Many of our puppy raisers initially became involved with Autism Anchoring Dogs due to their love of giant breed dogs. However, many have continued to work with us over the years raising our puppies because they have wanted to make a positive difference in the world, helping families and children that are living on the autism spectrum. Whatever the reason, they are the unsung heroes in our organization, providing a vital service that allows us to produce the best dogs we possibly can.
Becoming a volunteer puppy raiser is a 10-12 month commitment of time, energy, and love that begins the important task of proper socialization for the developing dog. Through daily care, socialization, and basic training, our puppy raisers create the underlying foundation upon which the subsequent public access work and formal anchoring training is based.
Research shows the first year of life is especially important to the developing puppy. During this time, puppy raisers begin house training the puppy (laying the foundation for the 7 minute elimination behavior), and teaching good manners such as not jumping on visitors, counters, furniture, and children. During this time, appropriate behaviors such as not mouthing too hard or begging from the table are addressed. Basic obedience is also taught, covering behaviors such as sit, down, wait, come, etc. Most importantly, they are responsible for exposing the developing puppy to as many different sounds, people, animals, and new environments as possible to create a dog that is completely comfortable in the world and prepared to work.
Puppy safety should always be a priority for puppy raisers. Whenever a puppy is outside and not within a completely fenced area, it must be on a leash. During those times when the puppy is unable to accompany the puppy raiser, it should be either crated indoors or left in an area that has been puppy “proofed” (i.e. in a pen area that is set up with toys, water, and a soft bed). We can help you to design an area in your home to accommodate an active pup.
Autism Anchoring Dogs will provide the initial puppy jacket, and a packet containing a leash and collar. The puppy will have had all of their puppy shots and will be in good health. From here, puppy raisers are responsible for the purchase of food, toys, replacement collars/leashes, and veterinary care that is beyond that required for baseline health. Any obedience classes or other related expenses are the responsibility of the puppy raiser, unless otherwise cleared by AAD.
Resources and Support
Puppy raisers will receive support from our puppy raising manager, who will remain in contact with the individual raiser and provide tips on care, manners, and training. In addition, we recommend puppy raisers take their puppies to “puppy kindergarten” (a socialization opportunity for the puppy to meet others their age, and learn how to interact appropriately) and obedience classes. AAD will make recommendations as to reliable sources for these types of classes, but is also willing to consider opportunities that may be closer to each puppy raiser.
Having raised or owned a puppy in the past is not a requirement to become a puppy raiser, nor is home ownership. The most important trait of service dog puppy raisers is the dedication to the care of the puppy and a willingness to provide consistency in its daily training and handling. If you decide to open your home (and heart) to a puppy, we will provide you with a Puppy Raiser’s Manual and contact information for the puppy raising manager at AAD. We will have periodic meetings during the year to help problem solve, socialize candidate dogs, and to support your efforts to raise one of these life saving dogs.
How to apply:
1. Download our puppy raisers application. It is available as either a Microsoft Word .docx (which can be filled out and attached to an email), or as an Adobe .pdf (viewable with free software, available here) which can then be printed out and sent through regular mail:
2. Please read through and sign the form, and send via email to:
Alternatively, you can mail the printed form to:
Autism Anchoring Dogs
Attn: Puppy Raising Application and Review
P.O. Box 80788
Portland, OR 97219
After we receive your application, the puppy raising manager at Autism Anchoring Dogs will respond. AAD may perform a background check, including following up on the references you provide. If accepted into our puppy raising program, you will be contacted shortly. If you have any additional questions about the application process, or puppy raising in general, please contact us.