In For Training Recall

The hardest part (even harder than the reliving routine!) is when you have to return your guide dog pup to begin formal training. All your hours of hard work, care, joys, frustrations, and success have shaped your pup into a well-behaved, well-socialized dog. You have most likely formed a strong bond of love and connection with the pup that grew up in your home and by your side. We thank you for being willing to make this sacrifice so someone can experience independence with a guide dog.

When your puppy is between 14 and 18 months of age you will receive notification from your advisor or area coordinator that your puppy will begin formal training within the next month. If you live near campus, you will have the opportunity to take the puppy to our training center. Our puppy raisers who don’t live near our facilities will have their pup flown or transported via van. Our program staff coordinate the drop-off and pick-up times. We will do our best to keep you informed throughout the process.

Before your puppy comes in for training (IFT), your advisor or area coordinator will ask you to complete a report to inform your pup’s trainer about the behavior, verbal cues, and exposures your puppy experienced during the past couple months.

Many of our raisers find the best way to ease the sadness of returning their puppy is to get a new one! Speak to your advisor or area coordinator about receiving a new pup when you return your current one. Some of our raisers choose to only provide temporary care for a puppy that hasn’t yet been assigned to a raiser while others jump back in with raising their next puppy.

Items that need to be returned with your puppy

  • Small and large Tufflock collars
  • Head harness
  • Puppy coats
  • Any unused heartworm prevention
  • Any unused flea prevention
  • Stainless steel feeding bowl
  • Brush
  • Nylon puppy leash
  • Leather leash
  • Crate or kennel provided
  • Any other supplies given to you such as a snappy trainer, martingale, etc.

It is important that we receive all supplies you received when you started. We often reuse supplies that are still in good condition to remain fiscally responsible with donor dollars.

If you are planning to raise another puppy shortly after you return this one you can speak to your advisor or area coordinator about keeping and replenishing supplies for your new puppy.

When the dog you raised returns to our Training Center in Smithtown, New York they will get a bath, grooming, and full veterinary exam. From there they will meet their trainer, our canine care team, and their new run mate! They will be taken out for training at least twice a day during the workweek and have enrichment with canine care staff and volunteers on the weekend. Enrichment includes free runs, on leash walks, brushing, and playing with interactive toys.

Our trainers provide the puppy department with updates that we will relay to you; usually the first week of the month. Our marketing team also provides pictures of the dogs currently IFT that can be viewed here: Throughout the course of their training, the pup you raised will mature and be trained to become the guide dog or service dog you envisioned the first time you brought them into your home.