A golden retriever puppy sits in a field of grass looking directly at the camera. The puppy wears a blue bandanna that says Future Leader Dog

Raise a Puppy

Green circle with a white puppy icon insideRaising a Future Leader Dog won’t only change someone else’s life.
It will change yours.

"I became interested in volunteering as a puppy raiser due to my insatiable passion for dogs, coupled with my desire to be of help to others. I've learned these four-legged fur balls are more than dogs. They transform into a person's lifeline—their touchstone—literally, their pathway to independence."

This is what raising a Future Leader Dog means to so many of our puppy raisers, who give 12 to 15 months of their time, energy and love while raising a puppy for Leader Dog. Through daily care and training, puppy raisers provide the foundation puppies need to begin guide dog training with the goal of becoming the trusted companion of a person who is blind or visually impaired.

What Does a Puppy Raiser Do?

Puppies are constantly learning during their first year of life. During this time, puppy raisers are responsible for housebreaking the puppy and teaching good manners like staying off the furniture, not jumping on counters or visitors and not begging at the table. They also practice basic obedience commands with the puppy such as sit, down, stay, heel and come. To prepare puppies for their lives as guide dogs, puppy raisers socialize the puppies through exposure to many different kinds of people, vehicles, environments and animals.

Why Puppy Raising

"Members of my family experienced visual impairment as they aged. I raise puppies in their memory. It’s not about the dog, it’s how they can change a life."

Bonnie Luternow

"It is very important to me to teach my children the importance of giving back and helping others—that there is more in this world than just themselves. As a family, we love animals so the decision to get involved with Leader Dog was an easy one. I love to see the pride in my children when they explain to their friends, or to people we meet when out with our [Future Leader Dog], why we are doing this. It has been a wonderful teaching moment and learning experience for all of us!"

Tracie Faupel

"I raise because someone raised my service dog Maya (a PAWS dog) when I was wheelchair bound. It’s my way of saying thanks."

Debi Delie

"I raise and volunteer on campus because if I don’t do it, who will? IF everyone gave back a little without expecting anything in return we would all live in a better world."

Mike Pikelis

"I continue to raise because it is a small way to carry on my mother's tireless work. She transcribed textbooks and exams into Braille for 40 years [as a volunteer]. Raising allows me to continue her legacy."

A. J. Rourke

"I started out as a Lion. I was raising for my club and then I got to meet someone who got one of my puppies and... WOW! I’m making a difference! It takes my breath away."

Laura Guerin

"Raising puppies gives my life purpose. I am improving the quality of another person's life using my skills and talents, and having fun meeting people while I do the work!"

Marcia Bedard

"I work in the field of blindness rehabilitation. I see first hand how these dogs can be life-changing. Having the puppies with me introduces the subject of a guide dog in a natural way. It helps to open up the conversation, not to mention the stress relief the puppy brings!"

Jessi Troester

"I became interested in volunteering as a puppy raiser due to my insatiable passion for dogs, coupled with my desire to be of help to others. I’ve learned these four-legged creatures are more than dogs. They transform into a person’s lifeline—their touchstone—literally, their pathway to independence."

Laura Banks

"It’s simple. I have a need to contribute to society through volunteering. It also helps that I have an insatiable dog/puppy addiction. So it’s a win-win."

Anne Ritchie

More About Puppy Raising

Financial Responsibilities

Puppy raisers are responsible for purchasing food, toys, replacement collars, replacement leashes and veterinary care for the puppy (Leader Dog supplies the initial toys, collar and leash). Puppy raisers who live close to Leader Dog may bring the puppy to our veterinarians at no cost to them. However, raisers using a local veterinarian incur the cost of routine care. Many veterinarians will provide discounted services to Leader Dog puppy raisers.

Puppy Safety

Safety of the puppies should always be a concern for puppy raisers. Whenever a puppy is outside and not within a completely fenced area, the puppy must be on a leash. There will be times when a puppy is unable to go out with its puppy raiser. During those times, the puppy is to remain crated indoors.

Resources and Support

Puppy raisers receive support from puppy counselors, who arrange monthly events in a variety of settings and provide tips on care, training and manners. 

If you decide to open your home to a puppy, you will receive contact information for your puppy counselor, access to the Puppy Raiser's Manual, instructional videos, Puppy Tales newsletter, and opportunities to attend training sessions on our campus hosted by highly experienced team members.

Having raised or owned a puppy in the past is not a requirement to become a puppy raiser. The most important trait of puppy raisers is the dedication to provide daily care to a puppy and consistency in its training.

Making an Impact

On left is a young golden retriever puppy wearing a Future Leader Dog bandanna. On right is an adult golden retriever in harness

Sandy Frick recalls, “One client told us that getting her Leader Dog was better than all the Christmas gifts she had ever gotten in her life. We’re amazed that what we thought was a small thing we could do makes such a big impact on a person’s life.” ... Read More

20 Years of Puppy Raising

An adolescent yellow lab and golden retriever cross lies outside on a large, flat rock. He is tilting his head at the camera and wearing his Future Leader Dog bandanna

Besides being a puppy raiser, Beverly has also been a puppy counselor for the last five years, and she loves helping her group raise successful Leader Dogs. "I like to encourage them because it's one of the best gifts they will give and one of the best life experiences I will ever have.". ... Read More

A Great Opportunity

Mary stands holding a black labrador's leash in a hallway in front of double doors. She is smiling at the camera and surrounded on both sides by young boys wearing Boy Scouts shirts and hats. A Scout leader is also standing with them

Mary began volunteering after seeing an advertisement for puppy raisers. “I made the decision instantly. It was one of those ‘Why not?’ things,” says Mary. “I had dogs and loved dogs my whole life. Plus, I knew that this would be a great opportunity to help someone.” ... Read More