Guide Dog Foundation

Our Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “puppy raiser?”
How old must you be to be considered as a puppy raiser?
Can I work full time and be a puppy raiser?
How much help and training is given?
How can I find out if I qualify to become a puppy raiser?
How often does the Guide Dog Foundation look for new puppy raisers? What is the application deadline?
What if I have other pets in the house?
What if I am going away on vacation or have some emergency?
I live in an apartment. Can I still be considered as a puppy raiser?
I don’t drive. Can I still apply?
Can the puppy go everywhere with me?
Can my puppy go into shops?
What type of person makes a good puppy raiser?
I’ve never owned a dog before; can I still apply?
Where will the puppy sleep?
How much will puppy raising cost me?
How long will I keep the puppy?

What is a “puppy raiser?”

Puppy walking or puppy raising means fostering a guide or service dog puppy in your home for the first year of its life. The aim is to socialize and educate the puppy in everyday life and outdoor experiences. These experiences play a vital role in the future of a guide dog or service dog.

How old must you be to be considered as a puppy raiser?

The applicants should be over 18 years old. Children may be involved in the project, but full responsibility should be with an adult member of the family.

Can I work full time and be a puppy raiser?

The applicant must have time to devote to raising the puppy. Anyone who is working full time away from the house may wish to consider alternative volunteer options with us. Part-time workers are always considered. Some employers allow puppy walkers to take the puppy to work with them. Many future guide dogs have been raised in school or office environments. People who work from home are, of course, very welcome!

How much help and training is given?

We hold puppy obedience classes on our campus in Smithtown, but also off-site in different locations. The more experiences our puppies are exposed to, the better! Puppy walkers should be available and eager to join in these organized events. We often work in shopping malls or other public venues and you would be expected to attend these on a regular basis. Some classes are held during the day, but evening classes are held too. In addition you would be visited every 4-6 weeks by one of our staff puppy advisors.

How can I find out if I qualify to become a puppy raiser?

A full orientation session is held weekly for anyone interested. Those interested should call (631) 930-9060 for an appointment.

How often does the Guide Dog Foundation look for new puppy raisers? What is the application deadline?

We are always looking for puppy raisers. If raising a puppy does not suit you now, you may wish to consider it some time in the future. We have puppies available year-round, and we are always looking for new volunteers to join our puppy walker family.

What if I have other pets in the house?

Families who have some other pets are usually welcome. We try to choose a puppy that will blend in with your lifestyle. The number and temperament of your pets is taken into consideration, as this may affect the progress of the guide dog puppy.

What if I am going away on vacation or have some emergency?

We can board the puppy while you are away on vacation. There is no charge for this.

I live in an apartment. Can I still be considered as a puppy raiser?

Yes, apartment dwellers are considered, but the puppy will need regular exercise; a safe play area is also required. This may be a strong temporary wire construction or a fenced yard. Alternatively, some access to a safe area for the puppy to exercise is needed.

I don’t drive. Can I still apply?

Daily access to a car or public transportation is a requirement, because the puppies need to become comfortable with car travel. Family members or friends can be enlisted to help.

Can the puppy go everywhere with me?

We encourage puppy raisers to take the puppy to as many outing as possible. These range from normal shopping excursions to school visits, banks, libraries, and ball games. Of course, regular walking is necessary.

Can my puppy go into shops?

The right of access really only pertains to the dog once it becomes a fully trained guide or service dog. While it is still with the puppy walker at home, it has no legal right of entry. The good news is that the majority of establishments welcome guide dog puppies into their space! With a little persuasion and education from the puppy walker, the puppy is usually allowed access to most places. On Long Island, we are fortunate that all of our large shopping malls support and welcome us to their facilities. We do provide you and the puppy with sufficient ID to support your request of entry.

What type of person makes a good puppy raiser?

The puppy program is available to families, singles and retired people who fit all the other criteria. There is no blueprint for a puppy raiser. Each case is considered individually. Of course, you must love dogs!

I’ve never owned a dog before. Can I still apply?

Experience is not required, as we will teach you how to care for the puppy. A sensible love of dogs is required. The puppy must be taught and encouraged to be obedient if he is to succeed in his role as a guide or service dog. Having a puppy around the house is like having an extra child.

Where will the puppy sleep?

To keep the puppy safe and help with housebreaking issues, we provide you with a crate. We’d like the puppy to spend as much time out of the crate as possible during the day and evening. However, at busy periods of your day, it is wise to have the puppy spend time relaxing in the crate rather than being alone and unsupervised. If you provide a blanket or towel for him to lie on, he will treat the crate as his own bedroom. He will retire to this when he wants to rest. The crate should be positioned in a family room or kitchen where he will become accustomed to the noise and atmosphere of family life.

How much will puppy raising cost me?

The Guide Dog Foundation pays for the veterinary treatments and vaccinations. The Foundation also provides you with the necessary equipment, such as a brush, leashes and collars, ID tags, coat and a crate to help housebreak the puppy. We also provide some indestructible toys; you can purchase more from the toy list we will give you. You are responsible for the puppy's food. Any expenses that you do incur are tax-deductible if you save your receipts.

How long will I keep the puppy?

This varies as family commitments often change. Ideally a puppy would stay with you for approximately 12 months. Occasionally, older puppies may need fostering and if you opt to take one of those, your time with the puppy will be less. People often prefer to take an older puppy, as the housebreaking task is usually much easier.