Applying for an Assistance Dog

Deafness is a diverse spectrum of hearing loss; upon application of a Hearing Dog, we request a copy of a recent Audiologist report to determine a severe to profound loss of hearing. You also need to show your commitment to working and caring for a dog long-term, a secure living environment (fenced yard unless high density living), and no other dogs on the premises. Applicants must also be over the age of 18 to qualify for a Hearing Assistance Dog. 

Medical Alert Dogs will be provided free of charge to applicants who suffer from type 1 diabetes. At the moment you must be over the age of 18 to qualify but our goal in the future is to include those under the age of 18 as part of the eligibility criteria. 

You can learn more about the eligibility criteria here.

  1. An application pack including a medical and audiologist report is completed and submitted to Australian Lions Hearing Dogs. You can find a copy online here or contact us at or call 08 8388 7836.
  2. If the application is eligible, you will receive a visit from either someone at ALHD or a volunteer from your local Lions Club. They will interview you and inspect your home to ensure it will be safe and secure for a dog.
  3. We will then discuss with you anything from the interview that we see as being a barrier to you getting a Hearing Dog. This gives you an opportunity to potentially address any of these barriers.
  4. You will then be placed on the wait list. We will keep in touch with you minimally throughout this process and ask you to be patient with us while we address other applicants and find the right dog for your circumstances.


The applicant pays nothing for a Hearing Assistance Dog or Medical Alert Dog. Their training and placement costs ALHD just under $40,000, however, this is a gift to each deaf or hard of hearing applicant from our incredible supporters. The ongoing costs of a Hearing Dog is the responsibility of the recipient, and we consider this when determining the right breed and dog for each person.

You can make a donation to help cover the costs of the program here.

You can own most other pets, we do however ask that you don’t have another dog on your property. We have tried this many times over the years and have found our dogs don’t work to our high standard when another dog is present in the home.

No. We work on a carefully planned pipeline of puppies and dogs based on our capacity for volunteer carers and space in the kennels at our Training Centre. This, along with our assessment and training standards, means we are not comfortable accepting dogs that may not meet the health and behavioural standards required to be an accredited Assistance Dog.
It is currently a 2-2 ½ year wait for a Hearing Assistance Dog due to the high demand and limited space and functionality at our National Training Centre. We are solving this wait time with the redevelopment of our Training Centre, which we are raising funds for at present.

Owning an Assistance Dog

Megan and George

Australian Lions Hearing Dogs is a provider accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and accredited dogs and their handlers are protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Public access rights enable Assistance Dogs and their handlers to attend suitable public spaces including shopping centres, restaurants, public transport, and much more. Limitations are put on some areas including intensive care units, zoos, food preparation areas, and some others where health or safety risks may exist.

You can read more about public access rights and Australia wide state/territory-based legislation here.

Throughout the application and interview process, we can provide support and guidance to ensure you understand the entire process.

Upon receiving your Hearing Assistance Dog, the dog and its’ Trainer will travel to your home (anywhere in Australia) and stay in nearby accommodation for 5 days whilst working with you throughout the delivery week. The dog will stay overnight with you from the first day (Monday) and the Trainer will visit each day, practicing the sounds in the home, going through the dogs’ care and maintenance routine, before venturing out and about. Here, the Trainer will go through the public etiquette for the dogs’ toileting and behaviour.

On the Wednesday or Thursday, members from the local Lions Club will attend and you will be introduced to the three month assessment process. Members from the Club will then attend three times per week for three months to assess the dogs’ sound work and provide regular reports back to the Trainer at ALHD. At the three month point, the Public Assessment Test (PAT) will be conducted by an authorised Assessor of ALHD and your Hearing Dog will be formally accredited.

Throughout this period and for the remainder of your partnership with your Hearing Dog, you are able to contact the ALHD Training Centre anytime for additional support or queries you may have.

An ALHD Hearing Assistance Dog can be identified by their orange jacket, orange collar and orange lead. All accredited dogs and their handlers are provided with a formal ID every two years upon reassessment and reaccreditation and are instructed to keep this on their persons at all times.
An ALHD Medical Alert Dog can be identified by their green jacket, green collar and green lead. All accredited dogs and their handlers are provided with a formal ID every two years upon reassessment and reaccreditation and are instructed to keep this on their persons at all times.

Puppies, Dogs and Training

Until 2018, all of our Assistance Dogs came through our rescue dog program, adopted from pounds and shelters. In 2018, ALHD introduced a new ‘Puppy Program’, to supplement the supply of suitable dogs, as our capacity and demand for our services increased. The Puppy Program enabled us to purchase suitable pups from a select few breeders in South Australia and Queensland, and place them in our Volunteer Puppy Socialisation Program until they were ready to come into training at 10 months of age, allowing better socialisation and behavioural outcomes of dogs in training.

In 2021, we had our very own pitter patter of paws hit the ground with our first litter of Labradoodle puppies born in September. The introduction of our Breeding Program was a result of a surge in prices of puppies, and an opportunity to capture the early socialisation period of puppies through Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) and safe, controlled exposure to a diverse range of environments. We are seeing great outcomes from the puppies in our Breeding Program so far.

