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Fostering with Dogs – Nicky’s Story

Monday 26 June 2023

With more than half of UK households (62%) owning a pet, according to the World Animal Foundation – and around 13 million pet dogs and 12 million pet cats in this country – it’s no surprise that one of the questions we get asked most often at National Fostering Group is whether it’s possible to foster with pets.

Not only is it possible, but having a pet in the house can actually benefit foster children and help them feel more comfortable in their foster home. Of course, this is providing that the right checks have been carried out on the pets and that children and foster families are properly matched.

We have spoken to foster carers with dogs and asked them to share their experiences…

Nicky has been fostering for just under two years. She describes fostering as “the best thing I’ve ever done” but admits it can be tough. She currently has one foster child – a teenage boy, 17 – who is now at college while she works full-time. At home she has a Cockapoo, Pip, and three cats, Star, Luna and Oscar.

Calming if he’s upset

Nicky said:

“Animals instinctively know if someone is upset. My first foster child was a teenage girl. If she was upset, the animals went towards her, they distracted her by wanting some fuss. With my current foster child, the pets calm him down if he gets stressed or upset. The Cockapoo sits on his bed with him if he’s playing on his X-Box or he takes the dog out for a walk in the garden.”


She believes the love animals give can be very helpful for foster children who have been through trauma. Pets teach them about compassion and empathy, they also teach them to be gentle.

“With the smaller animals in particular, they can’t go rushing around the sitting room with no regard, they have to be careful. It teaches them not to be too rough and this can be a helpful lesson when they are around smaller children, too.”

Nicky advises would-be foster carers who have animals to put rules in place to safeguard the foster children and the animals.

“Animals need their own space and so do the children. Obviously, the cats are quite independent but the dog needs a lot more care and attention. We have about things like who feeds the animals, to make sure they are properly cared for. Pip loves it when my foster child and his friends are there because they play with him and give him lots of attention.”

Both of them benefit

“When I first looked into fostering, I didn’t realise it would be possible if you have pets. But I honestly think pets can really help children, providing they like animals of course. It’s a two-way relationship – both of them benefit.”

You can also read Michele’s experience on fostering with dogs here, and if you would like to find out more about fostering enquire now.

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