Deaf Life5th November 2015

Introducing a Hearing Dog to the home

Adding value to the household, hearing dogs also support independence

by Cheryl Swift

How to introduce a hearing dog to the home

Introducing any new pet into the home can be difficult, but if you are well prepared it doesn't have to be tricky. In many ways, a hearing dog for the deaf is no different to an ordinary dog. It needs love, space, to understand where it can go within the household and garden and, above all, to know it is valued and cherished by all those who live there.

As you will know, there are many ways to describe those who have a degree of deafness. If you are Deaf (and usually a BSL user), Deafened or Hard of Hearing, then introducing a hearing dog into your home can make a real difference to the way you live your life, both at home and in the outside world. It can transform your ability to deal with day-to-day issues that most hearing people never consider.

The importance of hearing dogs

In a similar way to how guide dogs for the blind are trained to help people, so hearing dogs have a vital role to play in how deaf people can live with a real sense of independence, confident in their ability to go out and try new things.

Dogs are trained to alert their deaf owner to sounds such as fire alarms and doorbells that they might not necessarily hear themselves. Deafness is frequently an isolating disability, so having a loyal companion and a real friend by your side can make a real difference to your life.

Introducing your hearing dog

Any pet needs to feel comfortable coming into a new environment, so you need to think of how you are going to welcome your new hearing dog. This partly depends on whether or not you have other dogs or pets. Dogs can be territorial, so if you already have one, consider introducing your new dog in a neutral area, probably outdoors, so they get a chance to know each other. Keep calm if either gets overexcited (your hearing dog is unlikely to because of its training) and persevere. Give praise and rewards to smooth the path where necessary.

If your hearing dog has no other pets to worry about, let it look around the home, show it to its bed, put out some nice food and treats and make a fuss of it. Dogs love human contact and will respond to love and care. If you have pets such as cats, rabbits and guinea pigs, keep an eye out for interactions, especially with cats. Though hearing dogs are amenable, it's probably best to keep them away from the guinea pigs and rabbits.

Medical issues

Always make sure your hearing dog has up-to-date vaccinations and ensure you clear fleas by checking your dog’s coat and noting any symptoms of itching and scratching that may suggest it has fleas. These are unpleasant creatures and have a habit of transferring their blood sucking to humans, so beware!

Bringing a hearing dog into your home need not be difficult; everyone will need to adjust but when you do, you will have a loving companion, not just for yourself but also for your family and friends.

Article by Cheryl Swift

posted in Community / Deaf Life

5th November 2015