Resources & Tips

Thank you for fostering! You just saved a life.

Fostering is not easy, but it can be extremely rewarding. Some animals are pretty well trained and mellow almost right away while others need basic training and a chance to chill out before you can see what wonderful pets they truly are. Thanks to you, these individuals are getting the chance they deserve to be the good, happy, loving pets they were born to be.

Our foster parents need to understand that the dogs and cats we rescue have usually been through a lot and need time to decompress — often they come to us straight from a very stressful shelter environment where they were poked and prodded… before that they may have been in neglectful homes or turned out on the street when their former owners no longer wanted them. Understandably, our rescue animals are sometimes shaken up, afraid, or stressed out when they arrive. It’s up to us to give them what they need so they can grow and shine. That’s where YOU come in. A few resources to help ease the transition:

Give your foster pet a chance to decompress

It can take at least three days for an animal to decompress and get used to you, your home, and your schedule. During this transition period, your foster pet may not be himself — dogs may be anxious, chew stuff up, bark at noises in the hall, etc. while cats may hide or hiss. This can be a pain in the butt, but it’s normal! And this challenging behavior often clears up when your foster pet begins to feel comfortable and safe.

No hugging

Give your foster pet plenty of physical space as she starts to learn to trust you. It’s tempting to want to cozy up quick, but that can backfire and scare your new pet. Think about it like dating. Too much too soon is freaky. Let your new foster pet move at her own pace and be the one to come to you first for physical contact. Especially if you have children in the house, it’s extremely important to make sure they know not to follow, hug, or kiss the new pet or to pull its tail. Even very gentle animals can get freaked out when they feel threatened and accidentally hurt someone.

Be understanding of accidents

Your foster dog may not be housebroken. Many of our dogs have been rescued from neglectful homes where they were not properly trained or cared for. Even most housebroken dogs have accidents in the beginning during stressful transition periods and before they’ve gotten the swing of the new routine. Give your foster dog time to adjust and a chance to learn. Cats usually have no trouble once you show them where the litter box is.

Get your foster dog plenty of exercise

It makes all the difference! As long as your foster dog is healthy, the more exercise he gets, the better behaved he will be. A well exercised dog is more relaxed. Dogs over a year old can go for long walks and jogs. Younger dogs can go for lengthy walks and play games like fetch.

Choose safe chew toys

For very young puppies, we recommend bully sticks. For older puppies and dogs, try bully sticks or Kongs. We generally recommend avoiding rawhide until you know your foster dog’s chewing style as dogs can get upset stomachs if they swallow large pieces of rawhide.

Don’t freak out about diarrhea

It’s normal for your foster dog or cat to have loose or runny stool at first — this often happens during a stressful transition or a diet change. Feed your foster dog plain white rice with a little warm chicken broth and a tablespoon of organic canned pumpkin mixed in and small pieces of boiled chicken breast with no fat until his stool firms up. For cats, try a limited ingredient diet and give it 10 to 14 days. Email your foster coordinator if you have questions or concerns.

Don’t bathe your foster dog right away

It may be tempting to toss that pup in the tub, but it’s really important that you not bathe your foster dog for at least three days unless otherwise instructed by a Social Tees rep. Bathing a dog that is brand new to your home can be a traumatic experience, which can start your relationship off on the wrong foot and depress the dog’s immune system and make him sick. If your dog is really in need of a cleanup, you can gently trim off junky bits of fur when the dog is comfortable and/or use grooming wipes at first.

Talk to a trainer

We work with a few talented and compassionate professional trainers who do pro bono consultations for our foster parents. Reach out to your foster coordinator if you’d like us to hook you up.


Email pics and a description of your foster animal to so we can share on social media! You can also get more exposure for your foster pets by connecting with prominent rescue focused social media profiles — tag @shelterpetproject, @rescuepetsofinstagram, or @rescuedogsofinstagram in photos you share, for example. Check out Foster Dogs NYC if you’re fostering a pooch — you can submit info and pics on your foster dog to help get more exposure, and they have great tips for first time foster parents.