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Puppy Raiser Questions Asked and Answered

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Questions on the Puppy Raiser program? We got answers!

IHDI's Puppy Raiser program is a commitment with lots of working parts, so we understand that questions about how it works come up. To aid in assessing whether being a Puppy Raiser is a good fit for you, we've compiled common questions and answers below. However, any questions are welcome. We're happy to fill in any blanks. Email us or call us at 303-287-3277 ext 2.

How long does the puppy stay with me?

The puppy will live with the raiser for about 9-12 months. Puppies will be placed in approved raisers homes at about 8 weeks of age.

What supplies does IHDI provide to raisers and what would I need to provide for the puppy?

IHDI provides the dog food, all dog equipment (leash, collar, crate, vest), a starter kit of toys and treats, monthly preventatives, all routine veterinary care including vaccinations, and all the training and guidance throughout the raising period. 

Puppy Raisers need to provide additional toys and treats, replacement items, miscellaneous costs that may arise (i.e. clean up supplies) and cover transportation costs. Any amounts that you spend on the puppy may be tax deductible so consult your tax advisor and save your receipts.

What commitments does IHDI require of the puppy raisers?

Puppy raisers are required to attend a weekly class. This class serves as a check in for both the raisers and the puppies, learn about puppy development, learn basic necessary skills, receive on-going evaluation and feedback, ask questions, and complete age appropriate group outings and crucial socialization.

I don’t know how to train a dog! Who is going to help me?

Our team of knowledgeable staff will be with you every step of the way and guide you through raising a puppy. From puppy development, enrichment, grooming and positive house manners to training basic cues and group outings, our trainers and staff will provide resources, the research, and hands-on training. The more the raisers are willing to learn, accept feedback, and practice their new skills with consistency, the greater the puppies’ likelihood for success.

Can I raise a puppy with another dog in the home?

Typically, Yes! We will need to meet your dog to ensure it is a good fit for a service pup in training. However, our general rule is that one adult dog (ages 1 year or older) and other pets are fine as long as they are spayed or neutered, current on all veterinary care, they are not aggressive toward the puppy, and you agree to abide by our rules for your IHDI puppy, even if your own pets have different rules. 

Can I raise a puppy with children in the home?

Yes! While being the primary puppy raiser is fundamentally an adult responsibility, raising a service dog can be a great family project and children can be a good experience for the puppies. We encourage the children to attend as many classes as possible and we do coach the parents on appropriate interactions with the dogs. We want this to be a good experience for everyone involved. However, to help ensure the safety for the children and our pups we typically ask that there are not children in the household under 8.

What if I need to travel or go on a vacation?

In some circumstances the puppy can come with you! Camping trips and in-state travel are allowed with approval from IHDI staff. 

I have another person or family that lives outside my home that wants to do this with me, can we raise a puppy together?

Yes! If you want to raise a puppy together, fill out the co-raiser section in the application. Each Co-Raiser must submit separate applications. Both Co-Raiser and their families can attend classes together to be sure there are consistent rules and progress between both households.

Can I raise a puppy if I work full time?

Depends. Ideally we would love for the puppy to attend work with you if you work outside of the home with your employer’s approval. A puppy will need many bathroom breaks throughout the day and it is our policy for the puppy not to be left alone for more than 4 hours, so IHDI and the raiser would need to work out an appropriate bathroom and exercise plan if you cannot bring the puppy to work. If everyone in your household is gone for a long period of time every day, we recommend you look into puppy sitting or co-raising.

Is a fenced in yard required?

No, a fenced in yard is not required. Some of our clients live in apartments or homes without a fenced in yard, so this could be a good experience for the puppy. The puppy will still need appropriate bathroom breaks and exercise. We do require that the dog always be leashed up when not in a securely fenced area. It is IHDI’s policy that our dogs are NOT allowed to visit public dog parks.

How will I ever be able to let this puppy go after a year?

It will be very difficult and there may be a lot of tears. The best thing is to keep focused on the end goal: your puppy all grown-up as a working hearing dog, providing independence, support, confidence, and improved quality of life to one of our d/Deaf clients across the nation. You will be so proud when you see your Hearing Dog working and at graduation — and there will be more tears. We will be here to support you through this part of the process as well. If you were to ask other puppy raisers, many would tell you that it is actually harder to bear the disappointment of a puppy not completing the program than it is to see the puppy become a life changing hearing service dog.

What’s the next step to become a Puppy Raiser?

Complete and submit an on-line application here and you will be contacted by IHDI soon.

What does it mean to Trina and Jim to be a puppy raiser?

First - it means being part of something bigger. To belong to a community that focuses on giving back to those with hearing impairments. To help give these individuals a sense of security, and happiness, while keeping their independence. To help train these amazing puppies into dogs to provide this service means a lot to us. 

Second - as former dog owners over the past 20 years, it also helps to fill the void of not having a dog around. It allows us to meet and train dogs of different breeds and personalities which brings us many rewarding challenges. It brightens our day to work with and come home to such a happy puppy.

Third - the training and education we have received from the trainers and staff have brought us so much value. We love learning new techniques and strategies on dog behavior and personalities. 

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