Will My Foster Dog Think I Abandoned Him?

Most people know that the bond between humans and dogs can be very strong. Dogs are known to be loyal to and protective of their owners, and many people consider their pooches to be members of the family. There are even stories of dogs saving their owners’ lives; it is clear that these animals have a special bond with humans.

We do our best to give our pet dogs all the love we can, but sometimes we might not be able to provide everything they need, at least not long term. Fostering a dog who needs extra work, because your local shelter is full or because he’s a tiny puppy who was taken from his mom too soon is a kind and noble thing to do for our best friends.

Unfortunately, dogs can’t talk or understand the deep conversations we want (and sometimes do!) have with them. Do dogs understand when we need to do something temporarily painful for their own good? It can be hard to tell.

So, what happens when you give your foster dog to his forever home? Will my foster dog think I abandoned him? Odds are your dog will spend some time being sad as he adjusts to his new life. Your foster dog likely never will think you abandoned him. And definitely won’t think you did after he settles into his new home and life.

Of course, settling in may take some time. There are steps you can take while fostering that will make things easier on both of you. Let’s start at the beginning to understand foster dogs’ feelings and work through ways to make the process rewarding with hopefully little to no sadness.

Where Do Foster Dogs Come From?

Sadly there isn’t one source of unwanted dogs that end up as foster dogs. And while each place of origin is unique, as foster parents, we hope the end result is always good. As you’ll see, most of the dogs involved will have truly been abandoned and possibly not even loved before they came to you as foster dogs.

Puppy Mills

You’ve likely heard the term puppy mill before. If you don’t know how nasty and gruesome they can be, I’ll spare you the details. The gist is that they are commercial breeding facilities that exist for one reason only: to make money by selling puppies.

The conditions at puppy mills are deplorable, and the dogs live in tiny wire cages with only the bare basics to survive provided. The female dogs are bred over and over again until they can no longer produce puppies, and then they are euthanized or abandoned.

They aren’t pleasant facilities to think about and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could treat an animal so badly.

Abandoned By Their Families

Sometimes a person dies, needs to move to where dogs aren’t welcome, or loses a job and is forced to downsize to a home that is inappropriate for dogs. Of course, there are other, less necessary reasons people abandon their pets.

Whether these dogs are responsibly left somewhere like the local humane society or abandoned out in the boonies, they all need forever homes. And sometimes a foster is needed before that forever home is found.

Rescued From the Street

These are the dogs that have been living on their own or with other strays, fending for themselves. Eventually, like their abandoned cousins they will likely end up at a local humane society or rescue shelter. Other times they are rescued by a kind soul who fosters them until a forever home is found.

Rescue Shelters

Because many of the abandoned dogs and strays we mentioned before often end up in rescue shelters it is probably the most common source of dogs in need of foster parents. Most of these places are set up to help as many dogs as they can, but they often lack the resources to do so. Sometimes they even end up with puppies that were weaned too soon and need to be fostered Which can be especially fun!

No matter the reason a shelter needs help, foster parents play a huge role, and for at least one special dog, they save the day!

Do Foster Dogs Get Attached To You?

Any dog is capable of becoming attached to its human owner. Fortunately, foster situations are usually short-term enough that, while your foster buddy may grow really fond of you, he likely won’t become so attached as to be emotionally dependent on you.

Of course, as a doggy foster parent you only want what is best for your new (if temporary) best friend. There are steps you can take to make things easier on you and more importantly your foster buddy when it’s time to separate.

Try Not To Let Your Foster Dog Get Too Comfortable Or Attached

This does NOT mean to be abusive or less than kind to your foster dog in any way at all. Rather you want your foster dog to know he’s surrounded by friends and love but maybe hasn’t quite found his pack yet.

Different Sleeping Arrangements

One way many foster parents try to create a little separation is to have their foster pooch sleep in a different room. This way your furry friend can get used to not spending every second you’re home with you and should help them not feel too attached. If you have a small home this might not be feasible. So keep reading for more ideas.

The Foster Stay Shouldn’t Last Too Long

The longer your foster doggo stays with you, the more attached he will become. That’s just natural. If you’re able, try not to keep your foster dog for more than a month or two.

When you take in a foster dog, usually who or where ever you are fostering for is trying to make arrangements to get the dog back and/or find his forever home. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned.

Double check to make sure you’re not breaking any rules and then put in some work trying to find your foster pup a permanent place to live.

Who knows, maybe a close friend or family member will become your dog’s forever parents! How cool would that be!?

Work On Behavior Problems

If your foster dog was abandoned because of behavior problems, work with him. Throughout your training, your dog might appreciate you more during some moments. Especially if you train with treats! However, when you’re breaking your foster pooch of an ingrained habit he will also not be a big fan of yours.

