The first big step into training for a hearing dog puppy
Once a hearing dog puppy is around eight weeks old, they will leave their mum, siblings and the volunteer who has been taking care of them and come to the Hearing Dogs training centre, The Grange in Buckinghamshire.
This is the first real step to becoming a fully trained hearing dog as our adorable pups will meet their puppy training volunteer, who they will live with while they're learning all the basic obedience they need before they start their soundwork training.
But before we send them on the next step of their journey, hearing dog puppies stay with us for around two days at The Grange so we can get them ready to start their puppy training. We promise it’s not just an excuse for lots of cuddles! Find out what happens during this time below.
Our hearing dog puppies tend to fly the nest at eight weeks old. Don’t worry, puppies generally don’t mind leaving their mum or siblings. The majority of hearing dog mums are fine with their puppies leaving, too. When the puppies are at home, mums are only allowed in the garden and not on walks, so they are just happy to get out and about again.
The ones it can be most difficult for are our breeding scheme volunteers, who take care of our hearing dog mums and the birth of their pups. Most of these lovely volunteers shed a tear or two when they see the pups move on, but they are happy to have been such an important part of a hearing dog’s life - knowing that these pups will go on to change people's lives.
Arriving at Hearing Dogs training centre, The Grange
When the new puppies arrive at The Grange, Buckinghamshire their breeding scheme volunteer will take them to our puppy reception – sometimes their mum gets to come along, too. We give them a chance to have a run around and a little play in their new surroundings.
This also gives the volunteer a chance to do a personal handover to the breeding scheme team. They can point out if any of the pups have characteristics that might need to be monitored – like those who aren’t too keen on car journeys or those who are quite partial to shredding newspapers.
Soon after this, the puppies will say their goodbyes to mum and their breeding scheme volunteer and head off to our welfare team who are also based at The Grange.
What happens when a hearing dog puppy stays at The Grange
Hearing dog puppies usually stay with us for around a day before they leave with their new puppy training volunteers, but there's lots to fit in before they go. Here’s what usually happens:
- Once our puppies have said their goodbyes, they usually pop over to our lovely welfare team who will give them a quick once-over health check. This is also when the pups will get their vaccinations and are microchipped. This is only their first vaccination so they are still unable to go onto the ground where potentially unvaccinated dogs will be – but they can roam the puppy-specific areas of The Grange freely!
- We try to continue as much of the breeding scheme volunteer’s daily routine as possible for these eight-week-old puppies. This usually revolves around waking up, toileting, feeding, playing, sleeping and then repeating this about four times a day.
- The pups also get their first taste of stardom during this visit as one of our fantastic photographers will get the chance to take some pictures of the litter.
Meeting their puppy training volunteers
Once the puppies have completed all their welfare checks and had their photograph taken, they are ready to start the next leg of their exciting hearing dog journey – leaving with their puppy training volunteer! They will live with their volunteer for up to 16 months and will get most of their obedience training from them – like learning ‘sit’ and ‘down’ – as well as getting used to different environments such as towns, parks and beaches when they’re older.
If a puppy trainer has any other dogs in their house, we run a quick assessment to make sure they are happy for a lively puppy to join them. Most look forward to a new playmate and our hearing dog puppies love having other dogs around.
The puppy trainer comes to The Grange on the day of the handover and is run through what is required and any necessary paperwork before they get to meet their gorgeous new house guest. We also explain some first-night guidelines and any additional information we have on the puppy.
After that, they meet the puppy for the first time. They are given a chance to play and get to know one another before they head home. We will visit the volunteer’s home after a few days to make sure the pup is settling in well and soon they will be visiting us every week for puppy training classes. We always look forward to seeing them again!