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Puppy Walker -great voluntary role to look after a future Guide Dog-

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Guide dogs help the visually impaired by acting as those people’s eyes.

You might have seen them somewhere on the streets.

You may not be familiar with guide dogs if you are healthy.

However in fact, there is an opportunity for you to be closely involved with a guide dog.

It’s a volunteer called ‘puppy walker’. The role is to take care of a puppy that will become a guide dog in the future.

This time, we will introduce what you need to become a puppy walker and how you train it.

If you can learn a bit about a voluntary role ‘puppy walker’ as a supporter of future guide dogs, it would be nice!

What’s a Puppy Walker?

Puppy walker is a volunteer who looks after a puppy (a future guide dog) as a member of his/her family for about 10 months.

The role of puppy walker is to live with a puppy until it become one year old and help it to build a good relationship with human.

Like humans, the most important period for education for dogs is a time when it is a puppy. It is necessary for a future guide dog to learn a lot of things such as how to communicate with others, how to live with human, and being familiar with various sounds in town conditions.

The volunteer trains a puppy under specialist’s advice in order to let it become an adult guide dog in the future.

Puppy Walker requirements

First of all, Raising a pup with lots of love is a must.

On top of that, there are some requirements to be a puppy walker. It is slightly different from guide dog associations.

・To live together indoors
・To spend most of your time together (Not to leave the pup alone at home for a long time)
・To Take a lecture regularly at a training center
・To afford to pay for food and medical expenses

If you can meet these requirements, you can apply online or through mail.

The Japan Guide Dog Association has an official website, which explains the details about a puppy walker.

Japan Guide Dog Association official website

How to become a Puppy Walker

After applying for a puppy walker, you would participate in a briefing held at a training center. You can prepare for the life with a pup.

After that, you will get an interview. Ask any questions if you are not sure, and get confident to welcome a little one.

Once officially registered as a puppy walker, you may have to wait till the association send you a pup. Puppies are not always delivered immediately.

After everything is confirmed, entrusting ceremony is to be held. This is where you finally meet your puppy! It’s time to start as a puppy walker.

Roles of Puppy Walker

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One of the things your pup needs to learn is to love people. It is essential to build a good relationship with its owner.

In order to raise a dog which loves people, going out and playing together with lots of love seem to be very important.

As for training, for example, when you take a walk, you teach your pup not to pull the lead by watching his eyes and talking to him. Also, to prevent your dog from being afraid of noise on heavy traffic roads, let it get used to the noise little by little from it is young.

Once a month, the association give you advice on what kind of training are needed and how to train it, so even a first-time puppy walker can have peace of mind.

A puppy firstly need to get toilet training.

When your pup seems to be going to do a wee/poo, you take him to the toilet sheet and teach him to do it there so he can remember. he may sometimes fail, so you need to be patient.

Full-fledged training as a guide dog is conducted after it become one year old, but before that, standard training is to be carried out by a puppy walker.

Of course training is vital, but it is also essential for a future guide dog to enjoy living with human.

It would be great that you take your pup everywhere and have lots of experience with it!

What kind of a dog is suitable for a guide dog?

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Most guide dogs in Japan are Labrador retrievers.

Labrador retrievers are said to be suitable for guide dogs because of its friendly personality, good size and strength for human and short hair with easy care.

Since they are smart, it seems they easily get trained.

Also, Labrador retriever has gentle face. As guide dogs meet a lot of people while walking with the visually impaired, good looking is an advantage. It seems another reason why Labrador retriever is chosen as a guide dog.

Farewell to your puppy

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You, as a puppy walker, can live with your little one until it become 1 year old. After that, it is returned to a training center where it is trained to become a guide dog.

At the completion ceremony, which is the time of farewell, a certificate is given to a puppy walker along with words of appreciation.

After that, the association will explain what kind of trainings the dog will get before he become a guide dog.

You can also see a demonstration of the training at that time. You would feel relieved when watching the dog enjoy the training.

After taking a ceremonial photo, Finally it’s time to say goodbye. I think you would remember happy time you spent with your pup as a puppy walker with mixed feelings.

From now on, the pup would receive full training and become a great guide dog which serve someone’s need, so why don’t you let it go with a word like “Good luck!” rather than just being sad.

Conclusion

Puppy Walker fosters a future guide dog when it’s puppy, that is, during an important period of the life.

It is a heavy responsibility, but the time taking care of it like your own child would be a lifelong treasure.

In some areas, it seems that the number of puppy walker is not enough.

To be a puppy walker is good support for puppies, which would play an important role as a guide dog, and also helpful for the visually impaired who would live with them in the future.

If you are in an environment where you can look after with your family’s support, why don’t you think about it?

Release date: 2019/11/08, Last updated: 2020/05/20

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