Could you help train a guide dog puppy?

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IT’S rewarding, worthwhile and it helps to keep you fit.

Walking any dog has its benefits - and walking a guide dog puppy has even more.

And now there’s a chance to find out how very special it is thanks to a new recruitment drive which aims to get pups ready to do their job when they’re older.

The Guide Dogs charity is appealing for volunteers in Sheffield and the surrounding areas to help socialise young dogs.

But it’s not just walkies helpers need to sign up for.

Volunteers are required for the full-time care and education of guide dog pups from the age of six weeks old until 12 to 14 months, when they are returned to the charity to begin specialised guide dog training.

Puppy walking supervisor Jackie Boone said: “We’re looking for enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers who can care for pups full time for the first year of their life.

“Puppy walking is challenging, and a real commitment to take a puppy into your home for a year.

“But with support from the Guide Dogs charity, our volunteers find it extremely rewarding and worthwhile.”

The young dogs spend much of their first year of life living with puppy walker volunteers in their home.

Their human helpers teach the dogs basic obedience and get them used to a home environment, noise, and the bustle of towns.

Volunteers also prepare the pup for its working life ahead, taking it on public transport including trains and buses.

Jackie said: “A young guide dog puppy is a full time companion for its temporary owners, who find it so rewarding to raise a dog who will one day give a blind person a new independence by acting as their eyes.”

The charity supplies basic equipment and covers all veterinary and feeding expenses.

To become a puppy walker, volunteers have to be at home for most of the day, and have free time to take their puppy into many varied environments – sometimes busy and difficult ones.

Their yard or garden will also need to be securely fenced so that the puppy remains safely within its confines.

To request more information about volunteering for the charity as a puppy walker, or about other volunteering opportunities, email volunteer@guidedogs.org.uk or call 845 371 7771.