Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Early Training & Socialization

The Early Training & Socialization Program is a crucial program that helps the puppies get the right start on the long path to becoming guide dogs.

Little puppies, big rewards

 An Early Socializer works with our puppies introducing them to new environments and experiences. These repeated positive new experiences help the pups build confidence and develop simple, yet important, skills.


As guides, they will need to exhibit confidence, resilience, and a strong bond to the human half of the guide dog team. These traits can be enhanced, beginning in the first weeks of life, with massage, early training, auditory stimulation, and opportunities to explore and discover the world around them. Volunteers in the Early Training & Socialization Program provide much-needed stimuli in two separate stages, depending upon the age of the pups.


The first stage, referred to as the “Pre-K” program, involves working both individually and with the full litter of one to six week old puppies, at first in the kennel, and as they mature, in a specially equipped room. Volunteers may be assigned to massage our neonate pups or be involved in a wide range of socialization and training of the puppies.

The “Kindergarten” Socialization program works with six to nine week old puppies, developing more advanced skills and providing in-depth socialization experiences. This is an incredible time of learning and growing for our pups, and we need reliable, loving, and committed volunteers to help the pups reach their potential and master complex relationship-based training concepts in a fun and joyful way.


Early Socialization Volunteers must:

  • Commit to a minimum of two hours per week on a consistent and reliable basis at the Canine Development Center in Patterson.
  • Successfully complete the Early Socialization training sessions, before working on their own with the puppies.
  • Be able to physically interact with and clean up after small puppies, (includes kneeling, squatting, bending over).
  • Be able to clean the room with a sanitizing solution after completing the socialization experience.
  • Be 18 years of age or older.

Support We Provide


Volunteers are not required to have prior skills in training or massage. Techniques are easy to learn and highly rewarding for both you and the pups. 


Guiding Eyes provides volunteers with six hours of training in three sessions:


  1. Orientation and Overview
  2. Hands-On Training
  3. Mentoring -with an experienced socializer
Have a question? Email us at


Note: Due to the training requirements and the commitment involved, this program is limited to those 18 years of age or older.


We’re sorry, but our Early Socialization applicants currently outnumber our open positions, and we cannot accept new applications. We thank you for your interest and patience, and hope you’ll keep checking back with us.