Should I Foster A Dog? Take the Quiz

Take Our Foster Dog Quiz

You’ve heard and read the stories about foster dogs —how it’s such a great and rewarding experience for all involved, from the pup to the parents to the rescue doing the foster placements.

All those feel-good, happy stories of wagging tails and wonderful times have got you thinking you’d like to give fostering a try.

But before you rush headlong into the Great Unknown of dog fostering, there are a few things to consider besides just how cute that pupper is in its online profile.

After all, you’ll be hosting that cute face for some time in your home. There will be ups and downs and trials and troubles, just as there is in any relationship and any family.

I always want the best for not just the dogs who so desperately need our help, but the people doing the helping, too. After all, without them, all the stuff we do on behalf of the doggos would be for nothing.

To that end, I’ve got this quiz for you to take to determine if you’re up to the task of joining the thousands of dog foster parents across the country. Feel free to take the interactive quiz above or read along and tally up your scrores.

It only takes a few minutes, and by the time you’re done, you’ll know without a doubt whether or not you’re ready to become a dog foster parent.

1. Have you ever had a dog before?

A. Yes
B. No

Ideally, it’s A. Fostering a rescue dog isn’t like raising your own puppy or caring for a long-time canine pal.

Foster dogs come from a wide variety of backgrounds and with various levels of training and trauma. Some prior experience as a dog parent is not only helpful, but practical and necessary.

2. Have you ever had a foster dog before?

A. Yes, once
B. No, never

Either A or B is acceptable here. After all, everyone has to have a first fostering experience. The key is not whether or not you’ve been a foster dog parent, but rather a full-time dog parent, as we discussed above.

3. Have you ever had or fostered a dog with special needs (i.e. health issues, physical or mental disabilities, etc.)

A. Yes
B. No

If your answer is A, then you know the challenges and the joys of having a special needs pupper in your life. Many shelters and rescues are in dire need of foster homes for their special needs pooches and would welcome the help, care, and love you can offer them.

If your answer is B, then you may be more suited to fostering a healthy pup who just needs a foster home before their forever home is found. Dogs with special needs require more care and attention, not something many will want to tackle as first-time foster parents.

Watch this video to see what I did to help my blind doggo friends Willy and Kobe find us more easily and quickly. It’s just one of the many ways special needs dogs need a little something “special.”

4. What would you do?

The first night you bring home your new foster, they whine, cry, and bark all night.

A. Nothing. Tough love is best.
B. Change up their situation by moving the bed or crate to see if that helps.
C. Return them the next day. I gotta have my beauty sleep.
D. Give them a natural remedy to calm their nerves.

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The only choice here is B.

According to the experts at PDSA, the first thing you want to do is to give your pupper a good romp or walk to tire them out so they’ll be ready to snooze come bedtime. Take them outside, then limit food and water so there isn’t a need for potty trips during the night.

Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.

Karen Davison, Author of A Dog’s Guide To Humans

After that, moving them closer to you (into your room or beside your bed) is the next choice. Playing some calming, soft music or giving them a chew toy has been shown to help, too.

Ignoring the dog’s anxiety can lead to worse behavior issues down the road. Taking them back after only one night adds to the dog’s anxiety for the next foster home. And how would you feel if you were drugged just because a situation was new and frightening for you?

5. If you live with other people, is everyone as excited as you are about fostering a dog? (Be honest)

A. Yes, we’re all doggo lovers and can’t wait to bring a needy pup home.
B. No, it’s mostly just me.
C. Sorta, we’ve never done this before and some are a little apprehensive.

A and C are the ones to go with here. Your foster dog is going to need lots of attention. There may be behavior issues that need to be worked out, not to mention the emotional toll at the end of the foster.

You are going to need all the support you can get as a foster parent. It’s OK to be a little nervous about this new world you are all entering. In the long run, though, everyone in the family/household should be on board in order to have the best experience for all involved.

6. Who will take on the majority of the foster dog’s care?

A. Me
B. Mostly me, but everyone will pitch in and participate
C. My kids/spouse/roommates

A and B are the best choices here.

A is only best if you live alone. In a family situation, B is the ideal way to go.

Some dogs, especially dogs who have suffered abuse and neglect, can develop separation anxiety when they form unhealthy attachments to just one person. Having a “pack” of loving, caring humans around can help with this common behavior issue.

Taking on a foster dog and then leaving the majority of its care up to others in the house can cause resentment and relationship issues. Not only will this cause you stress, but your doggo will sense the discord and may act up as a result.

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How would you react?

Your new foster dog is nervous and poops on the floor every day for a week.

A. I wouldn’t care. My floor is tile or wood and easy to clean up.
B. I’d be really annoyed and angry.
C. My carpet is old and gross anyway. Who cares?

None of these are technically correct, but you do need the more laid-back approach in A and C. You can’t get worked up over the mess on the floor, but you should also be concerned enough to create potty routines, including times and places for “doing business.”

You also need to understand a bit of pup psychology. The table below outlines the “3-3-3 Rule of dog rescue.

