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Dog Friendly Tips: Poodles best for deaf people

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, a British charity, trains companion dogs to alert deaf people to important sounds and danger alarms at home, at work and out in public. The organization's mission is to provide recipients of the service with greater independence and confidence by providing them with dogs that can alert them to everyday sounds. The charity was founded in 1982. Since then, it has formed more than 1,600 partnerships between these dogs and deaf people. The organization's favorite breed for training? The miniature poodle.

How Hearing Dogs Help

When a trained dog hears an alarm clock, a doorbell or a telephone, for example, it will go to the person and touch him with a paw or nudge with its nose to gain attention. The person asks "What is it?" by voice or hand gesture and the dog leads him to the source. If the situation is dangerous -- a smoke or CO2 alarm, for example -- the dog will lie down.

Hearing dogs in the U.K. are not trained to assist with automotive traffic sounds such as car horns or emergency vehicle sirens, but in other countries they might be trained to react to sirens. All will turn toward an emergency traffic sound, however, and the deaf person can look in that direction.

Breeds Assisting the Deaf

Breeds that go through training and become helpful companions are miniature poodles, labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels and Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Organizations in the United States have been training labs and cockers as well -- in addition to chihuahuas and Jack Russell terriers. To qualify for hearing-dog training, the pooch must have a proper temperament, be active by nature, friendly and exhibit a willingness to work. Before final acceptance, they are tested for sound reactivity. In the UK, these dogs wear a distinctive burgundy colored jacket. In the U.S., they often have a bright orange leash and collar.

Miniature Poodles Excel

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People reports having the most success training miniature poodles. Why? They cite the breed's intelligence and love of learning. They usually excel in sound-work training. Because mini poodles were bred to be companion dogs, they are ideally suited for life as a hearing dog. Miniature poodles are already well liked as pets because they are low-shedding and regarded as good dogs for people with allergies. Their natural ability as service dogs makes them even more impressive as companions that provide valuable help as dogs for people with hearing loss.

Miniature poodles are highly sociable and good with children. They are excellent with busy people and large families.

The writer is involved in informing pet lovers about dogs that are considered safe for people with allergies.

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