The service dogs that are trained as hearing ear dogs learn to respond to verbal and hand signals/gestures. People with full or partial loss of hearing may be in life danger because of their inability to hear. Service dogs are trained to make physical contact with their nose or paw and lead their handler to the source of the sound. For example the dogs can be trained to respond to sounds such as emergency sirens, doorbells, smoke detectors, car horns, knocking on doors, telephone, entryphone, someone calling the owner’s name, clock alarm, house alarm and others.
The dog who is taught to recognize and respond to a specific sound, alerts the handler and leads him/her to the source of the sound. For example if the doorbell rings, the dog will use physical contact to inform the person and lead him/her to the door. The dog can also be trained to use physical contact to alert its care giver in the event of a fire alarm. In this case it lays down to let the person know that he or she is in danger, or if it is during the night wake the person up by pulling his/her nightwear. Hearing ear dogs are also providing their owners with security, as they can be also trained to alert them in the presence of intruders.
For people with hearing impairment and especially children, the presence and companion of a dog is very beneficial and provides them with emotional support, confidence and freedom. Children will feel more confident, become more social and feel more secure when they are left alone even at night time. Overall, hearing ear dogs provide a better life to their handlers, not only with their abilities and training skills, but also with the special bond and unconditional love that they share with each other.
Elena Palagka, Nina Service Dogs