Deciding on a service dog to assist with your hearing loss

Portrait of a dog

Getting a service dog to assist you with hearing loss can be an attractive option. There are moments in time when you are concerned about missing out on sounds that you should be aware of. Having a furry companion be your guide to watch over you to help you feel safe is ideal.

Should this is the first time you are owning a pet or a service dog, this is a decision that you should put some thought into.

We’ll explore some key things you need to be thinking about to decide if you should consider a service dog.

Getting the right breed

Most people think that any dog can take on a role of a service dog. Unfortunately, there are certain breeds that take on the role better than others. If you have a preference for a certain type of dog, like a Great Dane or chihuahua, to match your lifestyle, you may find that you are limited to the type of breed. That being said, not all dogs can be trained as a service dog. But you can find out through an assessment at a dog training school if your dog is suitable.

Most people with hearing loss who own dogs as pets will tell you that their dog is good at alerting them to sounds naturally. By observing your dog, you can understand when there has been a change of events. This is similar to reading people’s body language to get a sense of what they are up to. While that can be true, it is not a sure guarantee that the dog will respond the way you like in all circumstances.

Take a situation where a woman who is deaf shared her story when she was home alone. Her dog typically barks at people who are at the door. However, there was an incident when her hearing husband was locked out of the house and was trying to get in. He knocked many times, and she didn’t respond. He was getting concerned for her well-being as time passed. The dog didn’t bark or respond at all because he knew who was at the door. Her husband, out of concern and needing to get home, had to break into the house to get in.

In some cases, your dog may alert you to too many things, and you suddenly have a situation where you start to get less attentive to your dog’s reaction. Just like when you have too many false alarms that you ignore when the real situation that warrants your attention.

So it’s important that the dog gets the full training to be a service dog to guarantee you will be safe or get the service you need. This leads me to my next point.

What’s best: Self-training, using a training center or purchasing an already-trained dog

You have two options for training your dog to be a service dog. Either by yourself or with the help of an expert.

To train on our own would require an amount of dedication and persistent activities day-to-day to get your dog trained. If you are juggling many responsibilities and can’t think of any time to squeeze in some practice and training time with your dog, you might want to look at getting help. You may feel that your training seems to go nowhere.

Going to a reputable training center is a great option for some. You can save yourself time and have someone else do the training. If you want to get the service dog certification, you can get the certification as part of the completion of the training. A certification will be the document you can show to allow you to travel in public with your dogs where pets are not allowed.

However, if you decide to self-train, you can still get the certification that your dog is a service dog. Your dog will be assessed by a test given out to the training school. If it passes the test, they will be able to get the papers of proof.

You may be considering getting a dog that is already trained. Yet, the demand for an already-trained dog is anywhere from a year, with some people on a waiting list for three years. The supply of trained dogs is just not there yet, and you could be waiting a while. Sometimes your safety isn’t worth the wait.

It is important to note that there is a myth that all dogs will succeed once they start training. A majority of dogs don’t complete and meet the training requirements. Keep that in mind when it comes to investment

When money isn’t the issue

Dogs are not cheap when it comes to owning one. And if your sole purpose is to have a dog to help alert you to things, you may want to look at a technology that can do the job for much cheaper.

Dog expenses such as training costs, vaccinations, insurance, vet trips, food and household supplies can add up. You can be expected to pay anywhere from $3000 annually to up to $10,000, depending on the breed, food choice and medical needs. You want to be financially stable to be able to pay for any unforeseen expenses.

Expect that the investment will be a long time that, can last 15 years or so.

A companion for 24/7

To meet service dog status, your dog is expected to be by your side 24/7. Neither the dog nor you get parted ways, as this can affect the dog in understanding its role and what it is supposed to do.

If you are busy working most of the time, you may be thinking you can have your dog at the house all day or hire a dog sitter to take care when you’re not around often. Service dogs don’t take on a house pet role. They are expected to carry out activities in order to maintain their status.

Sometimes you may need to make living arrangement adjustments to own a dog. Not all places allow dogs. You will need to invest time in doing extra paperwork to allow your dog to travel with you, live in a specific apartment or visit certain places. At work, your dog may not be allowed for health and safety reasons due to the type of work that you do.

Not everyone knows the laws that apply to owning a service dog, and you should expect that you will need to advocate for your rights where you can.

So consider that there are limitations to your freedom from time to time if you own a service dog.

So, what will you do?

These are some of the big issues that you should be thinking about when it comes to deciding on getting a service dog. Other factors may come up for you, such as how having a dog affects your family members – whether they want a dog in the house or not.

However, the big decision lies in how much time and money you are willing to invest to have a service dog status. Are you okay with having a pet that can alert you now and then but is not guaranteed? Perhaps, you are too independent and want the freedom of going about without having to deal with approvals and the exhaustion of having to fight for your rights.

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