One of the types of service dogs that we train are those that assist people with partial to full loss of their ability to hear sounds that are important to everyday living. Also known as “hearing service dogs”, “hearing assistance dogs”, “signal” or “sound alert” dogs, their function is specifically to indicate particular sounds that alert their owners to possible danger as emitted by smoke alarms and sirens. These hearing service dogs are also trained to indicate the source of other common indoor sounds such as doorbells, telephones and alarm clocks. Hearing Service dogs are trained to assist with outdoors sounds as well. For example, they can alert their owners to passing cars and display warning behaviors when someone approaches from behind.
While almost any breed can be successfully trained as a hearing service dog, there are some whose temperaments are more suited to this kind of service work. Once a dog is selected as a suitable candidate to enter a training program, they are taught basic obedience skills. They are then gradually exposed to as many different situations, both in the home and in public, to familiarize them with the kinds of sounds that most people normally encounter in everyday life. This exposure includes restaurants, parks, shopping malls, schools, nursing homes and churches among other public places. The final phase of their hearing service dog’s training is in actual sound alert. This can include behaviors such as pawing for some basic sounds or more urgent indicators such as jumping on their owners to gain their attention. One of the distinctive differences between training a hearing service dog from some other types of service dogs is that they are motivated to go toward the sound or source of the “signal” that their owner needs to be aware of rather than away from it. Depending on the dog and in consideration of the owner’s needs, a dog can be trained in as little as three months or up to a year.
In addition to their invaluable skills to help their owners overcome hearing disabilities and improving their quality of life, these service dogs also add the dimension of companionship to people who can become very isolated by their condition. People with hearing loss that require the aid of a service dog are covered by the same statutes under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act as those who have mobility, sight and other disabilities. Equal criminal penalties and fines apply to those who deny access to public places for these dogs and their owners as to any other type of service dog.
If you would like more information about our hearing dog training program, please contact us. Based on your application, we will work with you to select a dog suited to your special needs and situation. We believe that it is important for you to meet the dog to assure that he or she is a good fit. This will assure success once the dog is delivered and becomes an important part of your life.