Volunteer Trainer Program


Volunteer Trainers are part of the Service Dog in Training Program. They participate by bringing a service dog in training into their homes for socialization, basic obedience, house manners, basic service dog skills, and some advanced service dog skills until they are ready to return for advance training, typically between one and two years old. 4 Paws supplies the tools and information necessary to be successful in raising the service dog in training with the goal of becoming a service dog. We are committed to partnering with you to achieve this goal.

General Requirements/Criteria:

  • Volunteer Trainer homes must be within 3 hours of 4 Paws for Ability, Xenia, OH
  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Complete an online training program and attend an in-person orientation at 4 Paws for Ability
  • Comply with 4 Paws policies and procedures and provide a stable, safe environment for a puppy to live

Our Program May Be a Good Fit For You Because:

  • No prior experience necessary
  • Orientation and Obedience classes are provided for Volunteer Trainers to get the necessary training they need to be successful
  • Veterinary care, food, and a startup set of supplies are provided at no cost to the Volunteer Trainer when received from the 4 Paws Center in Xenia, OH.
  • The commitment of a Volunteer Trainer is flexible but generally they work in our program for about one year, though many volunteers choose to continue to participate past that time period.

Types of Volunteer Trainers:

Primary Handlers:

This is an individual, family, or university student who lives on or off campus who will be caring for, training, and socializing a 4 Paws dog in their home. Primary handlers live and work with one dog that they have been paired with.

Secondary Handlers:

This is an individual, family, or university student who lives on or off campus looking to short-term assist other Volunteer Trainers during the day or overnight. Secondary handlers work with a variety of different dogs in our program and are not paired with a specific dog.

Weekend/Weeknight Handlers:

This is an individual, family, or university student who lives on or off campus who will be caring for, training, and socializing a 4 Paws dog in Advanced Training in their home on weekends or in the evenings and on weekends. Weekend handlers are considered primary handlers in that they are working continuously with one dog in the program that they are paired with. This involves driving to and from 4 Paws in Xenia, Ohio at least twice a week as their dog works with one of our professional trainers during the business day.

Apply for our Service Dog in Training Program:

Click on the button/link below to submit your application! You will be asked to upload pictures of your home environment, a picture of yourself, and a Housing Verification Form in order to complete this application.

Apply for Service Dog in Training Program

Housing Verification Form

Testimonials

Payton Schroeder

Payton Schroeder

When I first toured my university’s campus as a sophomore in high school, I saw the 4 Paws dogs walking around, and I instantly knew this was a program I wanted to be apart of. Now, I’m a senior at the University of Kentucky, and I have been lucky enough to be a part of 4 Paws for almost 3 full years. By fostering service dogs in training, I have certainly taught the dogs a lot, but I would argue that they have taught me so much more. I’ve learned the meaning of patience, compassion, and love all by holding a leash and having a dog heeling at my left side. 4 Paws has truly changed my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Abby Sheeler

Abby Sheeler

4 Paws for Ability has been an incredible, life changing organization to volunteer for and to be a part of. I had the honor of being a puppy raiser throughout my 5 years as a college student, and then became a guardian home to my 7th foster who is now a breeder for 4 Paws. Being a part of the journey where a sweet little puppy becomes a life saving service dog is truly one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Volunteering for this program has changed my life in so many ways and has made such an impact on my life. I will forever be grateful that I stumbled across 4 Paws for Ability as a freshman in college and it led me on this journey of open arms and welcoming people through the amazing 4 Paws for Ability family.

Katie Bills-Tenney

Katie Bills-Tenney

From the time I was 10 years old and I watched a Reading Rainbow episode about a family who fostered a guide dog, I knew I wanted to have a hand in the raising of a service dog. 4 Paws has offered our family an incredible community of dedicated people with a primary mission: to find the best match for every dog. Working as volunteer trainers since 2016, we have watched the organization expand and refine its practices so that each dog finds success—whether as a service dog, client companion, or family pet—and each family finds joy.

