How to Know Your Foster Dog is "The One"

Sometimes they can steal your hear, but are they the right fit?

Fostering dogs can be difficult at times. You think you’ve met the right one, only to have it adopted to another family. You are heartbroken. Dogs always pull on our heart strings. That being said, we need to be rational and realistic when we make a decision to adopt a dog. This lucky dog will likely be spending the next 10-15 years with us (if we are fortunate). Foster Dog.

Like human partners, dogs and humans both have the best lives together when they are the best match for each other. This means personality, physical needs, and social needs and abilities.  Sometimes, just because you love a dog, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right dog for you, your lifestyle or family.
I’ll give you an example:

We fostered a dog named Nashie for 7 months. That's a long time for a foster. Was it hard to let him go? Of course it was! I cried like a baby in the car on the way home.

My partner and I had to think about our lifestyle and our needs.

We felt (very unfortunately) Nashie’s abilities and needs didn’t fit well with our needs and lifestyle. Firstly, we already have two 50lb dogs in a one bedroom apartment. Not that little Nashie (an 11lb chihuahua) didn’t squeeze in just fine. Adding a third dog to our already 2 senior dog pack meant there would be no more room left for future fosters like Nash that need help to be rehabilitated. Adding a third dog would also inevitably add to the costs, which will be going up for us already, as senior dogs begin to require more vet visits for various reasons as they age.

While Nashie could easily keep up with our active lifestyle, it was a struggle through the winter months, when no matter how many layers we put on him, he would be cold and miserable. Leaving him at home sucked. It made him feel left out, and we also wished he could come with us. Every time we left him at home, we felt badly, but really couldn’t do a whole lot about it. It’s hard when your dog is not capable of doing the activities you like to do, with you.

Lastly, as a dog trainer, I use my dogs to help me rehabilitate other dogs, who are often dog aggressive. Using Nash could be extremely dangerous, as even a muzzle punch from a 50lb dog could break bones and cause serious injury. If Nash had been even 10lbs heavier, we would have probably decided to adopt him. He would have managed winter much better, and I could use him for more training without being afraid of him getting seriously injured. 

Isn’t the whole point of having a dog, to have a companion to do things with?

I think it is, so when trying to decide if your foster dog is right for you, think about the activities you like to do. Would your foster dog be able to do some of these things with you? For example if you are a very social person who loves having guests over for parties and gatherings; If you have a foster dog with stranger danger, how fair would it be to adopt that dog, who gets stressed every time people come into your home? 

Yes, with a lot of work, dogs with stranger danger can eventually learn to tolerate guests, but it takes a lot of time and effort to work on it. Are you prepared to slow down your larger gatherings to just one or two friends until your dog has finally gotten desensitized to that? Then begin adding only one more person for every successful gathering you have? It would take 6 months to a year with a dedicated training regimen and an experienced trainer to get your dog to be able to fully relax in these situations. 

One of the most common mistakes people make when getting a dog is missmatching energy levels.

This often happens because they like the look of the dog, but do not realize what the dogs exercise needs are. Huskies are probably the most commonly purchased dogs for their looks, because they’re cute or majestic looking. Their exercise needs are often not considered.

Most Huskies require 3-4 hours of running a day. Many husky owners neglect this need, and so the dog becomes destructive and begins to have behavioural issues. This is because they are so pent up and frustrated from the lack of exercise. This isn’t just unfortunate for the dog, but it causes stress for the human as well. All of this resulting in a strained relationship between dog and owner. 

Make a list of what your dream dog would be like. Foster Dog

If you want what’s best for your foster dog, and your not sure if they are your right match, put together a list of traits as well as your activities and lifestyle that your dream dog would fit into. You can use the list below :

      1. What are some activities you enjoy that you would like your dog to do with you? 
  • Ex: Jogging, Walking on a busy city street to get coffee
  • Hiking in the forest or canoeing
  • Having friends over for dinner parties
  • Traveling (is the dog small enough to travel in the airplane cabin?) Etc.

2. How active are you? How many hours can you (or do you want to) dedicate to your dogs daily exercise without being too tired or resentful towards your dog?

3. Your ideal dog would be: Social, Quiet, Lazy, Playful, Etc.

When you are done with the list, go through it and see how many boxes your foster dog checks off. 

For the boxes your foster dog does not check off, some things are unchangeable such as energy level and size. These things need to be very carefully considered. For behavioural issues, or abilities in training, you can consult a reputable trainer who deals with behaviour modification. They can tell you how much work, and how realistic it would be to see if this dog could eventually do those things. Dogs can be rehabilitated, the question is; 

a. Can you find the right trainer to help you?

b. Are you willing to put in the work?

c. Can you afford the training that will be required?

Training can go a long way, but its a lot of work.


It is always possible to train a dog out of bad behaviours or teach them to be more sociable. It often takes A LOT of time and work.

Sometimes we love them so much! But sometimes, to love them is to let them go, and allow the right family to come along.

Having the right match for both of you is what makes your relationship with that dog so much stronger. Both of your lives are better because you have each other.

Still Considering Adopting Your Foster?

Seriously consider doing a session with a professional trainer sooner rather than later. Many reputable rescues require this to be a part of the adoption process. If it isn’t, consider doing it anyway, as a session with a trainer could really help set you and your dog up for success.

I do in person and online sessions that specifically cater towards new rescues and setting you up for success in your relationship with your dog. Online sessions for this purpose are just as effective because it has a lot to do with explaining communication, rules and boundaries that will help your understand your dog better.