Become a Puppy Trainer
Volunteer puppy trainers are vital to the Paws with Purpose mission. To be a puppy trainer, you must have a love for dogs and the commitment to include the raising of one of our dogs in your home. Don’t worry, prior puppy/dog training is NOT necessary! PwP provides regular training classes for all of our part-time puppy trainers and their current dogs.
What is involved? The families and individuals who serve as part-time puppy trainers provide a means to house, train and nurture Paws with Purpose Assistance dogs-in-training. Our trainers pick up their puppies at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women (KCIW) and provide socialization and distraction training. Part-time puppy trainers then provide feedback to the dog’s inmate handler to help assist her with developing a plan for continued training.
If you feel that becoming a puppy trainer is right for you, please complete the puppy trainer application. The PwP training coordinator will contact you to discuss the next step!
Description and Responsibilities of a Puppy Trainer
Our dogs are trained during the week by the women inmates at the KY Correctional Institution for Women (KCIW) in Pewee Valley. They are matched with an inmate and a volunteer weekend puppy trainer (PT) at about 8 weeks of age and remain with those 2 handlers for the entire training process which takes about 2 years. You will have to undergo a background check and take a 3-4-hour volunteer training class at KCIW to be able to participate as a PT.
As a weekend puppy trainer, you pick the dog up on Friday from KCIW, attend training classes on Saturdays, attend public promotion events and take the dogs to various public places like the grocery, mall, etc. to expose the dog to as many different situations as possible. You return the puppy to KCIW on Sunday. This time frame can be flexible, for example if you want to take your puppy to work on a Friday or Monday, you can change the day of pickup or drop off. At pickup and drop off you meet with the inmate handler for 10-15 minutes to discuss the training of the puppy. The PT attends training PWP classes themselves on Saturdays to learn all the various commands and how to train/execute them properly while in public before they are assigned a puppy.
You are responsible for taking your dog to the vet when needed. Crestwood Animal Hospital provides free office visits and free wellness treatments, including spaying, neutering and annual vaccines for our dogs. PWP provides major medical insurance on each dog but you are responsible for the deductible amount of $250 if your dog needs medical treatment. Crestwood Animal Hospital is conveniently located near the prison and has weekend and extended hours.
Food, heartworm and flea preventive are provided by KCIW and/or PWP.
The weekend trainers are also responsible for the cost of taking 5 bags of approved dog treats to their inmate handler once a month.
If you are out of town for a weekend here and there or a couple of yearly week long vacations, that is fine, we usually have alternates or it is fine if the puppy stays in KCIW, buts obviously this is not a job for someone who travels a lot. It is fine if you have other dogs at home, as long as they are dog friendly. Our dogs play like normal when they’re not vested. It is also fine if you do not have a fenced in yard, but the dog will have to be on a leash at all times when you are outside. We do not allow electric fences to be used for our dogs.
Many people ask if they can be a weekend substitute for the puppies. We only allow people who have been trained by PWP and previously trained a PWP dog to take the dogs out in public.
I’m sure there are many more questions you may have. I am always happy to answer any of them. This is a big time commitment to the dog and to PWP, but it is so rewarding to see the progression of the dog, to see how beneficial this program is for the inmates and to see how it changes the lives of the recipients.
We encourage people who are interested to attend our Saturday training classes to see what we do. These classes are usually held at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in the Highlands. Contact us ahead of time to confirm time. Please feel free to contact PWP at any time.