Introducing a Foster Dog to Your Dog: A Step-by-Step Guide

Introducing a Foster Dog to Your Dog: A Step-by-Step Guide

Fostering a dog while already having a resident dog at home may seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. To ensure a smooth introduction, it’s crucial to plan ahead and understand what type of foster dog your resident dog can handle. Consider any quirks your dog may have with different sizes or genders of dogs. Knowing your dog’s preferences will help you find a foster dog that they can enjoy spending time with.

The 7 Steps to Introduce a Foster Dog to Your Dog

Step 1: Establish a Trust with your New Foster

Take some time to bond with your new foster dog. Allow them to sniff you and take a short walk together to get acquainted. Bringing treats along can help create a positive association.

Step 2: Co-exist on Neutral Ground

Once you feel comfortable with your foster dog and they trust you, have a helper bring your resident dog to a neutral outdoor space, like a sidewalk. This helps minimize the territorial instinct of your resident dog.

Step 3: Co-exist in Shared Space

Rather than allowing the dogs to rush towards each other, start walking with your foster dog while your helper walks your resident dog at a distance. Slowly, close the gap between the two by adjusting the walking pace.

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Step 4: Sniff Each Other Out

As the dogs get closer, allow them to take turns sniffing each other while walking. Pay close attention to their body language and reactions. If either dog seems overwhelmed or uncomfortable, increase the distance and repeat step 3.

Step 5: Create the New Pack

Once the dogs have successfully “met,” continue the walk together as a pack. Ideally, this should be a normal walk duration of about thirty minutes. This helps establish their bond and familiarity.

Step 6: Co-exist in Partitioned Home

When you return home, create separate spaces for each dog using a pen, baby gate, or crates. Give them time to decompress and adjust to their new environment while being aware of each other’s presence.

Step 7: Co-exist in Home

Once you feel comfortable, allow your foster dog and resident dog to share the same space. Keep their leashes on or use slip leads for added safety and control. This allows you to redirect any unwanted behavior if necessary.


Remember, if any tension arises between the dogs, give them space and take the process slower. Never leave two dogs unattended without supervision.

To learn more about fostering dogs, check out the rest of our series:

  • How to Become a Foster Dog Parent
  • Advice for a First-Time Dog Foster
  • Tips for Bringing Home a Foster Dog
  • What to Expect the First Day with Your Foster Dog?
  • How to Make Crate Training a Foster Much Easier
  • 5 Tips for Feeding a Foster Dog
  • Obedience Training a Foster
  • Fostering Puppies Tips: 5 Things You Should Do
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And remember, if you’re fostering puppies, puppy tax is mandatory in the form of cute photos and videos. Consider fostering a mother dog and her puppies for an extra heartwarming experience.

Jess, our expert foster parent, was recently a guest on Bark Building’s Fostering & Adoption 101 Virtual Chat, which you can now watch on YouTube.

To gain further insight into Jess’s fostering experience, don’t miss our exclusive interview with her.

Now armed with this step-by-step guide, you’re ready to introduce a foster dog to your four-legged family member! Happy fostering!

Note: Images and videos courtesy of the original article.