Adult Dog Fostering Program–ND, SD and MN only

NOTE:  We can only place foster dogs within a 200 mile radius of our facility.

This program is similar to the Puppy Partners Program, but it is usually a short term foster arrangement lasting 1- 3 months. As our service dogs are nearing their placement dates, we look for homes that will foster them and prepare them for the day-to-day routine of living in the “real world”.  The service dog will go to work or school with you each day and you will provide additional public access opportunities, so as to prepare them for life away from our campus with their new service human.  Adult Dog foster families are also required to keep up the daily obedience training and practice specialized training scenarios.  Our dogs are fully trained/crossed-trained, have passed Canine Good Citizenship, and have completed at least six months of specialized training in the following areas:

• Mobility Assistance
• Seizure Response
• Diabetic Alert
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


If you are interested in becoming an Adult Dog Fosterer, please read our frequently asked questions below and complete the Adult Dog Foster Application. If you need further information prior to submitting an application, please contact our Training Department at (701) 685-5005.


How do I become a Volunteer Fosterer?

Once we receive your completed application, we will schedule an interview in your home. This interview gives you a chance to ask further questions about our foster care and training program and gives us the opportunity to meet you personally. You must be able to pass the Volunteer Handler and Public Access test before a dog can go into your care.


What type of training do you provide?

SDA offers “Volunteer Handler and Public Access” training, where you will learn how a service dog should behave in public and the expectations of a handler in public. You will learn and practice with a service dog, Basic 5 commands, motivation, corrective and manner commands. You will be taught about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the North Dakota and Minnesota statutes on service dogs. You will participate in a specialized public access test with a service dog, with the training concluding with a luncheon outing. Once you have passed the training and public access test, you will receive an ID that you must carry with you whenever you have the dog in public.


How old are dogs when they are placed in volunteer foster homes?

Dogs are placed in foster homes between 14 – 20 months of age. We believe strongly that for successful client placements to occur, our dogs need to be comfortable with home life.


How long do I have the dog?

Depending on the dog’s transition, abilities and public access exposure, they are usually with a foster family for 1-3 months. We also offer weekend fostering.


What breeds are used for potential service dogs?

SDA primarily uses Labs, Lab mixes and Golden Retrievers, as these breeds are smart, loyal and very patient.


Is the entire family involved?

Yes. Considering the investment of emotion, time, and energy in fostering a service dog, the entire family needs to be in favor of taking on this commitment. All family members may participate in the training process, however, one family member will be designated as the primary handler.


Can we have other animals?

We are in favor of foster homes having other pets, as this allows our service dogs to have exposure to other animals. Your pet(s) must accept the service dog in your home, however, and if you have a pet that is dog-aggressive we will not be able to place a dog with you.  If your pet(s) is not experienced around other dogs or you aren’t sure how your other animals will react, we would be happy to set up an appointment with you for temperament testing.


Are the dogs allowed in public places like other service dogs?

Each dog in our program receives a “Service Dog in Training” vest which enables volunteer fosterers to expose the service dog to a variety of public environments and situations.  The dog must always be vested in public and the handler must always carry their ID card when they have the dog in public.


Who takes care of the dog if I go out of town?

A volunteer or SDA staff member will take care of your foster dog while you are on vacation.


Will I get to meet the individual who receives the dog I train?

Yes, you will have the opportunity to meet the individual who receives the dog you foster. Approved applicants complete three weeks of team training at our campus with their service dog, followed by a graduation ceremony.  You will be invited to attend the graduation and celebrate the milestone of your foster dog and their human graduating as a service dog team.

What equipment, supplies or services does Service Dogs for America provide? What equipment, supplies or service does the Volunteer Foster home provide?
  • training vest w/badge
  • Veterinary care, and heart worm medication
  • Volunteer Foster training manual covering reference, grooming, medical and training topics
  • Public Access outings
  • Volunteer Fosterer starter kit
  • SDA approved dog food
  • Monthly conference call with the SDA manager and training staff
  • Access to SDA manager and training staff for support
  • Lots of love and snuggling
  • Lots of daily exercise – long walks and/or runs
  • Car rides
  • Bus rides
  • Walks in populated places
  • Walks in parks and forests
  • visits to new and interesting places at least 1-2 times a week
  • Take the dog to meetings so he/she learns to wait quietly
  • Discourage barking, except during playtime
  • Absolutely NO feeding from the table – use the dog dish ONLY
  • A fenced yard is preferred
  • SDA approved dog food (at cost)
  • Dog toys and treats
  • transportation to outings, vet visits and training classes
  • bathing, grooming, trimming nails and brushing teeth.
  • submitting monthly progress reports provided by SDA.
  • participation in at least 1 or 2 of SDA’s organized community events each year while you are fostering.

*These expenses may be tax deductible.

Download the Application:

Adult Dog Foster Application


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