Deafness often leaves many deaf and hard of hearing people feeling frustrated and isolated. Your inability to hear can be a difficult thing to come into terms with.
But, all hope is not lost. As challenging as being deaf may be, having your own hearing dog can help turn things around for you. They can offer love, company and independence to people with hearing loss. Having a furry friend can be a life changer.
What is a hearing dog?
A hearing dog is a type of service dog or therapy dog that provides help to the hearing-impaired community. These dogs undergo a specialized sound training program that prepares them to become helpful companions for individuals who are deaf and/or hard of hearing. They usually wear a leash or a vest to signify their special training.
Which dog breed is best to be hearing dogs?
Hearing dogs should possess a specific temperament needed for a service dog. They should be lively, naturally attentive to sound, alert and ready to work in an instant. They should also have good social skills. Hearing dogs need to be friendly, people-oriented, and have a strong desire for touch. They should also be focused on the task, able to obey rules, and remain calm in busy and stressful situations.
There are several breeds that possess these traits. They are usually small to medium mixed breed animals. Most of the service dogs training programs focus on four dog breeds: Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles and Cockapoos.
How do hearing dogs help?
Here are some ways in which a hearing dog can make things better for you.
No. 1: They improve social interaction.
Being deaf or experiencing hearing loss can be isolating. This isolation often leads to feelings of loneliness. Being deaf should not be a hindrance. Having a hearing dog will help you open up your access to the outside world. With one beside you, you can go out and interact with others. Your hearing dog will serve as your ears and help you communicate with them. Having a hearing dog will help you experience the world, build connections and ease your loneliness.
No. 2: They make you more aware and feel safer.
Being deaf can be terrifying. This is especially true if you live alone or are going outside. You are unable to hear what is going on around you, and this leaves you unaware of possible danger.
Having a hearing dog can make you feel more secure at home and in public. Hearing dogs identify sounds that the owner needs to know about. They alert deaf people to specific sounds such as a fire alarm, a ringing telephone or a crying baby. They alert their deaf owners through physical contact. Hearing dogs will nudge you with their nose or their paw to lead you to the source of the sound.
Hearing dogs are not specifically trained to alert their owner to sounds in public. But you will gain awareness of the environment by seeing how your hearing dog will react to what’s happening.
No. 3: They help improve self-esteem and sense of well-being
Having a hearing dog helps ease feelings of anxiety. Studies have shown that petting your dog makes you feel calmer and more relaxed. Interacting with your dog releases hormones that positively impact your body. It releases Oxycontin that lowers your blood pressure and heart rate. It also releases cortisol and endorphins that boost your mood. Once released throughout your body, your feelings of stress and anxiety will go away.
No. 4: They give you confidence and independence.
Losing your hearing can severely impact your confidence. Without it, you may also lose a sense of balance and certainty in tackling life. Having a hearing dog helps address this. They enhance your independence and mobility. They give you guidance and assurance as you enter the world. With your hearing dog, you’ll be more confident in your response to sounds in your environment.
No. 5: They help you become physically active.
Studies have shown that having a hearing dog has positive impact on health-related quality of life, well-being and activity levels. By having regular walks and excursions with your hearing dog, you give yourself and your dog much needed daily exercise. You do not only experience the activity outside, but you also stretch your and the dog’s muscles.
No. 6: They give you a constant companion.
When you get your own hearing dog, you get a partner for life. They will essentially be your daily companion, serving as your new ears. You will learn how to move and work together. Learn to communicate with each other to ensure your safety. In time, you will build a strong and unbreakable bond with your hearing dog. You will experience happiness and joy with a loyal companion by your side.
The Bottom line
Being deaf need not be a hindrance to living a normal life. With the help of a hearing dog, you can experience life to the fullest. Hearing dogs serve a great purpose. They alert deaf people of important sounds, open doors for social interactions, and help leave loneliness behind. Most of all, the bond between a deaf owner and a hearing dog is a very strong relationship that could last for years.