Unsure of what to expect when you become a puppy carer? The following information will hopefully answer most of your questions. If there is anything specific to you that you would like to ask, please reach out to the team and a staff or one of our volunteers would be happy to assist.
- The program, eligibility and application process
- Training and home
- Work, outings and travel
- Giving puppy back and what's next
The program, eligibility and application process
Q. How do I find out more information about puppy caring?
A. A puppy carer information session would be just right for you to have all your questions answered! Please check out our events page: https://sed.visionaustralia.org/puppy-caring/information-session
Q. What caring options are available?
A. We offer many different caring options to best suit your lifestyle, these include:
- Full time puppy care- raising a puppy from the age of eight weeks until approximately 12 months. Available in Vic, NSW and QLD
- 6 month puppy program where you have the puppy for a shorter period of time most commonly, 8 weeks of age until 6months or 6 months until 12 months. Available in Vic and QLD
- Training dog care in select areas of VIC, NSW and QLD
- Breeder Caring in select areas in VIC
Q. Where are you looking for puppy carers?
A. We have puppy carer options for different areas including:
- VIC: Greater Melbourne region, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Macedon Ranges and surrounding areas
- QLD: Sunshine Coast, and North Brisbane
- NSW: Central Coast region and selected areas in Northern Sydney including Hornsby Shire Council and City of Parramatta
Q. What is the 6 month program?
A. For some people, an older pup suits their situation better. This can be due to needing a puppy with more toilet training, who is ready for busier environments like the city and public transport, or needing a puppy able to walk longer distances. The 6 month program provides an option for those people, but they may have to wait a bit longer for the right pup to be matched to them.
Q. I’m interested in becoming a puppy carer, but how much will it cost me?
A. Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs provides all the equipment, food, training, dog health care and support while you care for the puppy. You just need to provide your home, basic training and lots of love.
Q. How much time do I need to commit every day to be a puppy carer?
A. Puppies need time dedicated to training, exercising and socialising as well as monitoring them throughout the day including toileting on lead, and walks. Young puppies may need to be taken to the toilet around every 45 minutes at the very beginning, and you will need to attend to their needs and supervise them throughout the day.
Q. Can families with young children care for a puppy?
A. A family with young children can definitely care for a pup if you can dedicate the time and energy it takes to raise a puppy. Children can be part of the experience, but an adult (over 18 years old) needs to be responsible for the pup and handle them in public. Children should be supervised at all times when spending time with a Seeing Eye Dogs pup.
Q. Is there an age requirement to be a puppy carer?
A. A puppy carer must be 18 years and older.
Q. Can I have a Seeing Eye Dogs puppy as well as another pet at home?
A. You can have other pets including other dogs, cats, birds, rodents etc. It is important that other pets are of a suitable temperament, and are on appropriate parasite prevention and up to date with vaccinations.
Any free roaming animals like chickens or horses on your property will have to be kept separate from puppy unless under strict supervision. Puppy Development Trainers will assess the suitability of your pets at interview.
Please note: A Seeing Eye Dogs puppy follows the Seeing Eye Dogs training program e.g. sleeps in its own bed in a crate and will have different rules and requirements to your other pets.
Q. I live in an apartment, can I have a pup?
A. Yes, we have many pups who live in apartments. You don’t need a backyard as most of the pup’s exercise is had walking on a lead. You will need access to an outdoor area where they can walk and learn to toilet on a lead and a safe, warm space for them to sleep in their crate inside your home.
Q. I am renting. Can I be a puppy carer?
A. When renting you will need to get permission from your landlord to become a puppy carer, please do this before you apply. Seeing Eye Dogs can provide you with a letter to give to the landlord outlining the puppy carer program, explaining that our pups are trained to behave in a calm manner and are different to having a family pet.
Q. How long does the puppy carer application take?
A. The application process takes approximately 6 weeks. Following receipt of your application form, we will be in contact shortly afterwards to get the required compliance checks. The cost of these checks is covered by Vision Australia. As part of the application process, Seeing Eye Dogs complete a Property Inspection in your home.
Training and home
Q. Do I need to have dog training experience to be a puppy carer?
A. No, you don’t need to have any dog training experience to become a puppy carer. You just have to be keen to learn from our wonderful expert staff.
Q. What assistance will I receive to train the puppy?
A. Your Seeing Eye Dogs Puppy Development Trainer will meet you regularly during depending on the age and stage of the puppy. This can be weekly, fortnightly or monthly mostly around your home or work location (including local streets, shopping centres or train stations, etc.) during business hours. We have group training sessions where many carers and their pups will meet, walk and train together. Our carer community can be quite social, so there are plenty of opportunities to make friends and support each other.
