Our Hearing Dogs
It really is all about the personality!
Hearing Dogs through IHDI:
- Can be any breed. There are a few breeds that, by instinct, don't have the desired traits and personality needed for service dog work.
- Can almost be any size. We typically stick to dogs under 50 lbs for recipients who have balance issues.
- Are sourced from local shelters. Currently, every dog in our program have been rescued. We cannot accept people's pets to train nor accept owner surrenders.
Training Other "Ears" to Hear
We have many wonderful partnerships with local animal shelters whose staff knows the temperament, personality and skills we are looking for in our Hearing Dog candidates. Currently, IHDI sources all of our dogs from local shelters, as written in our bylaws. We are looking for dogs that have an aim to please attitude, loves people, and has true drive for the work they will be doing as a Hearing Dog. Our trainers do extensive behavior tests when meeting the dog to ensure this Hearing Dog hopeful has what we are looking for. As a program, we tend to have dogs that are no bigger than 50 lbs due to their sound alerting duties.
Once selected, each dog receives a thorough medical examination to ensure a long healthy life. This includes blood work, vaccinations, and spay or neuter if necessary. If they have any treatable medical issues, we treat them right away and once they are confirmed healthy, they are promoted to start training. During daily training sessions, the dogs learn to respond to 3 basic sounds:
- Doorbell or knock
- Emergency alarms (Fire alarm, tornado siren)
From these 3 basic commands, the Hearing Dog is custom trained to fit the needs and life style of the recipient they will go on to serve. Additional sounds that can be trained are your apartment buzzer, alarm clock, baby cry, etc.
Service dog work is not for everyone, in fact it takes a very elite dog--those who do not make the program are considered a "career change" dog and are adopted out as loving companion pets. Throughout a dogs training they are continuously monitored to ensure they never loose their drive and love for the work that they do!
While sound work is a big piece to a Hearing Dogs job, it doesn't end there! Every dog goes through extensive obedience and socialization training during their time with IHDI. They accompany our trainers, staff, and volunteers to new outings where they gain confidence to new experiences, people, places, and smells!
Hearing Dogs Are Welcomed Home
Once our hearing dog is deemed ready, our trainers will travel and place the Hearing Dog in its new home. In home training consists of a week of in home work, public outings, and training to which our trainers "train" the recipient and Hearing Dog on how to work together as a team, ensuring a successful match! During placement, each client is assigned their own Client Portal. In the portal, they can easily change their contact information, order any Hearing Dog Supplies, access training videos, find answers to commonly asked questions on ADA laws and information. They also utilize the portal to submit their reports, upload any documents such as a vet assessments or videos, complete the certification application and maintain on-going certification documents.
International Hearing Dogs certification process takes six months. Clients are required to submit six reports that are monitored by our team to ensure a smooth transition, bonding and training. Once a report is submitted, our trainers carefully review the report. If there are any issues, they reach out to the Hearing Dog team to provide assistance, guidance, and answer any further questions.
Upon successfully completing this six-month period, clients submit their certification application which includes videos demonstrating the dog in public, working their sounds, and responding to obedience cues. The dog's IHDI training team will deem if the dog meets our standards and is ready to be certified.
Once they are a certified Hearing Dog team, clients are required to submit an annual application in order to re-certify as a Hearing Dog team. The application asks if there are any changes in living situation or work, health issues for the person or the Hearing Dog, any behavioral issues in public or in the home, etc. IHDI also asks that they upload a video of the Hearing Dog working all their sounds and commands to ensure the dogs are continually working up to our standards. Finally, clients are required to upload the dog's vet assessment form in order to ensure there are no health issues, the Hearing Dog is being kept up to date on their annual vaccines, and no major changes in their weight have occurred. International Hearing Dog also asks for the client’s vet contact information on both the original Hearing Dog application and annual certification to ensure IHDI can contact the vet if need be.
If ever a Hearing Dog has developed an undesired behavior, training difficulty or an additional task has become needed in the clients life, a certified trainer will travel to the clients home and provide additional training to ensure the most successful Hearing Dog team. International Hearing Dog trainers are also readily available by email, phone or video chat for questions and concerns.
International Hearing Dog provides follow-up support for the life of the team.