Do you love puppies, but can’t take on the life-long responsibility of another dog right now? Why not consider fostering and socializing for an assistance dog charity?
Puppy socializers take in puppies destined to be guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, or physical assistance dogs for the physically challenged. They may also be used as support dogs for those with autism or other mentally debilitating conditions like PTSD.
These dogs are not emotional support animals, for whom the training regimen is much less strenuous, and for whom the laws are much different than for certified assistance animals.
Puppies who will be assistance animals need to be socialized very carefully to make sure they can react appropriately when confronted with loud noises, rowdy people, and other scary things. The job of the puppy socializer starts when the puppy is weaned from his or her mama, and continues for 12 – 18 months. During this time, the dog should receive basic obedience training, as well as exposure to as many new situations as possible.
A puppy socializer takes the dog everywhere in order to reinforce appropriate reactions to the unfamiliar with positive attention and possibly treats. The idea is that when the dog enters into specific training related to his or her eventual job, the behavior will be totally under control, and they’ll only have to focus on specific skills such as opening the refrigerator door for a person who has limited use of his or her arms or encouraging a seizure patient to lie down when the dog senses a seizure is imminent.
Nearly all assistance dog agencies use volunteer socializers, so if you’re interested in this type of work, contact one near you and ask how you can sign up. You can search by country and state on Assistance Dogs International’s website for accredited organizations.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!