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My parents won’t let me foster a dog

Many people are willing to provide foster homes for homeless dogs, but they have a big problem standing in their way: other family members.

Either Mom won’t allow an extra dog in the house or Dad won’t allow it or the roommates are against it. Maybe the husband wants to foster a dog but his wife says no. Or maybe the girlfriend wants to foster dogs but her boyfriend says no.

Living with a dog lover is a big challenge if you are not a dog lover.

Dog lovers are never satisfied with what they have. Give a dog lover two dogs and she will want three. Add a third and she will soon believe four would be OK. Pretty soon you have a crazy dog lady on your hands. If the dog lover in your family does not talk about wanting another dog, believe me, she is searching through PetFinder and local rescue web sites behind your back.

On the other side are the people who are not quite “dog lovers.” These people are able to see beyond the dog in need of rescue. They see a dipping bank account, less freedom, more stress, a messy house, separation anxiety, annoyed neighbors and potential threats to other pets or children. It’s easier to say “no more dogs” than to say “maybe, if we find the right dog.” They are probably afraid of unleashing the crazy dog lady.


My husband won’t let me foster a dog

shepherd-mix1No one should foster a dog unless all family members are OK with it. Below are some tips for getting family members on your side. For consistency, I’m writing as though the wife is the one who wants to foster a dog.

1. Remember, you don’t have to ask permission.

For some reason, it helps me to remember I could go out and adopt or foster a dog right this second if I wanted to. No one is stopping me. However, it is important to me that my boyfriend is OK with me bringing another animal into our home, which is one reason why I don’t foster dogs all the time.

2. Explain your reasons for wanting to foster a dog.

Don’t whine or beg. That’s immature and shows you probably shouldn’t be fostering a dog. Instead, explain the reasons why you are passionate about helping animals. Saving a life is a good reason, but what is it that truly makes you want to help? Why is saving a dog so important to you?

In my case, I believe part of my purpose in life is to help dogs. I love working with dogs, training, exercising and socializing them. I am not happy if I’m not able to do these things. I know I have the knowledge and the ability to help some of the most difficult dogs. Fostering a dog gives me a challenge, a purpose, a goal and something to write about on this dog training blog.

3. Take more responsibility of your current animals.

If you already have a dog, make sure you are doing your share of the work and more. Any additional work from the foster dog will be your responsibility. Don’t give your husband any reason to think he will have to do more work.

If there are little things you can change to make dogs a little more tolerable for your husband, then do them. If your husband complains about the dog hair, then vacuum every other day and have your dog groomed more often. If he doesn’t like how the dog begs at the table, then teach your dog to stay in the other room while you eat. If your dog is hyper, then start running him. If your husband doesn’t want the dog in the bed, then make the dog sleep on the floor!

4. Sign up as a temporary foster home or an emergency foster home.

This is a good way to get into fostering because you will never have a dog for longer a few days or possibly a few weeks. There are always dogs that need an emergency place to stay when there are no other options.

5. Start out by fostering a small dog.

Generally, dogs like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and shih tzus get adopted quickly. A large number of little dogs end up in rescue in our area because pet shops encourage impulse buys.

6. Agree on an amount of time to keep the foster dog.

Decide with your husband on a reasonable amount of time to foster the dog. Some rescue dogs take a year or more before they find a forever home. Perhaps you could provide a home for a dog for a month or two months. Just make sure the two of you agree on the time and then stick to it unless you both want to re-evaluate once the dog arrives. Don’t beg to keep the dog longer than you originally planned.

7. Foster one time and then evaluate how it went.

If your husband truly did not like having the foster dog around, then perhaps fostering isn’t right for your family. There are so many other ways to help a dog shelter or rescue. You can help out at events, walk dogs or do fundraising.

8. Agree on how long to wait in between foster dogs.

This is what convinced my boyfriend to start fostering dogs: I agreed to wait three months in between each foster dog. That meant that no matter how long I had a foster dog, we would wait 12 weeks from the day that dog got adopted until we picked up another foster dog. This was a good way to keep me in check and prevent me from trying to rescue dogs based solely on urgency and emotions. I tell myself there will always be more dogs in need of rescue. I can’t save them all right now.

