Raising a Puppy for Leader Dogs for the Blind

Frequently asked questions about raisinng a service dog.

How do I apply to raise a puppy?

You can submit a puppy-raising application online or request an application by phone or email. After your application has been received and processed, an approval letter will be mailed to you along with a puppy-raising manual and instructional DVD. These resources provide information about your puppy counselor and projected wait time based on your indicated breed preference(s).

Can someone under age 18 raise a puppy?

Yes. However raisers under 18 must have an adult present to sign the contract when they pick up the puppy. This adult is responsible for providing support and supervision throughout the puppy raising year. We have children raising puppies as part of Girl Scout, Boy Scout or senior class projects.

Can I raise a puppy if I work full time?

Yes. However, if the puppy is going to be crated for an extended period of time, we suggest having a trusted friend, neighbor or family member assist in letting the puppy out during the day for relief and to feed the mid-day meal.

Can I raise a Leader Dog puppy if I’ve never owned a dog before?

Yes. We will provide you with a puppy-raising manual and instructional DVD that will assist you in raising the Leader Dog puppy. For raisers living close to Leader Dog, puppy classes are available. We also have puppy counselors in many areas that provide support by holding meetings, outings, and training sessions.

What is a puppy counselor?  Is there one in my area?

A puppy counselor is a trained Leader Dog volunteer who organizes monthly meetings, outings, and training sessions in their local area. We currently have puppy counselors throughout Michigan and in select areas of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. For raisers living outside of these select areas, a counselor will be assigned to you so that you will receive monthly updates, feedback and support.

What expenses am I responsible for?

As a volunteer puppy raiser you are responsible for the puppy’s food, a crate, travel expenses to local meetings/outings/classes, and travel expenses to Leader Dog to pick-up and drop-off the puppy. Also, if you are not using a Leader Dog veterinarian, you are responsible for the cost of routine veterinary care. Other expenses you may incur are replacement toys, training collar and leash. Some raisers also take their puppy to outside obedience classes at their own expense.

Are any of the expenses I incur tax deductible?

Yes. Leader Dog is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization so most expenses you incur while raising your puppy may be tax deductible. Your tax preparer is the best person to advise you on what records you will need for tax purposes.

Am I responsible for spaying or neutering the puppy?

No. Because all puppies have the potential to be included in our breeding program, the puppy must not to be neutered or spayed.

Do I have to take the puppy everywhere I go?

No. Though socialization is very important for your puppy, it must also learn that it is confident enough to stay at home.

Can the puppy go into all businesses?

No. Working dog guides and dogs being trained by a dog guide instructor have automatic access into all public facilities. Future Leader Dog puppies do not have this access. Puppy raisers are responsible for calling ahead to get permission from the owner or manager before entering a public facility with a puppy. Puppies should be well groomed, well mannered, and wearing a Leader Dog bandana or jacket when out in public.

Can I take the puppy to obedience classes?

Yes. If you take the puppy to obedience classes outside of Leader Dog, please follow these guidelines: The puppy must all be positioned on your left side with their hip in line with your leg. The puppy must be kept on a loose lead. The puppy must remain standing when you stop. No additional training equipment like a prong/pinch collar, gentle leader, or halti is allowed. Use of food in training should be limited.

Do I need a fenced yard?

No. If you do not have a fenced yard, you must have the puppy on a leash or long line when taking them outside.

Is it difficult to return the puppy to Leader Dog for training?

Yes. As put by current puppy raisers – “Handing over the leash is perhaps the most difficult part of puppy raising, but we focus on the big picture and remember it is what we are GIVING, not what we are GIVING UP. The sadness I feel giving up a puppy is nothing compared to the joy of the people gaining independence.”

Raise a Hero and Change a Life

For more information Leader Dogs for the Blind or to become a puppy raiser call (888) 777-5332 or visit their website.

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