Southern California

Puppy Raisers Wanted: Volunteer to Help Train a Future Guide Dog

Volunteer puppy raisers provide the real-world experiences young dogs need before they're paired with a blind or visually impaired partner

5-21-2018-GDA-Harvey puppy in training

What to Know

  • Future guide dogs stay with volunteer puppy raisers as part of a process that helps them adjust to life as working dogs
  • GDA staff will conduct an in-home interview with potential foster volunteers and an orientation session
  • Volunteers will learn the skills they need to help their puppies reach their potential as guide dogs

Southern California-based Guide Dogs of America is looking for volunteer puppy raisers to open their homes to puppies in training.

Puppies from the organization's litters are placed in foster homes, where puppy raisers will help the young dogs prepare for formal training and life as working guide dogs.

Potential Puppy Raisers: Click here for application information

About the Process

The puppies go through a program during their first seven weeks of life to help them adapt to their new foster homes. After a two-week adjustment period, volunteers and their puppies will attend classes taught by GDA trainers -- like Kindergarten for dogs.

The do-and-don't lessons learned during those classes provide volunteers with the tools they need to build basic obedience skills and help their puppies adapt to life out in the world as working guide dogs.

If a dog successfully completes formal training, it will be paired with a blind or visually impaired partner. The students spend three weeks on the GDA campus, getting to know their canine companions. 

The organization accepts an average of 60 students per year. Completion of the training process is celebrated with a graduation ceremony.

What Interested Raisers Should Know

There are a few requirements anyone interested in raising a puppy should know about. 

  • Must live in Southern California and attend a local puppy raiser meeting to meet other volunteers.
  • GDA staff will conduct an in-home interview with potential foster volunteers and an orientation session
  • Must attend weekly puppy classes, monthly meetings, special events
  • Veterinary care will be provided on the Sylmar campus
  • Puppies cannot be left home alone for extended periods of time
  • Raisers working outside the home must have permission to bring their puppy to work
  • GDA liability insurance is designed to protect raiser and employers at work
  • Volunteers with children and well-behaved pets are welcome to participate
  • At 18 months, the puppies head back to the GDA campus in Sylmar for formal training

Does that sound like something for you? Click here to submit an application.

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