Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How old is a puppy when it is placed with a puppy raiser?
A: Normally a puppy is placed in the home of a volunteer raiser when it is eight weeks old or older. Some puppy raisers chose to start a puppy, keeping it in their home from 8 weeks to 5 months of age. At then time it is then transferred to a new home, where another puppy raiser will keep it from 5 months to 16 months of age.
Q: How long does a puppy stay with its raiser?
A: A puppy usually remains in the raiser’s home until it is between 15-18 months of age. The length of time may very, however, depending on the individual puppy’s development or Guide Dogs for the Blind’s need for dogs.
Q: Do I need dog training experience to be a Guide Dog puppy raiser?
A: No. However, it is helpful if you have owned a dog in the past or have prior experience to training a dog at any level.
Q: What if I cannot commit to raising a puppy?
A: Beside puppy raising, there are other ways to help a puppy raising club out. You can volunteer to be a puppy-sitter; this is where you would be responsible for taking care of a variety of dogs being raised in the club while the puppy raiser is on vacation or unable to care for their pup. You can be a club volunteer by taking on a variety of club responsibilities such as planning meetings, outings or helping out with fundraising activities.
Q: Are there meetings to attend with the puppy?
A: Yes. Puppy raising groups meet regularly under the direction of a leader trained by Guide Dogs for the Blind. These informational meetings offer a place to learn about training techniques, meet other raisers and participate in excursions with the puppy.
The Tri-Valley club meets weekly in Pleasanton on Tuesday nights from 7 – 8:15pm.
To make sure your pup is getting off to a good start, you and your pup are required to attend every meeting until your pup is 5 months old. After that, you and your pup are required to attend at least 2 meetings per month. But we encourage you to attend as many meetings as possible since your puppy will be constantly growing and creating new challenges for you.
Q: Do I have to be a member of the 4-H organization to raise a Guide Dog puppy?
A: No; however, raising a Guide Dog puppy is an accredited 4-H project and many of the Guide Dog puppy raising groups are organized under the auspices of the 4-H program. Adult raisers may participate in 4-H raising clubs, but are considered leaders for 4-H registration purposes. There are also many other groups not affiliated with 4-H raising Guide Dog puppies which welcome both youth and adult raisers. For example, many groups have been organized through corporations, churches, service clubs and groups of acquaintance.
Q: How do I find a local puppy raising club in my area?
A: Contact the Puppy Raising Department at Guide Dogs for the Blind. A member of the staff can provide you with the contact information of a leader in your area.
Q: Where does a Guide Dog puppy stay when the raiser is out of town?
A: Normally with an approved puppy sitter whom is a member of the same puppy raising club. If it is age appropriate and with the leaders approval, the pup may accompany the raiser on an out-of -town trip.
Q: Can I have other pets while raising a Guide Dog puppy?
A: Yes, if the other pets in the home are accepting to a guide dog puppy living there and the leader approves them.
Q: Where can a Guide Dog puppy accompany its puppy raiser?
A: A puppy in training can accompany a puppy raiser anywhere within the eight Western States( AZ, CA, UT, OR, NV, WA, ID & CO) that is leader approved and deemed age appropriate for the pup. A Guide Dog puppy should be exposed to a variety of socialization experiences. Puppy raisers take their pups to malls, grocery stores, school and work, among other places. Many times, the puppy raising group’s regularly scheduled meetings will include outings specifically designed for puppy socialization. Leaders also teach the raisers appropriate ways in which to expose the puppies to a wide range of socialization experiences.
Q: Does a Guide Dog puppy require any special foods?
A: Yes. Guide Dogs for the Blind has a nutrition policy and does require that Guide Dog puppies be fed one of several specifically chosen brands of high-quality dry dog food.
Q: Who pays for a Guide Dog puppy’s food and other expenses?
A: Guide Dogs for the Blind supplies leashes, puppy identification jackets, collars and other necessary supplies such as flea and tick medication. Guide Dogs also provides a $250 veterinary care reimbursement.
The raiser pays for the puppy’s food, toys and incidental equipment such as grooming supplies, food bowls, pens and crate, as needed. Some clubs participate in fund raising activities to help offset the cost of raising of a guide dog puppy.
Q: Are the costs of raising a Guide Dog puppy tax deductible?
A: Yes. Guide Dogs for the Blind is a nonprofit charitable organization, and all expenses incurred by the raiser as they relate to raising the puppy (dog food, veterinary bills, gas mileage, etc.) are considered a donation to Guide Dogs. Guide Dogs suggests all puppy raisers consult with a tax adviser to receive the proper IRS requirements for documentation.
Q: What happens to a puppy that does not become a guide?
A: Not all dogs are destined to become guide dogs. There are many other jobs that may suit a guide dog puppy better then guide work. When a GDB pup decides it no longer wants to become a guide dog, then it is known as a “career-change”. The puppy raiser may be given given the opportunity to adopt or place the pup after GDB has looked into finding another job for the pup through their community placement program. If GDB cannot find the pup another job and the raiser is unable or chooses not to adopt the puppy, the Dog Placement Department at Guide Dogs has a long list of applicants eager to offer these dogs loving adoptive homes.
Q: Can I be gone during the day and still raise a Guide Dog puppy?
A: Yes, as long as there are provisions made to relieve and exercise the puppy during the day. Accepting an older transfer puppy that doesn’t have as rigorous a relieving schedule could also be a consideration.
Q: Is it time-consuming to raise a Guide Dog puppy?
A: Yes – Raising a Guide Dog puppy is a big commitment and a wonderful family project. You will spend time daily grooming, socializing, training and caring for the puppy. Puppy raisers are taught ways in which to work ongoing training into a daily schedule. Even though it is a big commitment, it is one of the the most rewarding experiences you will have.
Q: Do puppy raisers find it hard to return the puppy to Guide Dogs?
A: Puppy raisers do become very attached to their puppies; however, they are comforted with the knowledge that their dogs will go on to become loving partners for people who are blind or visually impaired. At the end of the dogs training, a special graduation ceremony is held and the puppy raiser is invited to formally present their dog as a guide dog, share their puppy raising experiences and develop new friendships with their dogs’ new partners.