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Fostering A Dog: How It Works

November 02, 2022 | 3 min read

Updated November 02, 2022

By Sarah Milton


Published: November 2, 2022
Updated: May 11, 2023

Summary: In this blog, learn how to foster a dog, what fostering a dog entails and how the process works... 


Temporarily fostering animals can be a highly rewarding experience as well as an incredibly helpful thing to do. Fostering a dog can help give them a break from the shelter they’re staying in (perhaps to help them recover in peace from a minor surgery) or support the local animal organization that they’re registered under, particularly if they’re overcrowded. But, it can also be a large emotional undertaking – particularly when you’re expected to give the pet back...  

You may be looking into fostering because you want to help out your local shelter, you can’t commit to adopting an animal full-time, you’re curious about pet ownership, your existing pet may benefit from a companion, or you simply love animals!   

So, let’s explore it together. How does fostering a dog work?  

a white, fluffy Pappillion-like dog accepts a treat from a white woman with long blonde hair that covers her face while sat on a grey, L-Shaped couch. She wears black ripped skinny jeans and a pink sweater. There is a busy, glass coffee table in front of them holding a white ceramic pineapple and two burning candles

How Does Fostering A Dog Work? 

Unlike adoption, animal fostering is when you look after a pet on a temporary basis – usually, one that is waiting for their forever home. It can be incredibly beneficial to the animal’s stress levels which in turn contributes to better health and behavior. It could be argued that pets foster parents are enabling their temporary pet to become their best, happiest selves which ultimately will make them more appealing to those looking to adopt a dog.  

Most people are allowed to foster too as long as their home is clean, safe, compassionate, patient, and loving. You may also be required to participate in training and/or transporting the dog to different adoption events or appointments. Different shelters require different specifications, so for exact requirements, you’d need to investigate with the local shelters in your area and see which ones you and your home meet. This will include things such as whether you can have children, other pets, or need a yard. 

In order to get going on fostering, the first thing to do would be to set up a conversation with your local shelter or animal rescue.  

PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Always be honest with the shelter you’re fostering from about your circumstances otherwise you may be paired with an animal who isn’t suitable. This may cause them unnecessary distress if their needs cannot be met in your home.  

A man lies on his side smiling widely. He’s slightly blurred. The main focus is on a small brown, gray, and white sleeping puppy (of an ambiguous breed) who rests, spooned into the man’s body.

Fostering A Dog: How Long Does It Last? 

Fostering can last anywhere between 24 hours and several months. It will vary pet by pet. If you have a restricted time period in which you’re able to foster, make sure to communicate this to the shelter you’re liaising with.  

Do You Get Paid To Foster Dogs?  

Before we get into this, if earning money from fostering is your only motivation, fostering probably isn’t for you right now. Foster animals need pure love, care, and devotion and it can actually cost you money at times.   

The conditions of fostering will vary from shelter to shelter. Many shelters will provide you with the basics like food, collars, leashes, and bedding. Some will also provide medical support. Others may ask you to take on the animal and provide for them financially too as their funds cannot stretch that far. The best thing to do is to ask the shelter for a breakdown of the costs you’re expected to cover whilst the pet is in your care.  

Foster Failing 

It would be naïve to think that taking in a dog (or cat!) temporarily wouldn’t sometimes result in the need to adopt the animal you’ve taken in forever! Playfully known as a “foster fail”, sometimes foster pet parents can’t bear to say goodbye to one of their fosters because they’ve created such a strong bond with the animal. If this happens to you and your foster, it’s imperative you communicate this to the shelter ASAP so they can stop other prospective adoptive pet parents from falling in love with them too.  

PetLab Co. Pro Tip: If you share your home with others, particularly children, it’s worth thinking about the impact of parting with an animal on everyone who will be contributing to their care and life at your home before committing to a foster.


Author Davidson, Ashley “Everything You Need To Know About Animal Fostering” Be Chewy, Sept 07. 2022  

Author Geier, Elisabeth “How To Foster A Dog 101: Everything You Need To Know” The Dog People, Powered By Rover, Sept 01. 2022  

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Thanks for reading


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Sarah Milton

Authored By

Sarah Milton

Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!




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