Thank you for your interest in becoming a puppy raiser!
The first step is to fill out a Puppy Raiser Application so that we can learn a little about you. Make sure you’ve reviewed the region map, and confirmed that there is a region close to where you live. You will also want to review your responsibilities in raising a Guiding Eyes puppy so that you can determine whether raising a puppy matches your time, commitment and interests.
Puppy-raising is a very rewarding experience that involves everyone in the household. Many of our raisers get involved because it is a project that individuals or families can do while meeting people, who also love dogs and want to help others. Learning life lessons, giving to others, and learning about dogs are among the reasons people are drawn to raising a potential guide dog puppy.
Puppy raisers may be eligible to claim deductions on their income tax. Click here for a simple guide to potential tax deductions for Guiding Eyes volunteers. For further clarification, please consult your tax professional.
Should I become a puppy raiser?
Can you devote adequate time to exercise, train, and attend regular puppy classes during the evenings and weekends? Puppy classes are held weekly at first, then progress to every two weeks.
For the first four months, can someone get home every 3 to 4 hours to feed and let the pup out of the crate to eliminate?
Are you able and willing to get up a bit earlier in the morning to train and exercise your pup before work?
When you are home, are you willing and able to keep the pup in the same room with you, so that you can monitor its activities and provide teaching lessons and praise for appropriate behavior? You will be asking the pup for politeness in all your daily interactions, including going out the door, exiting the crate, greeting people and other dogs, etc.
Can you get the pup out for socialization opportunities at least five times a week? Making the pup part of your life and normal routine is ideal for older pups, but when the pup is very young you may need to make a special effort to take the pup to appropriate places (e.g., until pups are fully vaccinated they cannot visit areas where other dogs have eliminated; also, pups of any age cannot be left crated in a vehicle unless the temperature is appropriate). Multiple 5 to 15 minute exposure sessions can usually be worked into your errands and activities by making sure the pup is around various noises, animals, stairs, grates and other flooring surfaces, people, and objects of all kinds.
Can you swap puppies with another raiser for a period of 1 to 2 weeks? All pups in the program are required to stay at another raiser’s house at least once quarterly unless otherwise instructed by the Regional Manager at Walk and Talk evaluations.
Can you physically handle a 60- to 80-pound dog on leash?
Are you able to bend down to puppy height?
Are you able and willing to remove all rodenticides from your property?
Are you willing to keep the pup on leash or in a secure fenced area whenever it is outdoors? Are you willing to stay outside with the dog to supervise its activities?
Are all family members willing to accept the responsibility of keeping the pup safe? This includes taking care that doors are securely shut and making sure that items that could be harmful if chewed or eaten are out of the puppy’s reach.
If you raise a female pup, you will likely have her during her heat cycles. Dog panties can be worn to keep your house clean, but you will need to be especially careful for the three weeks of the heat cycle to avoid contact with intact male dogs.
Is everyone in the family willing to raise a puppy and utilize the Guiding Eyes training methods and philosophy? Although there will be a primary raiser, all family members will need to understand the Guiding Eyes training methods and be consistent in the handling of the puppy.
Is anyone allergic to dogs?
Are other dogs and cats in the family agreeable to having a new dog in the house?
To ensure that the raiser can focus on the Guiding Eyes puppy, any other puppies brought into the household must be at least six months older or younger than the Guiding Eyes puppy.
Whether it is your first or 20th puppy, you can take pride in knowing you have done something very few people can do. When the pup returns to Guiding Eyes, it may leave an empty space in your heart, but you have given a part of yourself to help another person. Raisers embark on this journey open and willing to raise the pup using Guiding Eyes techniques. Our methods may be different from those they have used to raise their own dogs.
We believe that raising a puppy is a collaborative effort. Even before being placed with his or her raiser, much time and effort has already been spent on the puppy’s development by other volunteers. Successfully raising a puppy requires working together with your Regional Manager, Region Team and other puppy raising volunteers.
Being willing and able to work as part of a team and treating all members with mutual respect and kindness are key to the puppy raising experience. It is essential to be able to communicate by email, as needed and in a timely fashion.
We can teach you to train a puppy, but we can’t teach you to love dogs!
Puppies grow, and it’s important that you feel comfortable around large adult dogs. Dog hair, cleaning up after the puppy, lots of sloppy kisses and other aspects of having a dog around come with the territory.
Completing our pre-placement classes and puppy-sitting will give you a glimpse into what is involved in being a puppy raiser. Below is an overview of your responsibilities to us and our responsibilities to you as we raise a puppy together.
There are times when a raiser can’t accomplish every aspect of puppy raising, but could partner with a secondary raiser to share some of the responsibility. Please review our secondary raiser conditions and agreement to see if this may be the right fit for you.
