FAQ's About Puppy Raising

Each hour spent caring for a C.H.A.M.P. puppy is vital to its development as a future assistance dog. The puppy raising program provides a unique opportunity for volunteers to assist with its very important mission.

Volunteer puppy raisers provide these specially- bred puppies a safe home, serve up a healthy diet, provide socialization opportunities and give lots of love.

The following is a list of things that C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dogs, Inc. expects you to do with your puppy. Early experiences help insure success in later training!

  • Acting as a C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dog, Inc. ambassador when out in the community with the dog
  • Lots of love and snuggling
  • Lots of daily exercise – long walks and playtime with humans and other friendly dogs
  • Diligence with housebreaking and crate training
  • Car rides
  • Walks in populated places – especially important for young puppies to increase their learning capacity
  • Go inside to new and interesting places at least three times a week so the service dog in training learns to wait quietly
  • Discourage barking, except during playtime

Q How old is the pup when I take him home?
Our puppies go to the puppy raisers home families when the pups are seven weeks old.

Q. How long will I keep him?
Your puppy will live with you for until the puppy is approximately sixteen weeks old and has passed all preliminary health tests. The pups then go to WERDCC in Vandalia, Mo. where they start their formal training. They will live at the prison for approximately 3 months then come back to you for a break. This cycle is repeated until the pups are approximately 15 months old; at that time they will go to Level 3 advanced trainers before being placed at approximately two to three years of age with clients.

Q. How can I possibly give him up when the time comes?
It is only natural that you will become attached, emotionally, to your pup. If you didn’t, we would wonder what was wrong with you! The ability to give up a pup comes from the realization that your pup will be placed in a loving home to help an individual maintain an independent lifestyle.

Q. Will I get to meet the individual who receives the dog I train?
Yes, as a C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dog, Inc. puppy raiser you will have the opportunity to meet the individual who receives the dog you raised. You may go along on any placement training visits and when graduation is held you have the opportunity to celebrate reaching the goal of your dog graduating as a service dog. If agreeable by all parties involved, a life long friendship maybe formed.

Q. Do I need a fenced yard?
For the safety of our dogs, we strongly encourage our puppy raiser homes to have fenced yard. Pups need lots of exercise every day to ensure healthy development, as well as to keep them good and tired—and out of trouble! Please note that we do not allow puppy raisers to use electric fences.

Q. How much exercise do the dogs require?
Active puppies need physical activity in the form of play or walking. Puppy raiser homes should expect to provide at least 25-40 minutes of exercise per day. This could be accomplished by brisk walking or playing in a safe, fenced area. Please understand that for young dogs under 1 year, bones are still forming. Exercise by running the dog along side you while you run, jog, bike, etc. is not appropriate for young dogs. Rollerblading with the dogs is not allowed.

Q. I work outside the home. Can I still be a Puppy Raiser?
Certainly! Many puppy raisers take their pups with them to work, and we encourage them to do so. Of course, you would need to OK this with your manager or supervisor.

Q. Who takes care of the dog if I go out of town?
We encourage you to take the puppy with you, but if you are unable, usually
another puppy raiser home will take care of your dog while you are on vacation.
We like our puppies to become accustomed to new experiences and occasionally
we’ll ask puppy raiser homes to exchange puppies for a week or two. Staff also
will periodically take dogs in training for evaluations of their skills.

Q. Who pays for vet care and food? How about other expenses?
We provide you with a crate, harness, leash, collar, bowls, and ID vest for outings along with any donated supplies such as shampoo, etc. that we have on hand. Puppy raisers pay for toys, treats, and any other miscellaneous expenses. Thus, the actual out of pocket expense to the volunteer is minimal. We ask that you pay for vet care and food. You may submit a reimbursement form monthly to cover vet and food costs of the program dog. Or you may use it on your tax return as a charitable donation.

Q. What if the dog is not placed as a service dog?
Sometimes dogs in training cannot be placed as service dogs due to reasons such as health or temperament. These dogs may need a career change. C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dogs, Inc. staff will evaluate the situation and determine what is best for the dog. In many cases, ownership is transferred to the foster home providers if they wish to adopt the dog.

Q. How do I apply?
For more information or to receive an application, please Contact Us or call the C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dogs, Inc. office, (314) 653-9466, to request a volunteer application. Once we receive your completed application, we will schedule an interview in your home with a C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dog, Inc. representative. This interview gives you a chance to ask further questions about our puppy raiser program and gives us the opportunity to meet you personally. After you have completed these steps, we will review your application and notify you whether your application has been accepted.