How to be a Puppy Raiser!

Puppy Raisers' Information

If you would like to become a Puppy Raiser...

Below is an introduction of what Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project’s expectations are from 8 weeks until Service Dog in Training (SDiT) is 6-9 months old working as a Puppy Raiser!

Puppy Raisers provide the gentle energy for SDiT creating the sweetest puppies’ during their growth and development, if you like who we are and want to be a raiser, please submit request at bottom of page!

At Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project (MSD-WCP), we raise dogs for the mobility-disabled community to improve their quality of life through functional independence, giving them confidence and a voice in the community at large.  

Each dog and each human learn the basics, once the foundation is well intacted than the Service Dog Trainer builds on the basics with Task Training and Mobility work. It is a progression that is unique for each Service Dog in Training and Service Dog Team.

Puppyhood is important to develop a well-adjusted and well-rounded dog. Each puppy is assigned to one Puppy Raiser who takes full charge of the puppy’s training.  The Puppy Raiser commitment involves being with your puppy 24/7. The Puppy Raiser and the puppy will be together with full access to all public venues as a Service Dog in Training Team for about 3-5 months, at which time the Service Dog in Training puppy will be 6-7 months of age. Raisers must be willing to work with puppies using the guidelines set forth by Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project (MSD-WCP). From the time of your puppy’s arrival, every day, you will teach them their basic manners, obedience training, and encourage their willingness to learn at home and on the street. We ask that your home has no other dogs under 2 years of age, but older dogs and a cat or two are positive exposure. As the Puppy Raiser, you must be respectful of the balance of training, exploring, exposure, and activities each day. Each week, you will need to tweak the puppy’s explorations as their brain, body, and fun grow.  The first month with you, the puppy needs to sleep, grow, rest, and learn to be independent, sociable, confident and well-behaved at home and in many differing public situations. At 3 months of age, they are learning potty training, crate time, sit, deck, manners and puppy adventures! At 4 months, the puppy will be dressed in their vest, living your daily routine at your side. Exposure to all of life is vital for your Service Dog in Training. Your Service Dog in Training (SDiT) must be the focus while you are out and about, confident and relaxed, as they eventually will be with their Forever Handler. During this puppy raising time, you are part of an amazing team, using a new exploration out in the world each day and having your puppy by your side as you live your basic routines, in order to prepare this young puppy for the world of a working service dog. With the guidance of our Service Dog Trainers and your loving energy raising up puppy, it will unfold gently and beautifully. Each success is built upon the learning the basics which we repeat often but keep it fun. Time frame is as individual as each puppy and their raiser, it is about a firm foundation not how fast we move but how well adjusted the puppies flow into each of the basic commands. The foundation work is most important for a safe and confident Service Dog, from the foundation all their future work is built for tasking and alerting. Let the puppy magic begin…

It is our sincere goal to create a community of Puppy Raisers— both new and seasoned— providing support and material to make this a positive experience for the raisers and the puppies, all working towards the goal of healthy, well-mannered puppies, ready to serve.

  1. Puppy raisers must be at least 15 years of age or team with an adult. 

  2. No prior experience is required but you must be willing to commit and be actively involved communicating, sharing, learning, and be a public spokesperson for Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project Mission Statement and Vision. Each puppy raiser must commit to attend an online meeting or listen to recording of 2 meetings each monthly. It is important to check your energies and raise up happy dogs because happy dogs make the very best service dogs. On the 1st Tuesday of each month for Playful Games & Task & Raising Healthy Canines. On the 3rd Tuesday of the month meeting 12:15-1:15 Training Meetup with our inhouse Service Dog Trainer, Denise. A trained counselor leads out the meetup. We do record these meetings, as they are full of valuable guidance and will play the recording at 7pm on the same Tuesday. If you cannot attend the Service Dog in Training Monthly Meetups, please call Janie for a conversation. +1(530)263-4770. Thank you.

  3. Post weekly photos, training videos, and a weekly diary of your experiences in Mobility Service Dogs’ FaceBook Secret Closed Group.

  4. Fill out an online evaluation form with a monthly questionnaire due on the 3rd of each month.

  5. Puppy Raisers Evaluation check-ins will be weekly with the Service Dog Trainer you are working with; it is the puppy raiser’s and Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project trainer’s responsibility to calendar time for these training and assessments.

