Still wondering if helping to raise and train an assistance dog is right for you? Here are some frequently asked questions from people who have been where you are and needed a little more information before diving in.
I don’t know anything about dog training. Is that okay?
Yes! The vast majority of our volunteers have no formal dog training experience. Our trainers hold training classes twice a week at no cost to you, and you are welcome to attend as many as you’d like (although attendance at class is only required 1 time/month).
I’m under 18 years old, can I volunteer?
Raising a foster puppy is a volunteer effort that can involve the whole family. However, the primary handler of the dog is required to be at least 16 years old. Volunteers ages 12-15 may be allowed to handle the dog with staff approval.
What is a home visit?
The home visit is just a way for us to meet you, answer your questions, and see the environment the dog will be living in. A member of our Puppy Program staff will schedule this at a time that is convenient for you and your family. They typically last about an hour.
Is it okay to have other dogs in the home?
Yes, as long as the pet dogs are welcoming and accepting of other dogs in the home. We will bring one of our program dogs to your home visit to ensure that they get along. We do ask that no new, unapproved dogs enter your home while you have a foster dog in your care. This includes temporary foster dogs from rescue organizations.
Do I need to have a fenced yard?
Volunteers are not required to have a fenced yard. However, Can Do Canines dogs are not allowed off leash in unfenced areas. If you do not have a fenced yard, you can use a tie-out with supervision or you can leash walk the dog for exercise.
How much exercise do the dogs require?
Exercise is a very important part of a dog’s mental and physical wellbeing. Puppy program volunteers should expect to provide their dog at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. This is important during all seasons, even winter.
Can I request a specific breed or size of dog?
There is a place on the application to indicate breed/size preference, however, most of our dogs are labradors or labrador crosses. If you prefer a different breed or size, you may have to wait longer for your preference to become available.
Can I take a program dog to work?
Maybe. Please contact Puppy Program if you are interested in having a program dog attend work with you. We want to ensure this is the right fit for the dog in your care. We can also give guidance on navigating the workplace with a service dog in training.
What if I go on vacation or need a break?
We have an extensive network of short-term fosters willing to take in your puppy when needed. You simply let us know ahead of time when you will need a foster using our online portal system, and we will get to work finding a foster for you.
Can I bring a program dog with me to the cabin?
Generally, yes. If the cabin is in Minnesota or Wisconsin this may be allowed. Please contact Puppy Program beforehand with the dates of travel, location of the cabin and the closest emergency veterinarian in order to gain approval.
What is Can Do Canines training philosophy?
We use only positive reinforcement training strategies with our dogs. This means we give praise and treats when the dogs display desirable behaviors, making them more likely to repeat those behaviors.
Why do you wait to spay/neuter until 1 year of age? What does this mean to me?
We wait to spay/neuter until 1 year of age in order to determine if a puppy is going to enter our breeding program. This is why we require all pet dogs in volunteers’ homes to be spayed/neutered. Unspayed female dogs typically go into heat 1-2 times a year, starting sometime between 6 months and 1 year of age. During this time, you may want to have her wear a protective liner.
Are program dogs allowed to travel with me?
Program dogs are not allowed to cross state lines without permission, and are never allowed to cross international borders. They are not allowed on cruises or on a flight while in training.
Can a program dog go swimming?
Yes! Swimming can be great exercise. Please use a long line if you take the dog swimming at a lake. If you have access, the dog is allowed to swim in a personal pool. They are not allowed in public pools or splash pads. Be mindful that the body of water is safe (no scum or algae or notices posted advising against swimming) and that the dog takes breaks and does not over-consume water while swimming. Please do not allow program dogs to jump into the water from a dock. After swimming, make sure to clean their ears.
Are my friends and neighbors able to greet program dogs?
In general, dogs in cape should build the expectation of not greeting people, including friends, family, neighbors or coworkers. If the program dog is out of cape, enjoying "down time," and are being well-behaved, they may meet and greet people. Please make sure anyone greeting the dog is aware of program rules and that you are ready to help enforce good manners.
Can my neighbor/mom/spouse take the program dog for a walk?
Anyone who helps care for the program dog must meet and be approved by Puppy Program. They should also join you in classes to make sure they understand Program expectation.
Where CAN'T program dogs go?
Per the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dogs in training are not guaranteed access to federal buildings, churches, public pools or casinos.
Can Do Canines does not allow program dogs to visit dog parks, zoos or firework shows. We do not advise any all day excursions like visiting the State Fair, amusement parks, or going to your cousins wedding (for example). We need the focus to be on the training of the dog and not the event itself. The dog can either take a day off in their kennel or a foster "vacation" if you have an event or long day away planned.
Program dogs who have not been vaccinated against rabies are not allowed in pet stores.