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…It’s time to turn your service dog puppy in for formal training A.K.A. “Service Dog College”. As you hand your leash over to his new trainer it flashes in your mind…will my dog remember me after a month? a year?
It’s one of the most difficult parts of puppy raising, but you’re a grizzled veteran of 11 puppies in training and it’s a happy time because your puppy is taking the next step in his journey to becoming a service dog…
That was me yesterday. I handed Charlie’s leash over to Sharon from Cascade Service Dogs, we took a few pictures, I told Charlie to do good, and I waved goodbye.
QUICK TIP: We like to keep something that reminds us of our puppy. If you’re a puppy raiser and sending your pup off to college then you might keep their pet tags and favorite collar (we are pretty basic with our nylon buckle collar, but you can find some great custom collars on places like Etsy) like we do and make sure to snap a few farewell photos with your smartphone.
Will My Dog Remember Me After A Month? A Year?
In my experience, the short answer: YES! Your dog will definitely remember you.
As I mentioned earlier after raising a puppy for 12-18 months, puppy raisers have to return their puppies to school for formal training.
Puppy raisers may not see their puppies again for 6-12 months, sometimes even longer.
These are my stories as a service dog puppy raiser and the long answer to: Will my dog remember me after a month? a year?
Will My Dog Remember Me After A Month?
Let’s start off with my first guide dog puppy, Stetson.
I picked up Stetson from Guide Dogs of America (GDA) as a 10 lb, 7 1/2 week old puppy.
One word describes him: ADORABLE!
Since day one Stetson was attached to my hip. We had adventures to Disneyland, train rides, Knott’s Berry Farm, movie theaters, shopping malls, you name it we did it.
When he turned 16 months old GDA called to let me know it was time for Stetson to start Guide Dog College.
Not every puppy in training makes it as a guide dog and after 2 months of formal training I got the call that Stetson was going to be career changed (the nice way of saying he was being dropped).
Would Stetson remember me after being away for 2 months? An emphatic YES!
I remember walking into the kennel area waiting for the techs to bring Stetson out for our reunion.
They came out with three very similar-looking black Labs, possibly two of Stetson’s siblings. One of the three charged toward me with unbridled enthusiasm and I knew Stetson didn’t forget me.
Will My Dog Remember Me After A Year?
Do you guys remember Dublin? He was my third puppy in training and my first guide dog graduate.
If you ever wondered if a puppy will remember you after 6 months or longer then check out the 2:30 mark in Dublin’s graduation video.
It was a special day. Dublin remembered me!
We’re lucky and get to visit Dublin once a year in Arizona when we play in AZ Memorial Day weekend hockey tournament.
And the answer to the question: Will my dog remember me after a year? Without a question, Dublin always remembers me.
In fact, I try to get sneaky sometimes when we go see Dublin.
After not seeing him for over a year we met up with his family at my hockey game, but instead of greeting him right away, I stood about 20 feet away talking with a group of friends keeping a watchful eye on Dublin.
Meanwhile, I see his ears perk up and his head spin around. He either heard my voice or caught my scent.
Immediately he went from the well-behaved guide dog to an enthusiastic puppy again as he encouraged his partner to come to say hi to his old puppy raiser.
Will My Dog Remember Me After A…
That brings us back to Charlie. His story is a little different than Stetson and Dublin’s.
Stetson and Dublin didn’t come to our home until they were 7-8 weeks old, but they both stayed with us for well over a year.
We only had Charlie for 14 weeks before he moved on to Cascade Service Dogs. Now that’s a much shorter period of time than the 1+ year we had Stetson and Dublin.
Will my puppy, Charlie remember me?
Hopefully, we’ll have the answer to that question in 2019.
Will My Dog Remember Me
Every situation is different so I can’t attest to the memory and reaction of every dog just my own experiences.
If you look up “dog reunion” on YouTube you’ll see some different reactions from dogs seeing their humans weeks, months, or years, later.
If you have a moment take a look at these heartfelt videos:
- Dog is hesitant at first – Not all dogs recognize their humans at first sniff.
- Dog is so happy she’s crying – I love Golden Retrievers!
- Dog goes crazy when seeing his owner after 3 years – Dogs are the best!
Maybe we’ll do a reunion video with Charlie or even with Archer who we haven’t seen in over a year.
I hope Charlie and Archer’s reactions are as priceless as the dogs in the videos above
So what about you guys?
Have you ever had to leave your dog for an extended period of time?
Did your dog remember you?
What was his reaction when he saw you for the first time in months/years?
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: When we send off our puppies we also like to put together a little care package for them (does this remind you of college at all). Here are a few items we include in our pup’s college package:
- Favorite Dog Toy – Every puppy is different…
- Favorite Chew – Always a favorite among our Labs and Goldens…
- Bully Sticks! The dogs love them!
- Favorite Blanket – First we wash the blanket then we rub it on our dogs (Stetson, Raven, and Linus) before sending it off.
- A simple blanket works great.
That’s all folks!
Tell us your story in the comment section below.
We’ll report back with Charlie and hopefully Archer’s reaction in 2019.
Top Picks For Our Puppies
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
- BEST DOG CHEW
We Like: Natural Farm Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.