Our Hearing Dog Training Program Is Intentionally Designed
Our Dog Training Philosophy
IHDI's training philosophy is founded on positive reinforcement techniques. IHDI's dogs are trained to alert to essential sounds like doorbells, phone rings, smoke alarms, household alarms, and their handler's name. Throughout a dog's training, they are continuously monitored to ensure they never lose their drive and love for their work! Our science-based approach allows IHDI dogs to have fun while learning throughout their training. It is also fundamental to maintaining their specialized skills throughout their lifetime.
During daily training sessions, the dogs initially learn to respond to 3 basic sounds:
- Doorbell or knock
- Emergency alarms (Fire alarm, tornado siren)
From these three basic commands, the hearing dog is then custom trained to fit the needs and lifestyle of the client they will go on to serve. Additional sounds a hearing dog might be trained to alert to include appliance buzzers, alarm clock, baby cry, their name being called etc.
Our Training Program
This program is critical for the d/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals who can benefit from a hearing dog's services. However, training a hearing dog to be on the alert 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so that the hearing dog handler enjoys life with greater independence, awareness, and safety is an expensive ($20,000), lengthy (7-10 months) and involved process. Therefore, IHDI has intentionally designed our Training Program with five training tiers:
Tier 1. Extensively focused sound and behavior training for dogs.
This is the purposeful and calculated re-visioning and re-design of IHDI's 43-year hearing dog training methodologies foundation to align with Assistance Dogs International (ADI), the leading authority in the Assistance Dog industry, Candidate program status. This result is a mutually reinforcing three-pronged training protocol.
- Socialization, Manners, and Basic Cues Training (Part I): Hearing dogs in training are exposed to the routines and expectations of in-home living, elicit socialization opportunities, and instill foundational cues.
- Public Access Training (Part II): The trainers invest a great deal of work desensitizing each dog and aiding them to master cues and behaviors, travel with ease, and be reliable even when surrounded by distractions and temptations.
- Sound Alert Training (Part III): Shaping techniques are used to break down complex behaviors into a series of small steps that achieve the desired end behavior to create a two-way fluid alert.
Tier 2. Comprehensive training of the d/Deaf or hard of hearing handler.
- Client Preparation: Provides our new clients required training for being paired with a hearing dog. There is so much involved in being paired with any service dog. It is a tremendous commitment and responsibility for any individual to be partnered with their dog 24/7 and to continue and support their training. In order for this partnership to be effective, we have come to learn that “training” the client is every bit as critical as training the dog
Tier 3. Intense dog and handler team training with Public Access and Sound Alert Testing.
Tier 4. Teams' ongoing skill development work to earn full certification status.
Tier 5. Teams' virtual work with IHDI staff for annual recertification and public and sound work best practices.