Around 10 million people in the UK experience some level of hearing problems, ranging from a complete loss of hearing, to the more moderate ‘hard of hearing’.
Those with a complete loss of hearing, which can occur from birth or later in life, can find themselves battling with a lack of confidence and inevitably a lack of independence. This can often lead to isolation and loneliness as communication becomes increasingly hard.
Specially trained hearing dogs have given thousands of individuals their confidence and independence back by becoming the ‘ears’ of those unable to hear. Just having one of these loyal highly trained dogs by your side has the added bonus of offering the individual a sense of companionship and security as they navigate a silent world.
How does a hearing dog alert its owner to important sounds?
These amazing dogs are trained to alert their owners (both children and adults) to important sounds of everyday life in the home, work place and other public areas. The dog will alert his owner by touching him with a paw, or nudging him with their nose to gain attention before leading their owner to the source of the sound.
When the dog is alerting his owner to a danger signal such as a smoke alarm, he will lie down when asked ‘what is it?’ to alert his owner to the impending danger.
Which breeds are used to train as hearing dogs?
Choosing the breed of dog for these duties is very important. The breed must be intelligent with a gentle nature and for this reason, the main breeds used are; Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
How long does it take to train a hearing dog?
Each dog is trained to the specific needs of the deaf individual that they are paired with. The training process takes around 18 months and comprises of an initial puppy socialisation training stage, followed by ‘sound work’ where the dogs are trained to react to everyday sounds such as the cooker timer, doorbell, alarm clock etc. The dogs are also trained to be obedient to voice commands and hand signals. When the dog is paired up with a suitable recipient, they will spend a period of time training together before qualifying as an official partnership.
How much does it cost to train a hearing dog?
To train, place and provide full life care of a hearing dog costs circa £45,000. Hearing dogs are provided to deaf people free of charge, however as the government doesn’t fund this process, the training charities rely on the generosity of donations and fundraising by individuals, companies and other organisations.
Can a hearing dog go anywhere?
As a registered Assistance Dog, the hearing dog is allowed access to public places under the Equality Act 2010, which has replaced the Disability Discrimination Act.
If you would like more information on volunteering or fundraising for the training of hearing dogs please log onto: www.hearingdogs.org.uk/fundraising