What Makes a Dog Easy to Foster?

Ginny the foster dog beagle loves to chew bones.

Ginny loves her some Nylabone.

Despite my freaking out initial misgivings about her medical needs, Ginny has been an easy foster dog. I could see people lining up to adopt her. She’s

  • cute
  • petite
  • easy to walk
  • not a big barker
  • house trained
  • plays well with other dogs
  • cuddly

Oh, and did I mention she’s cute?

Ginny the foster dog beagle is adorable.

She’s almost small enough to fit into a boot herself.

What makes some dogs easy to foster while other dogs create more challenges? Is it their innate personality? Breed mix? Age? Energy level? Training?

Any of those factors could make a dog easy or hard to foster. But with the dogs I’ve fostered, socialization is the key.

How much was the dog exposed to people, noises, and places when they were young? Dogs who don’t have a range of safe experiences when they are puppies become fearful, like our former foster dog, Cherie.

Our current dog, Ginny, was well socialized.

Ginny the foster beagle walks with her nose to the ground.

Doing the beagle walk – nose to the ground.

I know nothing about her previous family. But even if they don’t know the term “socialization,” they may have done it just by having a lively household with lots of people coming and going. And since Ginny was hit by a car, twice, I know she’s spent time outdoors even if it didn’t end so well for her.

Because Ginny easily accepts new people, other dogs, household noises, and noisy cars and trucks, she’ll find it easy to fit into her new home. As easy as we’ve had her fit into ours.

A dog who has been easy to foster can only be even easier to adopt. Because her new family won’t have to prepare to say goodbye.

If reading about Ginny has made you love her as much as we do, visit the SPCA of Tompkins County in New York to learn more about adopting her.

Your Turn: Whether you’ve fostered or not, what do you think makes for an “easy” dog?


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  1. We’ve fostered several dogs over the years and I have to agree with you – socialization is key. I see it even in our adoptees Becca, Jack & Maggie. Becca – well socialized as a service dog, Jack & Maggie, not socialized at all and it absolutely reflects in their behavior. Our hardest foster was a big yellow Lab, Mako. He spent his life in a small pen in his backyard with his brother – his bossy older brother. He was a real challenge for us because he did not know how to behave in a family situation with two other friendly dogs. And I’ll be honest, we were ill-prepared to deal with his growing aggression towards them and us. I know if he had been socialized or at least spent some time with a family, it would have been different for him. We ended up having to return him to the rescue organization for rehoming.

  2. We have always been very lucky – probably because we always fostered for the Golden Retriever rescue!! Taking care of my brother’s fearful dog Saydee was a challenge for us – we had no idea how to deal with her – she is so much happier at home with my brother NOT going for daily walks and being social – totally different than what we are used to.

    Ginny is adorable! I hope she finds her forever home soon 🙂

  3. I think sometimes it’s a combination of your personality and theirs and I also think that some dogs are just born easy to work with. Greyhounds as a breed are a good example of this because while most of them are socialized well with other people and Greyhounds, they are often not exposed to other things that most of us take for granted. When they retire most of them have never encountered stairs, other breeds of dogs or other animals. Some of them accept these changes and new experiences easily while others can be very fearful. You can even have this difference in dogs born in the same litter with the same experiences. Our second Greyhound was almost like dealing with someone with autism. He would have one phobia, we’d work through it and then he’d decide to fear something else. He was always a work in progress, but I learned a lot of patience and a lot of coping skills to deal with other dogs from him. I think there are some things that are genetic factors and others that come from environment.

  4. I totally agree. Socialization makes it so much easier because the dog is usually open to new experiences. We have a foster, Molly, right now who is as friendly as a dog can possibly be, but… she has no social experience. At all. We’re pretty sure she was never allowed inside her home, so every single thing is new. But the little angel seems open to learning and excited to experience new things, so maybe it’s personality plus socialization. Either way, Ginny and Molly will make amazing pets for the right family!

  5. Agreed! Ginny is so darn cute, someone will snatch her up.

  6. I would love to foster a dog and have tried with NYC shelters. The Humane Society in NYC doesn’t foster and another one doesn’t need more foster parents.

  7. Ginny is darling! I love the stripe down her back!
    I have had two foster dogs, a Chihuahua and a Norwegian Elkhound. Both were very well socialized and friendly to dogs and people and left my cat alone, although the Elkhound was extremely destructive. I learned so much from each one! Vlad the Chi taught me how awesome small dogs can be – before him I had no interest in anything under thirty pounds! Bjorn taught me the benefits of crate training, since it saved our house!

    This was very timely since I am starting to consider whether it’s time to invite another foster into my home, as Ruby so loves playing with other dogs but situations like daycare and the dog park are too overwhelming for her. I have a soft spot for Northern breeds so am thinking I might foster for the American Eskimo rescue in the future.