Foster A Dog

Could you offer a dog a loving foster home? Take some time to read through this page with all members of your household to find out if this challenging but rewarding experience is for you.

When you feel you’re ready to apply for the vetting stage, click the application form link to get started.

The Fostering Process- Our Lifeline List and how it works

Foster carers play a vital role in the rehabilitation process, dog lovers of all different experience levels and backgrounds have signed up to our Lifeline List  to offer a space in their  home for a dog in need. When a dog arrives we look to our list to find pre checked applicants who look to be a promising match.

All kinds of dogs come through our doors so we need all kinds of people to help us! As long as you are over 18 years of age, either own your property or have your landlord’s consent to have a dog, and pass our vetting and home check procedure your form can be added to the list. You will need to be able to stay emotionally strong when they leave your care, it’s inevitable you will become attached to your foster dog!

Regardless of your level of experience, if you are willing to commit and you can provide a stable and  happy environment there will be a dog out there waiting for you and we will endeavour to find the best possible match for your family and for them.


There are rare cases when we cannot put an application on our Lifeline List, an example would be when the person has prior convictions for any kind of animal neglect or abuse or connections to anyone with similar convictions, or perhaps if their working hours are extremely long or if something about their property is deemed unsafe.

How do our dogs get prepared for their loving forever homes?

When we receive a call about an incoming dog the first thing we do is arrange an assessment with a member of our training team so that they can find out as much information about the dog’s background, current situation and future needs as possible. We arrange a medical check up, titre test or vaccination, any other treatment they need including preventative care and then implant a microchip or transfer their existing one to the charity. We have a strict neutering policy so unless they are declared medically unfit by a veterinarian their procedure is also arranged.

Dogs who are elderly, sick, very young, or with no behavioural issues and full history who pass all of the assessments may be fast tracked to an experienced, pre vetted and pre approved foster placement from our Lifeline List. Usually though, once they have had their vet checkup and vaccinations they go to the lovely kennels that we rent for further assessment before we choose their foster home. There are a few reasons for this:

We need to find out what their perfect foster carer and home environment would look like so that we can get the right match first time. We want for our dogs to move as few times as possible so if they need foster before they are adopted there should ideally only be one placement for the duration. Like us each dog has a passion in life, a drive for a certain thing and we need to help them channel that and express themselves, exhibiting their natural behaviours in a constructive, fun and safe way.

This also helps us with match making and tells us what the dogs can and can’t cope with. Safety is of the upmost importance, even the most sociable dogs who are in the wrong environment can get themselves into all kinds of trouble and we take our duty of care to them, our foster carers and the public very seriously.

If they have been surrendered due to ‘behavioural issues’ we need to train and rehabilitate them with the things that cause them distress and anxiety and they may need to stay a little longer until they are fully confident and have a better understanding of the world around them. We then have enough information to find a foster carer who understands their ongoing needs and is keen to continue their training plan, a vital part of the role of helping them on their journey to their perfect forever home.


Arrival at the kennels.

When they arrive at the kennels they are taken to their new temporary bedroom which is heated with an attached run accessible through a dog door in case they want to go out. They will have any belongings they’ve arrived with, a big comfy bed, some new toys and enrichment and high quality food to suit their needs.

Their kennel carers work closely with our training and rehoming teams to work with each dog and follow their individual training plans. This is a crucial time of getting to know them inside and out and helping them leave their fears at the door, this is where the first part of their transformation begins and life starts to become fun!

From day 1 they are under assessment and training plans are being constantly added to and improved. Our Canine Care Coordinator oversees their daily care and reports back to our training team with all information including reports from other volunteers for advice on how to progress their training the following week.

You can watch back on some of our videos to see some of the agility classes, sheepdog assessments, train rides, environmental training trips, walks on the beach, visits to local businesses and other things they get up to here, no two days are the same and we are constantly looking for new places to go and people for them to meet. If you have any dog training experience, an enclosed field, any farm animals, interesting things for them to see or friendly dogs to help them socialise, please get in touch!

When they are ready to find their foster home we check through our Lifeline List.

The Lifeline List

When we have an emergency dog needing foster care or a kennel dog who is ready to progress into the home environment, we look through the Lifeline List which is where we safely store all of the application forms we receive.
Applicants waiting to adopt, and people who have kindly offered temporary care and training for a dog in need will be contacted when a potential match comes along. All dogs are assessed prior to placement, even emergency cases will not be placed in your care without the training team’s consent and support throughout although some of these cases may be fast tracked and spend little or no time in kennels if it is safe and possible.

We will take a look at your compatibility with a dog you are interested in helping but we may find that there is an even better match for you who you may not have considered before. Ultimately we will be using the information you give to help make the decisions that are right for the dogs and yourself.

Each applicant will need to complete an application form (which can be found at the top of this page) . We encourage you to include as much detail as possible and attach any supporting documents like landlord permission and details of a vet who we can contact for a reference.

A volunteer will be in touch to arrange your home check, this can last around 90 minutes. It is absolutely nothing to worry about, the safety of your fences will be checked amongst other things and you will be able to have a more in depth chat about what sort of dog would enjoy your lifestyle.

Your home check report will be assessed by our rehoming team who will discuss potential suitable matches to give you more details about. If there are no suitable matches you will placed on our Lifeline list and we will notify you of potential matches who come in.