Make the puppy part of your family
The puppy will live in your home and be a part of your daily activities. If you have an un-neutered dog at home, you will need to raise a pup of the same sex.
Teach good social skills and house manners
The puppy will need daily instruction and monitoring to learn the basics of being mannerly and attentive to humans. Proper house manners (e.g., staying off furniture and counters, ignoring items that are not dog toys, etc.) are critical because the dog will eventually live with a visually impaired person who will be unable to see what the dog is doing. The techniques we will teach you must be applied consistently, requiring your persistence, patience, and perseverance. You must keep the puppy in the same room with you and constantly monitor the puppy’s activities to provide appropriate instruction and direction.
Attend all classes and Walk and Talk Evaluations
Classes are usually held weekly at first, then progress to every other week as you and the puppy become more skilled. W&T evaluations are scheduled periodically. Raisers are provided the dates in advance.
Fill out reports
- C-BARQ – Raisers fill out C-BARQ online when the puppy is 6 months old, and again when the puppy is 12 months old. (The Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, developed by Dr. James Serpell, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania, is designed to help define dog temperament.)
- Walk and Talk Evaluations – Raisers optimize their Walk and Talk experience by filling out the online form two weeks prior to their appointment.
- Puppy Sitter form – Each time raisers send the puppy to a sitter, or puppy sit for another Guiding Eyes dog, they fill out the Puppy Sitter Form.
- Raiser Final Evaluation – When the pup comes to Guiding Eyes for its In-For-Training (IFT) test, raisers fill out a final report.
Coordinate all health care with our veterinary staff.
Veterinary care for the pup will occur at a local veterinarian or at the Guiding Eyes veterinary facilities, as appropriate. Preauthorization is always required for non-routine care, except in the case of a life-threatening emergency.
Expose the puppy to a variety of experiences
One of the most critical contributions you will make is to help a puppy become confident, relaxed, and well-mannered in all settings. Confidence is a major factor in a dog’s success as a guide. In addition, excellent house manners are critical. Raisers expose pups to age-appropriate environments and teach pups to become polite citizens.
Daily socialization experiences should be enjoyable, educational, and appropriate for the pup’s age and personality. Region Teams guide raisers in determining which experiences are appropriate and supportive of the pup’s confidence.
Be prepared to give the puppy up when ready for training
Puppies are usually ready to come in for guide dog training between 14 and 18 months of age. Guiding Eyes provides transportation to the Guiding Eyes Training Center if you are not able to deliver the puppy.
(Occasionally, raisers find that they are unable to continue their puppy raising commitment due to health, family situations, job changes, etc. In such situations, Guiding Eyes will make arrangements for the pup to go to another raiser to complete the raising process.)
We are committed to supporting you in all areas of your puppy raising experience. We will strive to meet your needs, and we welcome suggestions for program improvement. If you have ideas for improvement, let us know!
The right puppy is chosen for you
We do our best to get to know you at pre-placement classes, and we use puppy temperament tests to help us match the right pup to your skills and situation.
We provide support throughout your puppy raising experience.
We will teach you the skills you need to raise a guide dog puppy and work with you to help problem-solve if you need extra guidance. Guiding Eyes is constantly evaluating new techniques to improve the puppy raising process and will provide instruction and guidance on how to use these techniques.
We provide all veterinary care
We will provide you with preventive heartworm medication, all vaccinations, and flea and tick preventative, and will cover all expenses for authorized veterinary care.
We assist in arranging for the puppy’s transportation to and from Guiding Eyes
Regional van pickups are used for dog deliveries. Raisers are asked to travel to regional meeting points to drop off and pick up their pups. Raisers living within a two-hour drive of Guiding Eyes are asked to provide transportation to and from Guiding Eyes.
You will be notified when it is time for training
We will notify you approximately one month in advance of the dog’s In-For-Training (IFT) date.
We will provide regular updates when your dog is in training.
We will let you know of the dog’s progress by sending you training reports periodically.
You will be invited to the pup’s graduation
Guiding Eyes is one of the few schools that provide an opportunity for you to meet the blind recipient of the dog you have raised. You will be invited to a graduation ceremony celebrating the new graduate/guide team and the people who helped to make it possible.
If the dog is placed with a blind person through our Home Training Program your RM can arrange for you to visit the dog in the kennel, based on the dog’s availability, prior to placement. During the home training, instructors encourage a future phone meeting between the graduate and the dog’s puppy raiser. After graduation, we respect the individual preferences of our graduates to either maintain or not maintain contact with their dog’s puppy raiser.
Either way, you can contact your Regional Manager for an update on how the dog you raised is doing.
For details about placement of retired guide dogs, please see policies for retired dogs.