Fostering a detector dog puppy

The Detector Dog Programme relies on volunteer foster families to raise future detector dogs. Find out what's involved to become a foster family.

Families help socialise dogs before training

Detector dogs work at all important entry points into New Zealand to find products that aren't allowed into New Zealand.

Detector dog puppies live with families for the first 14 months of their lives before they start their 13-week detector dog training. Families are responsible for raising and socialising the puppies, and provide early training.

Foster families have to meet criteria

MPI considers families who meet these requirements:

  • live in Auckland or Hamilton
  • are able to keep the puppy company throughout the day
  • have a home with an escape-proof fence (minimum height 1.20m) and a large section
  • children must be aged 4 or older.

Before a puppy can move in, the puppy development team will visit you and interview you and your family. We discuss details of the programme and will see if your home is a suitable place for the puppy to live.

Once a puppy is placed with your family, the team visits regularly to see how the puppy is doing, to answer questions and help solve any problems. The breeding and kennel manager is also only a phone call away.

MPI covers costs

For foster families, MPI covers all expenses for:

  • food and equipment like collars, bowl, brush, leash, toys
  • shampoo and flea treatment
  • puppy identification coats
  • the service record book
  • all veterinary costs.

MPI also provides boarding at the MPI kennels when a family goes away on holidays.

MPI will not pay for damage done to your property.

How to apply

If you're interested in fostering a detector dog puppy, complete our online application form. It has more information about what's involved.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the programme, email

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