Puppy coordinator Zoe Ellis talks about how her job makes a difference.

Can you explain your role?
My role involves working alongside our valued volunteer puppy socialisers, assisting them in the training of our puppies through classes and training visits, and providing advice for them as and when required. I will be sourcing our next generation of puppies to join Support Dogs, as well as being responsible for going through the training and assessment process for new puppy socialisers.

It’s very important that our puppies are well-socialised and ready to start full-time training at about 14 months old. That means our pups have to get used to meeting lots of people, lots of dogs and all that life holds; from busy roads to the countryside, from noisy shopping centres to quiet offices and restaurants.

What’s a typical day like?
No two days are the same as a puppy coordinator. There may be days where I am out visiting a pup and their socialiser or arrange for them to visit the centre to do any required training, or catch up and see how they are getting on from a previous visit, and advising or providing any further training techniques that may be required. From these visits I create a training diary so that I am able to refer back as needed and keep note of what we have done. On other occasions I will make phone calls to my socialisers to ensure everything is going well and ask if there is anything I can help with.

On days where I am in the centre there may be occasions where I am asked by another trainer to help with something they are teaching one of their dogs. This might be anything from greeting a dog, to being a person the dog goes to whilst they are being trained to fetch help. This in itself is rewarding as it allows you to see the progress of a dog in training and the fun they have whilst learning new things.

What do you like best about your job?
I love the ‘hands on’ side of my role, going out and visiting socialisers and seeing the dedication and hard work they have put in to our puppies, but at the same time seeing the development in the pups, and them learning new behaviours, and of course playing games with them, whether that be a game of fetch, tug or seeing them out on a free run.

What’s been your most satisfying moment so far?
Working with and seeing one of my pups overcome an undesired behaviour. There is still progress to be made but he has come so far in such a short period of time. He is a joy to work with and his socialiser has put in a lot of work and dedication to ensure this behaviour stops being a habit. He loves to learn new things and picks them up quickly which has helped his progress.

 Why is your job so important?
I see my role to be just one cog in such a big wheel. I, along with the puppy socialisers, help to bring more dogs through our programme to progress onto the next stage in training, helping to meet the needs of those requiring an assistance dog, to make a difference to their lives.


  • Could you be a puppy socialiser? If you live in or near Sheffield, have endless patience and would like the satisfaction of helping to bring up a support dog of the future, we’d love to hear from you. Email [email protected] or call us on 0114 2617800.