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How Service Dogs Help Individuals with Hearing Loss

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 – hearing loss comes with unique challenges.

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.

What Kind of Dogs are Called Hearing Dogs?

Hearing dogs are canines specially trained to assist those who can’t hear important sounds in their environments. To keep individuals with hearing loss safe, the dogs learn to bark or nudge someone when a person is at the door.

Hearing dogs alert owners when the telephone rings, the alarm clock goes off, or the smoke alarm sounds. 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 we know so well are more than your average household pet. Unlike untrained dogs, hearing dogs have heightened responsibilities. They save people with hearing loss from potentially life-threatening situations.

These dogs are trained to make physical contact with their owners when they hear a noise. Depending on what the sound is, they lead them towards or away from the noise.

If an oven timer goes off, the dog makes its presence known to the handler and leads them toward the oven.  When a smoke alarm goes off, indicating a fire, the service dog gets the owner’s attention and brings them to safety.

The Benefits of A Service Dog

In addition to helping catch important missed sounds, service dogs provide owners with a sense of freedom, safety, and a renewed sense of self-esteem. Service dogs are a great option for children with hearing loss. This is because they can ease the frustrations inherent to a hearing disability.

Organizations such as Dogs for the Deaf rescue dogs. Then, they train them and match them with people in need.

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