Smoky Mountain Service Dogs will enlist the help of, and depend greatly upon the "volunteer spirit" and generosity of the community to support it's efforts in providing well qualified service dogs to those in need. Therefore, we are inviting volunteers to assist us in providing our puppies in training with the best possible environment in which to grow and develop their service skills by being a puppy raiser. It is imperative that our puppy raisers reside within a reasonable distance (30 minutes or so) from our training facility in Lenoir City, Tennessee.

Puppy Raisers: The puppy's most formative and influential stage is between the ages of ten weeks to six months; therefore, SMSD utilizes highly dedicated and well experienced puppy raisers. SMSD puppy raisers are volunteers that keep the puppy for a six to nine month period. Under the guidance of our trainers, they are responsible for housebreaking, crate training and teaching the puppy acceptable house manners and basic obedience skills. Further, these fosters are responsible for transporting the puppy to and from training classes and various appointments for veterinary care. The puppy raisers take the puppy into limited public access areas approximately three times per week during months four through nine of fostering.

Socializers: Socializers are also SMSD volunteers. They are responsible for further socializing our dogs and introducing them to additional environmental exposures. Socializers are highly active and capable of transporting the dog to all (or the majority) of its public access outings. Socializers are assigned to a dog in our kennel and have daily contact with that dog for a period of several months. During this same period, the professional trainers work with the dogs for obedience training and teaching those skills that all future service dogs will be required to have, regardless of the individual recipient. For dogs that are acquired beyond the puppy stage, this is generally the first phase of training.

Respite Providers: Respite Providers are volunteers that offer their homes for temporary relief to puppy raisers and socializers when they have emergencies or planned extended vacations. Respite providers also offer weekend stays to relieve SMSD kennel staff or when a dog needs a temporary home while awaiting adoption. The ideal respite providers will be capable of providing short or potentially long term care (if possible) and will be well versed in all areas of training, as they may be housing small puppies or adult dogs for as little as one day to as long as several months. Respite providers will also help to socialize the dogs and work with various necessary verbal and hand commands.

Puppy Raisers and Respite Fosters will provide the following services and equipment.

  • Inside living arrangements for the dog.
  • Food and fresh water daily.
  • Adequate exercise daily.
  • Public access outings.
  • Report any odd or problematic behaviors to the trainer immediately.
  • Maintain the dog's current level of training by practice and consistent leadership.
  • Must meet with the assigned trainer a minimum of once every four weeks.
  • Provide crate appropriate for a 60 pound dog or larger.
  • Toys (Kong, Tugs, Nyla-bones) absolutely no tennis balls allowed.
  • Moist, chewy dog treats for training
  • Leather or nylon 6 ft. leash (no expandable/Flexi leads).
  • Flat collar, appropriately sized.
  • Grooming tools.

Smoky Mountain Service Dogs will provide the following.

  • Dog food.
  • Preventative medications (heartworm/flea control).
  • Veterinary care.
  • ID card for Foster, ID tag for collar.
  • Service Dog Vest
  • A puppy training DVD and Foster Manual.
  • Liability insurance.

Please check back for other volunteer opportunities. As we grow, we will need more volunteers within our community. Thank you for considering becoming part of the Volunteer Smoky Mountain Service Dog Team. If you have any questions or would like to receive a volunteer application, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at SMSDVolunteer@yahoo.com.