There are also a large number of great manuals, video resources and online learning modules developed by Seeing Eye Dogs to compliment the in-person training provided by staff.
Q. Will the puppy already be toilet trained?
A. 8 week old puppies will need to be toilet trained and taught to in your house or public spaces. They need to be toileted approximately hourly when they first come home. Pups may need to be taken out to toilet a few times a night when very young. As the pups gets into a routine after one or two weeks, they will learn to hold until the morning.
Q. Can I leave the puppy alone all day?
A. Our pups should not be left alone for more than three hours a day.
Q. Can a SED puppy sit on the couch or sleep on my bed?
A. Seeing Eye Dogs puppies cannot sit or lie on furniture or beds. When the pup becomes a Seeing Eye Dog, the client might not want them on furniture.
Q. Do Seeing Eye Dog puppies use crates?
A. Seeing Eye Dogs provide a crate for the puppy to sleep in. The crate gives the pup a cosy, quiet place to retreat to when they want to rest and helps with home behaviour (keeps pup and your thing safe) and toilet training. It also allows you to contain them in the home during times you cannot supervise them including when you are cooking, cleaning, concentrating on work or you want a break.
Q. Can the puppy ‘free run’ in my property/backyard?
A. The puppy can ‘free run’ with your supervision if your property/backyard is safe and secure. The pup should not be left unsupervised as they may learn undesired behaviours such as digging. Letting pups have a ‘free run’ is a fantastic way to burn off some energy and teach them to respond when called.
Taking a puppy to work, outings and travel
Q. Can Seeing Eye Dogs puppies go to the office?
A. Many of our pups go to work with their carers and happily spend the day tethered or contained safely in a crate while the carers work. They will learn to settle and be quiet in an office, but carers need to take them out for toilet breaks and short walks.
If you intend to bring your Seeing Eye Dogs puppy into the workplace you would need to discuss this with your employer prior to submitting your application. We are happy to assist if they have any questions or concerns. Seeing Eye Dogs provide a letter for the employer, building management and can assist with an OH&S workplace policy for having a Seeing Eye Dog in the office.
Q. What type of jobs and lifestyles are suitable for puppy caring?
A. There are puppy carers with many different lifestyles who raise puppies. These include but are not limited to:
- Stay at home parents
- Teaching: kindergarten, primary and secondary school, even lecturing at universities!
- Office work across a number of industries
- Retail, finance or accounting workers
- Allied health or fitness professionals
- Full or part-time students
- And many more!
Q. Where can Seeing Eye Dogs puppies in training go with their carers?
A. Access rights of Seeing Eye Dogs puppy in training differ state to state. In most cases, Seeing Eye Dogs in training can access most public areas including cafes and restaurants, public transport, shops, movie theatres and more.
Not everyone is aware of the rights of a Seeing Eye Dogs puppy in training. We encourage all carers to adopt an educational approach and consider if the venue they are entering is a vital part of the pups training.
Q. What happens to the puppy if I need to go away?
A. We have a kennels boarding facility in Kensington, VIC and a group of short-term relief carers who are able to look after the pup if you need to go away and can’t take them with you. Our staff will ask that you notify them minimum 2 weeks in advance to allow them to make suitable arrangements.
Q. Can pups travel on public transport?
A. Yes, we encourage pups to travel with you on public transport as part of their socialisation for their future role. Young puppies may need to be slowly introduced to public transport.
Q. Where does the pup sit when in the car?
A. From an early age, pups are taught to travel in the footwell in the front of your car on the passenger side.
Q. Are Seeing Eye Dog puppies “always working” or is it only when it is wearing a puppy coat?
A. When the puppy is wearing its puppy coat, the pup is working. When the puppy’s coat is off they can have play time and relax.
Giving the puppy back and what’s next for pup
Q. How can I give a puppy back when it goes into the training program?
A. Saying goodbye can be hard but it is also a time of excitement when the puppy is ready for training. There are resources and support networks in place to help you through the transition, and carers can take on another puppy to care for.
Q. What happens when the puppy goes into the Seeing Eye Dogs training program, or to any dogs who aren’t suitable?
A. Different outcomes can include breeding, training then graduation (with a Seeing Eye Dogs client), training with another Assistance Dogs International accredited service dog organisation or adoption to a pet home. If the dog enters pet life, Seeing Eye Dogs works to find a loving home for each dog that fits their needs and requirements, this may be the puppy carer who raised them.
How do I apply to become a 12 month puppy carer?
If you are interested in becoming a puppy carer, please apply now.