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Service Dog FAQs

Who qualifies for a Hearing Dog?

Thank you for your interest! 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, and all Hearing Dogs are comfortable with them. Another dog in the home is a distraction to the recipient and to the hearing dog's full time work. The team needs to practice and train daily especially the first few months when they receive a hearing dog, it is a huge commitment. 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. 

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. Each Hearing Dog is custom trained to the needs and lifestyle of their future recipient. 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?

Currently, all of our hearing dogs are sourced 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 dogs whose personality and traits fit the job, and who will love the work that they do. Each dog goes through a thorough evaluation and temperament test before entering our program as a Hearing Dog hopeful, if at anytime throughout the training process it is deemed that the dog does not meet our standards, they are "career changed" and adopted out as a companion animal. 

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

As a program, we do not generally select dogs over 50 pounds due to their alerting tasks. 


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 long does it take to receive a Hearing Dog?

Due to our extensive waitlist and COVID, IHDI's Hearing Dog application is currently closed to the public to ensure our team can focus our attention on serving those currently waiting for a life changing Hearing Dog.  Activity level, lifestyle, needs, and ability to properly care and provide continued training for the Hearing Dog are all considered in the matching process. 

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 and standards concerns, personal pets cannot be trained.

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

Yes. IHDI is located in Colorado but currently 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.

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