How to Become a Puppy Raiser
A guide dog is a gift of freedom. It all starts with a puppy and a loving home.
If you have been looking for a project where you can really make a difference, our Puppy Program is for you. We invite you to visit one of our puppy training classes. Meet the wonderful group of dedicated volunteer puppy raisers who give so much to our project.
Expenses incurred by the host family are tax deductible. Donation of puppies to our program is also tax deductible.
Note: Puppy Raisers must live within fifty miles of our Phoenix, Arizona training facility.
About Our Puppies
Eye Dog Foundation trains German Shepherds, both male and female. The dogs come from a variety of sources. Eye Dog's breeding program and a network of generous German Shepherd breeders provide the majority of the adult dogs, and all of the puppies for the foster family program. Family homes, and occasionally, rescue organization also donate adult dogs for training. Most of the dogs have working dogs of various types in their pedigree. All dogs, regardless of background, must pass medical screening as well as a suitability evaluation before starting training as a guide dog.
Puppies begin their socialization and obedience training as soon as they are placed with their foster family, usually around 8-12 weeks of age. Friendliness, good manners and self-control are what every puppy raiser strives to teach their young dog. All raisers come to training classes at the training center at least once a month. Additional outings with individual puppies allow the puppy program coordinator to closely supervise each dog as they mature.
At eighteen months to two years of age, the program dogs are brought in for a weeklong evaluation. At this time, x-rays are taken to identify any dogs with hip or elbow dysplasia. As in all programs, we find some dogs are just not meant to be a guide dog. The dogs are then evaluated and processed. Dogs released become facility dogs at the training center, service dogs at other organizations, adopted by other families as pets, or released back to the puppy raiser/foster parent family.
Dogs passing the medical evaluation are also evaluated as to their level of maturity and general readiness for training. Some are ready to start training at that time; and some need to start training at that time. The teenage years are often a good point in the dog’s life for training to become more serious. Occasionally a young dog is returned to the raiser for a few more months of socialization and basic obedience.
Puppy raisers attend at least one puppy training class each month to work on handling skills. Puppy raising is an excellent way to have fun while being involved in community service. Volunteer puppy raisers play a key role in preparing a young dog to be trained as a guide for the blind.
As a puppy raiser, you provide the early training and socialization necessary for the puppy to be confident and happy in a variety of settings. Puppies sleep inside the house and live as members of the family. To prepare them for their future career, they are exposed to stores, restaurants, malls and lots of other people activities.