Hearing Dogs

All of our Hearing Dogs receive extensive sound work and obedience training. Hearing Dogs are trained to alert to sounds by making physical contact (jumping on you, or nosing you) then leading you to the sound. Additionally, many of our Hearing Dogs are also trained and certified for public access. Our standards and criteria for determining whether or not a dog is suitable for access to public places are very high. Only dogs that can ignore other dogs, handle being exposed to busy, noisy and crowded environments as well as being comfortable with all types of people are appropriate to be in stores, malls, restaurants, etc. 

When we match a Hearing Dog with a client, we look at a variety of factors: the needs of the client both for sound work at home and in public, lifestyle and energy level and level of confidence the dog has in new environments and situations. 

For clients that have sound work needs at their workplace or travel frequently and need to be alerted to sounds in a hotel, a Certified Hearing Dog who is comfortable and trained for public access would be most appropriate. 

For clients who need a trained dog to alert to sounds in their home but do not require a dog to accompany them in the workplace or travel frequently, a Home Hearing Dog with sound work and obedience training would be most appropriate. 

Please Note: The content shown on our promotional videos and website reflects a variety of dogs’ sizes. Unfortunately, it has been challenging to obtain a small breed dogs due to the pandemic. Please know at this time, we primarily place Labrador Retrievers.  If you are looking for a dog under 50 pounds, we recommend visiting Assistance Dogs International (ADI) to assist you in finding other assistance dog organizations that can meet your needs.  



Vincent & Otto – How Otto helped Vincent regain his confidence and awareness

What is a Hearing Dog?

Hearing Dogs at home.
Our Hearing Dogs are trained to alert people to household sounds that are necessary for everyday safety and independence. They are trained to make physical contact and lead their person to the source of the sound. Through sound awareness and companionship, these dogs provide greatly increased freedom.

Hearing Dogs in public.
Many people are curious about what Hearing Dogs can do for people who are deaf or hard of hearing when they’re in public. The most important thing a Hearing Dog provides a person in public is an increased awareness of his or her environment. A Hearing Dog isn’t specifically trained to alert to sounds, such as a siren or honking horn, in public. But, when a person who is deaf or hard of hearing takes a Hearing Dog into public, he or she will gain an awareness of the environment by paying attention to whatever the Hearing Dog is reacting to. When the dog hears something and looks, the person will notice and turn to see what’s happening as well.

Hearing Dog Capabilities

  • Provides sound awareness at home, such as the smoke alarm, door knock, doorbell, phone, alarm clock, oven timer, name call, and a baby cry
  • Provides increased awareness when out in public, such as a siren, honking horn, name call
  • Helps ease anxiety sometimes experienced in social situations
  • Companionship
  • Reduces feeling of isolation often faced by people with hearing loss

Apply For A Dog

Before you decide to apply for a Hearing Dog, please read about our  Hearing Dog Program Requirements.

Our Process


Click on the ‘What type of Hearing Dog do I qualify for ?’ button above to determine eligibility. Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be notified via email of the next step. If you have any questions about the application, please email info@dogsforbetterlives.org or call 541-826-9220.


If application eligibility requirements are met then verification of moderate to profound hearing loss will be requested and must be submitted by an audiologist. This will be reviewed by the screening committee. Due to the fact that there are many different aspects to hearing loss, there is no exact degree of loss that can be given as the minimum for qualification.

In-Home Interview

In-home interviews provide us with additional information on the applicants’ needs and lifestyles. A Dogs for Better Lives associate conducts this interview; all members of the household must be present for this interview appointment.

Acceptance or Denial

After the interview is completed and returned to us, the entire application packet will be carefully reviewed and a final decision made as to whether or not one of our professionally trained dogs is suitable for the applicant.

Waiting Period

The waiting period for a Hearing Dog is approximately 36 months from the time the person is accepted to receive a Hearing Dog.


Hearing Dogs are accompanied by a trainer to the home of the client. The trainer teaches the client how to keep the dog working consistently and how to maintain the dog’s obedience training.


Following the placement, regular communication is required. The client reports regularly on the progress of the dog. When problems arise or the client has any questions, the trainer offers help and answers questions. In-home follow up is also done.

Dogs for Better Lives provides follow-up support for the life of the team.