Fostering FAQs

New Zealand Police Foster Dog Programme

Thank you for your interest in the New Zealand Police Foster Dog Programme. By participating in this programme you will be providing a valuable service to your community, helping ensure there is an adequate supply of suitable dogs for training as police dogs.

The dogs reared in the Puppy Development Programme are primarily used for Police work in New Zealand, including breeding. Dogs may also be used for service dog roles with other government agencies, or service dog organisations either in New Zealand or overseas.

The majority of our potential operational dogs are fostered by prospective Police Dog Handlers, so most non Police foster applicants will end up fostering a police breeding dog.

Except for specific circumstances, breeding stock are only able to be fostered in the North Island.


What is involved?

You will have the important role of socialising the puppy with different people, places and things. You will also train the puppy to follow some key commands. This will prepare the dog to start training to meet the demanding role of a police dog.

Dogs bred or purchased for Police work are energetic and active and may not be suitable for all home situations. Like other dogs, they may cause some damage. Your insurance must be able to cover this.

Correct socialisation ensures that the dog is confident and self-assured around people and children, and in a wide variety of environments. The dog will need to learn the boundaries of acceptable behaviour from you according to the guidelines provided by the Dog Training Centre.


How will we support you?

Throughout the fostering period, we will visit you regularly to ensure that all is well, and to give you direction and guidance on how to care for the dog and resolve any problems. We will also provide follow-up support for any issues occurring between these visits.

We will provide dog food and all the equipment you will need. We also pay for approved veterinary visits and supply flea and worm treatments.


What checks need to be completed?

You and any adult (anyone aged 18 and over) living in your household must be prepared to undergo Police vetting. This includes agreeing to any information held about you by New Zealand Police being disclosed. This is not limited to conviction information. Current New Zealand Police employees are exempt from these checks.


What criteria must you meet?

To foster a police dog, you must be able to provide a suitable environment that will support the dog’s development. This means that you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be prepared to follow our guidelines and rules for fostering a police dog. We reserve the right to withdraw the dog from your care if these are not followed adequately.
  2. Have a well secured fenced property that can be used for toileting and training with the dog.
  3. Be prepared to provide the dog with exercise and socialisation. This means giving the dog daily exercise, regular socialisation with different people, and exposure to places and things. The pup will need to be allowed inside the house at times, including crating at an early age.
  4. Be prepared to spend time daily on dog care, developmental exercises and play.
  5. Have a vehicle that the dog can travel in safely to vet visits and for socialisation.

Other considerations:

  1. We prefer there are no other dogs in the household but we will consider this on a case-by-case basis.
  2. If you rent your home, we ask that you provide a letter from your landlord consenting to you fostering a police puppy or dog at their property.


Can I foster a police dog if I have children?

Yes, but please be aware that caring for a dog is time consuming. This may not fit into a busy family life, particularly with very young children.


Can I foster a police dog if I have other pets?

Yes, it is possible to foster a police dog if you have other pets. When considering your application we will look at the welfare of the animals concerned.


How much time will I need to spend on caring for the dog?

The dog will need to be exercised daily and socialised in the community several times a week. When the dog is very young it will only be capable of short spells of exercise. This will increase as it gets older.


Will the dog be allowed inside my house?

The dog will be allowed inside your house for short periods of time while it is young. It will spend most of the time outside, in its kennel, or exercising and being socialised in the community.


What happens when I go on holiday or I am not able to look after the dog for a short time?

The dog can board at the Dog Training Centre or District Dog Section while you are away.


What will happen to the puppy once it leaves my care?

The puppy may be placed with a Police Dog Handler and enter our training programme. Alternatively it may enter the breeding programme or be placed with another service agency in New Zealand or overseas.




What should you do next?

If you think you could provide a suitable foster home, read this section carefully and complete the steps listed below.

Please note that we will not be able to process your application if the required forms have not been fully completed.

Step Your action

Download and complete the “Foster Application” form:


Seek written consent from your landlord (if required).

Send the application form and written consent (where applicable) using the 'New Zealand Police Dog Foster or Re-home Programme online form" - choose "I would like to foster or re-home" from the list.

A representative of the Police Dog Section will then contact you to arrange a time to complete a property inspection and home interview. This may take up to 4 - 6 weeks.


All adults in your household will be required to complete a Police “Vetting Service Request and Consent Form”. Vetting is NOT required for current Police employees. 

This can be completed at the time of interview with the Police Dog Section representative. You will need to have with you two forms of photo ID: Primary ID document (e.g. passport, original birth certificate, etc) and another form of ID (e.g. driver licence, firearms licence, 18+ card, Community Services Card, etc).

If this cannot be completed at the time of interview, i.e. all family members not present at interview, then you will need to have the vetting form completed after the interview.  This will be explained at the time of interview.  This can be completed at a Police station or by a trusted referee as described on the form.


Once the interview and vetting is completed, a member of the Police Dog Section will be in contact with you.  If your application is approved then you will be placed on a waiting list for a suitable pup/dog.


Please note:

  • If your application is approved, there may be a delay before a suitable dog is available.
  • There are a limited number of dogs available each year and unfortunately this means you may not be matched with a suitable dog.


Please phone the Dog Training Centre at 04 494 3890.