  6. The puppy raiser needs to make arrangements to have their puppy with them each day at work and at play.

  7. Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project will cover the following costs for Puppy Raisers: dog food, training classes, veterinary care (pre-approved), neutering & spaying costs, crates, and dog bed. 

  8. Puppy Raisers are responsible for expenses such as treats, toys, grooming supplies, travel expenses, and grooming. (*Travel expenses is in reference to your personal traveling adventures which you Service Dog in Training will be with you on! Travel regarding returning the Service Dog in Training forward to the handler Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project team has covered.)

We provide on-the-job training and will guide each Puppy Raiser, teaching them how to be the best puppy raisers in the galaxy! If you are willing to show up and be part of the community, you will have a positive experience. If you are not going to attend the monthly meetup or be able to be an active part of our online community, then puppy raising for MSD-WCP is not for you. We are a small organization and growing quickly; we need Puppy Raisers with an understanding of our mission and vision who will proudly represent us out in the world. All eyes are on that puppy everywhere you go, this puppy is being raised for FUNctional independence of another human so everything you do matters remembering everything is about the future Service Dog Team.

We count on Puppy Raisers to teach the puppies manners, socialization, basic obedience and etiquette (how to behave in public). We will find the perfect class and trainer together for Puppy Basic Obedience- which culminates into perfect preparation for the Handler’s successful passing of the Canine Good Citizenship test- in your community in the Los Angeles area, and share these options with MSD-WCP. You need to find these classes before you even pickup your puppy, because the 4 months that you will work with your puppy goes by extremely fast! During the time you have your puppy, you will also be responsible for spaying or neutering the puppy at a low-cost clinic (6 months for spaying and 6 for neutering), be sure to make the appointment at a low cost clinic 9 weeks ahead. You will be responsible to pass the Basic Obedience and Etiquette certifications so they are ready to continue their training for the original Canine Good Citizenship Basic, Urban, and Community tests putting them well on their way to pass the original and true tested Public Access Test. (*Together we will find GCC Evaluators) Puppy raisers are a gift to our organization and handlers.

PUPPY RAISER GOALS  By the time the Puppy Raiser has readied the puppy for the transition between 6-8 months to the Mobility Team, MSD-WCP wants to see all our dogs behave with the following characteristics:

1) Well-behaved- The pups have good house manners and will not relieve in the house. They are quiet and calm, eat only their own food, and are not destructive. They have received their Basic Obedience, Etiquette and Work with Service Dog Trainers we have hired on and have an excellent track record. (Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project will cover these expenses.)

2) Socialized to the world- The pups have been exposed to a wide variety of people, places, and things and accept new situations in a calm manner.  Puppies are comfortable and well-behaved in restaurants, grocery stores, parks, schools, libraries, malls, museums, concerts, plays, parties, weddings, volunteering situations and loud, quiet situations, and among children, adults— essentially all day-to-day life.  They are expected to have full access to all activities, 24/7, with their puppy raisers.

3) Well-traveled- The puppies are relaxed and comfortable when traveling in all modes of transportation: cars, vans, buses, trains, airplanes, ferries, etc.  

4) People friendly- The pups bond well with people, enjoy receiving verbal praise, and are eager to please.

5) Animal-friendly- The pups are calm and appropriate around all animals they might come in contact with, including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and livestock. 

6) Responsive- The pups obey basic commands and are cooperative during various training exercises. They have great manners, never barking or drawing attention to themselves.

7) Etiquette trained- The pups have been exposed to proper manners in public for dining under the table, sidewalk relieving, shopping in all kinds of shops and grocery stores.

This first 6 months of a puppy’s life just living, loving, learning, and basic training must be taken very seriously so that each dog is prepared to be transferred to their Mobility Handler straight from the Puppy Raiser. Once the Mobility Team is intact, a Service Dog or Task Trainer will step in, allowing for each Mobility Team to train together for the needs of the individual Mobility Handler.  Should the Puppy Raiser not key in to all four levels of training – manners, socialization, basic obedience commands, and etiquette, all to culminate in the Canine Good Citizenship Testing that will be done with their handler– the dog will not be ready for the transition to their Mobility Team.  