Chloe Rayburn

Chloe Rayburn

My husband and I’s journey started back in 2018. We had been at the Apple Store at the Greene and saw a puppy with then 4Paws for Ability logo on the vest. We complimented on how beautiful the dog was and asked how they received the dog (thinking it was their SD). They explained it was in training and they fostered the dog while teaching basic commands and socializing. They provided us the information on how to volunteer on site!

We volunteered barely four months before becoming volunteer trainers! Two years later, we currently have two full time fosters and one weekend foster! We have absolutely loved the program and have loved the people involved! Everyone is so supporting. 4 Paws is one giant family full of love and puppy snuggles!

Katie Kuhns

Katie Kuhns

Volunteering at 4 paws has always been a family affair for us. We started by volunteering on site in the puppy house. We quickly began weekend fostering. After 13 fosters, we decided to become a guardian home. We’ve met some amazing people through this organization: other volunteers, clients, fosters and 4 Paws employees. I’ll forever be thankful for the people we’ve met and dogs we’ve had the opportunity to love.

Casey Juday

Casey  Juday

When I toured my university I saw a 4 Paws dog on campus. As soon as I learned what 4 Paws was, I knew I wanted to join. After joining as a junior, becoming the President of the organization on campus, and now as a traditional foster, I love it even more. I’ve met so many people and dogs through joining this organization. I’ve also learned so much! Fostering these dogs and getting them ready for their forever person is so inspiring. We raise them to pass them on to others and just knowing that you get to be apart of that experience really changes your life.

Emilee Cox

Emilee Cox

Living in my dorm freshman year, I saw a 4 Paws dog and quickly she became my best friend. I would stop to see her every morning and every night. I got involved with the program not long after that. I have had the lovely opportunity to work with 5 amazing dogs who have all changed my life in so many different ways. They have taught me to be understanding, to have patience, to be perseverant, and to be kind to those you do not know. Everyone has a story and these dogs each have one too. I have loved getting to be apart of so many dogs stories and help them go on to change others lives as they have changed mine. There is no better feeling than seeing a dog you worked so hard with do everything you imagined for them. It is truly an experience that I will forever be grateful for.

Madison Shultz

Madison Shultz

My first day on my university’s campus I saw a 4 Paws dog and knew that I absolutely had to become involved. It took me until my senior year to finally take the leap, but ever since my life has changed for the better. I have met the most amazing dogs and have watched every single one change someone’s life for the better. Whether my foster makes it as a Service Dog, or decides that the pet life is the best life for them, all of their families are so thankful for the dog they receive. It’s such an amazing feeling knowing you played a role in helping that family get the perfect dog for them. The dogs also have taught me so many lessons and have changed my life for the better, over and over again. After fostering for a year and a half I decided to become an on-site volunteer to be more involved. 5 fosters, and countless play times later, I can’t imagine my life without 4 Paws. 4 Paws has given me amazing memories with the dogs I have worked with, as well as an amazing social circle with people that have the same passion I have. I have made the most amazing friends through 4 Paws and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I am so thankful for the chance to be involved with such an amazing organization!

Sami Wylie

Sami Wylie

When I started at the University of Kentucky, I quickly noticed the dogs around campus and knew I wanted to be involved. I spent a whole year as a sitter learning how to handle the dogs and how the program worked. In August of 2018, I got my first dog Jericho. Training him was such an amazing thing where I knew I wanted to do many more. Not only have I gotten the opportunity to now have had 4 life changing fosters (Jericho, Burbank, Ripley, and Fauna) but I have made life long friends and met some of the best people. Many of these people and my dogs have been there for me during highs and lows and I could not be more grateful. It feels so amazing being apart of something bigger than myself

Audrey Robinson

Audrey Robinson

I joined 2 years ago as a freshman in college at the involvement fair. I can’t imagine life without all of the 2 and 4 legged friends I’ve made because of this decision! I got my toes wet by being a sitter and then I started volunteering on-site at 4 Paws for Ability. I fell in love — fast and hard. I started fostering my own pup, then picked up a quarantine pup, and now both are towards the end of their time with me! I’m not sure what my next steps are, but this amazing organization opened up my eyes to so much. My boys hold a huge part of my heart, and I’m beyond grateful to have been part of their journey.

