Hearing Dogs are a unique type of service animal.
International Hearing Dog is a unique organization.
A 4 Year Long Study And What Our Founders Discovered
Hearing service dogs were un'heard' of in the 70s. We knew that dogs have an incredible sense of hearing but could we really train these other ears to hear for people who were deaf or lost their hearing? If they could, where and how do you even begin?
Our founders studied quite a lot of breeds, sizes, training techniques, personalities, etc. and what they discovered was that good hearing dog candidates needed to be very self motivated and love the praise they get from people, first and foremost.
Hearing Dogs are actually completely opposite from guide or mobility assistance dogs in every way possible.
- Energetic versus docile. We look for more energetic dogs because the dog will have to work without any direction from their person's commands. The owner cannot command the dogs to work when a sound goes off because they themselves can't hear the sound. The hearing dog will need the desire to work and get praise from their owner.
- Small versus large. We also look for dogs on the smaller size with usually our largest around 50 lbs. Hearing dogs alert by touching, jumping, or nudging the person then leads their owner to the source of the sound. We don't want a 100 lb dog knocking down someone who has balance issues.
- Order of training. Other service dogs are trained in obedience first (the typical sit, stay, lay down, etc.). What the pilot study discovered was that if you teach a dog their obedience commands too early on, they will not break their commands if a sound in going off and that's what their job is! We teach their sound work needs to come first, then we teach them their obedience once their training is wrapping up.
Our founders really pioneered the way for service hearing dogs all across the world. Really, our founders and trainers have helped other hearing dog programs get started in Japan, Norway, and Australia because hearing dogs are so unique.