9. Agree on an amount of time to prepare for the foster dog.

red-pitbull1It’s a bad idea to rush out and foster the first dog that needs a home. You don’t have to save the most needy dog. Set a time length to prepare for the dog. This could be anywhere from a few days to a few months. I would stick with at least two weeks. That way you can arrange to be home with the dog the first day or two. You can also plan when you will exercise the dog, when you will train it, where it will sleep and how you will deal with separation anxiety or other issues.

10. Choose the best possible foster dog.

You will have a more successful experience if you take your time and consider what dog would be the best match for your current situation.

Try to foster the oldest, quietest, smallest dog you can find. Stay away from large, hyper dogs or any dogs with aggression or separation anxiety. The better your first fostering experience goes, the more likely your husband will be OK with getting another foster dog. You could even have him help you select the dog to foster. If he chooses the dog, he will be less likely to complain about it.

11. Commit to finding that dog a home quickly.

I work hard to get our foster dogs adopted in a short amount of time, and my boyfriend sees that. He doesn’t want foster dogs around any longer than they need to be, and I also want to see them get into permanent homes. So I blog about our foster dogs almost every day. I take lots of pictures. I attend adoption events and visit the dog park.

Some dogs sit in foster homes for months and months, and I don’t quite understand why. Perhaps their foster homes don’t want to see them go?

Do you foster dogs? Did you have to convince any family members?

The pictured dogs are Georgia the pitbull mix, Sasha the shepherd mix and Jesse the American pit bull terrier. These dogs are with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue in Fargo and have been waiting for foster homes for a long time. Visit my dog adoption page for more information about these dogs. 8/10/10 update: Georgia the pit mix and Jesse the pitbull have been adopted. Sasha the shepherd mix is still waiting for a home.

If you are in the Fargo area, come meet some giant breeds up for adoption from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. June 13th during the Big Paws in the Park meet-up at the dog park in Fargo located at 45th Street and Ninth Avenue S.


Thursday 8th of October 2020

I really wan to foster one there is one avalible but my mom will not let me but my dad said yes. My brother really happy there is one avalible. But when I told her she just said okay in a happy version( that is a really good news cause that means she is intreast:) ) The only reason why I want to foster a puppy because while we foster a puppy I can prove it to my parents that I am ready for my own puppy. So if you are a little kid you who is reading this you should try this way and ask them to foster a dog or a puppy. Whoever thinks this is a good advice please say "yes" Thanks :)


Thursday 4th of June 2020

I have a seven month old Great Pyrenees that is a lot of work already but I want her to have a friend. I also just want a boxer because I have anxiety and I've heard that they won't leave your side when you need them. I can't seem to convince my mom or dad to even just let me foster one. Do you have any advice?


Tuesday 19th of May 2020

hey! i have an amazing dog, but she does get a bit hyper when puppies come over... my dad says he’s ok/thinks he’s ok with me fostering, but he works from home and doesn’t want it to intervene with his big meetings... any ideas of what i could do to make his “ok” turn to a “Yes!” i thought if he wrote down his calendar i could just take the puppies on a walk during the call, but i need more pros to fostering! help!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 19th of May 2020

Yep, taking the dogs out during his call would be a good idea. You could have some Kong toys stuffed with peanut butter and frozen that you can give them when you're home and need them to be quiet. I work from home too and understand the stress of dogs causing noise and disruption. You may want to foster an older dog first, ideally a senior. That will help "ease" you all into it with a hopefully easier dog - lower energy, etc.


Friday 25th of July 2014

This was extremely helpful. I have been trying to get my boyfriend to foster and the things you say are EXACTLY what he says. We have a pup already, which I take care of most of the time, besides the morning, I hate waking up. This has really allowed me to say what is in my mind, I know why I want to foster and to me I think people who dont want to foster are crazy!! It is hard for me to explain why I want to foster because it is almost second nature to me to help every animal I see. Making a difference in their life means everything to me!!! This article really allows me to break it down and maybe I can foster now that we know how to come about talking about it maturely! Thank you so much!!

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 25th of July 2014

Best of luck to you! Fostering can be challenging, because they dog is never as perfect as you hope, but it is so rewarding and I wish I could foster all the time.


Wednesday 6th of November 2013

What breed mixes are in the first picture!

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 6th of November 2013

Your guess is as good as mine. I always said pitbull/shepherd, but that dog is a total mystery mix.