Guide Dog Training – How To Become A Guide Dog Puppy Raiser

Are you interested in Guide Dog Training? You should try getting a taste of guide dog training by starting off as a guide dog puppy raiser. About two years ago I decided I wanted to raise a guide dog puppy, but thought…where do I start? Here’s my journey to becoming a Guide Dogs of America Puppy Raiser.

My Rescue Dog Linus

Linus the Aussie Lab MixI’ve always had a love for dogs and about three years ago rescued an Australian Shepherd Black Lab mix from the Carson shelter. If you want to read more about my rescue dog Linus take a look at this article: Dedicated to My Dog Linus. We always had family dog when I was growing up, but Linus was MY first dog, MY responsibility. Raising Linus was a real joy for me and really stoked my interest in dogs. I started researching rescues, shelters, and service dogs.

The Pet Expo

Pet ExpoA couple years ago I attended the Pet Expo in Costa Mesa, CA. It’s a great event located on the OC fairgrounds with tons of dog and animal products, exhibitions, booths, rescue groups, and food (for people). After visiting and seeing the many dedicated volunteers at the Pet Expo I decided that I should dedicate some of my free time to helping these non-profit organizations.

Cuddly Canines

Several months after the Pet Expo I contacted one of our local Puppy/Dog Rescues named Cuddly Canines. Cuddly Canines is a wonderful rescue group that saves mostly litters of puppies from the Riverside Animal Shelter in Southern California. I sent them my information and told them I’d be interested in fostering a litter of puppies and what do you know a couple days later I brought home 7 German Shepherd puppies from the Riverside Shelter.

The puppies were adorable, a little malnurished, but absolutely adorable. Take a look at my article on Puppy Adoption and Fostering to see a picture of the Shepherd mixed puppies I fostered.

Poopies

Sorry to get off subject, but one thing I learned about puppies (or maybe it’s just shepherds) is that when one goes poop they all go poop. Kind of like BackDraft (if you saw the movie: “You go, We go”. I learned this first hand on the ride home from Riverside. Almost immediately after we left the shelter one of the puppies pooped in the crate. Of course, this was a sign for the others to poop (7 poops + 1 crate = lots of poop in the fur) …ehhhhh…disgusting!!! To make matters worse it was one of the hottest days of summer and even though we wanted to run the air conditioner we had to open the windows to breathe. Cleaning poop off of puppy fur is not a fun job.

Guide Dogs Organizations

I loved raising the Shepherd puppies. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. I next set my sights on becoming a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser. I researched the internet to find as much information as possible and found three Guide Dog Organizations in California:

  1. Guide Dogs of the Desert International – Palm Springs, CA
  2. Guide Dogs for the Blind – Campus’s in San Rafael, CA and Boring, OR
  3. Guide Dogs of America – Sylmar, CA

I was unable to find a puppy raiser application on the Guide Dogs of the Desert International website, but did send an email to the puppy department. Unfortunately I never heard back from their organization.

While flipping through the OC Register Pet Section I came across a short classified ad on Guide Dog Puppy Raising with a contact phone number. I called the number and spoke with the Orange County Guide Dogs For the Blind group leader. This group was comprised of mostly young adults in a 4-H group. I did get the chance to attend meetings, but ended up not joining the group.

When I first started my search to become a puppy raiser I sent a puppy raiser application to Guide Dogs of America. After about four months I was contacted by the Orange County GDA group leader. It seemed like a perfect fit. The puppy raiser meetings and puppy training were held 5 minutes from my house. Our group leader came to the house, interviewed me, and inspected my house to make sure it was puppy safe. Finally, I received my a manual on how to raise a GDA puppy. One month later I picked up Stetson from Sylmar.

Becoming A GDA Puppy Raiser

My step-by-step process to become a GDA puppy raiser:

  1. Go to the website and fill out an application.
    • I’d also read through the website and try to absorb as much information as possible.
  2. Wait until a GDA group leader contacts you
    • I contacted the puppy raising department twice by email to try and speed up the process – I had nearly given up hope…BE PATIENT!
  3. Have meeting with GDA group leader for interview and house inspection.
  4. Attend group meetings and be sure to sign in.
    • I was told that people who attend meetings regularly have priority on getting their puppies

You can probably speed up this process if you know someone (ME) who is currently raising a puppy or working with Guide Dogs of America.

Are you interested in Guide Dog Training or Puppy Raising? Do you want to train Guide Dog Puppies? Let me know what you think.

Comments

  1. AJ says

    what breeds of dogs become guide dogs? I would like to do puppy raising, do they pay for vet bills and stuff?

  2. says

    @AJ, The group I volunteer with is called Guide Dogs of America (GDA). We train Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds to become Guide Dogs. GDA has also experimented with hypoallergenic dogs including Standard Poodles, Labradoodles, and Golden Doodles.

    GDA pays for the Vet. bills, but the puppy raiser pays for most of the other stuff including food, toys for the dog, etc. I know some of the other Guide Dog/Service Dog organizations do not cover vet bills.

    Guide Dogs of America is located in Southern California. If you’re interested in puppy raising for GDA they have a request for puppy raiser application on their website at the following link:

    GDA Puppy Raiser Application

    Good luck if you decide to puppy raise. It’s a very rewarding experience.

  3. AJ says

    did you fill out the application online, or did you send it in? Do you have any books you could recommend regarding puppy raising as guide dogs? does GDA just do dogs for the Blind, or do they provide service dogs for other people?

  4. says

    @AJ, if I remember correctly the online form just sends an email with your contact information. Guide Dogs of America takes that information then sends you a hard copy form by mail. The actual form is a lot more detailed then what you see online.

    GDA trains only dogs for the blind. One of the other organizations I applied with is called Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). They train Service Dogs for (I believe) all other services except for the blind. They’re a national organization. Here’s their website CCI

    I actually already had my application accepted at CCI and may raise one of their dogs in the future. I attended one of their graduations and got to speak with several of their puppy raisers. It seems like a very good organization.

  5. Sammy says

    Right now I’m going through the interview process with GDA–it seems like a great program and everyone is extremely friendly.

  6. says

    @Sammy, that’s great! Are you interviewing with the Orange County group? If so, I’ll probably see you at our next meeting.

  7. says

    I’m waiting for the application in the mail, as the website doesn’t have an omni form to fill out. My husband and I are very excited and hoping we get the opportunity to be puppy raisers soon.

  8. says

    @Alexis, congratulations and best of luck with puppy raising it’s very fulfilling. We sent applications to several different organizations before we settled in with Guide Dogs of America as you probably know if you read the article above.

    Which organization are you going to volunteer for as a puppy raiser?

  9. Sophie says

    Hey! I was just curious about a few things, as I just sent in my application to GDA today. Does it usually take months to process? I also specified German Shephed, will this make the application process longer? And lastly, do you get the pup at the county club? Thanks! Love your blog :b

    • says

      @Sophie, glad to hear you’re interested in becoming a puppy raiser for GDA.

      1. It took several months for them to process my application and I’m not too sure how normal that is for GDA.
      2. It shouldn’t take the application process any longer because you specified German Shepherd. However, I’m almost certain it will take longer for your to receive a puppy.
      3. I’m not sure what you mean by the “county club” I’ve always picked up my puppies from the GDA facility in Sylmar, CA and GDA breeds the majority of their pups.
      4. The Orange County GDA group meetings are held in Anaheim Hills, CA the second Tuesday of the month from 6:30pm – 8pm.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.

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