If you’ve always wanted to puppy raise, now is the time to apply!



We are often asked when should one start the application process?  Since becoming an NSD Puppy Raiser can be competitive, it’s always best to begin the application as soon as you can!  The application process usually takes 3-6 weeks and includes several important steps like observing puppy classes, reading our manual, and having an in-home interview.

All of NSD’s puppies-in-training are raised in volunteer homes. These Puppy Raisers and are crucial to the future success of our dogs and the operation of our organization. We actively recruit volunteers that want to help socialize and teach an NSD puppy basic obedience from age 8 weeks to 18 months.  Residents in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and surrounding areas are invited to apply to become a puppy raiser. All volunteer puppy raisers must be located within 45 km of NSD headquarters in Cambridge. We cannot accommodate out of province applications.

*Due to numbers already attending, we currently cannot accommodate applicants attending the University of Guelph.

*Students from nearby universities and colleges are welcome to apply.



Puppy Raisers are responsible for the socialization, house training, and basic obedience training of NSD’s puppies-in-training.

Obedience Training: Puppies start obedience training classes provided by NSD trainers very early to begin introducing basic obedience commands, set socialization goals, and connect as a group to solve and prevent common puppy issues. Puppy Raisers are required to commit to weekly classes for the first 12 weeks and then class every other week thereafter. Classes must be attended throughout the puppy placement period, starting at a beginner level up to more advanced classes. Classes are scheduled Wednesday and Thursday evenings in Kitchener or Waterloo.

8-12 Week Puppy Obedience

Benchmark Basic Skills for Puppies 8 weeks – 12 weeks

3-6 Month Puppy Obedience

Socialization: Puppy raisers are also required to attend several “social outings” held in various public environments with NSD puppy training instructors. For example, the puppy training instructors may schedule outings to shopping malls, parks, pet stores, or restaurants. Puppies must be socialized a minimum of six hours per week.

Puppy Raising Experience

Puppy Raisers who volunteer for this experience volunteer to receive an 8 week old NSD puppy and raise him/her for approximately 16 months. Once your Puppy Raiser Application is approved, an NSD staff member will meet with you in person to discuss the potential puppies that may be available. Consistent Puppy Class Attendance is mandatory for the entire experience.

Temporary Homes 

Sometimes, those who intend to raise an NSD puppy for 18 months have life challenges that prevent them from continuing as a volunteer.  That’s where YOU can help!  We need Puppy Raisers who volunteer to provide a temporary home until a NSD staff member can find another volunteer to continuing raising the NSD puppy.  This is approximately a 1-4 month commitment.


All potential applicants must complete an application. Please email lindsey@nsd.on.ca to apply

 Applicants who have raised a NSD puppy within the last 24 months, and who are well versed in NSD training policies, will be given priority.  

We are looking for young families, couples, retirees, and single individuals who are able to devote the time, energy and love necessary to successfully socialize and train a NSD puppy. Raising a puppy can be strenuous so applicants must be able to walk for 30-40 minutes in any one session. The application process to be a NSD Puppy Raiser (for any length of time) takes between 3-6 weeks to complete depending on your availability.

Before you decide Puppy Raising is for you, there are some important questions to consider. You should answer “yes” to all of the following questions.

  • Are you willing to make a 14-16 month commitment to raising an NSD puppy?
  • Are you able to attend 30 minutes of puppy class between 6-8pm every week?
  • Do you live within 45 km of NSD Headquarters in Cambridge Ontario?
  • Do you have a reliable vehicle?
  • Are there two dogs or less in your household?
  • Are all children in your household over the age of five?
  • Are you physically capable of walking a strong puppy for 30-40 minutes in any one session?
  • If you currently reside in an apartment, do you live on the first or second floor?
  • Are you familiar with the work involved in successfully raising a puppy?
  • Are you patient and consistent with animals?
  • Will you be devoted to the program and follow NSD guidelines and expectations?
  • Are you home during the day or would you be able to bring the dog to work with you? The puppy cannot be crated more than four hours at a time and will need a relief/exercise part way through the day.
  • Are you willing to follow the directions given to you by NSD trainers?
  • Are you committed to the puppy being a part of your family?
  • Will you be able to leash walk your puppy in all weather for at least 30 minutes twice per day?
  • Can you provide the opportunity for a puppy to have a leash-free run in a fenced area once per day?
  • Will you be able to take the puppy into various public environments (i.e. malls, grocery stores, movies, restaurants, parks, sports events, etc.) at least 6 times per week?

NSD receives a lot of support from various sponsors to help keep costs low for our organization and our Puppy Raisers.

Items Supplied by NSD for all Puppy Raisers:

  • Puppy Raiser Orientation (occurs prior to taking the puppy)
  • NSD Puppy Training Manual
  • Purina Pro Plan Puppy Food generously donated by Nestle Purina
  • Vaccines generously donated by Pfizer
  • Veterinary care, including spay and neutering
  • Sentinel medication for heartworm/flea prevention generously donated by Novartis Animal Health
  • NSD Puppy training jackets
  • Small leash and adjustable flat collar
  • Ongoing NSD puppy classes
  • Support from our dedicated NSD staff and volunteers Items Supplied by the Puppy Raiser
  • Although most equipment and costs are supplied and covered by NSD, there are some items that the Puppy Raiser is responsible for.

Puppy Raiser Responsibility:

  • Dog Bed
  • Large or Extra Large Dog Crate
  • Approved Treats
  • Any additional approved toys
  • A safe and loving home

*Please note we are currently unable to accept applications from students attending the University of Guelph

If you would like to be a puppy raiser and live in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Stratford, London or surrounding area (you must be able to attend ongoing classes and training outings), please email Lindsey at lindsey@nsd.on.ca



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When I first started puppy raising for National Service Dogs, I didn’t realize that I would be embarking on such a great adventure. Puppy raising is not only worthwhile and rewarding but has provided me with the opportunity to grow and learn, make new friends, both canine and human, and contribute to my community, all while having fun along the way. Yes, it can be an emotional experience when the puppy is recalled for advanced training. However, that is tempered by the positive feelings of having been an important part of the puppy’s training, and seeing her or him go on to make a meaningful difference in someone’s life.
Marg Mannell on our Puppy Raising and Breeding program