A "Hearing Ear Dog" is a type of "Service Dog" specifically selected and trained to assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing by alerting their handler to important sounds, such as doorbells, smoke alarms, ringing telephones, or alarm clocks. They may also work outside the home, alerting to such sounds such as sirens, forklifts and a person calling the handler's name.
Hearing Ear Dogs Are Service Dogs that are especially sensitive to noises, and a hearing impaired Handler can learn a lot about his or her environment just by watching the dog's visual cues. A dog may notice when someone approaches from behind and tries to get the attention of his or her handler, or even when they are calling the Handler's name. Hearing Ear Dogs communicate with their hearing Impaired Handlers by making physical contact with them and then leading them to the location of the sound. Small dogs will jump up on a person's leg or lap to alert their partner, while large dogs will seek out a person's hand with their nose to make contact.
What can the Hearing Ear Dog react to that will assist his Handler with the Handler's disability?
- A knock at the door
- A Smoke detector alarm
- An Alarm clock ringing
- A Tea kettle whistling
- The telephone or cell phone ringing
- Keys dropping
- Traffic approaching
- The name of the dog's Handler to alert the person when he or she is being spoken to
- General sound awareness
Dogs that may become hearing dogs are tested for proper temperament, sound reactivity, and willingness to work. After passing initial screenings, they are trained in basic obedience and exposed to things they will face in public such as elevators, shopping carts, and different types of people. Only after that period of socializing are they trained in sound alerting.
Hearing dogs may be trained professionally in as little as three months, though many are trained for closer to a year. Generally, training involves getting the dog to recognize a particular sound and then physically alert or lead their handler to the source. They may also be taught to physically alert to and/or lead away from a sound, such as in the case of a fire alarm.
While many hearing dogs are professionally trained, as described and stated above, it is important to note that this is not a legal requirement and there are deaf or hearing-impaired individuals who successfully, and legally, undertake the challenge of training their own hearing dogs.
In the United States, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 allows hearing dogs, along with all other Service Dogs, access to anywhere the general public is permitted. The Fair Housing Act allows hearing dogs as well as other types of assistance animals to visit and live in housing developments that have no pets policies. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity investigates complaints from the public alleging denials of reasonable accommodation requests involving assistance animals. [Some state laws also provide access protection or additional guidelines, such as fines or criminal penalties for interfering with or denying access to a hearing dog team.
Hearing dogs may wear a Service Dog vest to identify them. Some also wear a cape or jacket. Incidentally, in the United States, a Service Dog is not legally required to have or wear any badge, leash, collar, harness or any other identifying item nor have any type of "Certification".
If you are interested in a Hearing Ear Dog or just have questions, please feel free to call me any time. We can discuss breed type, or even the possibility of using your own dog you have now if he tests out to be able to do this work.