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Hearing Dog FAQs

Hearing Dog Program

Got Hearing Dog Questions? We've Got Answers

When exploring the possibility of teaming up with an hearing dog, there are many things to consider, so we've gathered together some of the most common questions and answers to help you through the process. Got additional questions? Check out our Hearing Dog and ADA Resources section or contact us.

Who qualifies for a hearing dog?

Hearing dog candidates consist of adults who meet the minimum criteria for a hearing dog, regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation. These criteria include:

  • Adults age 18 or older
  • d/Deaf or are profoundly and bilaterally hard of hearing unaided (exceptions may be made on a case by case basis)
  • Live alone, with dependents, or with others who are d/Deaf or are profoundly and bilaterally hard of hearing (exceptions may be made on a case by case basis)
  • No other dogs in the home (exceptions are made for IHDI retired hearing dogs)
  • Complete a detailed online application and interviews, including with a support person who would care for dog in an emergency (and background checks, if requested)
  • Engage in a few months of online training and ungraded quizzes prior to being matched with a dog
  • Able to complete, at their own expense including transportation and lodging, training both onsite at IHDI's Denver facility for 10 days 
  • Financially, physically, psychologically, and cognitively able to provide a hearing dog's care, exercise, and daily training for many years
  •  Committed to ongoing daily training with their dog and able to have their dog with them nearly always (advance approval from employer is required)
Why does IHDI not place in homes with another dog?

IHDI's policy is not to place a hearing dog in a home that already has one or more dogs, though IHDI may grant an exception for a retired IHDI hearing dog. Another dog in the house is a distraction to the hearing dog's work and partnership. The team needs to practice and train daily, especially in the first several months - it is a huge commitment. Bonding as a Hearing Dog Team is crucial to the success and resiliency of the match. Even after the client and hearing dog have bonded and are working well together, no other dogs can be permanently in the home for the duration of the hearing dog's working career. Other pets such as cats are acceptable, and all hearing dogs are desensitized to be comfortable with cats. 

What does a hearing dog do?

Hearing dogs are trained service dogs that alert people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing to sounds around them. For example, they can alert to sounds of a door knock or doorbell, telephone, alarm clock, smoke alarm, and baby cry. Each hearing dog is custom trained to a client's needs and lifestyle. From microwave dings to garbage disposal sounds, the hearing dog's ability to grow in the job is remarkable.

What size and age are your hearing dogs?

Hearing dogs come in all sizes, though mainly we select medium to large size candidates. As hearing dogs alert by touching, or nudging the person and then leading them to the source of the sound, they need to be a manageable size. Therefore, we do not generally select dogs over 65 pounds due to the execution of their alerting tasks. 

  • Small: up to 20 pounds
  • Medium: 20 to 35 pounds
  • Large: 35 to 55 pounds
Can I pick what breed of hearing dog I receive?

IHDI trainers consider the best prospective matches for clients based on lifestyle, environment, and other vital factors. Clients can state limited preferences, such as size and activity level, which are considered when matching.

How much does a hearing dog cost IHDI to train?

Hearing dogs are placed at no cost to clients. IHDI's cost to select, care for during training, train, and match one dog is $20,000. This expense is offset through the support of individuals, service clubs, foundations, sponsorships and IHDI fundraising events and campaigns.

How long does it take to receive a hearing dog?

Due to our extensive waitlist and the impacts of COVID restrictions, IHDI's hearing dog application is at this time closed to the public. While we understand the need is prevalent for many due to restrictive resources, our focus is on ensuring we are serving those currently waiting for a life-changing hearing dog.  

Can I legally take my hearing dog with me everywhere I go?

Not everywhere, but most places thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990. The ADA guarantees a blind, d/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

*PLEASE NOTE, laws are state-specific regarding hearing dog accessibility in public, the home, and places of employment, as well as owner fees, licenses, and training requirements. Contact us to learn more about your state.

Can my dog become a hearing dog?

IHDI does not train personal dogs due to the specific temperaments and personalities required for service dog work. Visit Assistance Dogs International to find out information on how to get your dog trained and certified as an assistance dog.

I live outside of Colorado. Can I still apply for a hearing dog?

Yes. IHDI is located in Colorado but matches hearing dogs with persons who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing in all 50 states, Washington DC, and 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 required of a service hearing dog. Therefore, please consider one of our adoptable Career Change dogs as your perfect match! Also, we recommend seeking a companion from your local shelters or rescue groups.