7 Steps to Fostering a Dog

Thank you for fostering a dog! You’re not only saving a life, but you’re also helping your foster dog on his journey to a new home. To make it the easiest and most successful journey possible, follow these 7 simple steps to set him up for success:

Follow the 7 Steps to Success Program

The “7 Steps to Success with Your New Dog” is our basic behavior plan that we suggest you follow for at least 30 days. This is a holistic approach to building a positive relationship with your dog which clearly defines your roles and fulfills your dog’s needs through consistency and routine. It can help with the transition from shelter life to your home.

Read through the whole document and apply as much of the program as you can with your foster dog. Don’t be afraid to make small adjustments here and there. You may need to make different rules or work things differently depending on your home or your foster dog’s needs.

Use all equipment provided

Please use the equipment as instructed, even if you don’t use it for your own dog. For example, if your foster dog comes with a Freedom Harness, please use the Freedom Harness every time you go for a walk. Ask a staff member or volunteer for assistance if you are not sure how to use the equipment.

Crate Training

Slowly introduce your foster dog to a crate and as she becomes comfortable with it, have her sleep in her crate at night and whenever you cannot directly supervise her (such as when you leave the house or cook dinner).

Daily Walks/Training Time

Teach you foster dog some basic obedience cues like Sit and Stay. Take your foster dog for daily on-leash walks for at least 20 minutes, unless your dog’s medical or behavioral needs currently dictate otherwise. All foster dogs must be on leash at all times and may not go to dog parks.

If your dog pulls, turn and walk the other way. Check out some other Loose Leash Walking Tips.

Make Rules and Set Limits

Establish a few rules as soon as you bring your foster dog home and stick to them consistently. It doesn’t matter what the rules are, just as long as you have rules. Good rules for foster dogs include: sit to be petted, no access to certain rooms (particularly the kitchen), not allowed on the furniture or bed, and wait at the door.

Avoid allowing your foster dog to have privileges you do not give to your own dogs. Your dogs will not enjoy having company if they are always shifted to the backseat when the foster dog shows up.

Set Up a Structure

Set a daily routine for all your dogs and work your foster dog into that daily routine. It will help your own dogs deal with the newcomer more easily, and your foster dog will benefit from knowing what is expected of him. Have dedicated yard times, walk times, crate times, play times, food toy times.

Your foster dog may be very nervous and uncertain at first. By having a routine and structure for him to fit into, he will relax knowing you’re going to tell him what to do.

Feed Meals from Interactive Food Toys, By Hand, or as Training Treats

Feed your foster dog from food puzzles like the Classic Kong, Kong Wobbler, and Kibble Nibble give your dog a job to do and help teach him/her to settle and focus their mind. Use part of her dinner as rewards for learning her name, Sit, Down and other valuable cues.

Don’t put down a bowl of food and walk away leaving your foster dog to eat alone or allow your foster dog to free feed (unless advised by medical staff). If you have other dogs, supervise meal and treat time closely.

We strongly recommend Dr. Sophia Yin’s Learn to Earn Program, which can be a big help in helping you establish rules and work on patience and impulse control with your foster dog. This is a good way to get the most value out of your dog’s meals and make training a breeze!