Duke Puppy Kindergarten

The Duke Puppy Kindergarten is a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Health to assess the impact of different rearing strategies on the behavior and cognitive development of assistance dogs. The goal of the project is to increase the supply of assistance dogs and to see more dogs graduate and serve more people.

Each semester, over a hundred Duke undergraduates help raise  puppies from Canine Companions from 8-20 weeks of age. The students also run the puppies through a range of cognitive games that will function as a kind of early aptitude testing, which will be used in the future as early identifiers of puppies who are most likely to graduate as assistance dogs.

Only members of the Duke community are eligible to volunteer for the Duke Puppy Kindergarten, and most volunteers are undergraduates. If you would like to apply to be a volunteer, please fill out this interest form

The Duke Puppy Kindergarten will be open from February 1 to April 5. Visiting hours are from 2:00-3:00 PM on weekdays in our outdoor puppy park located near the Biological Sciences Building on Science Drive. 12 visitors are allowed in the park at a time, so if it is a busy day, we will limit your visit to ensure as many people can visit as possible.

We hold visiting hours most days, but we cannot guarantee that the puppies will be available on any given day due to weather and scheduling conflicts. Please keep this in mind if you are considering visiting from far away or bringing a group to see the puppies.

Given that these are puppies who are just beginning their training, they may jump, nibble, or bark. For the safety and enjoyment of everyone, we strongly recommend that young children or individuals afraid of dogs do not visit the Puppy Kindergarten.


Tours and events are available upon request and fee. To enquire, please contact dukedogcognition@gmail.com

Visits from the puppies are also available upon request and fee. To enquire, please contact dukedogcognition@gmail.com

puppy visit