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Thinking about how a Hearing Dog could change your life


What to Know about Applying for a Hearing Dog

Due to our extensive wait list, IHDI is not accepting new applications so that our team can focus on serving those currently waiting for a hearing dog. We encourage you to check out other service dog programs and trainers who may be able to assist you through Assistance Dogs International listings.

IHDI's applicants are some of the 50 million Americans who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing, across all demographics. Being d/Deaf or hard of hearing can impact all areas of an individual's life - from daily living to education to employment to personal relationships. A hearing dog that alerts to important sounds allows d/Deaf or hard of hearing individuals gain greater independence, enjoy increased peace of mind regarding their safety, and benefit from the power of the human-animal bond they share with their dog.

Applicant Criteria

IHDI's service is open to all adults who meet these criteria for a hearing dog. Please note that currently we are unable to meet requests for both hypoallergenic dogs and/or small/medium size dogs. If you don’t meet our criteria due to, for example, mobility and/or vision challenges, we strongly encourage you to check out other service dog organizations that may be able to work with you.

IHDI's program and dogs may be a good fit for you if you can answer YES, I...

  • Am at least 18 years old and completing this application on my own or with minimal assistance
  • Live alone, with dependents, or with others who are d/Deaf or have bilateral and profound hearing loss (homes with other hearing adults may be considered on a case-by-case basis IF extenuating circumstances apply)
  • Do not have another dog in the home (exceptions are typically granted for retired IHDI hearing dogs)
  • Am able to complete an initial evaluation (1-2 days) and later team training (10-11 days) onsite at IHDI in Denver at my own expense, and I will be able to work independently during these days (IHDI provides certified interpreters)
  • Am able to walk a dog on a leash for 30 minutes daily, without an assistive device and without falling
  • Can legally drive and/or have 20/40 vision in at least one eye (when corrected)
  • Am financially, psychologically, cognitively, and physically able to provide a hearing dog's care, exercise, and ongoing training for 10 or more years
  • Will provide references from two support people who could help during an emergency
  • Will provide a reference from a health/mental health care provider
  • Am committed to ongoing daily training with a dog throughout the dog's working life
  • Am able to have my dog with me nearly always AND have advance approval from my employer (if working; employer letter of approval is required)
  • Can participate in all required in-person and/or virtual meetings and trainings and complete assignments in our Online Google Classroom
  • Will adhere to all requirements, such as daily, treat-based positive reinforcement training; limiting travel and visitors for the first couple months with my hearing dog; establishing prompt veterinary care; providing required exercise and an approved diet; and all other requirements outlined in my contract.
  • Will participate in weekly virtual meetings with IHDI staff for the first three months and then scheduled as IHDI determines and submit all required progress reports and updates.
  • Will submit annual veterinary reports showing good health, appropriate weight, and updated vaccinations.
  • Am committed to upholding the standards of both IHDI and Assistance Dogs International, our accrediting and oversight body. 
  • If my finances are limited, I will explain in my application any reserve funds I have access to; support people that would assist me financially; or other ways I would manage a significant unplanned expense for your dog, such as a surgery.

IHDI’s Non-Discrimination Policy: IHDI strictly prohibits and does not tolerate discrimination against applicants, clients or any other covered person because of ethnicity; race; color; religion; creed; national origin or ancestry; sex (including gender, gender identity or expression, orientation and pregnancy); age 40 and over; physical or mental disability; Veteran status; genetic information; citizenship; language; family or marital status; political affiliation; socioeconomic status; or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state or local law.


At IHDI, we are committed to reaching the people who would most benefit from our services. We understand that d/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals face challenges in everyday living. Yet, we want to emphasize that our application process is thorough. When our application process is open, it may take our Application Committee up to three months to review and make a determination about an application. For those applicants that are accepted, there are additional steps, as outlined below, and please realize that it may take up to an additional two years for an IHDI dog. Therefore, we encourage anyone considering to apply for a hearing dog to evaluate carefully if such a wait period makes sense. We also strongly encourage applicants to apply to other service dog organizations, or, depending upon goals, consider adopting a companion dog.

Before completing our application, please pause and critically consider if, as an applicant, you are at the point in your life to devote the time, energy, and resources required to become the person in a successful hearing dog team. Having a hearing dog is a serious, long-term commitment and entails significant responsibilities. Additionally, a hearing dog is not an intervention that is fitting for all d/Deaf or hard of hearing individuals.

It is imperative to understand that a service dog is, first and foremost, a dog. They need attention, care, food, ongoing training, grooming, oral care, exercise, playtime, enrichment, veterinary care. And, like all dogs, they will incur expenses – sometimes extensive costs. Further, if an applicant becomes a client and is partnered with an IHDI dog, it means that you have become one half of a two-member team, and suddenly, wherever you go, whatever you do, the dog team member must accompany you. Many individuals find that level of involvement is stifling and constraining. Finally, when accepting an IHDI dog, you commit to providing them a safe, secure, and loving forever home, continuing their ongoing training, and upholding IHDI's standards.

Team Training Requirement

IHDI works hard to evaluate applicants based on their needs and circumstances. After applicants are accepted as clients, we match them with dogs that best suit their needs and requirements. Each dog receives extensive public access training as well as being custom-trained to work for sounds critical to the clients. Each client is required to complete online classes and travel, at their own expense, to IHDI for 10 days of Team Training.