Having a Hearing Assistance Dog is different to owning a pet dog. Most importantly, Hearing Dogs are “working dogs”. They love to work, it’s what they’re trained to do, but they do need your full commitment to maintain their training throughout their lives.
Hearing Assistance Dogs predominately live inside but are not allowed to sit on beds or couches, as this can increase their perception of their status in the home. As a result they may become lazy and harder to manage, increasing the likelihood of them not effectively working for you.
As an owner, we expect that your Hearing Assistance Dog will accompany you everywhere. This will strengthen your bond and keep your dog interested and happy. You must not leave your dog inside your house when you’re not home, and when you’re out, your dog must wear their Australian Lions Hearing Dog jacket.
For your first week together the Trainer will spend a lot of time with you and your dog, teaching you, helping your dog adjust to its new environment, going to public areas and customising training to suit your home. Once your Trainer leaves, the trained volunteers from a local Lions Club will visit 3 times per week for 3 months to see how you’re settling in together and make sure you’re maintaining the training. Six weeks into your new partnership, the dog’s Trainer will come back, again to ensure that the dog is working well.
At the end of the 3 months, ALHD’s Program Director will visit to conduct an Accreditation Assessment, in which the dog’s response to sounds at home, and behaviour in public access situations, is tested to meet the required standards. Assuming it does, your dog becomes an accredited Hearing Assistance Dog and you will be presented with a jacket that reflects their status. Further support is provided after this point and further checks are done every 2 years.