3 Days in Your Home3 Weeks in Your Home3 Months in Your Home
Dog feels overwhelmed, scared, and uncertainStarting to settle in and settle downCompletely at home
Not comfortable enough to “be himself”Feels more comfortable, but not completely there yetFeels safe and secure
May not want to eat or drinkLearned his new environment and the “lay of the land”Building trust and beginning to bond
Shuts down, hides, and/or curls up in crateSettling into his new routineSettled into his routine
Tests the boundariesLets his guard down and becomes more sociable
Behavior problems may crop up as pup exhibits his “true nature”

It’s important to understand that it may take up to 3 weeks before your pup feels safe and secure enough to stop having accidents on your floor.

8. How would you react?

Your foster dog growls every time you approach her.

A. It would hurt my feelings, make me not want to foster her, and consider taking her back.
B. I would understand she’s stressed about something and give her the time and space she needs to de-stress.

Correct answer is B.

Again, some pup psychology knowledge can help with this situation. Most dogs do not want to bite or attack, and they’ll “warn” the perceived threat with low growls. But you’re not a threat, you say?

Rescue dogs come from a wide assortment of backgrounds, covering everything from loving homes where the parent may have passed away to horrible situations involving criminal abuse and neglect.

If all your foster fur-baby has ever known is abuse at the hands of humans, they’ll have learned to fear us. That fear will translate into stress and anxiety when approached.

All your good intentions and actions don’t automatically erase the fear, stress, and anxiety she associates with humans.

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So, back off. Give her some space. Let her learn to see you as loving, caring, safe and secure. She’ll soon stop the growls.

9. How much time do you have to spend your foster dog each day?

A. I work 10 hours a day and have kids. My life is chaotically busy.
B. I work from home and can schedule “dog time” into my day.
C. I am retired and have hours and hours every day.

The obvious answers here are B and C. Your foster dog is going to need loads of love and attention, training, and routine establishment. You can’t do that if you aren’t there, or don’t have the time when you are home.

10. How would you feel about having to walk your foster dog/take it outside several times a day?

A. I love to walk and we’d get good exercise together.
B. I’m not home much, so I wouldn’t be available.
C. I don’t or can’t go outside.

A is the best answer to this one. B can be acceptable with a bit of practical planning.

Working folks own and foster rescue dogs all the time. Their dogs are mostly happy and healthy and well-adjusted. And most of them have a Plan B.

Plan B includes someone—doggy daycare, a dog walker, a retired neighbor, a willing family member—to look after their pooch’s needs while they are at work or traveling.

So, if you can provide your foster fur-baby with a steady, reliable Plan B, it will eventually become a part of their happy, healthy, well-adjusted foster life.

11. If you fall in love with your foster dog, how will you react when they become adopted?

A. I’ll be the one adopting them, thank you.
B. Happy and proud and ready for the next foster pup that comes my way.
C. Emotional train wreck, anyone?

Answer B is the best one for you and for the rescue you foster for. That’s what foster parents do—they love for a little while and then pass their fosters on to their forever homes. Fostering provides a valuable service to rescues, dogs, and the new permanent parents.

Answer A only works if you are truly ready to become a permanent pup parent. We have a checklist you can consult to see if that’s the right decision for you.

If Answer C is your go-to choice, don’t give up completely on the idea of fostering. Consider short-term fosters or senior dog fosters, where the time the pup will be in your care isn’t quite as long and the emotional bonds may not be as strong.

“Whoever declared that love, at first sight, doesn’t exist has never witnessed the purity of a puppy or looked deep into a puppy’s eyes. If they did, their lives would change considerably.”

Elizabeth Parker, Pawprints in the Sand

Dogs are so very easy to fall in love with, and giving them up can be hard on even the most experienced foster parent.

Understanding that what you do as a foster parent is so very important can help soothe the hurt and salve the wound of placing your pup in their forever home.

A foster dog is your responsibility until a permanent home can be found, unlike an adopted puppy which is your sole responsibility.

Differences Between Adoption & Fostering

The table below explains the differences between adoption and fostering.

You cover some medical bills
The majority of rescue shelters cover all medical costs
The most you’ll have to pay to conclude with adoption is $250Fostering a pup is free
The doggo becomes part of your family—permanently
The puppy will only be with you for a brief period before being adopted into a forever home
All costs associated with your fur baby becomes your responsibility
As a foster parent, you are responsible for providing food and supplies for your rescue pup

Frequently Asked Questions

What situations prompt fostering a dog?

Two different conditions might lead to a dog needing to be fostered:

  • When an adopted dog is returned and in need of a new home.
  • When rescue shelters want to monitor a dog while he’s healing from illness or injuries.

Does it matter if I work full-time or not when fostering a pooch?

No, fostering connects you with an animal most suited to your requirements and your existing schedule.

Is a fenced yard required before I can foster a pup?

With the foster dog, not at all. You should, however, keep a close eye on your pup whenever she is outside.