Puppy Carer & B&Bers FAQs

What is a Puppy Carer?

A Puppy Carer is someone who looks after one of our trainee Assistance Dogs for a short period, e.g. a few days or weeks at time. They are called upon if the Puppy Educator needs a break or wants to leave their home for an extended period of time (e.g. holidays). 

A Puppy Carer needs to meet the same application criteria as a Puppy Educator, to provide consistency in training of the puppy. If caring for a puppy for an extended period of time, the Puppy Carer is also required to attend scheduled classes or accommodate a home visit from its Puppy Educator Supervisor.

Please note that it is expected that you will pick up and drop off the puppy from the Puppy Educator’s home or other location, as required.

What is a B&Ber?

For Sydney National Training School & Brisbane Pups in Prison only

Bed and Breakfast – B&B’ers – are volunteers mostly available on a weekend basis, who generally care for our dogs in Advanced Training, based at the National Training School (NTS) at Waterfall or our Pups in Prison (PIP) Program in Gatton (Brisbane).

This allows our pups in Advanced Training to have some time out of their training locations and practice their house manners. It is a time for rest and play.

You will need pick up the pup from the NTS or PIP between 2pm and 4pm on a Friday, and return the pup to the NTS or PIP between 8am and 10am on a Monday. A B&Ber receives the same training as a Puppy Carer, to provide consistency in training of the Assistance Dogs Australia pup.

How old must I be to apply?

The applicants should be over 18 years old.  Children may be involved in the project, but full responsibility should be with an adult member of the family. Only the adult can be the primary handler of the puppy and should be the one handling the pup while out and about in public.

What is my role as a Puppy Carer/B&B’er?

The Puppy Carer & B&Ber’s role is to provide a safe but stimulating environment for the young dog while it is away from its primary Puppy Educator. It is important that you familiarise yourself with the puppy’s current training so that consistency in the pups training is maintained during the time the pup is with you.

Here are some of the training tasks a Puppy Carer or B&Ber may be required to develop and maintain in their pup: 

  • Walks by your side on a loose leash, in pace with your stride
  • Remains calm and confident in public situations, including those with distractions
  • Does not eat food off the floor
  • Does not beg for food
  • Only eats food provided (no human food)
  • Toilets on cue
  • Remains calm and quiet around other animals
  • Remains calm when introduced to new people, either adults or children
  • Does not protect toys, food, home or handler
  • Is not aggressive towards other animals or people
  • Is trustworthy and comfortable when left alone for short periods
  • Is willing to work
  • Is friendly to all, but seeks direction from their handler in all social situations
How much support and training is given?

Your Puppy Educator Supervisor will be inducting and giving the Puppy Carer/B&B’er all the initial training needed, prior to caring for a puppy. Please be aware that our Information Sessions and classes/training sessions are held weekdays, during business hours.

If you are caring for a puppy for an extended period of time, the Puppy Carer is also required to attend puppy classes or accommodate a home visit with its Puppy Educator Supervisor. This is so you can support the pups training with the required handling and training skills.

An Information Session is held for applicants who meet the basic criteria required to care for an Assistance Dogs Australia pup. If you are interested, please complete the online application form at https://www.assistancedogs.org.au/support-us/become-a-puppy-educator-and-carer/  and a Puppy Educator Supervisor will be able to contact you to further discuss our program.

What if I have other pets in the house?

Families who have other pets are welcome to apply. We try to match your lifestyle and your family pet’s temperament, to best suit the pup’s needs.  We need to make sure the welfare of all animals is taken into consideration. To achieve the best outcome for our puppy there should be no more than 2 other dogs in the home. The dogs should be over 18 months of age.

I live in an apartment. Can I still be considered as a Puppy Carer?

Yes, apartment dwellers are considered, but the puppy will need regular exercise, a place to toilet and a safe play area.  This may be a strong temporary wire construction or a fenced yard.  Alternatively, some access to a safe area for the puppy to exercise is needed.

