Raise a puppy What is involved?

Raising a puppy involves caring for a potential Guide Dog from around eight weeks of age until he or she returns to us, at around 14-16 months.

We could not complete our valuable work without you, our existing and potential Puppy Raisers. You undertake a vital commitment and your contribution is invaluable. Without the efforts of Puppy Raisers, we would not be able to train the Guide Dogs who provide essential companionship and independence for so many people.

When you raise a puppy, you’ll receive ongoing support and instructions. We’ll regularly provide direction and support via telephone conversations and visits every six to eight weeks.

The main goal of the program is to nurture puppies so they become well socialised, confident and not readily distracted. If they meet assessment criteria when they return to us, they will join a five month training program before being matched with a person with low vision.

Guide dog playing and relaxing with its owner

Raise a puppy Who can raise a puppy?

Raising a puppy is a very special commitment. It requires enormous dedication. Volunteers need to:

  • Live in metropolitan Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo or Ballarat.
  • Have written approval from your estate agent that you are able to have a dog if you live in a rental property.
  • Dedicate time. Puppies should not be left alone for more than three hours a day.
  • If you need to take your puppy to work, get written approval from your employer that you have permission to do so.
  • Provide care. Puppies need lots of attention to enable successful house training and socialisation.
  • Have a moderate fitness level and be physically healthy enough to manage the physical, emotional and cognitive demands of the role. Read more.
  • Visit our campus for vet appointments and Puppy Raising classes on weekdays during business hours.
  • Meet during business hours with our Puppy Development Advisors as required.
  • Provide a safe environment for the puppy. This includes appropriate fencing around gardens and pools.
  • Have the use of a registered and insured passenger vehicle, and be licensed to drive in Victoria.
  • Allow the puppy to sleep indoors.

Any children in the household should be of school age (five years) or older. Any family pets need to be fully vaccinated and wormed, and be compatible with a Guide Dog puppy.

If you already have two dogs living on your property, please check with your local council regarding multiple pet permits.

If you do not meet the criteria required to raise a puppy, you can still support the program—and meet the pups for playtime and cuddles—by becoming a Puppy Pal and signing up for monthly donations.

As a Puppy Pal, you get the opportunity to see the very first glimpses of the puppies you sponsor. You also have the chance to name the puppies, and attend an exclusive ‘Meet the Pups’ event where you can play and cuddle to your heart’s content.

Join Puppy Pals Now!
Guide dog with woman

Raise a puppy Support for Puppy Raisers

Every Puppy Raiser is partnered with a Puppy Raising Development Advisor. The advisor’s role is to provide professional puppy training advice and ongoing support for Puppy Raisers throughout the raising experience.

Our advisors are experts in the field of puppy behaviour and personal interactions. They have helped thousands of puppies ‘grow up’ over the years. As a result, you can be confident of receiving expert professional advice from the team, and the highest quality support in every situation.

Peer-to-peer support is also available for first-time Puppy Raisers, with insight and collaboration from current Puppy Raisers who are specially recruited and trained for this purpose. Peer-support-trained Raisers are able to offer a friendly ear to first-time Raisers when they need somebody to talk to.

Additionally, our large network can provide a temporary home for your puppy should you need to go on a short holiday or leave your home briefly for other reasons.  

Guide dog puppy

Raise a puppy When your puppy is ready for Guide Dog training

We cannot thank Puppy Raisers enough for your commitment of love, time and effort. Every Raiser makes an enormous contribution by raising a puppy that will change someone’s life.

We understand that returning puppies to Guide Dogs Victoria for training can be a difficult and emotional experience. It’s natural to get attached to your puppy as they become an important part of your family. Remember that while your puppy might be important to you, he or she is essential to a person with low vision or blindness.

When your puppy returns to Guide Dogs Victoria they are welcomed by a special group of volunteers. The team provides a week of intensive love and care to every returning puppy to help them transition from your home to this new environment. This program ensures every puppy is happy, well-adjusted and ready for Guide Dog training.

By giving each puppy the best possible start at life, you give them an incredible gift: the opportunity to partner with a person and change their life for the better.

Still, it’s always hard to say goodbye. For this reason, some people choose to get another puppy straight away. We can make reservations to ensure you have another puppy ready for placement and to partake in their exciting journey towards becoming a Guide Dog.

Guide dog puppy

Raise a puppy How can I apply to raise a puppy?

If you feel you meet the necessary criteria and are committed to helping us raise a Guide Dog puppy, we would love to hear from you.

Please complete the Volunteer Application form.

All volunteers will be required to undergo a police check prior to starting with Guide Dogs Victoria, and a renewal police check every three years thereafter. This will be undertaken by Guide Dogs Victoria personnel. We also require volunteers to hold a current Working with Children’s check.

Your online application will be reviewed by the Puppy Development Department within seven business days.

Successful applicants will be invited to an information session to learn more about this challenging and rewarding commitment.

Remember, if we do not have any Puppy Raiser spots available, you can always support Guide Dog puppies by making a tax-deductible donation. Donations are used to buy play kits, comfy beds, puppy vaccination packs, and more.

Make a donation to support the puppies now
Guide dog puppy paddling at the beach

Raise a puppy Become a temp carer

We need Temp Carers for the coming summer school holiday period to look after some of our beloved pups. This is a time when many of our Puppy raising families and staff take holidays, and we need extra support from the community.

 The requirements of a Temp Carer are similar to that of a Puppy Raiser, but it will depend on the age of the pup you are matched with. Our pups range from 8 weeks to 16 months.

 It is a great way for you to test out if puppy raising (for a full 12 month period) is for you. This temporary arrangement will give you a taste of what it’s like having a pup around your house, and what it involved in Puppy Raising! Our puppies requiring temp care range in age from 8 weeks to 16 months.

 We are always in need temp carers, especially over the school holiday period when many of our Puppy raising families take holidays. Temp carers are required for periods ranging from 1 week to 3 months.

Temp carers play a huge part in a puppy’s life as it’s important for them to get to know and trust many different people. This will be a big part of their future job!

We’d love to have join our pawsome temp carer team! To become a temp carer, fill in the form below.

Apply to raise a puppy

Applications for new Puppy Raisers are currently closed due to restrictions in place for COVID-19.

During this time, you can still help our pups by donating to the Early Puppy Development Program – this will ensure they have every chance of changing a life!

Find out more here