Office Fostering: Tips & Tricks


Office fostering is a great way to learn more about the dogs in your shelter. Not all of our dogs come from the quintessential “home” environment, therefore it is difficult to tell potential adopters how they’ll do in a home when we’ve only seen them in the kennels. In one day (sometimes only an hour or so), you can learn a lot about your shelter dogs with an office foster program.

Here are some things you will need:

  1. A baby gate across your door (if you don’t want the door closed)
  2. A bed/crate (a crate is ideal if you leave your office for long periods or the dog needs housetraining)
  3. A bowl of water
  4. A variety of toys, you won’t get any work done if the dog has nothing to keep him busy.
  5. TREATS for training and rewards when being good or to distract from certain situations!
  6. A cleaning product and paper towels, just in case there is an accident
  7. A sign for the door, stating all pertinent information about your office mate for the day, so that visitors can approach carefully and know what to expect from the dog.
  8. Patience

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Tips for a successful day of office fostering:

  1. Remove all valuables (or place them up high)
  2. Have liquids in spill proof containers
  3. Lock your computer when you leave (some dogs like to type extra notes, exit documents without saving, and send emails)
  4. Make sure you or someone else takes the dog out for a play time before coming to the office so they may go to the bathroom and release some of their energy.
  5. NEVER leave your lunch unattended, or any food (unless it is theirs)
  6. Know as much as possible about the dog and your schedule before fostering. Some things to keep in mind:
    1. If Food Aggressive, remove all delicious items (ie, pig’s ear or food) out of your office if you’re not sure how to safely interact with a food aggressive dog
    2. If Fearful of Strangers, do you have a lot of people coming to, or walking by, your office? What is the dog’s reaction, fight or flight? Are the other offices okay with this?
    3. If Jumpy/Mouthy, do you have the energy to do your job and entertain a jumpy mouthy dog at the same time?
    4. If there is Separation Anxiety, do you leave your office often? And if so, for long periods of time or short departures? How does this dog display separation anxiety, destruction? Barking?
  7. Have fun! Office Fosters make for a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, whether it be for a quick break or a longer outing!

Remember, not even the most patient, behavior-savvy individuals office foster EVERY day. Know your limits, know what your day looks like, and be okay with bringing the dog back to his or her kennel if it just isn’t working out for you that day. Though, not every dog NEEDS office fostering, EVERY dog benefits from some quality one-on-one quiet time in a non-kennel environment. Open your office up to a shelter dog, and it might just make your job a little easier, or at least a little more enjoyable!