Sarah Mackenzie

Sarah Mackenzie

I became involved with 4 Paws for Ability my freshman year of college. I started off as a sitter, wanting to grow confidence working with these animals. That summer I decided to take the leap and foster. I was placed with a 11 month old pup named Boggart, he was my only pup so far that was placed as a Service dog. When I tell you there’s no better joy than seeing that family who’s waited all these years for someone to come take just a little bit of that weight off their shoulders. It makes even the most difficult goodbyes so worth it because you know that pup is truly changing their life.

Tiffany Briscoe

Tiffany Briscoe

I joined 4 Paws for Ability at Wittenberg University and found an amazing program, filled with a compassionate support system. My beginning days within the program were just prior to the panic of covid-19. During a time of stress and worry, this organization found a way to bring volunteers, staff and pups together to work towards our goals. Not only was 4 Paws able to keep their staff and volunteers safe, they continued to find new ways to move forward and keep us all working towards the end goal of gifting an amazing service dog to families in need. I was placed with a goofy golden named Teebo. He has his eval coming up within the week rto help determine his place within the program. I am so ecstatic to see our progress come together. While our pups become our hardest goodbyes, they also serve as some of our greatest accomplishments.

Laura Maier

After my children all left for college I wanted something to do. I stumbled across 4Paws on the internet, met Jennifer, then received my first foster in 2009. Starsky was a beautiful red golden retriever puppy that I socialized for about a year. After his advance training he went to work for a little boy, named Brock, as a seizure alert service dog. I was hooked and fostered for the next 7 years. Samba, Mindy, Diggory, Kindle, Linguini, Tiny, Morpheus, and Saibra were my long term fosters and Gil, Bippa, Celine, Raziel, Gibbs, Mistletoe, and Godzilla were dogs that visited for short terms. I had to step away for 3 years while I cared for my mother who was suffering with dementia. During part of those three years I would borrow my sister’s fabulous flunkie, Livvy and take her to the memory unit to visit the residents. They all fell in love with Livvy’s gentle spirit. Livvy was made to work with this segment of society. She knew exactly how to behave and how to let these sweet people love on her. It really was magic! So now I’m back fostering again. I have Jackie from the President's litter. Covid has made it a little more interesting but I’m loving having a pup again. It is so rewarding to start them off with a good year of socialization and help them mature into these wonderful solid dogs. 4 Paws has been a blessing in my life and I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to foster these dogs and meet some of the wonderful people that are a part of this organization.

Madison Yates

Madison Yates

When I came to tour Uk, I noticed a ton of dogs on campus, and that was the day I discovered 4 Paws for Ability. I knew that it was something I had to be part of and got involved on campus as soon as I could! I was a sitter for a semester and picked up my first foster, Widget, at the beginning of my sophomore year. Since then I have fostered 6 service dogs in training, helped run the UK program as their Vice President for two years, worked in the puppy house as a Socializer, and interned with the puppy raiser program. I am now a traditional foster and continue to see the amazing things that 4 Paws for Ability does for children and Veterans. The mass amount of people who all work together to prepare a dog for their life as a service dog is something that is truly magical. I will forever be grateful that I found 4 Paws for Ability

Megan Loos

Megan Loos

My freshman year of college my roommate became a volunteer trainer. I admit I was nervous because I wasn’t a huge fan of dogs. I quickly learned that 4 Paws dogs are not like other dogs and I feel in love with being around well mannered pups. The next semester I signed up to be a volunteer trainer too and the rest was history. Over 4 years and 8 fosters later I can’t imagine my life any other way. I have made so many friends through the 4 Paws community. With time my family became just as invested in the puppy I was training. Now as I move on to my next phase of life after graduation, my parents have decided to continue being a part of the 4 Paws mission and brought home their first puppy. Fostering one service dog might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person. And being able to be a part of something bigger than myself is the most rewarding experience anyone could ask for.

