The 3 H’s of Fostering Dogs

Kevin Roberts
by Kevin Roberts
If you’ve been thinking of fostering a dog, but have been hesitating to take the plunge, we want to give you the final push you need to make the decision.

Don’t think you have what it takes to foster? Got a pulse? A home? A brain? You got what it takes! While fostering is a demanding job, full of potential risks and rewards, the basics of what you need to foster boil done to three H’s: a heart, a home and a head.


“Oh I could never foster a dog; I would get too attached!” Well, my dear, that’s precisely the type of person that rescues need! You should get attached. Love that pup, then assist in finding him the perfect forever family. People with big hearts are an important ingredient of the recipe for a successful foster placement.

The bigger the heart, the better, because let’s face it, there’s going be some heartache involved. Full disclosure: Your heart will be broken. Logically, the bigger the heart, the more it can withstand having little pieces broken off. So potential foster pet-parents need to have a big, strong, healthy heart to get them through the process.

Every time a foster has left with their forever family, it felt like my heart was being shredded. It has never gotten any easier – each dog took a piece of my heart with them. But that little piece grew even stronger in the forever family the dog had found. Pictures, Christmas cards and email updates of summers at the lake, beautiful sunsets or fun stories, these filled up my heart and are the ultimate reward of fostering.


Meeting a foster dog in a home environment shows potential adopters how the dog truly behaves. Shelters can be stressful for dogs, and they may exhibit signs of stress like jumping, barking, or shutting down, which make them unappealing to potential new families.

Before you open your home to a foster dog, it’s a good idea to have a home visit completed. A second set of eyes can alert you to any potential problems or things that can be fixed. Maybe your current dog has spoiled you by never eating out of the kitty litter box, or taken up the sport of counter surfing. A volunteer from the rescue can conduct a home visit to help stop any potential problems before they happen.

Dogs aren’t picky. They don’t care if your drapes are out of style, or the couch has seen better days. They simply want a place to lay down their head and relax.


You’ve got to use your brain. Assess your lifestyle and family. Is everyone on board for bringing a foster into the home? Adding another animal will require an adjustment period for everyone, which can lead to added stress.

Use your head to taper some heart decisions. The adorable puppy that needs a foster home RIGHT NOW is tempting, but take a minute to check the rescue out. Ask for references from other foster families. Scroll through their social media pages and read their website carefully. Are they financially stable, or are they always seeking emergency funds? Are animals carefully placed in the right foster homes or is there a history of reactionary removal and placement changes? Read the fine print – what does the recuse offer in terms of assistance for foster families? Food? Toys? Training? Support? Think with your head to make the best choice when it comes to a rescue that works for you.

Once you have the rescue narrowed down, think of what animals are a good fit for your lifestyle. A hyper playmate for your young dog might be fun, and they can run about tiring each other out. An older, feline savvy dog might just ignore your family cat. There is nothing wrong with saying “No” to a foster placement. Rescues who take a foster family’s needs into consideration make the whole process much easier on everyone involved.

What are you waiting for? Opening your heart and your home to a foster dog might be the best decision your head has ever made.

Kevin Roberts
Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!

More by Kevin Roberts