The PADS Puppy-Raising Program is made up of a dedicated group of trainers committed to achieving positive outcomes for our PADS dogs and volunteers. We recognize that the backbone of our program are our volunteers, and strive to serve them with compassion, knowledge, and a solution-seeking mindset.
Puppy-Raisers are the volunteers who take a young, rambunctious puppy and mold them into a capable assistance dog trainee ready to enter Advanced Training. Puppy-Raisers focus on three areas of training: Skills (such as walking on a loose leash, sitting), Manners (settling well, appropriate household behaviour) and Socialization (having confidence in the world around them) using scientific evidence-based training that takes the dog’s well-being into consideration.
Puppy-Raising is a full-time volunteer opportunity, with weekly puppy class instruction to help the raiser and puppy grow their skills. Training support, including one-to-one training is available, as well as scheduled assessments to track the puppy and puppy-raiser’s progress and provide Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to focus on areas where the puppy or team is struggling.
Our raisers are a diverse group, including
Raising appeals to different people for different reasons, including:
- the prospect of changing lives
- gaining dog training experience
- geeking out over behaviour
- wanting to be part of a great community
- knowing that when you travel or aren’t able to care for the puppy that there is a great puppy-sitting community to provide care
- shorter time commitment than getting a pet dog, and not watching a dog grow old and frail
- wanting to have a dog, but have a busy lifestyle and spend most of the day away from home
Great raisers have:
- patience and a sense of humour
- the willingness to have a canine shadow with them in public
- like teaching new behaviours and working on skills acquisition
Requirements & Time Commitment
- Must be located in the Vancouver, Calgary, or Okanagan region (Okanagan classes are held in Lake Country)
- Being a puppy-raiser is a 2 year commitment (*note, PADS is working towards reducing our turn in age to between 15-18 months), but our sincere hope is that every volunteer who signs onto the role will continue to puppy-raise after their first puppy.
- Raisers must be able to take the puppy to work or school (if applicable), and must be permitted a dog in their home.
Puppy Selection and Placement
PADS matches puppies to puppy-raisers based upon where we believe the puppy will be most successful, taking into account information from the puppy-raiser as to their lifestyle, as well as notes from the breeder-caretaker, assessment results, and any pertinent medical information. Puppy-Raisers may express a preference for either a male or female puppy OR a particular colour OR a particular breed (generally only Labrador Retrievers or Labrador x Golden mixes are available), and all things being equal we will try to meet the request. In general we do not have a large enough group of puppies available to meet more specific requests.
In some cases puppies may be moved to different raisers within the first couple of months if the fit isn’t quite right.
Community and Continuity
Puppy-Raisers and puppies are assigned to a cohort led by a Trainer. In most cases, the team will stay in this cohort throughout the puppy’s time in Puppy-Raising. This allows Puppy-Raisers to develop a community, be supported by the same Coaches, and have continuity of care, with Trainers developing a good understanding of a puppy’s struggles and strengths over time.
Why become a Puppy-Raiser instead of a Puppy-Sitter or Advanced Sitter?
In many ways, being a puppy-raiser is easier than being a puppy-sitter. You get to know one puppy well, always know where they are in their training, and you know that you helped to shape the dog they become. Puppy-sitters sit puppies at different stages of training with different struggles, so being a puppy-sitter can feel like trying to hit a moving target for some volunteers. When you’re a raiser, you and your puppy grow your skills in tandem, so you’re always at the same place in your training. You also overcome stages and struggles together, and are able to look back and know “we accomplished that!”
Puppy-Raising is an incredibly rewarding experience. We say “Raise a Puppy, Change a Life”, but in truth our puppies tend to change multiple lives, and yours will be one of them.
Burnaby: Applications Open – Apply Here
Calgary: Applications Temporarily Paused – Register Here
Okanagan: Applications Open – Apply Here