Foster Dogs Shopping List

Congratulations, you’re getting a new foster dog!

Here are some items you will want to buy ahead of time, to be ready for your pup to arrive and settle in. If you're buying supplies online, use our Amazon Smile link to donate while shopping at no extra cost!

Dog Food

Discuss dog food options with the rescue group. Your new foster dog may have allergies to certain products, such as wheat, chicken, or soy.  If the dog’s rescuer has no preference on what food you should procure, check out dog food options online to see which one is well-rated among dog owners and within your means. This is one cost that you might be asked to cover while fostering; ask the rescue group if they have extra food to offer to you, even a few days’ worth. If you are purchasing yourself, check out your local pet store such as Petco, PetSmart, NYC Pet, Unleashed, etc. or purchase online from Amazon or Chewy. 

Collar and Harness

Every foster dog should wear a collar with a dog tag attached (unless you are instructed not to use a collar due to neck injury, rash, etc). In many cases, a new foster dog may arrive to you with a collar; but if this is not the case, it is a worthwhile investment to purchase a sturdy nylon collar. We recommend a martingale collar, sized correctly, which will keep the dog from slipping loose even if he/she pulls backwards; this collar is used by many trainers, and many rescue groups will require one. In addition, a harness can be a helpful tool for a dog who pulls, or as an additional device on which you can attach a leash for safety purposes if the dog is small or has a thick neck. For dogs who pull, there is also the option to use a head harness (Gentle Leader or Halti) or a front clip harness (Easy Walk or Freedom Harness). Be sure to speak to someone at the rescue group to ensure you're using the tools correctly.


In tight spaces, such as New York City, a 4′ leash can be most practical, though a 6′ leash would be beneficial if walking through parks or spacious areas. We do not recommend retractable leashes, which can cause rope-burn and can become tangled around people / animals on a sidewalk. A leash may be provided by the rescue group, and if you need to purchase one, it is up to you whether to keep for a future foster dog or to donate back to the rescue group.

Dog Tags

There are some ways to make a helpful DIY dog tag, or you can invest $10-$15 in a new tag from a pet store such as Petco or PetSmart. Tags can be used over and over again for each of your foster dogs, and are a must-have so a dog can be promptly returned if he/she gets loose. Include your phone number on the tag, at the very least. Some rescue groups provide dog tags for their foster dogs, with their number and name included.

Crate and Dog Bed

Many rescues require crating, and we recommend it, as it is the safest place to leave a dog when you aren't directly supervising, especially if the dog is a young puppy or if you have other pets in the house. Many rescues will have crates available to borrow, or if you plan to foster often, you may want to invest in one yourself. Many times people will sell crates for cheap or give them away for free to rescues if you check local forums like Craigslist. For inside the crate, we recommend not purchasing anything expensive. In fact, some old blankets or towels or a cheap bed from a dollar store will be perfectly comfortable for your foster dog, and you won't mind if it gets chewed up or soiled.