I don’t drive. Can I still apply?

Daily access to a car is a requirement in case of emergencies (for Vet visits). Your pup needs to become comfortable with car travel and you will need to travel to Puppy Classes. Puppy Carers and B&Ber’s need to be able to pick up/drop off puppies they are caring for.

Can I take the puppy on a walk?

Puppy Carer We encourage Puppy Carers to take the puppy on outings, mostly dependent on the handlers’ skill levels and the pup’s behaviour in certain environments. Regular walking is necessary, but there’s a need to observe the length of outings, depending on the pup’s age and development. The pup can also be left at home, in their crate, if needed.  Up to 6 months of age they can be left up to 2 hours; over 6 months of age, they can be left for up to 4 hours.

B&B – For B&Ber’s, we generally recommend no walks for the pup. The main objective is giving time for the pup to relax in a home environment, with some playtime and a chance to practice their house manners. If you need to go out, the pup can be left in a crate at home for up to 4 hours.

Can my puppy go into shopping centres, cafes etc. with me?

The Right of Access is different in each State/Territory in Australia. In most States, full public access is only awarded to an accredited Assistance Dog Team. While the puppy is still with the Puppy Educator, it has no legal right of entry (QLD being the only exception).  The good news is that the majority of establishments welcome Assistance Dog Australia pups into their space. With very little persuasion and education from the Puppy Educator/Carer, the puppy is usually allowed access to most places.  We do provide you and the pup with sufficient ID to support your request of entry.

What type of person makes a good Puppy Carer/B&B’er?

The Carer & B&B program is open to families, singles and retired people who fit all the other criteria.  There is no blueprint for the roles and each case is considered individually.  Of course, you must love dogs, be open and willing to learn how to support them in their learning journey, and dedicate time and energy to this.

I’ve never owned a dog before. Can I still apply?

Experience is not required, as we will teach you how to care for and educate the puppy.  

A sensible love of dogs is required.  The puppy must be taught and encouraged to be responsive to its handler if they are to succeed in their future role as an Assistance Dog.  Having a puppy around the house is like having an extra child!

Where will the puppy sleep?

To keep the puppy safe, and help with toilet training (for young pups with a Puppy Carer), we provide you with a crate.  We’d like the puppy to spend as much time out of the crate as possible during the day and evening and they will sleep in the crate at night.  However, at busy periods of your day, it is wise to have the puppy spend time relaxing in the crate rather than being unsupervised.  If you provide suitable bedding, they will treat the crate as their safe place and use it for rest and play.  The crate should be positioned in a living room or kitchen area, where they will become accustomed to the noise and atmosphere of family life. Your Puppy Educator Supervisor will be able to advise you on the best location for the crate in your home.

How much will puppy caring/B&B’ing cost me?

Assistance Dogs Australia pays for all food, worming/flea & tick preventatives, veterinary treatments and vaccinations.  We also provide you with the necessary equipment, such leashes and collars, ID tags, jacket and a crate.  You will need provide toy and, bedding, plus health care and grooming items from a list that we will supply you with upon placement of a puppy with your family.

How long will the puppy stay with me for?

Puppy Carer – puppy caring periods may vary from one day to six weeks. Occasionally there might be movement or swapping of puppies within our Puppy Education community and Pup in Prison Program (PIP). This is always done with the best interest for our trainee puppies in mind and our Puppy Educator Supervisors will to advise you accordingly.

B&B – the pup would stay with you from a Friday afternoon (pick up between 2:00pm-4:00pm) and returned on a Monday morning (between 8:00am- 10:00am)

Please note that Assistance Dogs Australia can ask for the puppy to be returned at any time during the period the pup is staying with you.

It costs over $40,000 to train and place an Assistance Dog.


Your donation helps covers training, vaccinations and equipment for an Assistance Dog, who is given to a client free of charge.


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