Are you passionate about volunteering and making a difference to people in need?

Are you interested in taking part in a program that will help you to learn a new skill?

Do you want to be an important part of a friendly, enthusiastic and supportive team?

And most importantly, do you enjoy working with puppies?

If you answered yes to all of the questions above, then you may be ideally suited to joining our Puppy Raising Program!

We are currently recruiting new volunteers for our program to help raise the service dogs of tomorrow. In this article, we’re going to give you more information about our Puppy Raising Program and tell you how you can get involved.

What is our Puppy Raising Program?

Our Puppy Raising Program connects our organization with generous volunteers who are able to donate their time and energy to help our service dogs in training.

As part of this program, our puppy raisers will help us to prepare our prospective service dogs for life as a Service Dog. Puppies will start living with their puppy raiser from around eight weeks old, and will stay until they are five to six months.

Puppy raisers will help to build a solid foundation of obedience and behavior with their given puppy. With the help of a puppy raiser, these service dog candidates will understand the basics of how to live in a home, gain valuable socialization in new environments, and learn obedience commands. These fundamentals set the puppy up for success when they are eventually matched to a family who requires a fully-trained service dog.

Throughout their time as a puppy raiser, volunteers will receive ongoing support from the Highland Canine Service Dogs team. Our team of professional trainers will provide guidance to volunteers on how to work with their foster puppy. Food, equipment and veterinary care is taken care of by Highland Canine Service Dogs, so volunteers only need to focus on raising their puppy.

puppy raising program volunteer

What are the benefits of the program for volunteers?

For volunteers taking part in our Puppy Raising Program, there are numerous benefits.

Volunteering is rewarding. It has long been established that volunteering provides benefits for all of us. It not only benefits the people you are helping, as well as society as a whole, but it provides mental and emotional benefits for volunteers. Studies have shown that volunteering can lead to increased self-confidence and self-worth.

Learn a new skill. Perhaps you’ve always loved dogs but have never learned how to actually train them. Through this program, you will learn a range of lifelong skills that will help you to not only train the puppy you are working with, but any future pet dogs you may bring into your home.

Be part of a team. Our team of professional dog trainers will provide you with the help, knowledge and support you need as a puppy raiser. They will offer ongoing guidance to make sure your stint as a puppy raiser is an enjoyable experience.

Spend time with puppies. Perhaps the most obvious of all of the benefits! Although being a puppy raiser comes with its own set of responsibilities, is there anything more uplifting than being in the presence of a cute puppy?

Nikki Chapman, a member of our Puppy Raising team, offers her thoughts on one of the main benefits of the program for volunteers:

“The most rewarding part of being a puppy raiser is knowing you are a part of changing someone’s life for the better. One of the most selfless acts of kindness you can do for a complete stranger in need.”

What will you have to do as a puppy raiser?

To ensure that our service dogs in training are set up for success, we do have certain expectations of our puppy raisers. This helps to make sure that the program achieves its overall objective – to make sure that puppies have the foundations needed to turn them into successful service dogs.

If you are thinking of volunteering as a puppy raiser, it is vital that you have the time available in your schedule to dedicate to your puppy. This isn’t just a case of being able to feed them and take them outside once in a while; you will need to allocate time to work on their training and commands, plus take them out in public for socialization activities. If you have a hectic lifestyle with minimal free time, you simply may not have the time available for this.

In terms of your own personal qualities, you will need to be responsible, disciplined, and capable of following instructions. We will give you all of the help you need to succeed as a puppy raiser, but it is imperative that you follow the training plan we give to you to begin building the solid foundations for your puppy.

Finally, you will need to attend regular training sessions at our facility in Harmony, NC. This offers you the opportunity to ask any questions of our trainers, and also allows us to track the progress of the puppy’s development.

service dog puppy with tug

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • Puppy raisers must be at least 18 years old (those under 18 must have permission from a parent or guardian).

  • Puppy raisers must live within 60 miles of Highland Canine’s training facility in Harmony, NC.

How can you learn more and apply?

For more information on our Puppy Raising Program, you can visit our dedicated website page, call (704) 500-8281, or email We will be happy to answer any questions you may have!

If you want to apply, fill out our application form and return it to with the subject ‘Puppy Raising Program Application’. Our team will be in contact shortly!

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