Year of the NEADS Dog Month 8 – A Different Route

Full-time Puppy Raisers (19)

We continue our Year of the NEADS Dog series, in which we highlight the transition our Service Dogs in Training make during their first year with us, by highlighting a different path that some of our puppies take.

Most NEADS Service Dogs are raised in correctional facilities through our Prison PUP Program. The dogs live with inmates in MA and RI prisons Monday through Friday, and volunteer Weekend Puppy Raisers take the puppies out of prison each weekend to work on house manners, socialization, and maintaining obedience.

To supplement this core programmatic approach to training, NEADS recently introduced a Full-time Puppy Raiser program. Puppies in this program follow a different path. They live full-time with a volunteer Puppy Raiser from the time they are about 8 weeks of age until they are 14 to 18 months old. The puppy is then moved into a prison facility to finish its Service Dog training or is chosen as a Breeder Dog.

Full-time Puppy Raisers focus on two primary areas: socialization and basic obedience. To help with socialization, full-time Raisers are encouraged to include the puppy in as much of their daily activities as possible. Depending on the pup’s age, they may take the puppy when running errands (exposure to different sights, sounds, and people), or have the pup practice down and settle when working at a desk, or bring the pup to a restaurant or coffee shop. They practice obedience training (sit, stay, shake, quiet) during several short sessions each day and, of course, make sure the puppy gets the ever-important daily exercise. NEADS trainers work closely with the full-time Puppy Raisers every step of the way, from running instructional classes at NEADS to organizing field trips to providing guidance and support whenever it’s needed.

See the whole Year of the NEADS Dog series here.