Puppy Raising

At eleven weeks of age, Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs places pups with volunteer Puppy Raisers in the community. These families or individuals ensure that our puppies receive the best possible care, in a loving home environment while receiving basic training.

These special, dedicated Puppy Raisers all have one thing in common – they embrace the opportunity to help New Zealanders who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision to live a life without limits.

Raising and training a guide dog puppy is an amazing experience that is incredibly rewarding for the whole family.

Become a Puppy Raiser

If you’re interested in providing a loving home for our Blind Low Vision NZ puppies, please enquire below.

Two golden retriever puppies playing with each other.

What makes a good Puppy Raiser

A good Puppy Raiser is someone who is caring, patient and responsible.

Puppy Raising is a 12-15 month commitment and during that time, Puppy Raisers are responsible for:

  • Making the pup part of your family, and keeping them safe. Allow the pup to interact with household members.
  • Attending weekly-fortnightly training sessions in your local region.
  • Teaching the pup some basic skills including walking nicely on lead, having good house manners and providing regular socialisation experiences.
  • Establishing good toileting, feeding, sleeping and walking routines as advised by your Puppy Placement and Development Advisor.
A gorgeous guide dog puppy is laying on a soft rug, giving big doe eyes to the camera
Puppy Raiser Kendall and guide dog puppy, Orrissa are walking off to the left hand side

Become a temporary boarder for guide dogs

If you cannot commit to the full 12-15 months, we completely understand

You can still help us by registering as a Temporary Boarder!

Temporary Boarders are on-hand to provide a loving home for when our Puppy Raisers go on holidays or if they cannot look after their pup for a short period of time.

What support will I receive?

We provide most of the equipment you need to make your pup feel at home

This includes:

  • Dog food
  • Preventative medications (fleas and worms)
  • Collars and leashes
  • Grooming equipment
  • Food bowl
  • Crate
  • Basic chew toys
  • We also cover all veterinary costs through one of our approved vets in your local area.

What if I already have a dog at home?

Having your own pet dog does not exclude you from being a part of our Puppy Raising, or Temporary Boarding

As long as your pet is “dog-friendly”, and you meet our other criteria, we are happy to place a pup with you!

If for some reason you do not fit these criteria, you can help in other ways. You could become a volunteer in your area, sponsor a pup or assist with our annual Guide Dog Puppy Appeal.

Yellow labrador retriever guide dog with a small black yellow Labrador retriever

Puppy Raiser Responsibilities

Understand the responsibility of raising a guide dog puppy.

Do you have enough time to raise a puppy?

  • Will you exercise and train the pup daily, including walks, obedience sessions, and general house manners, such as greeting people politely and waiting at the door?
  • Are you prepared to attend regular training sessions and outings during weekday business hours?
  • Do you commit to spending a large portion of your day with the pup, making it part of your life and normal routine? This means not leaving the pup alone for any longer than three hours per day.
  • Are you prepared to housetrain the puppy as directed by your Puppy Placement and Development Advisor?
  • Can you devote adequate time to socialise the pup in a variety of environments, at least 3-5 times a week? Socialisation experiences can be little and often (5-15 minutes) and can be incorporated into everyday activities – like school pick-ups for example – where the pup can encounter various noises, floor surfaces, people, and animals.

Learn what it takes to safely raise a growing puppy.

  • Are you able to physically handle a 30-40kg dog on lead?
  • Do you have the physical ability to perform a number of repetitive tasks when attending to the pup (from a small pup to a mature adult)? These tasks may involve lifting, twisting, stretching, bending, kneeling, and squatting.
  • Are you prepared to puppy-proof your property? This includes, but is not limited to:
    – The removal of all rat and snail baits, poisons, safe relocation of chemicals, cleaning products, and medicines, and moving electrical cords and other potential hazards.
    – Removing or blocking access to any dangerous plants.
    – Ensuring fencing is secure around pools and elevated areas to prevent falls.

Considerations for keeping your pup safe.

  • Is your fencing and yard secure, preventing the pup from escaping, and unwanted dogs from gaining access to the pup.
  • Do you have suitable outdoor shelter for the pup from weather (like harsh sun and rain)?
  • Are you willing to keep the pup on lead, or in a securely fenced off area or an appropriate off-leash area whenever it is outdoors?
  • Is everyone in the household committed to keeping the pup safe? For example, moving small objects that could pose a choking hazard out of reach, and ensuring that gates and doors are shut securely.
  • Are you prepared to maintain the pup’s health and well-being by following veterinary direction, ensuring preventative medication is delivered in a timely manner, and Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs advice is adhered to?
  • Can you health check (we will show you how), and groom the pup on a regular basis?
  • Will you do your utmost to ensure the pup’s safety whilst in your care, both at home and on outings where you may encounter a range of potential hazards such as cars and bikes?

