How To Become A Foster Dog Parent & Tips For Fostering (With Personal Experience)


Last Updated: July 21, 2023 | 4 min read | 11 Comments

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woman holding a foster french bulldog puppy

The stigma that shelter dogs are bad dogs is a stereotype that is mostly untrue. Unfortunately, too many dogs are in shelters, and people are scared to adopt them because they think there must be some bad reason that they were sent to the shelter.

However, the majority of the time, the reasons for the dog being sheltered are unrelated to the dog’s behavior. Many dogs find themselves in shelters because they are lost or abandoned, or the owners are unable to care for them any longer. Sadly, the dog is simply no longer a priority in that family’s life. Find out how to foster a dog and how it can help a dog in need while bringing you joy.

Reputation Of Shelter Dogs

For many shelter dogs, what people consider “bad behavior” is obtained through living in the rescue facility. We want to be clear and say that this is no one’s fault. These dogs are living in a high-stress environment, all alone.

Many of them were in loving homes and then found themselves in a shelter where they are surrounded by many dogs, strangers, new sights and sounds, and less than comfortable living quarters. Stress manifests itself in the dog becoming anxious and possibly even destructive. Again, this is no one’s fault.

We realize this isn’t the case for all dogs. Unfortunately, some dogs are abused or poorly trained and, as a result, have less desirable traits even before entering the shelter. Few of these dogs are a lost cause, though.

In fact, foster dogs can live more comfortably and learn to trust and love humans even if they’ve experienced abuse in their lifetime. These dogs can live in a less stressful environment and learn how to behave in a home, which can help get them adopted sooner.

You can help care for these adoptable dogs by giving them a temporary home until they find their forever home. This is a great way to help many dogs throughout your life, and perhaps you will create a bond with one that you cannot part with and give it a forever home yourself.

What Does It Mean To Foster A Dog?

When you foster a dog, you agree to take in a homeless dog and care for them for a predetermined amount of time or until the dog is adopted. Dog fostering is extremely rewarding because you can help a dog without adopting it.

Pet fostering is only a temporary commitment, and it gives you an opportunity to know what it’s like to have a dog in your home. Dog foster care also frees up a spot in the shelter to help another dog in need. In some cases, if it’s a good fit, you might be able to adopt the foster dog (sometimes called “foster fail”). Learn if you are ready for dog ownership.

Why A Dog May Need To Be Fostered

There are many reasons a dog may need to be fostered:

  • The shelter may not have enough physical space to take in every dog. So, when you foster a pup, you keep a dog from potentially being euthanized due to overcrowding.
  • Foster puppies need a home because they are too young to be adopted and need a safe home to stay in until they are old enough to be adopted.
  • A dog is recovering from surgery, illness, or injury. Malnourished pups may also need extra meals and special food to help them get back to a healthy weight.

How To Become A Dog Foster Parent

Wondering how to foster dogs? To participate in pet foster programs, speak to a local shelter or rescue group about how you can foster a dog. (You can also visit You’ll most likely need to fill out an application, and after approval, the shelter or group will help you find the right dog for your household.

What’s It Like To Foster A Dog?

How do you foster a dog in real life? Dog and puppy fostering can be emotionally challenging but also rewarding. Watch the short video below to see some of the struggles and many of the joys of fostering a dog.

Questions To Ask If You Want To Foster Dogs

What does fostering a dog mean? You will be an essential factor in helping the dog find its forever home. Once you find a location to foster pets through, you’ll want to get some questions answered.

  • Who pays the vet bills?
  • Who pays for the dog’s food, microchip, leash, crate, and other necessary gear?
  • Are there any meetings you’ll need to attend?
  • Where will the dog meet prospective adopters?
  • Are you responsible for training the dog?
  • Are there any requirements for those who want to foster animals? (Do you need a fenced-in yard? Can the dog handle stairs? Do you need to be home with the dog all day? Is the dog good with children, cats, and other dogs? etc.)
  • Is there any medication that will need to be administered?

Our Personal Experience Fostering

“I fostered two black lab puppies a few years back when AARF, a local rescue organization, ran out of room in its facilities. I had an adult Dalmatian at the time, and he was excited to welcome these little playmates into our home. It was fun to have puppies around (and all those puppy kisses), but the pee schedule was quite cumbersome! Luckily, both pups were adopted in less than two weeks, and it helped us make the decision to adopt a second dog, but only if it was housebroken!”

Michelle Schenker, Co-Founder of Canine Journal and dog mom to two rescue pups

Other Ways To Help Dogs In Need

Fostering is a fun way to test the waters if you are interested in getting a dog but not ready to commit yet. How that you know how to become a foster dog parent, you might even find yourself with a “foster fail,” which is when you end up adopting the dog you foster. Check out our article on how to bond with a rescue dog and read our success stories of rescuing dogs. We always encourage you to adopt whenever possible.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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