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Service Dog FAQs

Who qualifies for a Hearing Dog?

Hearing Dog candidates are:

  • Adults over the age of 18
  • Have at least a 65 decibel hearing loss (unaided)
  • Live alone or with other persons who are deaf or hard of hearing (IHDI will consider applicants who live with one hearing person)
  • Do not have another dog in the home
  • Are mentally, financially, and physically able and willing to care for and continue the training of a hearing dog.


Why does IHDI not place in homes with another dog?

It is IHDI's policy to not place a hearing dog in a home that already has a dog. Other pets such as cats are acceptable. Another dog in the home is a distraction to the recipient and to the hearing dog's full time work. The recipient needs to practice and train daily especially the first few months when they receive a hearing dog. Bonding as a hearing dog team is crucial to success. Even after the recipient and hearing dog have bonded and work well together, no other dogs can be permanently in the home for the duration of the service dog's working career. This is to ensure the dog does not revert back to a house pet and forgets all of their important, life saving training. 

What does a Hearing Dog do?

Hearing dogs are trained service dogs that alert people who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds around them. They can alert to sounds of a door knock or doorbell, telephone, alarm clock, smoke alarm, and baby cry, if needed. The dogs will naturally respond to other sounds in their environment. As the relationship develops between the Hearing Dog and owner, the dog will alert to more and more sounds. From microwave dings to garbage disposal sounds, the Hearing Dog’s ability to grow in the job is remarkable.

Where does IHDI's dogs come from?

All of our hearing dogs come from shelters per IHDI's by-laws. We primarily rescue from local animal shelters and shelters in bordering states.

Do you look for a specific breed of dog?

Since all of our dogs come from shelters, they are almost always mixed breeds. We look at temperament of the dogs rather than breed. We look for very energetic and people loving dogs with an aim to please personality. Training goes by more smooth if they are food motivated as well. We working with a few shelters that know what we are looking for and our trainers go out and do behavioral tests to make sure they meet the qualifications. 

What size and age are your hearing dogs?

Hearing Dogs come in all sizes:

  • Small: up to 20 pounds
  • Medium: 20 to 35 pounds
  • Large: 35 to 50 pounds

We can't have too big of dogs because how our dogs alert is by touch. We don't want a 100 lb dog knocking our recipient over!

We typically look for dogs that are 8 months to a year, to ensure a long life with the recipient. 

Can I pick what breed of hearing dog I receive?

In the full application, there is a section that asks if you have any preferences in breeds, restrictions, and needs. The applicant can request a breed, size, and color but we cannot guarantee preferences since all of our dogs come from shelters. It could also be a longer wait time until we can come across a dog that fits your needs. Activity level and lifestyle are extremely considered to make sure you and your hearing dog are a good match. 

How much does a Hearing Dog cost IHDI to train?

Hearing Dogs are placed at NO COST TO THE RECIPIENT. International Hearing Dog's cost to house, train, and place one dog is $15,000. This expense is paid for through the kindness of individuals and service clubs, foundation grants, and IHDI fundraising activities, such as Silent Partner sponsorships, our annual Walk, Run, Wag 5k, silent auctions, and other smaller events and partnerships.


How much does it cost the recipient to get a Hearing Dog from IHDI?

Although it cost International Hearing Dog about $15,000 to train, house, and place each dog, we give the hearing dog at NO COST TO THE RECIPIENT. We also travel to the recipient's home and provide 3-5 days of in home training and a lifetime of support of questions. 

After 90 days after the dog is placed in the home and they continue to work and perform their duties, they can be officially named a service hearing dog. At that time the recipient has to pay $250 for a certification fee and includes the certification paperwork, service hearing dog vest, collar, leash, and tags.

How long does it take to receive a Hearing Dog?

Our wait list has grown to about two to three years. We place about 30-40 dogs per year and have over 100 people on the wait list. Training takes between six to eight months and once we feel there is a good match for the recipient, custom training and public socialization is started. Activity level, lifestyle, and health of the applicant are all considered in the matching process. Dogs trained for persons with special needs and requirements, such as hypoallergenic dogs, will require more time. Great care is taken to make a good match between applicant and dog. 

Can I legally take my Hearing Dog with me everywhere I go?

Yes, most of the time, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990. The ADA guarantees a blind, deaf, or physically disabled person the legal right to be accompanied by a service animal in all areas open to the general public.

Service animal means any guide dog, signal dog, or animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including but not limited to:

  • Guiding individuals with impaired vision
  • Alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds
  • Providing minimal protection or rescue work
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Fetching dropped items

Remember, laws are state specific regarding Hearing Dog accessibility in public, the home, and places of employment, as well as owners fees, licenses, and training requirements. Contact us to learn more about your state.

Can my dog become a Hearing Dog?

IHDI’s by-laws require that all dogs be selected from local animal rescue shelters and evaluated by trainers. Each dog must meet standards of health, intelligence, youth, and temperament. Chosen expressly for these traits, these formerly unwanted or abandoned dogs are given a second chance. Due to liability concerns, personal pets cannot be trained nor can IHDI accept private donations of dogs.

I live outside of Colorado. Can I still apply for a Hearing Dog?

Yes. IHDI is located in Colorado but places Hearing Dogs with persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing in all 50 states and in Canada.

What if I don’t qualify for a Hearing Dog but need the companionship of a good dog?

Due to the high volume of applicants and our waiting list, we do not train dogs outside of the primary skill set of being a service hearing dog. Check out our adoptable dogs page for dogs that didn't quite make the cut to be a Hearing Dog. Our adoptable dogs are very loved by the staff and volunteers and all of them were at different stages of the training so IHDI does not guarantee full obedience or sound training. 

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