Duke's 'Puppy Kindergarten' trains future service dogs

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Duke University has a new program where scientists and student volunteers train puppies to become service dogs.

Seven pups are a part of Puppy Kindergarten, which will prepare them for their roles as companions for people with disabilities.

"These dogs are life-changing for someone with a disability because they give them a greater sense of independence," said Ashton Roberts, Puppy Program Manager.

Canine Companions for Independence breeds the dogs. Then, they come to Puppy Kindergarten, where they're trained and closely studied.

"We're trying to put them through cognitive testing to see if we can either predict or associate certain skills that they're going to need that would help canine companions predict which dogs are going to be the best for which dogs when they grow up," said Cathy Gooden, Canine Companion Executive Director.

From there, the puppies stay with volunteer trainers on and off Duke's campus. When they're all grown up, they're off to change the world - one companion at a time.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer puppy-raiser after their 15 weeks at Duke can click here for more information.
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