When it is time for a puppy to be called in for final training and placement with Disabled Handlers, it is the Puppy Raiser’s responsibility to return the Service Dog in Training back to Pasadena, California. Though we understand that you will have become attached to your wonderful Service Dog in Training, we know that you will be eager to pass your puppy on to its Handler with a great deal of heart, knowing that you will have given your puppy a solid foundation toward allowing a disabled person to move about the world with new freedom and companionship.

Once the puppy moves to the Handler and Service Dog Trainer Team, they will completing Obedience and Etiquette classes, with the goal of having the Mobility Team capable of successfully completing the Public Access Test by the time the dog is 11 months old. Thus, the preparation work must be done by the Puppy Raiser, while the puppy is in their care. Standards established for service dog behavior in the Public Access Test including, but not limited to

  • Controlled loading into and unloading out of a vehicle

  • Controlled approach to a building

  • Controlled entry and exit through a doorway

  • Heeling through a building

  • Six-foot recall on a lead

  • Sit on command in various situations

  • Deck on command in various situations,

  • Control in a restaurant

  • Control when the leash is dropped

Mobility Service Dogs -West Coast Project requires that this testing occur in public locations where normal distractions are present (lots of people and other animals, cars, bikes, etc.), basically the real life situations that a disabled handler will encounter being out in the world.


Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project has chosen to work exclusively with poodles.  Why poodles?  Poodles make excellent Service Dogs as they are generally strong, agile, and intelligent, so they can be trained faster and are known to have an even temperament, particularly suitable for Service Dog work.  A bonus of having a Poodle Service Dog?  They are a truly hypoallergenic breed-with hair instead of fur and extremely low dander- and they don’t shed!   

We consider puppy raising to be not only an individual endeavor but also a group project.  Each volunteer is considered an important part of every graduating team, whether they were the puppy raiser or not.  Everyone is invited to attend graduation and celebrate the teams that complete their training.  We practice in group classes, and puppy raisers are encouraged to enjoy the company and assistance of other raisers by practicing in teams or in small groups.   

Puppy raising can be one of the most fulfilling volunteer opportunities available.  You are getting a puppy ready to learn all the basics.  Seeing how the life of a disabled individual can be changed by a service dog is an amazing experience.  Watching our dogs work with humans, giving the gift of functional independence, is heartwarming.  In addition to the joy that is seen in the end-product, puppy raisers grow in their dog training skills.  They create new and often long-lasting friendships.  They meet and work with some wonderful dogs.  And finally, there is that feeling that can only come from giving of yourself and your time to others.

For a PUPPY RAISER APPLICATION- Please send us your basic contact information, application you are requesting, and 10 words to share your reason for requesting application. Please SUBMIT request online OR you can email: Thank you!

Be sure to read Puppy Raiser Commitment below:



If you are approved to become a Puppy Raiser, we will expect you to do the following:

  1. Email any questions to

  2. Read and understand the Puppy Raiser manual cover to cover.

  3. Actively participate in the FACEBOOK Puppy Raiser Group, posting weekly diary type posts that share your activities, challenges, successes, and highlights. This will also act as an interactive blog that will be available for sharing, brainstorming, and mingling.

  4. Keep a calendar for the puppy’s future Mobility Handler of favorite places your puppy likes to go and outings you enjoy together.

  5. Complete Puppy Basic Puppy Obedience Class and successfully pass with your puppy Certification and be well on their way to pass the Canine Citizenship Tests (Urban, Community, Standard) with their Handler. (Together we will find top notch Evaluators for these tests.)

  6. We want to support our Puppy Raisers by covering the expenses for your tools such as crates, leashes, harnesses, dog food, vaccines, veterinarian charges (must be pre-approved by MSD-WCP), heartworm, and other needs as they arrive. You will supply bed, bowls, treats, toys, and grooming.

  7. Please ask in your circle of shops and neighborhood for donations of any of these items and or discounts.

  8. Be present for the weekly 1st, 3rd, and 4th Tuesday meet-up online call for sharing and learning, using BlueJean Video Conferencing or in person in Pasadena. The meet up is 12:15 - 1:15 and will be broadcast again at 7 pm same day.

  9. All puppy raisers will be asked to attend a yearly POODLE PALOOZA!