Foster / Volunteer

Our fosters assist with training house manners, basic obedience and public socialization. The average time commitment is nine months to a year; however, the time is dictated by the age of the dog. We place all assistance dogs when they are approximately two years of age. The minimum foster time commitment is three to four months. After the dog completes our foster program, the dog then moves to final advanced training for four to eight months.

Are you thinking about becoming a foster? Please consider the following questions before making this decision:

  • Do you have the time (15 to 30 minutes) to train your dog every day?
  • Are you willing to take the dog out on regular public outings?
  • Do you have a safe area to exercise your trainee?
  • Is everyone in your household supportive of this project?
  • Are you ready to open your heart and your home to an Assistance Dogs dog?

If you answered “yes” to all of the above questions, please read on for further information on becoming a foster.

Qualifications of a foster

  • Must love dogs!
  • You must live within 60 miles of our Education and Training Facility in Sylvania, Ohio.
  • You must have the time to train your dog daily.
  • No more than two dogs in the household. Dogs must be over 1 year of age and be well socialized with other dogs.
  • You must be willing to take your trainee on public outings a minimum of three times weekly.
  • You need to be able to commit to participating in at least two of Assistance Dogs’ organized community events each year while you are fostering.
  • You must attend a regular foster class for your dog’s level. If you are unable to attend a class, you must schedule a private training session with one of our trainers.
  • All pets must be up to date on vaccinations and on parasite control.
  • You need to be able to follow the Assistance Dogs foster training methods.

No previous dog training experience is required. We provide educational materials as well as “hands on” training to educate you on all aspects of fostering a service dog.

Financial Responsibilities

You will be responsible for small miscellaneous expenses such as toys, bones, treats and grooming supplies. Fosters are responsible for providing transportation to the veterinarian for boosters, immunizations, routine and emergency care. Assistance Dogs assumes responsibility for any vet bills during the foster period at one of our program veterinarians at Reynolds Road Animal Hospital or Perrysburg Animal Care. You will receive the necessary starter supplies when you pick up your trainee.

Foster Classes

Part of your responsibilities as a foster is attending a regular foster class at our Education and Training Center located in Sylvania, Ohio. These classes provide the information our fosters need to complete the training goals for their dogs. We have four different classes: Puppy, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. A class is chosen for each dog depending on age and training skill level. Each dog progresses from level to level depending on when goals are completed. During each class an evaluation is done to give fosters goals of what needs improvement and what is going well.

Becoming a Foster

To apply to become an Assistance Dogs foster click here for the Foster/Sitter Application. Once the completed application is submitted, an Assistance Dogs staff member will contact you to set up an in-home interview. During the interview, we will review the responsibilities of a foster and answer any questions you may have. Once you are approved as a foster, you are placed on our waiting list until we have the right dog for your home. The wait could be a couple of days to a couple of months. When we have a dog that we think would be the right match for your home, we will set up a time for you to meet the dog and begin the fostering process.

Interested in becoming a foster? Click here

Foster Family

Each dog has been through a 2-to-4 week evaluation at our Education and Training Center. During this time, general suitability for our program will be determined. Our staff will spend some time evaluating the trainability of each dog by introducing it to some basic obedience commands. During his foster home training he will learn basic obedience, house manners, experience public situation exposure and socialization. Some volunteers also teach their trainees some of the advanced service dog functions under the supervision of an Assistance Dogs staff trainer. After the Foster Home Curriculum has been successfully completed, the dog returns to the Assistance Dogs' facility to complete its training.

Assistance Dogs spays and neuters all dogs at the age of 1 year unless the dog has been identified as a candidate for our breeding program.

You will be responsible for small miscellaneous expenses such as toys, treats, and grooming supplies. Assistance Dogs provides all dog food, preventative medicine, and assumes responsibility for any vet bills during the foster period.

Fill out the Foster Application. After we receive your completed application, one of our staff will schedule an interview with you at your home. If the foster home arrangements are agreeable to all concerned, you will be placed on our foster list and notified when an appropriate dog is available.

Meet with an Assistance Dogs trainer individually or in class setting on a regular basis.
Socialize your dog in a variety of public places.
Keep a weekly/daily journal of your dog’s progress, problems, etc.
Train your dog daily in accordance with the Assistance Dogs techniques and philosophies as indicated in the Foster Home Manual.
Provide transportation to the vet, when the need arises.
Provide a safe, clean, and loving environment for your dog.
Provide a secure, confined area for your dog to exercise and relieve himself.

Assistance Dogs primarily utilizes Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and crosses thereof. We occasionally train Standard Poodles as well.

Dogs remain with fosters for the first year and a half of their lives, but this time is not always spent with a single foster. Therefore, the length of time a dog stays with you can vary. You will need to spend structured time training with your dog for about 15 minutes a day. Your dog should be taken in public areas three times a week. In addition, you are required to meet with an Assistance Dogs trainer on a regular basis to discuss your dog’s progress and receive instruction on our training methods.

Purchase items to support our Assistance Dogs Program Wish List