shelter dog is calm, relaxed, exercised, and healthy. Feed him on time, exercise him daily, and most of all, teach him calm submissiveness.


Dogs from the shelter can be unpredictable in so many different ways. They can display hidden insecurities like gnawing things, whining that could disturb the neighbors, hiding in nooks, and others. If you have to leave the house for work or any other reason, WaggleCam can be your set of eyes no matter where you are. 

A high-definition camera that can keep track of your fostered pooch can also work in pitch darkness as it has night vision. Transmitting live video feed to your cell phone, WaggleCam can also throw treats for your pet if he’s a good boy. 


It is an excellent addition for foster dogs and your house pets, and its adorable build will add chicness to your home. 


  • Can I adopt the dog after fostering?

Of course. It is an ideal success case, and most shelters & rescue centers allow you to adopt the dog you’ve been fostering. 

  • How long do I take care of the foster dog?

Usually, until the dog is adopted. Based on the calmness, cuteness, and health, a dog adoption may take anywhere between a few days to a few months. Most dogs are adopted within a few months, but if you and the shelter can’t find a home, the shelter takes back the dog. 

  • Am I responsible for veterinary bills?

Not always. Ask the shelter/rescue center for more details, as they are often affiliated and have contracts with veterinary clinics that cover hospital expenses. 

  • How do I find a home for the foster home?

Shelters usually advertise the dogs for adoption on their website and social media and encourage you to do the same. Relatives and friends often adopt the dog you’re fostering, so it is quite a quick process.


  • Who is responsible for the food and supplies expenses?

You may have to spend for the food, bedding, and other basic expenses for the foster dog, but some shelters provide you with the food and discounts to shop at particular vendors. 

  • What if no one adopts the foster dog?

In a rare case scenario where you can’t find a home for the foster dog, the shelter takes the dog back, hoping to find another foster parent or home eventually.