What does "fostering a dog" mean, and why should I do it?

Being a foster parent means opening your home to an animal in need while he/she awaits adoption. You provide daily care, love, and attention. In addition, you inform the dog’s rescue organization about the dog’s personality and individual needs, which helps ensure he/she finds a great adoptive match!

You get the experience of rescuing a dog without the long-term commitment of adoption. Foster parents play a vital role in the shelter system, allowing needy animals to relax, recuperate, and learn how to be good pets in a normal home environment. Dogs in foster care avoid the stress of shelter life, and get to meet new people (each of whom could be a potential adopter) every single day.

How does Foster Dogs work? How is it different from a typical rescue group or shelter?

Foster Dogs Incorporated is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that connects rescue organizations, adopters, fosters, and other partners together in our shared mission to help animals in need. We create a comfortable, welcoming environment through open communication and support. As the leading community resource, we provide expert advice, quality marketing, and several outstanding specialized programs.

Foster Dogs is different from any other shelter or rescue group because we work across multiple organizations, encouraging collaboration between rescue groups. We focus on foster parent education, and we are always creating new and innovative resources, programs, and educational workshops, and hosting events that help bring the animal rescue community together. Learn more about how Foster Dogs got started.

How long will I have my foster dog?

Fostering can last as long as you are able. Rescue groups usually ask for a commitment of 2 weeks minimum, but some dogs may take longer to get adopted. Any amount of time 2 weeks or greater is a huge help to the rescue group or shelter! As long as you are upfront about the length of time you can handle, rescues and shelters will work with you to help make it possible. In fact, many opportunities arise in which a dog needs a foster home for a few days or a week. Join the Foster Dogs Foster Roster to get started.

Is it hard to give the dogs up? How can Foster Dogs help me say "Goodbye"?

You will most likely get attached to your foster dog—we can’t lie, saying “goodbye” does hurt. Remind yourself that the adopters of your foster dog will love the dog just as much as you do, probably even more! Foster Dogs has blog posts and resources on how to say goodbye, and we will be there to help you get over the heartache in the best possible way—not chocolate or ice cream (but do check out our partner Rescue Chocolate)—fostering another pup! Nothing helps heal your heart like knowing you can help another homeless dog feel loved, safe, and secure while he or she waits for a home.

Will my foster dog be house-trained/healthy/sociable/happy in my little apartment?

The short answer: It’s typically an educated guess with rescue dogs. The shelters and rescue groups do their best to get all the information about a dog ahead of time, but often it’s the dog’s time in foster care that answers the most questions. We recommend figuring out your true deal breakers and figuring out what things you may be willing to work around. For example, you may need a dog that is absolutely good with other dogs, but you’re willing to work on potty training. Most rescues will know if a dog seems good with other dogs, but slow and proper intros are always recommended. Cats and kids may be more unknown, as it’s harder to test in a shelter environment. Discuss your concerns with the rescue group, and always be upfront about what would be a deal breaker for you. Some good news is that many dogs are totally fine in a small apartment as long as they are getting enough exercise and mental stimulation, and with a walk before and after work (especially if you can do a midday dog walker).

The other good news is that Foster Dogs has a ton of resources to help with the adjustment and whatever small surprises come up in your foster journey. Check out our blog posts on dog-dog introductions, dog-cat introductions, fostering with a full time job, and things to know as a first time foster parent.

What supplies do I need? What does it cost to foster a dog?

Fostering is free! There are some supplies that you will likely need (check out Foster Dogs’ Shopping List) but all medical care should be covered by the rescue group, and oftentimes if you can’t cover the cost of food or supplies, the rescue may be able to lend you what you need.

Do I need to have prior experience in order to foster a dog? What resources does Foster Dogs have that will help me?

No experience needed! But we do recommend checking out our extensive list of resources here on our website to help prepare yourself physically and emotionally for fostering. We suggest starting with our Foster Manual “What to Expect When You’re Fos’pecting.” Then take a look through the rest of our resource section, and even our blog—we have a lot of collective fostering experience that we’ve put together to help you on your journey. Our in-person Foster Education Series is very helpful to attend if you live in the NYC area.

What if I can't foster but I still want to be involved with Foster Dogs?

We’d love to have your help! Check out our volunteer opportunities; we have in-person opportunities available in the NYC area and virtual opportunities available as well if you’re outside the area. We also always need donations; donate to Foster Dogs today!

How do I get started fostering with Foster Dogs?

Join our Foster Roster today to get on our list of available foster parents in the NYC area (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and certain other parts of NY state or NJ). We use that list to match you with dogs in need from local rescue groups to your specifications—our system takes into account your location, the age/size/breed of dog you can foster, and more to make a good match before contacting you with opportunities.


Do you have other questions that aren’t answered here? Contact us!