Foster Puppy Set Up | Champion of My Heart

Since the arrival of another foster pup was imminent, I decided to document the foster pup setup I use to prepare the house. Since I had all the work to do, I figured I might as well explain my process. Photos and text ahead if you want to read quickly. Otherwise, scroll all the way down to see a video of how I keep foster puppies safe inside and outside the home, including where they sleep and go potty and socialize etc.


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Learn more about why promotion matters. Or see previous foster puppies.

Step-by-step guide to setting up foster puppies

1. Fast cleaning of the house.

In many cases I don’t get many warnings that a new foster pup needs help. I often drop everything and run down the mountain to the shelter to pick up foster puppies. BUT, since I had more than a day’s notice that we would be getting a new foster pup, I had time to work through my entire process, including the quick cleaning of the house.

This basically means I dash through everything – except mopping the tile floors. Puppies will have toilet accidents, so steam mopping the floors is a waste of time and energy.

2. Roll up the carpets.

Foster Puppy Furnishing - Photo shows the home office with a desk, bookshelves and rug on the floor

Our house has 1 rug in my office and 1 in the living room. Easy enough to roll up and store in the garage to keep pups from pottering around on it. I leave the other smaller rugs in place because they can be easily washed either in a washing machine or outside with a pressure washer.

3. Lay out potty pads.

For some reason puppies tend to go in the corners so I placed 1 pee pad in 2 corners in my office.

Foster Puppy Setup - Photo shows potty pad in corner of home office with red tile floors

4. Block off furniture so the pups can’t get under it.

The pup we’re getting this time is probably big enough that I don’t have to worry about it getting under the furniture, but if we’re taking in really small foster puppies, I roll up bath towels and stuff them around the bottom of the furniture cover in my office.

Furnishing a foster puppy - photo of wooden furniture with the underside blocked by a dog bed

5. Set up X-Pens.

When housing foster puppies, we use X-Pens (training pens) in a number of ways:

  • As a place to hang out and play in the living room after dinner while we watch TV or whenever I can’t monitor them closely or I’m away
  • To block my office door for better foster pup containment + airflow
  • To block off the stairs so the puppies don’t hurt themselves or potter on the carpet

Furnishing a foster puppy - photo of a black plastic X-pen in the living room with red tiles, a large plant and a fireplace in the background
Building a Foster Puppy - Photo of X-Pen blocking the office door

Building a Foster Puppy - Photo of X-Pen blocking carpet stairs

6. Create cozy spaces.

Our foster puppies often enjoy the cavernous feel under the bookshelf in my office, so I put a pad/dog bed underneath for them.

Furnishing a foster puppy - photo of a dog bed under a bookshelf

7. Find out where to stay/sleep.

We keep a variety of dog crates of different sizes and styles in-house. It really depends on each foster pup’s overnight and medical monitoring needs. Options include:

  • A baby sized box with our dogs in the dining room or by my side of the bed
  • Box or X-Pen in the living room
  • Actual kennel in the basement – half sleeping area, half potty (what happens overnight happens, then we clean up)
Structure of a foster puppy - photo of 3 plastic dog crates
Furnishing a foster puppy - photo of X-Pen with potty, bed and puppy toys inside (on red tile floor)
Furnishing a Foster Puppy - Photo of a chain link dog kennel draped with blankets

8. Plan potty area.

Because of the danger from wildlife, including large predators, near our rural home in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, our dogs potter in a dog run next to the garage with a 6 foot chain link fence. This is my secret of success when housecleaning with foster puppies.

Furnishing a foster puppy - photo of the outdoor dog run

9. Gather supplies for foster puppies.

Our shelter provides all of the food, potty liners, medication and most other supplies for foster puppies so I really do NOT have to spend my own money but…of course…I do. So I have different sizes of harnesses and leashes, a variety of toys, a tiny puppy bowl, etc.

Furnishing a foster puppy - photo of accessories such as leashes, harness, toys, bowl, potty liners and food

I also buy cleaning supplies in bulk so I can easily refill spray bottles. Thank goodness for Costco’s big paper towel packs too. Other cleaning supplies include bags and the like to contain the mess before taking it outside to the dog waste.

Photo of foster puppy cleaning supplies, enzyme cleaner bottles, paper towels and bleach cleaner bottle

10. Set up a safe outdoor play area for foster puppies.

If you follow us on various social media, You’ve seen our little outdoor play area for foster puppies many times. It is sheltered on more than 3 sides by the house and large planters as well as shade tarps overhead. This also protects them from birds of prey from above. Also, my dogs are able to exit the area into the main garden while safely leaving the puppies.

Promote outdoor puppy playground

Because our new foster puppy is NOW on the way to my house!!! She’ll be here literally any minute now (@ 3:40pm September 8th 2022) so I have to wrap up this post but I’m sure I’ll cover all of this in more detail in this video below. I hope you watch when you have time. It’s about 28 minutes.

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