Fostering a Dog for Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence!
ADAI’s Foster Family program is an integral part of our organization and training program. The life of a service or therapy dog begins in a loving home of one our volunteers. Our volunteer fosters are highly dedicated persons and families who welcome dogs-in-training into their homes. They help us by training one of our dogs 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 dogs when they are approximately two years of age, so they are maintained in the foster home environment until the dogs are approximately 20 to 22 months old. The minimum foster time commitment is three to four months. The dog moves to final advanced training at our Education and Training Center for three months of additional training after he completes the foster program.
Are you thinking about becoming a foster parent? 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 desire to help an unwanted dog and disabled person?
- Do you have a safe area to exercise your trainee?
- Does everyone in your household want to participate in this project?
- Are you able to follow the ADAI training curriculum?
- Are you ready to open your heart and your home to an ADAI dog?
If you answered “yes” to all of the above questions, please read on for further information on becoming a foster parent or read our Foster FAQs.
Qualifications of a Foster
- You must live within 75 miles of our Education and Training Facility in Sylvania, Ohio.
- You should have a strong desire to help an unwanted dog and a disabled person.
- Everyone in your household should be willing to take part in the fostering.
- You must have a safe area to exercise your foster dog.
- You must have the time to train your dog daily.
- 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 ADAI’s organized community events each year while you are fostering.
- You must attend a monthly 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.
- You need to be able to follow the ADAI foster family curriculum.
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.
Foster Family Fundamentals
Our foster families provide the strong foundation necessary to build in their dogs the understanding of service dog skills. In addition to the teaching of these skills, foster families provide basic obedience, house manners and public socialization with other animals and people. Their responsibilities include:
- Spending at least 15-30 minutes a day in structured training with your dog.
- Taking your dog out to public places at least 3 times per week.
- Meeting monthly with an ADAI trainer through foster classes or private training sessions.
- Keeping a weekly/daily journal of your dog’s progress in training.
- Training your dog in accordance with ADAI techniques and philosophies.
- Providing transportation to the vet, as needed.
- Providing a safe, clean, loving environment for your dog.
You will be responsible for small miscellaneous expenses such as toys, bones, treats and grooming supplies. Your dog’s veterinary needs will be taken care of before you receive the dog, however you are responsible for providing transportation to the veterinarian for boosters, immunizations, routine and emergency care. Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence assumes responsibility for any vet bills during the foster period at one of our program veterinarians at West Toledo Animal Hospital or Perrysburg Animal Care. You will receive the following supplies when you pick up your trainee.
- 6ft. nylon leash and collar with ID tag.
- Metal dog bowls
- Gentle leader or prong collar
- 40lb. bag of dog food
- Ear cleaner
- Teeth cleaner
- Heartworm medication
- Flea and Tick preventative (Frontline)
- Wire Crate
- Clicker training book with clicker
- Foster Family Manual
- Training Log book
Part of your responsibilities as a foster parent is attending a monthly foster class at our Education and Training Center located in Sylvania, Ohio. These classes provide the information our foster parents need to complete the training goals for their dog. We have four different classes: Puppy, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. A class is chosen for each dog depending on their age and training skill level. Each dog progresses from level to level depending on when the goals from their particular class are completed. During each class an evaluation is done to give fosters goals of what needs improvement and what is going well.
"I could never raise a dog and give it up!"
All of our foster families have this thought when they are deciding whether they want to become involved in our program. It is not an easy decision, but our experienced fosters tell us it makes all the difference when they get to meet and talk with the consumer their dog has been trained for. We invite all fosters, donors and breeders to our graduation ceremony. The foster will see firsthand the impact of all of their hard work and training when a consumer receives their assistance dog. Our consumers are very appreciative and many develop a close relationship with their dog’s foster. Many exchange pictures and stories about their experiences with the dog. ADAI has been very fortunate that once most fosters turn in their first dog, they ask, “When will our next puppy be ready?” The experience and knowledge of these volunteers are invaluable to our organization.
Becoming a Foster
To apply to become an ADAI foster click here for the Foster Application. Once the completed application is submitted, an ADAI staff member will contact you to set up an in-home interview. During the interview we will review the responsibilities of a foster parent and answer any questions you may have. Once you are approved as a foster family, you are placed on our waiting list until we have the right dog for your home. The wait could be a couple of weeks 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.