Her perfect start—starts with you.
Raising a puppy is an unforgettably positive experience. It requires patience, time, energy, and financial resources. If you aren’t sure, consider becoming a co-raiser with a friend or an experienced raiser, or volunteering as a puppy-sitter. Review the checklist below as you consider this rewarding experience.
Puppy Raiser Checklist
Answering “yes” to most or all of the items on this checklist will help you know whether you are ready.
You must be at least 18 years old to raise a puppy on your own. Older teens often take on the responsibility of raising a puppy as long as a parent or guardian agrees to share the responsibility. An adult over 18 becomes the primary raiser and the older teen becomes the co-raiser. Raising a puppy is an incredible way to gain experience and learn responsibility, as well as earn volunteer hours and extracurricular accolades for college applications.
Are you (or your co-raiser) over 18 years old?
✔ Yes, I am over 18 (or my parent/guardian is prepared to raise a puppy with me).
Southeastern Guide Dogs covers the puppy’s veterinary care expenses; however, our generous puppy raisers support our mission by providing quality food, flea prevention, collar, leash, crate, and approved toys.
✔ Yes, I can financially take care of a puppy.
Our puppies are born on our Palmetto, Florida campus and you will travel to our campus to pick up the puppy. You’ll also travel to Palmetto when it is time for the puppy to return and begin formal training at Canine University.
✔ Yes, I can physically and financially afford to travel to and from Palmetto, Florida for puppy pick-up and return.
Adult guide and service dogs go everywhere with handlers. To prepare for the future, you’ll bring your puppy-in-training with you and not leave puppy home alone except for a few hours at a time in a crate. State laws accommodate puppies-in-training and allow them to access public locations, but for your place of employment, we ask that you first obtain permission from a supervisor.
✔ Yes, my employer will allow me to bring the puppy to work.
✔ No, my employer will not allow me to bring the puppy to work, however, I’m interested in partnering with a co-raiser or trained sitter who can keep the puppy during my work hours.
If you have other pets, we like that our puppies have the opportunity to play and bond with other pets. However, safety is our highest concern.
✔ (For those with other pets) Yes, I am confident that my pets do not have aggression issues or a history of guarding food or toys.
If you have other dogs at home that are intact (not spayed or neutered), then you can still raise one of our puppies as long as it is the same sex as your intact dog. We also ask that your intact dog be tested by your veterinarian for a bacterial infection called Brucellosis, which can be passed along to a puppy.
✔ (For those with an un-spayed or -neutered dog) Yes, I agree to have my dog tested for Brucellosis and understand that I can raise a puppy of the same sex as my intact dog.
You do not have to have a large home or a big yard to raise a puppy, but your home environment must be safe for the puppy, in good repair, sufficiently dog-proofed, and have an area nearby where the puppy can safely relieve itself, or as we call it, go “busy.”
✔ Yes, my home is ready for a large-breed dog, and I understand that I can expect a brief home visit by a representative of Southeastern Guide Dogs before bringing a puppy home.
Puppies begin their home experience at 10 weeks and return to our campus for formal training between 12 – 16 months. If you travel frequently or live in our puppy-raising area for only part of the year (hello, Florida snowbirds!), then your situation may be ideal for co-raising with a full-time local or volunteering as a puppy-sitter.
Our adolescent dogs can grow to be 60–80 pounds, and actions that are cute for tiny puppies are not so cute as large dogs. (e.g., jumping on people or grabbing toys.) The primary puppy raiser must be physically capable of handling a large-breed dog
✔ Yes, I am physically able to handle a large-breed dog.
To raise the best guide and service dogs, our professional instructors and animal behavior experts have defined a strict set of methods, practices, and protocols that we require our puppy raisers to follow. Anyone can learn, regardless of your training experience.
We will teach you these training methods through
1) Mandatory participation at Puppy Kindergarten (about once a week for about six weeks, depending on your group), then afterwards, attendance at two puppy raiser meetings a month
2) “Walk and Talk” puppy evaluations and coaching sessions
3) A comprehensive Puppy Raising Manual
4) A growing series of supplemental training videos.
These tools and experiences not only teach you how to train your puppy, but they also teach your puppy confidence through valuable and necessary exposures to the world. The meetings and sessions also enable our Area Coordinators to monitor all of the group puppies’ growth and progress.
✔ Yes, I am willing to strictly adhere to the Southeastern Guide Dogs puppy training protocols and make it a strong priority and commitment to attend two training meetings per month.
Consistency, repetition, and positive reinforcement of our protocols are the hallmarks of our program.
Every member of the household must agree to adhere to our clear puppy raising guidelines and training techniques. It’s a good idea to involve the whole family or household before deciding that everyone is on board and everyone agrees to share the responsibility and follow the protocols.
✔ Yes, all members of my household agree to welcome a large-breed dog into our home and to follow the training guidelines.
Some neighborhood deed restrictions or apartment rules have weight or size limitations for pets living in your home. While puppies in our program do have access rights to go where the general public is allowed, puppies-in-training are not covered by the Fair Housing Act. You will need to ensure that you have permission from your home’s governing body to raise a puppy.
✔ Yes, my home’s governing body (deed restrictions, apartment rules) allow large-breed dogs or I have received permission in writing from the governing body to raise a Southeastern Guide Dogs puppy.
Puppy Raisers Q&A
What breeds do you use for your dogs?
Can I raise a puppy if I already have dogs?
What are the steps of the puppy raiser application process?
How long does the puppy raiser application process take?
What are the steps of the puppy raiser application process?