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Hearing Dogs

hearing dogs
Photo by Calsidyrose (Flickr)

When people think about hearing loss, most people don’t instinctively think about service dogs. But the fact of the matter is that hearing service dogs can be a wonderful help to those who are legally deaf or have hearing loss.

Functions of Service Dogs for Hearing-Impaired or Deaf People

Many services can be provided by dogs trained as hearing assistance dogs. Hearing dogs for the deaf and those with hearing loss can help alert someone when, for instance, their baby is crying or there is a knock at the door. When outdoors, dogs for hearing-impaired people can help by looking in the direction a sound is coming from. This tells the person who has hearing loss or is deaf to look in that direction to see what is going on or communicate with an approaching person. It is important to note that having a service dog can be a wonderful thing, but they do take a certain level of care and their owners must make sure to let the dog practice its skills on a regular basis: Otherwise, it is possible for the dog to forget their training over time and become just a pet.

How Are Hearing Service Dogs Trained?

According to the American Kennel Club, hearing dogs for the deaf or those with hearing loss need to be specially trained in order to recognize which sounds they need to bring to the attention of their companion. They are also trained to get a person’s attention and then take them to the object making the sound, such as a microwave, teakettle, or telephone. Additionally, they need to be trained to perform the same task while they are both on and off of a leash. It takes specialized training for an instructor to be able to train not only the dogs for the hearing-impaired but also the people they will be paired with. Having a service dog is ultimately all about how the dog and the person work together. Great pains are taken to ensure that the dog is paired with the best human match that can be found. This not only ensures the success of the service dog but also reduces any potential frustration on the human end of things.

Where Can I Find a Hearing Service Dog?

A great place to start looking for hearing assistance dogs is the Canine Companions for Independence website. They specifically list their requirements in order to provide a hearing assistance dog for someone who is legally deaf. If you have a dog that you would like trained as a hearing service dog, contacting the American Kennel Club for a list of trainers in your area would be a great place to start looking for someone to help. There are also many other organizations that can help someone obtain a trained service dog to help them, sometimes at little or no cost to you. Keep in mind, though that a lot of these organizations have a long waiting list of people who also need a service dog.

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