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. 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 these 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 can specialize in puppy massage, or can be involved in a wide range of socialization and training of the puppies as they develop simple, yet important, skills.
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.
Volunteers do not need to have prior skills in training or massage. Guiding Eyes provides volunteers with six hours of training in three sessions: Orientation and Overview, Hands-On Training, and Mentoring with an experienced socializer. The lessons you share with the pups are easy to teach and highly rewarding for both you and the pups.
Requirements of an Early Socialization Volunteer:
- Be able to travel to the Canine Development Center in Patterson
- Successfully complete Early Socialization training
- Be able to physically interact with (including kneeling or squatting, bending over) and clean up after small puppies
- Be able to clean the room with a bleach solution after completing the socialization experience
- Commit to a minimum of two hours per week on a consistent and reliable basis.