Volunteers play a vital role in our day-to-day operations at Canine Assistants. We have a wonderful team of volunteers on which we heavily rely, and we’re so grateful for the dedication that they show on a daily basis.
At Canine Assistants, our volunteers use an approach created by our founder, Jennifer Arnold, called the Bond-Based Approach, which focuses on creating a bond between dog and human that enhances both of their lives. It’s quite different from any other common dog training method. In fact, we don’t even consider our dogs trained at all! Our dogs are shown through bond-based learning and exercises how to manage their own behavior and not rely on directives from a human handler. Please know that when you come to Canine Assistants to volunteer that we do not use behavioral dog training or any sort of rewards-based or action-consequence type of system to work with our dogs. Bond-Based is really just about facilitating a relationship with your dog and letting all of the other expectations fall away.
Volunteers help us greatly in all the following areas:
Working with our dogs is a full-on contact sport, so volunteers best-suited for these opportunities must be comfortable handling dogs weighing up to 70 pounds. Volunteers working with our dogs must also be 18 years old or older.
- Grooming– grooming dogs to keep them healthy and beautiful, including bathing and brushing.
- Dog Walking/Playtime– helping our dogs learn to walk with a loose-leash and have fun while gaining physical strength and confidence.
- Instructional Outings– Taking dogs on public outings. Outings are instrumental in exposing our dogs to a variety of environments which they will encounter when placed with a recipient.
- Home-Visits– Overnight or weekend visits to help dogs acclimate to different home environments.
- Fostering– In the foster program, volunteers are assigned a puppy at 7 weeks old that they work with on a consistent basis until the dog graduates at around 18 months to 2 years old. Volunteer fosters provide invaluable help to the dog instructing staff with socialization, Bond-Based social learning exercises, and much more, but they do not keep the dog on a full-time basis.
- Nursery Team– Daily care and up-keep of our 0-7 week old puppies. Nursery team volunteers also take the baby puppies on “mini” outings and work on socialization as well.
- Animal Assisted Activities, Education, and Therapy – Participate in animal assisted activities at assisted living facilities, rehabilitation facilities, schools, and hospitals.
- Presentation Team – Give informational presentations about Canine Assistants to community organizations and education facilities, including a disability awareness presentation for children.
- Breeder Host Home– some of our dogs (males and females) become breeders for us, and they need host homes who are willing to house them and work with us throughout their time as a breeder.
Volunteers must be 18 years or older to apply.
- Special Events – staff informational tables or booths and participate in fundraisers.
- Cleaning- help us stay neat and tidy by cleaning crates and kennels, washing towels, sweeping floors, keeping walls clean, organizing supplies, restocking supplies, scooping yards, etc.
- Maintenance –helping with special maintenance and grounds-keeping projects such as pasture maintenance, appliance maintenance, and other projects.
- Administrative Assistance– assisting staff members with office work that is essential to keep us running smoothly.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When I submit my application, how long should I wait to hear a response?
Response time is dependent upon the current amount of recently received applications, but typically one can expect to hear from our Volunteer Coordinator within two weeks of submitting your application.
What happens after I submit my application?
Once your application is submitted, you should hear very soon from the Volunteer Coordinator to go over your application and chat a bit about your expectations of volunteering. You will then be invited to attend a New Volunteer Orientation on the Canine Assistants grounds. These orientations happen at the beginning of each new volunteer session (January, May, and September). The next step is an online video series that details the Bond-Based Approach and gives you a more in-depth look at the Bond-Based Approach and how it applies to your time with Canine Assistants.
How long does it take to get through volunteer training?
If you think you’d like to work with our dogs, you should expect to complete volunteer training over the course of three months. Volunteers who would like to work with our dogs should expect to come to the farm at least once a week for 10 weeks as a part of their training process. As you can imagine, our dogs mean a lot to us, so the process is extensive, but also very thorough! If you are physically unable or would rather not work with our dogs, the training process is much shorter- you only need to come to orientation and likely one other class!
I can only volunteer for the summer. Is that okay?
We ask that our volunteers commit to at least a year of volunteering with Canine Assistants. We are always growing and changing, and we want you to be a part of the process!
I have children under the age of 18 that would like to volunteer with me. Is this ok?
Of course! Volunteers often bring their children with them when they volunteer, and we encourage interaction between the children and the dog. However, because of liability reasons, the person holding the leash and handling the dog at all times MUST be 18 years or older and have completed all necessary volunteer training.
When are the on-property orientations held?
New Volunteer Orientation happens at the beginning of each new volunteer session (January, May, and September). Our orientations span three days: the first day is required for all volunteers and days two and three are only required for volunteers who are interested in working with our dogs. We alternate between weekday and Friday-Sunday orientations to accommodate potential volunteers’ work schedules
I’m interested in raising a puppy and fostering. Can I do that?
Many service dog organizations use volunteers called “Puppy Raisers” in which a puppy is sent to the volunteer family at a young age (6-7 weeks) to live until he is an adult (around a year old) before entering an intensive training program. We do not have puppy raisers at Canine Assistants. Here, all of our dogs live primarily on our 18-acre farm in Milton. However, each dog has a foster or multiple fosters who are responsible to taking him off the property for outings and home visits to give him all of the public socialization experiences he needs to be a service dog.
What kinds of dogs do you use?
We exclusively use golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, golden/lab mixes, and goldendoodles. Canine Assistants has its own breeding program, and all the puppies are born right here on the farm!
How old are the dogs when they start and when do they graduate?
All puppies start Bond-Based social exercises and mini-outings at 4 weeks old. Dogs typically graduate from the program around 18 months – 2 years old depending on when they’re ready to graduate.
The button below directs you to our volunteer application, but we have disabled it since all of our 2018 volunteer classes are full. If you’d like to be considered for our future volunteer classes or have any other questions, please e-mail our Volunteer Coordinator, Kristen Hill, at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will place you on our notification list. We would love your help for our January 2019 class! We will also keep this site updated when our January 2019 orientation dates are finalized. Thanks for your interest in volunteering with Canine Assistants!
Are you interested in supporting our mission by helping us make our 18-acre farm a better place? We’d love your help in these areas: HVAC, plumbing, commercial or residential electrical, carpentry, cabinetry, mechanics (lawn equipment, heavy machinery, diesel engines, auto), arbor and landscape design and maintenance, flooring, cleaning, painting, and general handy work. Fill out an application below, and one of our staff members will be in touch with you shortly.