Many of our foster families initially became involved with Kingston 4 Paws Service Dogs because of their love of dogs; most of them continue to raise our puppies because they enjoy making a positive difference in the life of a child with autism or someone who experiences seizures or severe anxieties.
Becoming a volunteer puppy raiser is a 12- to 16-month commitment of time, energy and love that opens your home to a future Kingston 4 Paws Service Dog. Through daily care and training, foster families provide the initial learning and socialization that puppies need before they begin their more specialized service dog training.
Puppies are constantly learning during their first year of life. During this time, the foster families are responsible for housebreaking the puppy and teaching good manners like staying off the furniture, not jumping on counters or visitors and not begging at the table. They also practice basic obedience commands with the puppy such as sit, down, stay and come. To prepare puppies for their lives as service dogs, their early caregivers socialize them through exposure to many different kinds of people, vehicles, sounds, environments and other animals.
Kingston 4 Paws Service Dogs is responsible for providing food, kennels, initial collars and leashes and veterinary care for the puppy. Foster families provide toys, replacement collars, replacement leashes and training treats.
Safety of the puppies should always be a concern for foster families. Whenever a puppy is outside and not within a completely fenced area, the puppy must be on a leash. There will be times when a puppy is unable to go out with its caregivers. During those times, the puppy is to remain kenneled indoors.
Foster families receive support from K4Paws staff, who arrange weekly events in a variety of settings and provide tips on care, training and manners. Having raised or owned a puppy in the past is not a requirement to become a foster family. The most important trait of the family is the dedication to provide daily care to a puppy and consistency in its training. If you decide to open your home to a puppy, you will receive a Puppy Raiser’s Training Manual to help you prepare for life with your Kingston 4 Paws Service Dog as well as contact information for your puppy trainer. Early experiences and training makes all the difference in the way your puppy handles itself in public and at home. Your puppy will be expected to behave in any situation without being bothered by distractions. If you devote time to training your puppy daily, exposing it to new environments two or three times a week and meeting and having contact with a puppy trainer weekly, you will increase the odds that your puppy is successful as a service dog candidate. Puppy trainers will review specific obedience commands taught at home and guide you on how your puppy is progressing. Foster families also use the training sessions and outings to connect with other families to share wisdom and experience gained through their puppy raising experience. Remember, any question or issue you may have has almost certainly been encountered by another foster family. You will be expected to raise your future Kingston 4 Paws Service Dog with exceptional manners, behaviors and obedience according to the Puppy Raiser’s Training Manual standards developed by Kingston 4 Paws Service Dogs. These standards will be provided to you. Your puppy trainer will help you understand and implement them.
To learn more about the lifestyle and responsibilities of foster families, review our frequently asked questions.
If you are interested in becoming part of our Kingston 4 Paws family please complete our online application.
(Click the “Online Application” link to access the application. Please do not try to print the form or send it by regular mail. Only forms received online will be considered. For assistance regarding applications please write us at email@example.com)