Training a hearing dog is intensive and is divided up into three important stages:
1. During this first stage the dog learns to socialise by going out regularly with one of the charity’s volunteers. By mingling with people in crowded places, becoming aware of busy roads and traffic and the accompanying sounds, the dog becomes attuned to the general noise and hubbub of a chaotic environment.
2. Then for the next four months the dog learns about specific sounds which will be tailored to the needs of its future owner, such as an alarm clock, a baby’s cry, the doorbell, etc. By tuning in to these sounds the dog can alert the owner to take any action necessary.
3. The last stage is spent in the owner’s home, becoming familiar with the daily routine and the owner’s needs. The hearing dog will become a vital part of the deaf person’s life – a lifeline to a world that can often be perceived as fragmented and isolating
When a dog is fully trained and able to accompany its owner on trips outside the home it will be wearing a distinctive burgundy jacket. This will alert well-meaning people who might want to pat the dog that this is a working dog, doing a great job and should, therefore, not be disturbed.