Frequently Asked Questions

What does a puppy raiser do?

A Puppy Raiser provides the foundation from which one-half of a successful guide dog team is made. These essential volunteers raise a Guiding Eyes puppy for about 14 months, providing the pup with the love, socialization, and basic obedience it will need to succeed in guide dog training. Puppy Raisers teach good house manners and some basic commands, but DO NOT directly train the puppy to be a guide dog. Guide dog training is done by the professionals at Guiding Eyes.

What breeds of dog do you use?

Most of our puppies are Labrador Retrievers, although we occasionally use German Shepherds. The dogs have been selectively bred to be self-confident, calm, friendly, able to take responsibility, and to have good health. They are truly remarkable dogs.

Where do your puppies come from?

Most puppies come from Guiding Eyes’ own breeding colony located in Patterson, New York. A few come from other guide dog schools throughout the world, through our cooperative sharing program. Pups selected for puppy raising have been tested for temperament and determined to have potential as guide dogs.

How old is the puppy when it is placed with a volunteer puppy raiser?

Puppies are about 8-9 weeks of age when they go to their volunteer puppy raiser. They have likely been to a volunteer socializer’s house, and have had some of their vaccine, but they are not housetrained. Some raisers need an older puppy that has already been started by another raiser. We will work with your needs; please communicate any special requests in your Puppy Raiser Application.

Do I need to have a large yard to become a puppy raiser?

No. A Guiding Eyes puppy is raised as a house dog, and therefore does not require a large yard. However, the puppy will require access to outside areas for play, exercise, and toileting (which is done on leash). Long leashes provide the dog with the opportunity to run. You can live in a house, apartment or condominium. The most important thing to remember is that at all times when outside, the puppy must be supervised and on a leash if in an unfenced area.

I have/do not have other pets Is this a problem?

No. The presence of other animals in the home is fine and is usually quite helpful, but it is not a necessity. Your pet needs to be accepting of a new dog in the household.

Do you accept puppies that are not bred by you as donations?

No, although we occasionally collaborate with other guide or service dog organizations to supplement our breeding colony.

Can I become a puppy raiser if I live far away from a Guiding Eyes puppy raising region?

No, puppy raisers live on the Eastern Seaboard, stretching from Maine to North Carolina, and west to Ohio. New puppy raisers are assigned to the region within an hour of where they live, as they are required to travel to the class location weekly or every other week.

Is there a minimum age to be a raiser?

People of all ages have been successful puppy raisers. Youth raisers need the support of their family to provide transportation to meetings and socialization experiences on a regular basis. An adult should also attend the classes and training so the entire family is consistent and knowledgeable when interacting with the puppy. Youth raisers completing puppy raising have demonstrated an impressive level of maturity, ability to take responsibility, and compassion to others through giving. For legal reasons, we require an adult to sign appropriate paperwork.

I previously raised a puppy years ago. Can I still be a puppy raiser?

We welcome our past raisers and require them to attend pre-placement classes to learn our current raising techniques, before being matched with a puppy.

What happens to puppies that don’t become guide dogs?

Dogs that do not meet our stringent criteria for guide work can become detection dogs, search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, or cherished family pets. Regardless of the career paths our dogs choose, we are immensely proud of each one of them.

How long does it take before I can get a puppy?

You will be matched with a puppy once you have fulfilled the pre-placement portion of your puppy raising experience.

Can I name my puppy?

No, our puppies are given names when they are born. Each litter is given a sequential letter of the alphabet, and puppies are named accordingly. Occasionally a dog has a special name provided by a donor who became part of our Special Name Program or Pathfinder Society Program.