Learn what’s expected of your home.

  • Are all members of the household in agreeance with raising a pup and adhering to the guidelines set out by Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs to ensure consistent handling of the pup?
  • Is anyone allergic to, uncomfortable around, or scared of, dogs? Do not forget that during the Puppy Raising period, our small pups grow at a rapid rate to become large dogs!
  • If other pets are present in the household, will they be comfortable with having a pup in the house? Are you willing to ensure that our criteria for house manners are followed, even though different rules may apply for your own pets?
  • It is not recommended to bring an additional pup into the household while caring for our pup, to ensure the focus is primarily on the guide dog pup.
  • Is the household prepared to clean up after the pup, including toileting accidents?
  • Prior dog experience is not essential – as long as you are happy to learn and follow Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs guidelines, your Puppy Placement and Development Advisor will help teach and support you through this journey.

Do you have what it takes to raise a growing guide dog?

  • Raising a pup for Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs is a rewarding experience. Returning the guide dog pup is emotional, but you can take pride in knowing that you are contributing to the lives of Kiwis who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision to live a life without limits.
  • Are you committed to raising the pup adhering to the methods outlined by Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs, even if they differ from what you have previously used to raise your own pet dogs?
  • Are you willing to be part of our Puppy Raising programme, working together with your Puppy Placement and Development Advisor and other staff at Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs.
  • Can you communicate with team members in a timely fashion? Email is our primary means of communicating with our Puppy Raisers.
  • Having access to email is preferable, but not essential to you partaking in the programme.

How to keep your pup healthy and on the right track.

  • Monitor the pup’s health, and report any concerns to Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs staff.
  • Administer preventative and prescription veterinary treatments as directed by Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs staff, or an external veterinarian.
  • Ensure that the pup remains at a suitable and healthy weight and body condition as per advice from your Puppy Placement and Development Advisor.
  • Exercise and walk the pup regularly (this should typically be daily).
  • Establish good toileting, feeding, and sleeping routines.

How to keep pups on their best behaviour.

It is expected that you will:

  • Adhere to the concepts, techniques, and guidelines as established by Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs regarding handling, training, and socialisation of pups.
  • Attend regular training sessions with the pup. These sessions are generally held on a weekly-fortnightly basis for the first 6 months, and then progress to 3-4 weekly sessions after that.
  • Teach the pup basic dog skills (such as sit, walking nicely on lead, and body handling).
  • Teach the pup good house manners (such as staying off the furniture and counters), and social skills (such as greeting people politely and settling quietly).
  • Regularly socialise and expose the pup to a variety of environments and experiences in a positive manner, enabling the development of a confident, well-mannered guide dog.
  • Please note that failure to abide by these Puppy Raising / Temporary Boarder Responsibilities may result in Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs rehoming the pup.

We’re on hand to support you.

Throughout your experience as a puppy raiser, our responsibilities are to:

  • Treat all Puppy Raisers, Temporary Boarders, Volunteers and the general public with respect and kindness at all times.
  • Treat all pups and dogs with respect and kindness, using current, up-to-date training methods, which evolve as new techniques arise.
  • Ensure the pup’s welfare is always first and foremost. Staff will provide suitable training advice for each individual pup, based on their comfort and capabilities, to ensure a positive learning experience for the pup.
  • Educate and teach Puppy Raisers the concepts, techniques, and guidelines as established by Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs regarding handling, training, and socialisation of pups.
  • Monitor and oversee the pup’s ongoing health and development.
  • Provide veterinary treatment, including flea and worming preventions, and cover the cost for reasonable external consultations or treatments, only at authorised Veterinary Clinics.
  • Provide Puppy Raisers with ongoing support throughout the Puppy Raising period, including regular training sessions, emails, and phone calls.
  • Notify Puppy Raisers when it is time for the pup to return for assessment and training.
  • Provide Puppy Raisers with updates about the progress of the pup in training.

Ensuring the best environment for carers and pups alike.

All Puppy Raisers and Temporary Boarders must comply with the following policies:

If successful in becoming a Puppy Raiser or Temporary Boarder, volunteers must complete and sign:

  • Police Check form
  • Guardians Agreement
  • Volunteers Code of Conduct