In order to best prepare its dogs for lifelong companionship, Guiding Eyes works with nearly 1,500 volunteers who help raise and socialize each animal. These individuals focus their work in one of several areas, including Early Training and Socialization. This program plays an essential role in the process of rearing guide dogs, enabling even the youngest of puppies to hone all the skills that they will need for their future work.
Early Socialization volunteers work with puppies for a minimum of two hours each week. During this time they help each dog build their confidence and bond with the humans around them. Puppies begin the Early Training and Socialization program in the “Pre-K” stage, which welcomes dogs between the ages of one and six weeks of age. This basic program enables volunteers to work with puppies on fundamental socialization skills.
Those who graduate from this stage then enter the “Kindergarten” program. During this stage, puppies up to the age of nine weeks have the opportunity to learn more advanced social skills through fun exercises and hands-on experiences with volunteers.