We proudly still adopt many rescue dogs as our Assistance Dog program thrives on diversity of breeds and sizes. ALHD is grateful to have the opportunity to continue to provide a second chance at life and purpose to many rescue dogs.

Our Hearing Assistance Dogs retire at 13 years of age unless deemed unfit for work prior to this age. This may be due to health, welfare, or behavioural reasons identified at the two-yearly assessment or between.

Quite often, if appropriate, the dog’s recipient will be offered to keep their retired Hearing Dog as a pet; upon doing so, we do let them know that whilst they have a pet dog, they cannot receive another Assistance Dog (if they are re-applying).

If the recipient does not adopt their retired dog as a pet, a suitable home will be located by ALHD. The welfare of each of our dogs is paramount to us, and the right home will be chosen for each dog on a case-by-case basis.

Please note, we do not keep a waitlist of people that want retired dogs; on the rare occasion that we do have a dog available for adoption, we will advertise on our Facebook page.

Our supporters do! Most of our puppies and dogs in the program are kindly sponsored by some of our most generous supporters. Upon making a donation of a certain amount, sponsorship of a dog is offered to a supporter in return, allowing them to name and follow one of our dogs’ journeys through puppyhood to delivery as a Hearing Assistance Dog or Medical Alert Dog.

We do have a criteria of which we ask our supporters to follow, to ensure the names are suitable for both ALHD and the recipient who is to receive the dog.

Just like many of us have various different skillsets and career paths to choose from in life, dogs can be exactly the same! Which is why some of our dogs in the training program may be unsuitable for a career as an Assistance Dog. We are proud that our success rate remains over 80%, significantly higher than the industry standard of Assistance Dogs.

Puppies are regularly assessed throughout their time in the Puppy Socialisation program, ensuring that if a dog is unsuitable for the program, that we can identify this early on, reallocate resources, or work through any training issues that may have come up.

We keep a waitlist of people that are interested in our ‘lovable dropouts’. To join this list, please contact our team.

Daisy puppies

Supporting and Getting Involved

Lion puppy sponsorship South Vermont

As a Lions organisation, our services are built on volunteers and sit at the core of everything we do. There are many ways to volunteer, and our most needed help is in the Puppy Socialisation program, fostering one of our future Assistance Dog puppies in the safety of your home.

Currently, our on-site Kennel Enrichment volunteer program is in high demand and we have a waitlist of kind volunteers to spend time with our dogs in training.

To learn more about volunteering, please visit our Volunteering page on the website. If you are a member of a Lions Club and would like to know how you can volunteer, head to our Lions Clubs section of the website.

Definitely not! The time and commitment from volunteers is the most valuable part of the Puppy Socialisation foster program. Everything you need throughout the 8 month foster care period is supplied to you by ALHD with support from some of our sponsors.

All Puppy Socialisers are provided with BlackHawk puppy food, bedding, toys, comb/brush (where applicable), and more as part of their puppy kit. Many of our volunteers do enjoy purchasing additional toys for their puppy, however this is up to each individual carer and there is no expectation.

For information on becoming a volunteer Puppy Socialiser, please visit the Volunteering section on our website.

Absolutely! The dogs in our kennels sleep on trampoline beds to lift them off the ground for optimum comfort and warmth/cooling, however, all bedding for comfort and warmth is kindly donated by the public. We accept most bedding however we do not accept pillows, quilts, or any other linen with filling due to the risk of dogs chewing or ingesting the filling.

We love to welcome people to our National Training Centre in Verdun. However, we prefer if you book in advance before showing up. This ensures we have available Coordinators, Trainers and of course, Assistance Training Dogs to give you the best possible Community Talk experience. 

To book a visit to our Training Centre, please see here on how to book a Community Talk or Visit or call our Training Centre on 08 8388 7836.


Australian Lions Hearing Dogs is a registered trading name of the Incorporated Association, Lions Hearing Dogs Incorporated. It operates independently under a charter with Lions Clubs of Australia. The organisation was incorporated in 1980 and the 5 acre site housing the current ALHD National Head Office and Training Centre was purchased. Currently Lions Hearing Dogs Incorporated holds title over this land.

Operational standards and financial governance are overseen by a Board of nine members elected from senior Lions from across Australia. Board meetings are held bi-monthly. Major projects and extraordinary expenditure which fall beyond “business as usual” require Board approval.

Lions Hearing Dogs Inc. as a registered charity is required to report annually to the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) through provision of an Annual Information Statement and a Financial Report. These documents can be found posted on the ACNC website.


Australian Lions Hearing Dogs receives no government funding or subsidies and relies solely on the support from our generous community. It is the wonderful support of our donor community, corporate partners, and Lions Clubs across Australia, that enables us to continue to do life-changing work. A big thank you to all our generous supporters for your ongoing donations.

Corporate partners and supporters provide a variety of levels of support towards our dog program and general operations.

All donations of $2 or more to Lions Hearing Dogs Inc are tax-deductible and will receive a receipt in return for your donation. If you are able to support us in any way, please make a donation online today.

Registered Charity Number: CCP962
ABN 37976454009

Complaints and Grievances

If you have a concern, complaint or grievance about Australian Lions Hearing Dogs, please read through our Complaints Policy about how to submit a grievance, a variety of contacts, and how your complaint will be handled with sincerity and confidentiality.