Puppy Raiser (formerly called a Puppy Walker)
You will be providing the puppy with a vital foundation for its future role as a guide dog. This is a full-time volunteering opportunity as the puppy will live with you for 12-16 months.
Covid-19: If you are interested in volunteering for us, we would love to hear from you. We are still taking applications for many of our volunteering roles and we are always looking for people who can help us raise the next generation of life-changing guide dogs.
What you’ll be doing
We rely on volunteers like you to help us improve the lives of people with sight loss. In this role your support will include:
- Feeding, training and generally caring for a puppy's needs daily. This is time consuming and, particularly when very young, they cannot be left on their own for more than three hours
- You will develop and care for a puppy as directed by your supervisor
- Familiarising the puppy with many different environments
- Teaching basic obedience commands
- Attending monthly puppy classes
Ideally you will have:
- Time, a Guide Dog puppy cannot be left on their own for more than three hours
- Good communication skills and interpersonal skills.
- Experience of being in an environment around dogs an advantage.
- A suitable home to bring up a puppy
- You will need access to a suitable area where the puppy could go to the toilet during the day, including first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
If you don’t feel you tick every box but are sure this role is the one for you, please drop us a message and tell us why. You may have something to offer that we didn’t even know we wanted and would love to talk it through with you to see what’s possible!
Volunteering is a two-way street, so in return for your time you will get a dedicated volunteer manager/key contact who will help you settle in and support you during your time with us. You’ll also get:
- The challenge and reward of seeing a puppy develop in your home.
- The satisfaction that you have had a pivotal role in providing guide dogs that enable people with sight loss to enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.
- A range of recognition awards and events to say thank you
Training and support
This role has 12 hours of mandatory training and then you’ll be ready to go! These modules include:
- Puppy Foundations
- Ongoing training as part of the role
If you have questions about the training requirements, we can answer these at your interview along with any other support or accessibility needs you may have.
Volunteering for Guide Dogs should never leave you out of pocket. We’ll make sure we pay any expenses related to your volunteering with us in line with our policy.
What we need from you
- Criminal Disclosure check necessary? No
We are working hard to make sure anyone who wants to can volunteer for Guide Dogs, but at the moment we have a minimum age of 18 for this particular role.
We can’t do this without brilliant people like you to help us. Inclusion is at the heart of what we do and we believe in equal opportunities and we celebrate diversity. We’re a person-centred organisation which means we put individuals, their needs and wellbeing first.
- Puppy Raiser (formerly called a Puppy Walker)
- Sighted guide
- Dog Exerciser
- Fosterer (formerly called a Boarder)
- Breeding Dog Holder - Brood (formerly called a Brood Bitch Holder)
- Breeding Dog Holder - Stud (formerly called a Stud Dog Holder)
- Admin support
- Reception support
- Fundraising Group Treasurer
- Collection Box Coordinator
- Dog Driver
- Events day assistant
- Student volunteers
- Fundraising Co-ordinator
Meet current puppy raiser Nimmi and puppy Glen!
Nimmi was born and grew up in Bangalore, India, but has lived in Glasgow, Scotland since 1995 with her husband Stuart, a pilot, and their two teenage children. The family also have a pet black Labrador called Ike and a cat, an Egyptian Mau, called Ramon. Nimmi first started volunteering for Guide Dogs in 2015 and has since raised six guide dog puppies.
“I’m happiest around dogs so raising puppies for Guide Dogs is totally up my street. I absolutely love it.
The puppies come to live with us when they are about eight weeks old and can stay until they are ready for the next stage in their lives, usually around 11-16 months old. All the puppies we’ve raised have their quirks and are all very different individuals. We’ve fallen in love with every puppy who has come through our home.
Our current puppy Glen is a yellow labradoodle and he’s very cute! He’s all legs and is quite tall. He’s a lovely, calm, good natured boy and he loves cuddles. The downside to that is it’s very easy to completely fall in love with him – and we have!
People often ask me two questions: How can we go through toilet training and sleepless nights every year? And how can you even think about giving them back? I’m sure every Guide Dogs puppy raiser across the UK will back me up that both of these things are very difficult. It takes a certain someone to be a puppy raiser, but we do it because we love what we do, and we love the dogs. You also only need to speak to someone who has a guide dog to understand how important they are and the difference they make. To have a fully trained guide dog you need people to volunteer to raise the puppies – that’s enough motivation for me.
I couldn’t do it without the support and help of my family – all of them are as doggy daft as me! Puppy raising is part of our family life, we all have to be on board and be consistent with their training. My daughter is at university now, but she’s also registered as a volunteer and when she comes home she can help out with taking Glen for walks.
All of my friends are so supportive as well, even the ones who weren’t dog lovers at first have ended up falling in love with the pups. I’m very involved with my local church, and they’ve welcomed all of my puppies. We take the puppies everywhere with us - to concerts or shopping, which is great for their socialisation.
It’s been really difficult during the pandemic and I do worry about the impact it will have on the puppies’ confidence. When we’re out walking and I see someone I know I always try to stop and chat (from a safe distance) so Glen knows not to be afraid of other people. My Guide Dogs Puppy Development Advisor has organised virtual puppy classes for us, and they’ve evolved so that we can now meet as a smaller group of puppy raisers who have puppies of a similar age. There are five of us with puppies who are about 4-5 months old and we now meet virtually each week.
I’ve met so many wonderful people through the charity. The Breeding Dog Holder of one of my puppies, Luna, organised a meet up at her house for all the puppy raisers of her litter. It was lovely for her to see how the puppies are all getting on and it was wonderful to meet other puppy raisers.
One of the puppies I raised, Scout, became a guide dog mum, and I was so lucky to be able to raise one of her puppies – Jumble, our last puppy.
Now that my children are a bit older, I can be completely involved with Guide Dogs and my other interests – gardening, cooking and baking – which keeps me busy. Through puppy raising and fundraising for Guide Dogs I’ve met lots people who have benefited from the charity and who can now live their lives with confidence – it makes what I do so much more meaningful. Volunteering gives me a sense of achievement and a feeling that I’m giving back to society. That’s a warm and happy feeling, and my life is much richer because of this charity.
I hope I can continue puppy raising for as long as I physically can. I’m also a fundraiser for Guide Dogs with the ‘Glasgow City Rollers’. We’re a team of volunteers from all different walks of life. We arrange events or organise bucket collections at various areas around Glasgow. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do any of this with the current COVID-19 restrictions.
I’ve also become a trained Speaker for Guide Dogs, which means I go to different events with my puppy to tell them about my role and raise awareness of the charity. I enjoy speaking to different audiences, both adults and children. I’ve done a few virtual talks since the pandemic to Brownie groups and Rotary clubs, which have been interesting! It’s hard to gauge how people receive you, but they all love to see Glen’s face popping up on screen! I hope these talks might encourage more people to volunteer or to give generous donations to the charity.
In India, people with a vision impairment mainly have to rely on their families for support as there isn’t anything definitive in place so they can often live very limited or lonely lives. I’ve met so many people in the UK living full, happy, confident lives. I hope that people all over the world can one day experience the wonderful work, support and resources like Guide Dogs provides here in the UK."
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If you think you could become a volunteer puppy raiser for Guide Dogs, then the next step is to check if there is a opportunity available near you. You can use the search option below to find all volunteering opportunities near you and if you don't see a puppy raising option - don't worry! We do update our opportunities all the time so make sure you check back in.