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Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind places puppies at approximately 7 weeks of age with foster families called "puppy walkers" who raise the pups for 12 to 18 months. The Puppy Walkers socialize the puppies, which are mainly golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers, to as many different, everyday environments as possible. The socialization begins in the home and gradually advances to quiet residential areas and slowly works up to restaurants, shopping malls, public transit, elevators and so on. This program is supervised by a Puppy Walking Coordinator from Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The first formative year is of vital importance in the temperamental and physical growth of a young dog and all activities with a puppy should be directed to the development of habits and characteristics that form the basis of a Guide Dog.
The puppy stays with the family until they are between twelve and eighteen months of age, after which the pup begins its formal training at the Training Centre with a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor.
If you are interested in the Puppy Walking Program you must meet the following criteria:
1. You must be willing to make a 12 to 18 month commitment
2. An adult has to be in the home most of the day or have permission for the dog to go to work with you
3. Ability to attend meetings with supervisors
4. Your own means of transportation, for vet appointments, meetings, etc.
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