Raise a Puppy. Change a Life.

Puppy raisers take our puppies everywhere—to work, out to eat, on trips, and even grocery shopping. This real-world training imitates the experiences that our dogs need to successfully guide a visually impaired person wherever they want to go.

Where the Transformation Begins

Training an exceptional guide dog begins before a puppy is even born. Our intentional breeding program means our puppies come from parents who are known for their intelligence, loving personality, and trainability. Newborn puppies are tickled and stretched as part of our early socialization program. Before they’re weaned, young puppies are exposed to sights, sounds, textures, and plenty of puppy-hugging volunteers. House training starts early to make the next step in their training that much more enjoyable for everyone.

Puppy raisers are volunteer families who agree to welcome a future guide dog into their home. These homes are where our young puppies’ training and socialization takes an important turn; it is here that they become comfortable with home life, learn basic obedience, and begin to experience the world. Puppy raisers take our puppies everywhere—to work, out to eat, on trips, and even grocery shopping. This real-world training imitates the experiences that our dogs need to successfully guide a visually impaired person wherever they want to go.

The puppy-raising experience requires a great deal of commitment, time, energy, and focus. It’s an unforgettable and rewarding experience, and most puppy raisers choose to participate again and again. One of the hardest parts of the program is saying goodbye; at 14 to 20 months the puppies return to “school” for formal harness training. But on the day when puppy raisers return to campus to visit their old friend and meet its new owner—one of our visually impaired students—the incredible emotional reward comes full circle.

If you are interested in becoming a puppy raiser, read our frequently asked questions below, take our online self-assessment and submit your application.

If you need further information prior to submitting an application, contact Leslie Shepard at 941.729.5665 ext. 112.

Think you want to be a Puppy Raiser?

If you are interested in becoming a puppy raiser, read our frequently asked questions below, take our online self-assessment and submit your application.

If you need further information prior to submitting an application, contact Leslie Shepard at 941.729.5665 ext. 112.

Step One: Get the answers to our most frequently asked questions below

Step Two: Take our easy online self-assessment to see if you’re ready to raise

Step Three: Complete the official Puppy Raiser Application

Puppy Raiser FAQs & Resources

  • Do puppy raisers receive special training?

  • What support do puppy raisers receive?

  • What costs are involved in raising a puppy?

  • How old are the puppies when they go to a puppy raiser’s home?

  • At what age do the puppies return to Southeastern Guide Dogs?

  • Do puppies arrive house trained?

  • Are puppies crate trained?

  • What breed of dog are the puppies?

  • Are the puppies allowed in public places like other service dogs?

  • Where are the puppy raiser groups?

  • Are puppy raisers involved in any extracurricular functions?

  • Are there any age requirements for puppy raisers?

  • Do puppy raisers have to reside in a house or have a large or fenced-in yard?

  • Are snowbirds (those residing in the southern states for winter only) eligible to raise a puppy?

  • Are families with children permitted to become puppy raisers?

  • Can I become a puppy raiser if I have other animals such as other dogs?

  • What if my pet dog at home is intact? Does this disqualify me?

  • Can I work full-time and still be a puppy raiser?

  • Can I take an extended vacation if I am raising a puppy?

  • Resource Pages