Puppy Socialising

# puppyprogramme


Are you able to provide a loving home for a puppy for 12 to 18 months?

Would you like to help make a difference?



We are always looking for young families, couples, retirees, and single individuals who are able to devote the time, energy and love necessary to successfully socialise and train a VWD puppy.

Volunteer puppy socialisers provide specially-bred puppies a safe home, take them to training, maintain a healthy diet, provide socialisation opportunities and give lots of love. Each hour spent caring for one of our puppies is vital to its development as a future assistance dog. The puppy programme provides a unique opportunity for volunteers to assist with our very important mission.

Please note: You must be at least 18 years old to be a volunteer puppy socialiser. Those under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian as a co-applicant on the puppy socialisers application.

Each of our pups are carefully selected from initial breeding, for health, temperament and their potential as future assistance dogs.

Once the puppies have left the litter, their needs change and they begin to learn to how to adapt in our world. Each puppy is unique and each set of experiences are unique too. The impact of the puppy socialisers' work throughout this phase is invaluable.

Meeting and greeting people in a friendly, calm and controlled way is all part of the training that our puppies need to learn. When out in public with a VWD puppy, our volunteer puppy socialisers get approached by many people. Fortunately, most people know to ask before petting or approaching the puppy. Once permission has been given, the puppy needs to be well behaved and under control.

Assistance dogs need to be able to travel and adjust to new surroundings and people. Taking a puppy to various locations and seeing different people and animals are part of the socialisation process that is so important for a future assistance dog. Our volunteer puppy socialisers are responsible for these early interactions and experiences, and whilst fun, is an extremely important part of the whole learning our puppies need to go through.

What does being a Puppy Socialiser involve?

Puppy socialisers play a vital role in the development of assistance dogs: they spend countless hours caring for, teaching, and socialising our pups in the real world in their own homes.

They also take our puppies everywhere - to work, out to eat, on trips, and even shopping. This real-world training imitates the experiences that our puppies need in order to be successful assistance dogs.

The puppy-raising experience requires a great deal of commitment, time, energy, and focus but we’ll provide you with costs, puppy care and training.

It truly is an unforgettable and rewarding experience, and most 'puppy pals' choose to participate again and again even though one of the hardest parts is saying goodbye!
Puppy socialisers start with an eight-week-old puppy and foster the dog from anything up to 18 months until an appropriate client match is made.

These dogs are then ‘placed’ with their veteran and begin “school” for advanced training, with one of our expert trainers.

If you would like to become a puppy socialiser, simply get in touch and outline why you would make a good puppy socialiser. It doesn't matter if you haven’t owned a dog before but we do ask that you seriously think about the time and commitment you will need to put in before applying.

Temporary & Respite Homes

Sometimes, those who intend to raise a VWD puppy for 18 months have life challenges that prevent them from continuing as a volunteer.

That’s where YOU can help!

We need Puppy Socialisers who are willing to provide a temporary home until we can find another volunteer to continuing raising the puppy.

We also occasionally need temporary homes for holidays or unforeseen circumstances where we need a puppy care for a short period of time.

*Please note*

Puppy Socialisers who volunteer for this experience volunteer to receive an 8 week old VWD puppy and raise him/her for up to 18 months.

Once your Puppy Socialiser Application is approved, VWD will meet with you in person to discuss things in more detail.

Consistent attendance of puppy training is mandatory for the entire experience.

VWD covers the costs of raising these future HERO dogs

Following the death of our beloved Labrador we spotted the Veterans With Dogs (VWD) website and contacted them as we wanted to “give something back”. After a home check we were accepted as puppy socialisers. Three months later an eight weeks old Golden Retriever called Sunny (short for Sunshine!) turned up and stayed with us until she was fourteen months old. Like any puppy she was hard work to begin with, but it was great to see her develop a calm confidence through being taken on buses, the train, in the car, into supermarkets and lots of other places, as well as being fully socialised on and off lead with numerous dogs and people during her daily walks. We took her to puppy training classes and were able to seek advice and help from VWD as necessary. We particularly liked the VWD reward based training methods, the objective being for Sunny to choose to do the right things and not be forced to. For example, we obtained permission from a local pub restaurant to take her indoors there while we had lunch to celebrate her birthday. After Sunny’s visit they put up a sign saying that guide and assistance dogs were welcome, which gives an idea of how well behaved she had become. We miss her a lot, but it’s good to know that she will be helping a Veteran in the years to come.

Sue & Mike // Puppy Socialisers //

I found out about Veterans With Dogs via a relative of a friend, and when I was informed about the Puppy Socialiser programme I was instantly interested. Straight away I liked the concept of puppy socialising, and once I had spoken to their head trainer, Kirsten Dillon, I was really keen. She immediately advised me that we were great candidates to support the charity. I am a busy mum of two, we have a well behaved older dog and two cats. I was really excited to help and of course my children were over the moon about the thought of having a puppy in the house again. We had so much support from the Charity itself. Any queries or problems I had I knew I could speak to Kirsten about. I had help with holiday cover etc. and of course any related costs involved were covered. We simply had to welcome a pup into our home and care for it. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with our “foster” puppy Domino. She settled into our family life really well and I was truly sorry to see her go and the end of the process. However, the reward of knowing that we were helping someone truly in need was my main focus. If this is something you feel you would be interested in, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to speak to the Veterans With Dogs team.

Trudy // Puppy Socialiser //
If you're interested, please get in touch