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What is Puppy Raising?

A puppy raiser in her graduation regalia kneels next to a standard cream poodle in a yellow vest, red bow tie, and black cap.

Puppy Raisers are volunteers who raise and train puppies to be assistance dogs. Puppy raising programs are organized and operated by Assistance Dog Organizations who provide fully trained assistance dogs to individuals in need.

Assistance Dog is a broad term for working dogs who provide a service for their paired human. Explore common types of assistance dogs on our blog post, Dogs and their Jobs.


Sadly no, but that would be a sweet deal!

As a puppy raiser, you are responsible for the puppy as if it was your own, but it's not. The puppy is owned by the organization that you volunteer for, most likely a nonprofit.

The organization you raise for, what we often call the parent organization, provides the puppy and typically organizes your and the puppy's training. They are also the one that ensures the puppy is properly bred, trained, and healthy to one day be an assistance dog!

Many parent organizations have local puppy raising groups or chapters through which volunteers gather and organize. This is also how the volunteer puppy raisers are trained, the parent organization keeps tabs on the puppy's progress, and through which most puppy raising in the United States occurs.


Volunteer puppy raising varies between organizations, local groups, and even by person! But when it comes down to it, these are the key elements of puppy raising:


One of the most defining qualities of puppy raising is being a volunteer. Puppy raisers pour their time, energy, and love into the puppies for the purpose of raising a future assistance dog who will go on to change someone's life.

A Puppy

Puppy raisers work with dogs, but more specifically, puppies. Raisers are responsible for the care, livelihood, training, and raising of the puppy. This is a big task as you're caring for a furry child with a big future ahead of them, and they need you to prepare them for it.


Puppy raising differs from many other volunteer opportunities in that it requires a long-term commitment. Many programs have raisers caring for and training the puppy for over a year. Volunteers also have to be trained themselves and attend training classes throughout their time with the puppy.

As you can imagine, a lot goes into puppy raising and raising a puppy yourself! It's a big commitment, but also a very rewarding one too. The puppy kisses make it very worth it!

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