People with hearing loss can miss out on a lot, from the birds chirping outside to the beeping of a carbon monoxide detector at home, which could prove dangerous. Although it is said that people who are hearing impaired have heightened senses, some need extra help navigating their surroundings. Enter a man’s best friend.

We’ve heard about other critters and how they hear, but this time we’re talking about “hearing dogs.” Beyond companionship, they’re able to provide safety to owners with hearing loss.

Hearing dogs are canines specially trained to assist those who can’t hear important sounds in their environments. The dogs learn to bark or nudge someone when a person is at the door. They alert owners when the telephone rings, alarm clock goes off, or the smoke alarm sounds. These unique brand of service dogs can even be trained to assist owners outside of the home by alerting them of noises such as sirens, cars and people shouting the handler’s name.

The furry creatures that we know so well are more than your average household pet as they can save people with hearing loss from potentially life-threatening situations. These dogs are trained to make physical contact with their owners and lead them towards or away from the sound, depending what the sound is. If an oven timer goes off, the dog makes its presence known to the handler and leads them toward the oven. If it’s a different sound, such as that of a smoke alarm indicating a fire, the dog is trained to get the owner’s attention and lead them away from the fire.

In addition to helping catch important missed sounds, service dogs also provide owners with a sense of freedom, safety and a renewed sense of self-esteem. Service dogs are also a great option for children with hearing loss as it can ease the frustrations that come with a hearing disability.

Organizations such as Dogs for the Deaf rescue and train dogs to be placed with their partners who apply to be matched up with a service dog. The pups receive rigorous training in temperament evaluation, obedience, socialization and sound training over four to six months.  There are other programs such as Golden Ears, that upon approval, will help the owner train their own dog to be a qualified hearing dog.

Watch the below video to see superstar canines in action!

by Esther Shasho