When we have all of the information we need about your family and lifestyle and have matched you to a dog who has completed their assessments we will begin the meet and greet stage. All of your family members, any resident dogs and regular visitors (especially dogs and children-refer to next section) must visit the dog at the kennels. This is done in stages, with resident dogs and immediate family first and others during subsequent visits. Before any foster placement can begin the dog must be fully comfortable with you, and you must all feel fully confident that you have the information you need to make an informed choice which means the number of visits will vary for each dog. The urgency of their case may also be a factor for example if they are unable to cope in a kennel environment or need one to one medical attention.

Some dogs come to us from family homes due to unforeseen circumstances and have been thoroughly assessed with children. Our behaviourist would still need to meet your whole family and have a session with you and your children to teach them about approaching and handling dogs to make sure they understand basic ground rules and that you are able to supervise everyone and keep them safe before your foster dog comes home. Dogs with no history are never placed with younger children.

You will have a discussion with one of our behaviourists and their carer and have the opportunity to ask any more questions that you may have thought of. If a dog ‘bounces’ to different homes it can have a devastating impact on their psychological wellbeing so you must be fully committed to an agreed amount of time or ongoing care before agreeing to move forward at this stage. If you do have a change in circumstance our doors are always open to them.

Your foster dog will be brought home to you by our Canine Care Coordinator and Behaviourist and your family will have a two hour talk to explain their personalised training plan again, giving you practical advice and demonstrations and written reminders too. When your dog has settled and you feel 100% happy we will leave them in your safe hands.

As a foster carer you will be in regular contact with our team and you must keep them informed of any changes you see, no matter how small so that we can stop any potential problems forming as quickly as possible. If unforeseen struggles do start to become apparent you will receive a call from a behaviourist who knows your dog personally for immediate advice and to book an urgent home visit. They then come to your home to reassess the dog and put a new personalised training plan in place which will help you to help them cope and overcome it. The aim is to turn their lives around permanently for the better, to help them to build a solid foundation for life in their forever homes. Some need more support than others, but you will always be able to rely on your rescue backup and the rewards are priceless. Regular communication is vital when a dog is in foster care, we want to support you every step of the way and need to ensure the welfare of our dogs so any concerning lack of communication may result in them being collected and brought back into our care.

Our in-house behaviourists are here to show you new training and bonding games and things you can do together at home and on walks, they will give you some practical tips and advice based on what your foster dog loves to do, you will never be alone or stuck for help from multiple volunteers who are qualified and available to assist you.

When we have multiple dogs in the same area we are able to arrange group socialisation walks and playdates which have proven to be very beneficial for dogs and carers alike. We have linked up with some fantastic local trainers who specialise in various areas, like flyball, agility, scentwork and hydrotherapy and kindly donate their time to the charity. Our dogs are very lucky to spend time with them and gain huge benefits from their skills and knowledge, every dog has a passion and as a foster carer it is your mission to help us find out what that is. Are they bonkers for their ball or food obsessed? Do they love to run or to learn? We channel their natural behaviours in a constructive way to help them live the lives they love, and develop a lovely bond with you too.

You will have been advised about any medical appointments they may need to attend which will have been booked at a vets close to your home at a time that is convenient for you, these costs are all covered by Spirit of the Dog. You and your foster dog will be covered under our Public Liability Insurance, please note that if advice is not followed or if the contract is broken this will be invalidated. All of our foster carers and adopters have rescue backup for life (RBU).

What is Rescue Backup? (RBU)

RBU covers many important topics which relate directly to the fostering and adoption of animals and the main purpose is to ensure the welfare of rescued animals and the safety of the public, if you find your perfect pooch through a different organisation we are thrilled that a life has been saved, however we urge you to make sure that you have reliable RBU and we will explain why below.

In the first instance, the rescue organisation must ensure that a qualified behaviourist has assessed the dog as much as is physically possible, that medical checks have been carried out by a trusted and qualified veterinarian, and that all preventative treatments have been given to make sure there is no threat of illness, disease, parasite infestation or injury which will cause any discomfort to the dog, and that any behavioural struggles are pinpointed early and supported in the right way.

The organisation has a duty to carry out very thorough home checks and vetting procedures for the safety of the dogs and the adopters/ foster carers and offer ongoing support for the rest of the dog’s life.

When a dog has  RBU they are safe for the rest of their life, should any adopter or foster carer become unable to care for their dog, the rescue must always welcome the dog back in and have a good foster network and/ or sufficient funds put aside for emergency boarding at all times incase of an emergency return.

The organisation should have public liability insurance to cover foster carers and those on home trial, and ideally offer you 4 weeks free insurance with an IVC from PetPlan to begin when your new addition is officially adopted.

Your dog will come home with their insurance, relevant paperwork, neuter or neutering agreement, an updated microchip, safe equipment, the food they are used to and they should have received their preventative treatments. It is recommended that any stray dog who arrives from the pound has a quarantine period of around 2 weeks to make sure they are not carrying an infection that could affect any resident pets or other animals.

The adoption process will have been going on in the background whilst you are learning more about them and giving us as much information as you can think of, their most promising potential family will progress to meet and greets which are.supervised by one of the rehoming team. Sometimes it is ideal for their carer to join us on the walks, particularly if they were nervous when they arrived but other times the dog is too focused on them to bond with their new adopter so you will be involved in a discussion as to whether or not it would be beneficial in their case.
After several meets, the quantity of which depends on the dog and their individual needs, their home trial will begin and you will have to say your goodbyes. We stay in touch with adopters and you will be able to see updates on our social media pages and continue to follow their progress knowing what an important role you had to play in their journey, the feeling of pride is incomparable.

Do you have a question that hasn’t been covered above?

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