By acting like your dog’s teacher rather than his parent, your dog won’t be as comfortable as he will be as a spoiled member of a pack.

Will My Foster Dog Miss Me?

The other worry some people have is the opposite of their foster buddy feeling abandoned but rather their foster dog not even missing them. Or maybe you know your foster dog wasn’t with you long enough to feel abandoned but you still worry that your foster dog is still sad.

This is a valid concern, but follow the ways I went over to keep your foster dog from getting too attached and follow the steps below to make the transition easier on both the dog and you. Hopefully, you are able to keep your stay short, this will hopefully leave your dog more confused than sad about changing homes yet again.

The new owners should make your foster buddy’s transition as smooth and easy as possible. They’ll make him feel extra loved and wanted and before long he’ll feel like he found his pack.

Dogs are good at adapting to new circumstances and don’t spend a lot of (if any time) dwelling on the past.

Saying Goodbye To Your Foster Dog

Congratulations! You’ve done it! You helped your foster dog learn that not all humans are cruel, you broke him of his bad habits, and best of all, you found your sweet boy a place to live forever. Now comes the tough part. You and your sweet foster pup need to part ways. Here are some tips to make the transition easier for both you and your dog.

Foster A Dog That Doesn’t Work For You

If you know it will be difficult to say goodbye to your foster dog, find one that doesn’t work for you and your situation. Foster a dog that you know will grow too big for your home, or that in some other way won’t work in the long run.

By fostering a dog that doesn’t work long-term for you, you’ll be more likely to stay objective about the situation and not get too attached.

Get Involved In The Adoption Process

If you want, get involved in the adoption process. This way you can help pick the perfect family for your furry friend. Does your dog need a big yard? Someone who likes to go for hikes? By helping find the right family for your dog you’ll have an easier time saying goodbye knowing he’s at the right home.

Ask For Follow-ups

I don’t think it is too much to ask of your foster dog’s new owners for follow-up photos of your pooch. With smartphones, text messages, and emails, as long as you are on good terms with the person or family who took your foster dog in, it really shouldn’t be hard for them to do for you.

Being allowed to visit your foster dog is a different story though. This could go either way.

On one hand, it would be great to be able to see your pup and check in on him. On the other hand, seeing him in his new home could make saying goodbye a lot harder; and not just for you.

If it is taking a while for your foster dog to settle in, seeing you could make it take longer, create behavioral problems and confuse your foster dog.

Some foster parents talk of dog park play dates. While I’ve never done this, I could see this being an excellent way for you and your forever dogs to get to spend some quality time with your lovable, temporary housemate.

Write A Letter

Maybe you’ll never get a chance to meet your foster dog’s forever family. In that case, you can write a letter.

In the letter, you could include things like your dog’s favorite treats, what type of personality he has, what kinds of games and toys he likes, whether he’s good with kids, and any other information you think the family should know.

It’s a good way to send your foster dog off knowing you did everything possible for him. Which is indeed a good feeling!


Okay, this idea may seem counter to the mood, but remember, you did something amazing. You took in a dog that needed help, showed him what love is, and found him a great home.

You should celebrate! Do it right away or wait until you’re feeling better. Either way, do something to commemorate the experience.

Go out to dinner, or buy yourself a little something special or have a guys/girls night and swap good dog stories.

You Bettered The World

Maybe you’re not one to throw yourself a party or even have a sip of your bourbon to congratulate yourself. If not, that’s okay, but always remember, even in your sadness that you did something great.

You made the world a better place. Especially for that lucky dog who is able to call you his foster parent. Even if there were some hard times, the alternative options he had likely weren’t very good.

Summary: Do Foster Dogs Feel Abandoned?

One way to help make the adjustment period less difficult for both you and your foster dog is to keep in mind where they came from. Orphaned puppies, puppy mills, families that have had to give up their pet dogs, and dogs that have been living on the streets all have one thing in common: They’ve all been abandoned and need your help in one way or another.

It’s important to remember that most of these dogs haven’t been loved and cared for before they came into your home. So being a foster parent can be a very rewarding experience for both of you. By providing a loving home until they find their forever family, you are giving these dogs a chance at a new life – something they likely never would have had otherwise.

While it’s only natural for you to become attached to your foster dog, it’s important to try not to let them get too attached. Different sleeping arrangements, working on behavior problems, and keeping the foster stay relatively short can help with this. At the end of the day, you want what’s best for your foster dog, and by taking these steps you can make sure that they have the best chance at finding their forever home.

So, while it’s totally normal to feel sad when your foster dog leaves, remember that you did an amazing thing and helped make the world a better place – both for your foster dog and for their new family. Congratulate yourself, have a girls/guys night, or do something special to commemorate the experience. Most importantly, don’t forget to keep helping other dogs in need!

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