How to Foster a Dog

Becoming a foster parent to a lucky dog is one of the most rewarding and enlightening experiences a dog lover can have! Bark Busters is here to help!
Tips & Advice → How to Foster a Dog



Foster parents play a valuable role in easing the burden placed on shelters while providing a safe environment, full of love and attention, until the special pups find their forever homes.

What Does it Mean to Foster a Dog?

Fostering a dog means providing it with a temporary home for a predetermined length of time, or until it is adopted. This can be for many reasons: maybe a shelter is running out of space for dogs, or a dog would benefit from more socialization with humans; perhaps a pup needs a change of scenery to reduce stress, a safe space to recover from surgery or illness, or a shelter wants to know more about its personality. Whatever the motivation, foster parents perform a vital service and offer much-appreciated assistance to rescues and shelters.

What Does Fostering Look Like?

Foster parents have similar responsibilities to any dog owner: they provide food and water, walks and playtime, and plenty of love and affection to lucky canines. In short, they treat the dog like it is a member of the family!

Foster parents often work closely with rescue or shelter workers to accomplish specific goals, including housetraining and socialization. In some cases, they provide insight about the dog to shelter workers, or assist with the adoption process by taking the dog to meet and greets or other appointments. Parents may bring their foster to the vet, help with training, and more.

I Think I Can Help! Can I?

Fostering dogs is hard, unpaid work, so it’s very important to think about the amount of responsibility you can take on before committing. Shelters will typically provide veterinary care, supplies, and food, as well as work with you to find a dog that fits well with your lifestyle, but preparedness and asking good questions goes a long way towards determining the right fit. Before talking to a rescue or shelter, consider several important factors, including:

  • What level of commitment am I comfortable with?
  • How much time and energy can I invest in a foster dog?
  • What kind of behaviors am I equipped to deal with
  • Do I have room for a foster dog at my home?
  • Will a foster fit in with my children, pets, or both?
  • When it is time, can I handle the emotional burden of letting the dog go?

I'm Ready to Do Foster! How Do I Start?

That’s great! It’s time to connect with a reputable rescue or shelter organization in your area. Do some research the ASPCA and Petfinder both have great resources to find one near you. Read reviews, talk to other foster parents about their favorites, and get the lay of the land. Then, once you have picked the organization you want to work with, reach out to begin the approval process.

I’m Approved! Now What?

Congratulations! Now it’s your job to prepare your home to keep your foster dog safe, healthy, and happy when they arrive. Determine what supplies your local shelter or rescue will be providing and purchase additional items to fill in the gaps – things like gates, beds, enzyme cleaners, treats, and bitter apple spray are musts. Remove dangerous objects or chewing hazards, make sure the home and yard are escape-proof, and ensure cabinets and cupboards are inaccessible to a curious pup.

Anything Else?

You are about to embark on an extremely rewarding, lifesaving journey! Go slow, be patient, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be sure to communicate regularly with your shelter or rescue workers and, most importantly, get ready to enjoy the kind of love that only a dog can provide.

Bark Busters Home Dog Training Can Help!

Many of our master dog trainers and behavioral therapists work closely with shelters to offer initial training tips and services to dog foster parents.

If you’re considering fostering a dog and are looking for additional tips and advice, please reach out!

We’d be happy to help put you in touch with one of the many shelters with whom we have strong relationships.  In fact, helping families live happier lives together with their dogs has been a mission of Bark Busters for more than 30 years. Connect with a local trainer to learn more! 



Need help searching for resources?
Click on a topic below or use the
keyword search bar to learn more.

Find Your Local Trainer Now!

Please begin by confirming your zip code.