Raising a dog is a lot like raising a child. It takes a lot of patience, time and effort before they are ready to work. Raising an assistance dog is similar in many ways.
The jouney of our puppies begin when they arrive at our facility from our breeding program, a donor or a local animal shelter. They usually stay about a week for medical check-ups, socialization and the all-important “Super Puppy Training,” led with the help of volunteers.
Then the little pups are off to one of two places: a volunteer puppy raiser or a prison puppy training program.
Puppy Raisers are the heart and soul of Can Do Canines. Puppy Raisers transform our mission from words on paper to a priceless reality for people with disabilities.
Puppy Raisers take in a puppy for up to 24 months. They teach the puppy good house manners, basic obedience, and early assistance dog skills while exposing the puppy to as many social situations as possible. Puppy Raisers attend a minimum of one training meeting each month and provide a home, food, basic veterinary care and lots of love!
Prison Puppy Program
In our prison puppy program (and no, we don’t send only the “naughty puppies” here) our puppies receive around-the-clock attention and training from carefully-selected inmates. The pups also get “prison breaks” or furloughs. Prisons are a contained, artificial environment, so we want to ensure our dogs are also comfortable and able to perform their important skills in different kinds of settings. Foster Volunteers take the pups home for a weekend or longer and expose them to all the places they’ll need to eventually work in, such as restaurants, stores, and movie theaters.
Final Training/Client Placement
When the puppies finally reach about 18 months of age, they make their return trek back to Can Do Canines facility for final training. They are assessed by our trainers to find out what they’re best at (ie. smelling low blood sugar, alerting to sounds) and then those skills are further refined. When the dog is deemed ready, he or she is partnered with a client and the two begin to train together to ensure they are a good match. If they are then you can join Can Do Canines and celebrate along with them at our Graduation Ceremony!
Throughout the training process, if the dog does not seem like he or she would be a good fit for the program the dog is “career-changed.” Our dogs never fail! They just move on to other areas of expertise, such as cuddling as a pet or as a therapy dog. A career-change may happen for a variety of reasons, such as health and temperament.
To learn more about adopting a dog who has been career changed click here.