Service Dog Puppy Raising

NSD was thrilled to welcome five new litters to our family of service dogs this season.  If you’ve always wanted to puppy raise, now is the time to apply!

At this time the University of Guelph has set limits on how many NSD puppies can be in attendance so we cannot accept puppy raiser applications from students from U of G. Please try back in November. Students from all other universities and colleges are welcome to apply.

All of NSD’s puppies-in-training are raised in volunteer homes from approximately eight weeks of age to 18 months of age. These volunteers are called Puppy Raisers and are crucial to the future success of our dogs and the operation of our organization. Click HERE for an outline of the program. Residents in the Kitchener-Waterloo and London area are invited to apply with some exceptions. Raisers must be located within 45 km of NSD headquarters in Cambridge. We cannot accommodate out of province applications.

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 Monday (Cambridge) and Wednesday (London) evenings. Transportation is necessary as there is no public transport available to our training locations.
  • 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.
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 puppy. Raising a puppy can be strenuous so applicants must be able to walk for 30-40 minutes in any one session.

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. If you “pass the test” you may make a valuable puppy raiser!

  • Are you willing to make a 12 to 24 month commitment to the puppy?
  • 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 project?
  • 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 weathers on the streets 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?
  • Do you have a reliable vehicle?
  • Are there two dogs or less in your household?
  • Are all of the children in your household over the age of five?

You will need to devote time each day to practice obedience skills and make time for social outings in public that lead to the successful training and socialization of a future service dog. It is crucial that this all-important training and socialization be carried out in a positive and fun manner. Dog training is not difficult, but requires patience, consistency, and repetition. Puppies have receptive minds and love to learn new things. They are happiest when given a task to do or a new skill to learn. Remember that often puppies that are bored will become destructive and will engage in activities like chewing inappropriate objects or digging for recreation. Success comes with commitment, so the training of a NSD puppy must somehow fit in between your work, school, TV shows, and other weekly activities.

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:

The following items are supplied to each Puppy Raiser:

  • 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:

  • Dog Bed
  • Large or Extra Large Dog Crate
  • Approved Treats
  • Any additional approved toys
  • A leash and collar as the puppy grows
  • A safe and loving home
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 complete our Puppy Raising Application below. Please note the on-line submission form does not work with the safari web browser.
For more information, please email Cathy Klein or call 519-623-4188, ext. 18.
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

Puppy Raiser Application

  • If you are a student, please complete the section below.