The impressive hearing capability of dogs is the reason those who are hearing impaired have relied on their services for decades. As with most service dogs, the animal is selected for particular traits and is highly trained to provide the actions necessary to help the owners. These dogs listen for important sounds, such as emergency alerts, doorbells, phone ringers and more, and alert their owners of the situation. Before learning how to register for a service dog, it is essential to know the qualities and services provided to determine whether or not a hearing dog is a good match for the situation.
Who Qualifies for a Hearing Dog?
There are certain criteria a person must meet to be able to use a service dog under the law. One of the most important qualifications to use a hearing dog is hearing loss of 65db or greater. There is a variety of hearing loss with which a person might be living and still use the services of a hearing dog. Some might be able to hear some sounds while others might have complete hearing loss. Before applying for service dog ID cards, it is important to undergo a hearing test that demonstrates the person meets the criteria for hearing loss.
Training for Hearing Dogs
While undergoing training, the chosen dog learns to respond to certain noises in a particular way. The animals typically undergo a special operant training program, which is one that offers rewards for learning. During this training, the dogs learn to recognize certain sounds, such as smoke alarms, phone ringers and doorbells. They also learn to make physical contact with the person upon hearing the sound and then lead the person to the sound. The dogs also must undergo certain obedience commands and other basic obedience skills as part of the process for becoming a service animal.
Where Are Hearing Dogs Found
It is beneficial to choose a dog that is reactive to sound and is motivated to learn and help when looking for a hearing dog. The animal also needs to have a temperament that will not react negatively to sound or strangers. Unlike some service dogs, there is not a specific breed or gene that has been isolated that best provides these services. As such, any breed or size of dog can be trained for this type of assistance. Therefore, many people find their animals through local shelters or other rescue agencies and train them to be service animals. There are also several agencies that rescue dogs and train them to fulfill services as hearing dogs that will also help you learn how to get a service dog certificate.
How Are Hearing Dogs Used?
Many hearing impaired individuals choose to use hearing dogs to alert them when someone comes to the door, whether they knock or ring the doorbell, as well as when someone calls on the telephone. The dog also alerts the owner if someone calls them by name to get their attention. Any emergency alerts, including smoke detectors sirens from police or emergency vehicles, also cause the dog to respond. There are many other noises that a dog will be trained to understand and alert their owners. Many owners also feel more relaxed and calm with their dog around, as well as more socially engaged.
Although hearing impaired individuals are allowed to take their service dog anywhere, similar to any service animal, many only use them at home. Some in the community do not see any benefit to using hearing dogs in public places, but many believe that it is necessary inside the home and out. It is a beneficial service animal on which many hearing impaired individuals rely, but for which you need a service card, which you can get from USA Service Dogs.