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Old 07-15-2008, 08:09 PM
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Default lizzybeth!!! Hearing dogs??

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Originally Posted by lizzybeth727 View Post
I agree with what Lissa said about a "perfect" or "competition" heel not being necessary with service dogs. And, FYI, that's even more important for hearing dogs, as their job in public is to look at sounds so that their partner knows what's going on around him/her. The hearing dogs I train, I don't even reward them when they look at me while loose leash walking, I only reward when they respond to their name.
Tell me about training hearing dogs! It's my understanding that corgis are very good hearing dogs.
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:26 PM
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Oh, ok, well....

So, of course, hearing dogs' job is to alert deaf (or hard of hearing, to be PC) people to sounds. Generally they're trained to alert to specific sounds, like the telephone, timers, doorbell, alarms, smoke detectors, etc. When they hear the sound, they "alert" their person by doing a specific behavior - we teach them to nose the person's leg, some organizations teach dogs to paw their feet or jump up on them - then the person can say "what is it?" and the dog will run back to the sound, with the person following.

In public (meaning, at stores, restaurants, etc., basically anywhere besides home and work), the hearing dog's job is to basically just listen to sounds. So like, if they're walking through the mall and someone runs up behind them, the dog will turn around and look at the sound, and the person is "trained" to watch the dog's cues for "something is happening." Some dogs who are very savvy at generalizing will actually do alerts for sounds in public, but they're not taught nor expected to figure that out.

Good hearing dog candidates are dogs who are very sound sensitive - they perk up whenever they hear something intersting, and like to investigate the sounds. Note: Just because your dog barks at a person at the door doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be a good hearing dog. Also, of course, they shouldn't be afraid of different sounds. They also need to be fairly high-energy dogs, and light sleepers (they MUST wake up in the middle of the night and alert if there's, say, a fire alarm, and a dog who will do this has to be very interested in sounds as well as a light sleeper). As such, the best hearing dogs are usually very difficult dogs to live with! They're usually very "ditsy," very easily distracted, reactive (not aggressive, not scared), but easy to train if you have the patience to work to keep their attention.

I'll be happy to talk more about hearing dogs, but there's a great book out about finding and training hearing dogs - it's called "Lend Me and Ear," and I think it's relatively easy to find online.

Oh, and I'm training a corgi mix right now to be a hearing dog.
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:37 PM
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As such, the best hearing dogs are usually very difficult dogs to live with! They're usually very "ditsy," very easily distracted, reactive (not aggressive, not scared), but easy to train if you have the patience to work to keep their attention.
I was told that they should also be a little bit pushy...As in a dog who likes to put nose or paws on people naturally.

Is it true that the selection of the dog for hearing work is harder than the training? There are a lot of natural qualities the dogs need to have, more so than mobility dogs? I was told that Ares would make a good hearing dog - (except that it ould have conflicted with his competition training). That was told to me when he focused on an airplane that was so high up it was like a little speck. We're pretty sure he must have been able to hear it, even though we couldn't, and he kept staring up at the sky.

That and when we worked with a dummy launcher, he was more interested in going to the launcher than going after the dummy. (Source of the sound??)
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Old 07-15-2008, 10:13 PM
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I was told that they should also be a little bit pushy...As in a dog who likes to put nose or paws on people naturally.
Well, we don't have "pushiness" as a part of the evaluation when we're looking for hearing dogs..... I think that as long as they're very people oriented (which IS a test on the evaluation), you can train them to alert.

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Is it true that the selection of the dog for hearing work is harder than the training? There are a lot of natural qualities the dogs need to have, more so than mobility dogs?
My organization trains hearing and service dogs. We get all of our dogs from shelters, so we have to do a long shelter evaluation for all the dogs. The difference between hearing and service dogs is basically that service dogs have to be VERY people-oriented. The best service dogs basically pay attention to people throughout the entire evaluation (besides toileting, maybe), no matter what else is going on around them. Hearing dogs, though, can be much more distracted, as long as they come back occasionally and whenever you call to them. And, of course, hearing dogs have a hearing test, they have to be interested in the sound. So yeah, I think both are difficult to find, one's not easier than the other.

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That and when we worked with a dummy launcher, he was more interested in going to the launcher than going after the dummy. (Source of the sound??)
Sounds like a hearing dog!
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by lizzybeth727 View Post
Sounds like a hearing dog!
Yea, if only I hadn't been teaching him to ignore other sounds...

I would like someday to work with training hearing dogs. Probably in conjunction with corgi rescue - something else I'd like to do -- as soon as I find some free time

How much need is there for hearing dogs? There are a lot of devices that the hearing impaired can use.
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:49 PM
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Most devices for the hearing impared are flashing lights (don't do any good if you're sleeping or in another room) or vibrators (which most people sleep through as well).

One of the most common sounds we train for is a timer, like an oven timer or microwave, there's no device that helps with that, you'd have to carry the timer around with you and remember to check it every few minutes. Many people use their dogs at work to alert to phones ringing or people calling the person's name. So yeah, the devices only go so far. And, many people who need a dog are low-income and probably couldn't afford all those special devices (my organization gives the dogs free-of-charge).
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