How to be a Puppy Raiser 

As some of our most passionate volunteers, puppy raisers provide the loving homes that care for our Foundation puppies until the dogs are old enough to enter our certified training programs.  Puppy raisers take home an 8-week-old puppy and care for it until it is between 14 and 18 months old.

When a puppy raiser joins our program, they will receive a puppy manual on raising a Foundation puppy, along with a bowl, brush, Nylabone, leashes, collars, flea and heartworm prevention, ear cleaner, stool sample containers, an ID tag, a yellow Guide Dog Foundation puppy-in-training jacket, and a 5-lb bag of dog food.  Any food or items purchased for the puppy while raising the puppy are tax deductible. 

The Puppy Raiser Role 

Puppy raisers play a vital role in the development of these future assistance dogs: they spend countless hours caring for, teaching, and socializing the pups.  Puppy raisers are responsible for socializing the puppy as much as they can.  They bring the puppy everywhere they go, including restaurants, libraries, the mall, and as many different environments as possible.  They also expose it to as many different situations, including schools, busy pedestrian areas, other animals, and interactions with children.  A well-socialized puppy will have fewer adjustments to make when it comes back to the Foundation for formal training. 

The puppy raiser is also required to teach the puppy basic obedience, such as how to walk on a leash, sit and stay, down, and to come when called.  It will be their responsibility to take their puppy through basic obedience classes held bi-monthly.  The classes allow the puppy to interact with other dogs and gives the puppy raiser the opportunity to talk to other puppy raisers.  

When the dog is at the 14- to 18-month age range, it returns to the Foundation so it can move ahead with its formal training and begin its new life-changing career as a guide or service dog for someone with disabilities.  

Formal training takes about three to six months, depending on the incoming client it's being matched with.  While the dog is in for training, the puppy raiser will receive monthly updates and a photos to show its progression within our program.  Once the dog is placed with a handler who is blind or has low vision, the puppy raiser will be invited to attend a Foundation graduation ceremony where they can see the dog they raised and meet the dog’s new handler.  

How do I become a puppy raiser?

Prospective puppy raisers are interviewed by a Puppy Department staff member.  Once accepted, orientation, training manuals, videos, classes, and staff assistance are provided.  If you live in one of the areas listed below and want to become a full-time puppy raiser, click the Apply Now link below.

Apply Now

Not sure you can be a full-time puppy raiser? CO-RAISING is another option. Click here to learn more.

New England

  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts

Tri-State Area

  • New York: Long Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens
  • Pennsylvania: Eastern PA, Greater Scranton/Pocono/Wilkes-Barre

Mid-Atlantic Region

  • Northern Virginia
  • Washington, DC
  • Maryland

South-East

  • Florida: Ocala, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Jacksonville
  • Georgia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina: Clemson
  • Alabama: Auburn University
When you help a puppy take the next step, these are the people you help.

Weekend Puppy Raising (Prison Program)

Guide Dog Curriculum
Service Dog Curriculum
  • Connecticut: Enfield and Hartford areas 
  • Florida: Milton and Pensacola areas
  • Massachusetts: Framingham, Norfolk, Springfield, and Bridgewater areas
  • Maryland: Westover, Cumberland, Hagerstown areas
  • Pennsylvania: Dallas area

Learn more about being a weekend prison puppy raiser for America's VetDogs.

If you are interested in joining an established puppy raiser group in any of these areas, please email: Nadine@GuideDog.org or call the Puppy Department at 631-930-9060 or toll-free at 866-282-8046. 

Thank you!