Not all raisers have their pups from start to finish, some may just start the puppy.
What is a Puppy Starter?
Puppy Starters also known as Starter Homes are temporary puppy raisers that raise the puppy from puppy pick up until they go on to their next raiser. A typical time frame for a puppy starter is 8 weeks to 6 months, but this can vary on what their availability looks like, when the next raiser is ready for the puppy, or program policy.
Why be a Puppy Starter?
Being a puppy starter is perfect for those who love young puppies and teaching foundational skills like relieving, crate training, name response, etc. It’s also great for those who want to raise a puppy but only have a short window where they are able. For example, a teacher who may not want to raise during the school year, but has a lot of free time during the summer. Puppy Starters are vital for those raisers who can’t have a young pup but want to raise!
Why are Puppy Starters Needed?
Sometimes raisers want to raise but can’t have a young puppy. They may work in an environment that is not ideal for a young puppy that doesn't know how to settle yet, does not have a good relieving schedule, or is still learning good manners. Some workplaces in certain states or federal jobs may limit SDiT access. Some states don’t allow public access for SDiTs until they are 6 months old (you can find your state’s law here). Federal workplaces don’t have to follow state access laws for SDiTs and there are no federal access laws for SDiTs, but some federal workplaces are still willing to allow SDiTs to come to work at a certain age. Likewise, a raiser may have a lifestyle that is not compatible with a young puppy. They may be going into a lot of busy environments that a young puppy might not be ready for. A raiser may have very young kids where having a young puppy in the house as well is too much. However, these lifestyles could provide amazing socialization opportunities for older pups.
A volunteer puppy raiser may also just prefer older dogs and want to skip the sleepless nights and hours spent trying to teach a pup to relieve outside on cue.
If you really love little puppies, are home most of the day, and live near an assistance dog organization, some have an opportunity to be a puppy socializer. These volunteers take puppies between 6-10 weeks and get them used to a home environment before going to their puppy raiser. Sometimes these volunteers may keep the puppy until their puppy raiser is ready.
How Do You Become a Puppy Starter?
Contact the orgs you are interested in and see if being a Puppy Starter is an option. Some organizations may want a finishing home set up before allowing you to start a puppy, some may allow you to raise the puppy on your timeline with no set age to return, and some organizations may not allow starter homes.