Dogs have a valued ability to hear a variety of sounds, including what humans hear and cannot hear. They can also recognize different sounds, which makes them great service dogs, especially the hearing dogs for the deaf. People who can’t recognize sounds, or were born deaf, are unable to hear everyday sounds that are normal for us, such as sirens and doorbells. Hearing dogs are trained to alert their handler to sounds related to safety and security, which helps the deaf change their lives. If you want to know more about how hearing dogs assist their handler and the benefits they provide, let us have a look at hearing dogs and their human partner.
What do hearing dogs do?
We know that guide dogs are service dogs for the blind, helping them to cross the road and take them to public places. On the contrary, hearing dogs are used to alert their deaf handler to special sounds in the workplace, in public place and at home. Hearing dogs can be trained so they can differentiate sounds that the handler wants to know. Here are a few of the common sounds:
• Knocking on the door or doorbells
• Phone ringing
• Fire alarm/ smoke alarm
• Alarm clocks/ cooker timer
• Handler’s name
• Baby crying
• Objects dropping
Therefore, hearing dogs, unlike other service dogs, are trained to use physical contact to alert humans to sounds, since barking makes no sense to their owner. They are taught to lead someone to the source of the sound or to point out a threat in a certain way, such as
• Nudging the handler with their nose
• Laying down
• Touch the hands of the person with their paws
• Licking or siting
Four powerful benefits of hearing dogs
1. They give you a sense of safety and security
Image if you can no longer hear your surroundings, what will you do? Going outside is dangerous for you because you cannot hear when danger threatens. Staying at home alone is daunting because you are unable to hear potential things.
Fortunately, a hearing dog can replace your ears and make you feel safer and secure. You can rely on them to let you know if anything is about to happen. For example, when the doorbell rings, your service dog will guide you to the front door and greet the visitor. Also, your dog plays an important role in alerting you to dangerous sounds such as boiling water.
2. They give you company and mental comfort.
A constant companion is an important part of an intimate friendship and a cornerstone of communication. We know that friends and family have their own lives and they can leave anytime, but a listening dog will stay next to you and will never judge you or scold you. On the contrary, the dog will give you feedback through his undemanding loyalty. He will appear at your side and comforts your depression or anxiety when you need him. Studies indicate that petting or hugging a dog can lower blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety, and also alleviate stressful emotions.
3. They can help you improve your self-confidence and overcome isolation.
If you isolate yourself due to a disability, your confidence will slip and you will become lonelier. But with a hearing dog, things will be less daunting and easier to overcome. You may find that you can defeat your fear and loneliness and re-enter the world under the companionship of your furry friend. This is a process that strengthens your confidence.
In addition, dogs have to go outside every day to stretch their legs. This is a great way to communicate with other people. Making friends helps overcome the barrier of isolation and defeat loneliness.
4. They improve your social integration and your emotional and physical wellbeing
As mentioned in the previous section, a hearing dog acts as a social facilitator who enables you to connect with other people and enjoy the feeling during social interactions. For example, when people stop to pet your well-trained hearing dog and chat with you, you become a participant in the conversation. During this process, people’s friendliness helps you to overcome the feeling of being excluded that was unpleasant to you.
Either way, your hearing dog will provide you with additional opportunities to greet others, fulfilling the function of ‘needing to be needed”. What's more, daily walks will force you to get more exercise in or out of the home. These positive influences will greatly enhance your psychological happiness and physical health.