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What helps and what hinders assistance dog/puppy raising practices? – Presented by Doc Loc Mai (Jimmy)

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What helps and what hinders assistance dog/puppy raising practices?

Most puppies being raised as potential assistance dogs spend their time living and learning with a volunteer raiser during their first year of life, a critical period for their physical and psychological development. After this puppy raising stage, up to half of all assistance dog puppies fail to graduate to work in an assistance role. Many factors contribute to the high failure rates, but little is known about what helps and what hinders a puppy raiser to educate a puppy to the highest quality. To investigate this issue, seventeen interviews were conducted with puppy raisers and staff responsible for overseeing puppy raising programmes in different countries. The data were analysed thematically, suggesting that various factors affect raisers’ competency and engagement in optimal puppy raising practices. These factors are categorised as intrapersonal (expectations, sense of achievement, patterns of acquiring new knowledge and skills, and willingness to push through difficulties), interpersonal (interactions with staff, fellow puppy raisers, and those in their professional and personal networks), and organisational (different types and methods of delivering support and training). Recommendations for organisations and individuals engaged in puppy raising will be presented.

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