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Puppy Raising FAQs

Learn More About Puppy Raising

“It is difficult to express how thankful I am to have Laredo and to all the Guiding Eyes staff who had a role in training him. I am also grateful to his wonderful puppy raising family, and everyone else who has made this possible.”

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 14-18 months, providing the pup with the love, manners, socialization, and basic obedience they will need to succeed in harness training.  

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

No, 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.  

Do I need to have experience to become a puppy raiser?

No, some of our raisers have never owned or trained a dog before volunteering to raise a puppy. We’ll support you through the process and teach you what you need to know to raise a future guide dog.

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

No. Our puppies are raised as house dogs and do not require a large yard. The puppy will require access to outside areas for on leash toileting, play, and exercise. 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 must be leashed when in unsecured areas.

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

No. Having other pets in the home can be helpful, but it is not necessary. All pets need to be accepting of a new dog in the household for their sake and the puppies. And all dogs must be at least 6 months older/younger than the Guiding Eyes puppy.

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. Do I have to start the process over again?

We welcome our past raisers and require them to attend Pre-Placement Class to learn our current raising techniques before being matched with a puppy.

What if I can’t commit to the entire puppy raising process?

We have opportunities for co-raisers to work together to raise a puppy, for puppy starters to get young puppies off to a good start for a finishing raiser, for finishing raisers, and for puppy sitters that care for the dogs when raisers are away. Learn more about Alternatives to Raising.

What breeds of dog do you use?

Most of our puppies are Labrador Retrievers and we have a small percentage of German Shepherd Dogs. Our 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. Puppies selected for puppy raising are health and temperament tested before being matched with raiser.

Do you accept puppies as donations?

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

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

Puppies are generally 8-9 weeks of age when they go to their volunteer puppy raisers. They have likely been to a volunteer socializer’s home and have had some of their vaccines, 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 if you apply to become a puppy raiser.

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

Dogs that do not meet our stringent criteria for guide work can become service dogs, 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.

Can I name the puppy?

No, our puppies are given names before they come to raisers. 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.

How long before I can get a puppy?

It varies. You will be matched with a puppy once you have fulfilled the Pre-Placement portion of your puppy raising experience and when we have a good match for you.