Linda Moodie

Linda Moodie

Being a volunteer with 4 Paws has changed my life. I first found out about the program when I was a senior at the University of Dayton. My roommate and I were one of the first fosters on campus, and when I graduated I knew I had to stay involved. 4 years later, I’m on foster #12, along with volunteering onsite as a puppy house lead. As a volunteer we are here to teach the pups how to be a good service dog. Not only have my pups learned from me, I’ve learned from them! They’ve taught me how to come out of my shell and talk to people I don’t know, along with bringing me into this amazing 4 Paws family. I’ve met so many amazing people, between the staff, the other volunteers and even the clients. Everyone who is here for the same goal. Give backs are always hard, but they are oh so worth it! I can’t imagine not having 4 Paws in my life and I am so grateful I found them.

Jeff Williams

Looking back to July 2015. I see somewhat of a broken man. Shy, always one to be in the background. Never one to speak first. Very little confidence. Maybe just a little lost and confused in what wasn’t my perfect world.

By accident I stumbled upon a YouTube Video “ Emma Meets Franco”. Suddenly I felt as if I had a purpose in life. A strong desire to change a life.

Shortly after that I met the most amazing puppy, Kahoot and became his foster.

Never before have I had a bond so strong between any human or animal. To this day he is my hero, my motivation.

My mission was to change a life. Little did I know how 4 Paws For Ability would change my life.

Today, I feel Whole, I have moments of shyness but very rare. I’ll talk your arm off if you let. Have more confidence than ever.

Kahoot, and 4 Paws For Ability made me the man I am today and I am pretty happy with me.

Jennifer Snider

Jennifer Snider Dogs

My kids had asked for a dog for years. Because I had no experience with dogs, to say I was reluctant would be an understatement. I was introduced to 4Paws when we met an amazing SDIT at church (probably in 2016). I filed that experience away until in 2019 a friend showed me a Facebook post of two adorable papillons seeking guardian homes. I applied, got some experience as a sitter and our family is now complete with the sweetest and most wonderful future breeder dogs, Hermès and Bon Jovi. Thank you 4paws for this incredible opportunity to be a part of something life-changing for so many families in so many ways.

Sarah Mark

Sarah Mark

For the last several years our family has had the privilege of being one stop along the way of these amazing dog’s journey to their forever! My, now fifteen year old, daughter’s kindergarten Sunday school teachers always had a 4 paws dog in tow and after years of constant begging and pleading from our daughter we finally took the plunge and became traditional fosters ourselves! It wasn’t long after starting to foster that our entire family became certified onsite volunteers helping in any way we could. And while we loved seeing first hand how intentional each step of the puppy raising process is from day one, it was attending our first graduation that we were able to truly understand just a piece of the 4 paws magic and how much these incredible families lives could be impacted. It’s clear these aren’t just dogs, they’re super heroes and they can truly change lives when they are finally placed with their forever person.

Bill and Robyn VonGunten

Debbie Stivers (quite the ambassador!) introduced me to 4Paws about 3 1/2 yrs ago. She was walking out of Knollwood Garden Center with Cheers, a big poodle with a red vest! We started chatting and she told me about weekend fostering. This sounded like a good fit for me since we had just lost our pet dog. Our first foster was Prue and she was perfect, I found my niche! We’ve had several weekend fosters, one of whom became our guardian dog. Amaze has been a true blessing and will soon have her second litter of potential service dogs, due on Dec 25

Volunteering at the puppy house has also been the best gig. Love working with Shelby and all the great volunteers. 4Paws also has an amazing staff who work tirelessly to fulfill their goals.

Photos

Volunteer Training Dog 1 Volunteer Training Dog 2 Volunteer Training Dog 3 Volunteer Training Dog 4 Volunteer Training Dog 5 Volunteer Training Dog 6 Volunteer Training Dog 7 Volunteer Training Dog 8

Have questions or want to learn more?