Become a Puppy Raiser


Volunteers play a vital role in raising an Assistance Dog – in fact, the program could not exist without them! For our first seven years of operation, Compass recruited and managed our own Volunteer Puppy Raisers, under the guidance of our in-house specialist Trainers.

These Volunteers are amazing humans are still raise our puppies today! Now they are guided and supported by our Specialist Training Partners at Empower Assistance Dogs, who have maintained the successful model we started with, which sees the local community at the heart of the program.

Throughout the time that puppies are being prepared for their important mission as eventual Assistance Dogs, volunteers help to raise and care for them, along with undertaking their initial training activities. This is done by placing the pups with volunteers inside their homes for a period of approximately the first 12-18 months of their life. Our Specialist Training Partners work very closely with our volunteers and the puppies throughout this entire period, and also give extensive support and training to the volunteers throughout their journey.

We have found that this is the best model to ensure the puppies are exposed to everyday environments and scenarios that they are going to be faced with once they are placed in their forever home.

We are extremely grateful to all of the volunteers, past and present, that have contributed to the success of Assistance Dogs being placed into homes with families and going on to change countless lives. The commitment to doing this work is phenomenal and the impact is huge – so THANK YOU!

Read more below about what it takes to become a Volunteer Puppy Raiser.


As a Volunteer Puppy Raiser, you enjoy the benefits of nurturing a young puppy through the first 12-18 months of its life in your own home. You will be fully supported by a specialist Trainer from our incredibly skilled and talented Training Partners at Empower Assistance Dogs, to make sure you have everything you need to help the pup learn the essentials and stay healthy and happy.

Through this time, you will receive regular visits and training by the Empower team, but for the majority of the time, you will be raising the pup and taking it with you on excursions in the community as you go about your daily life.

Throughout this period, all costs of raising the puppy will be covered by The Compass Institute.


Michelle, Volunteer Puppy Raiser

“I have been a Volunteer Puppy Raiser for Compass since it started with its own Assistance Dogs in 2016. I wake up every morning excited about what the day will bring and how I can help this pup reach its full potential as an Assistance Dog, and I go to bed at night content that I am working to make a difference.

All it takes is one year of my life to raise this puppy – and once placed with a child as a fully trained Assistance Dog, it will help transform this child’s entire life trajectory, together with his or her family.

The training, support and care I received  from the original Compass Training Managers and now from new Training Managers with Empower, is paramount to my success as a Puppy Raiser, and I couldn’t do it with them all by my side. I love my work and I feel honoured to have been selected as a Puppy Raiser for Compass.”

Tim, Volunteer Puppy Raiser

“I have been raising and socialising puppies for Compass since 2019. The puppies arrive at about eight weeks old and live with us for a year or so before going into formal training. After training they go on to become assistance dogs for young people with autism. These dogs really do help and can change the course of a young person’s life, forever.

We teach them good behaviour around the home, basic general obedience, and get them used to all the things they might encounter while out with their young client – busy streets, farm animals, bus and train travel, shopping centres, stairs, heights, loud noises – the list goes on. It is very rewarding helping a young pup become a confident and relaxed dog. You don’t need to be an expert – there is always support if needed from the trainers. The success rate for these dogs is high and they are almost all placed into families, so I can be confident that the support I have given each puppy will be put to good use as it helps its young client.

I have been happy volunteering for Compass – they are a friendly organisation and they do really great work. “

Find out more

Thank you for considering becoming a Volunteer Puppy Raiser! All of our Puppy Raisers are now managed by our partners at Empower Assistance Dogs, who do an incredible job at providing extensive training and support.

To find our more about how this works, what’s involved and how to get in touch with our Empower team, please contact us!

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