Service Dog FAQs

Who qualifies for a Hearing Dog?

Priority Hearing Dog candidates are adults over age 18 who:

  • 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 physically able and willing to care for and continue the training of a hearing dog.


How big are Hearing Dogs?

Hearing Dogs come in all sizes:

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

How much does a Hearing Dog cost?

Hearing Dogs are provided free of charge to those who receive them. The cost to train and place one dog is $10,000. This expense is paid for through the kindness of individuals and service clubs, foundation grants, and IHDI fundraising activities, such as Silent Partner sponsorships.

How long does it take to receive a Hearing Dog?

We have a waiting list of approximately six months to a year. However, most successful applicants receive their Hearing Dog within one year of applying. Each dog is custom trained to meet the needs of the applicant. Dogs trained for persons with special needs may require more time. Great care is taken to make a good match between applicant and dog. Activity level, lifestyle, and health of the applicant are all considered.

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.

What does a Hearing Dog do?

IHDI trains Hearing Dogs to alert to the sounds of the 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.

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 throughout the US and Canada.

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

IHDI also chooses and trains Therapy-Companion Dogs to help people who do not have 65 decibels of hearing loss but live alone and need the companionship of a gentle and well-socialized dog.

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