At 8 weeks of age our growing puppy is placed with a volunteer puppy socialiser, who takes him into their home and looks after him for 14 – 18 months.

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Our socialisers are tasked with caring for the puppy’s well being including carrying out routine health checks, ensuring he is the correct weight, and grooming. They attend monthly puppy classes run by our Puppy Coordinators to develop the puppy’s training in a controlled environment, that is somewhere different to their home setting.

The Puppy Coordinator visits regularly to give tailored support, and the dog will have a kennel break for a few days at around 12 months old to familiarise him to the training centre that he’ll come into to start his formal assistance dog training in a few months time.

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From 8 weeks to 6 months

The focus is on routine and consistency, with house-training starting from the first moment the puppy arrives in the Puppy Socialiser’s home.

The first activity the growing puppy is given the opportunity to do is explore and toilet in the garden. The Socialiser will need to encourage the puppy into the garden at key times, such as after a meal or a long period of rest, to toilet in the right place and they will need to remain vigilant whenever the puppy is awake and active to look out for tell-tale signs that the puppy needs to toilet like excessive sniffing or circling and again encourage the puppy outside into the garden. It can take anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, depending on the individual puppy and consistency, to teach the puppy that the right place to go when they need to toilet is the garden.

Socialisers also:

  • Introduce the puppy to a range of adults, children, other dogs, cats & other animals
  • Familiarise the puppy gradually with a variety of environments they may visit later in their working career such as libraries, shopping centres, and public transport
  • Teach the puppy their name, how to sit and lie down on command

From 6 to 14 months

Transferring the training the puppy has completed at home or in puppy classes to the various ‘real-life’ situations and environments now becomes the focus.

This includes teaching him to walk on a loose lead in their local town, ensuring he can come back when called in the park, and helping him to learn to settle in busy environments such as cafés and restaurants.

Regular one to one visits or group meetings are organised in varied environments by the Puppy Coordinator, to ensure the growing puppy is developing appropriately and transferring their training to the places they may visit as a working dog. These visits provide tailored support to the socialiser to ensure the puppy reaches its full potential.