The Australian Lions Hearing Dogs, based in the Adelaide Hills, trains dogs for the hearing impaired to provide independence, security and confidence. They’re also helping save dogs’ lives, with the majority of their dogs being rescues.
Whilst staying in the Adelaide Hills to film Episode 5 of our pet-friendly travel special, I visited the ‘home’ of the Lions Hearing Dogs to meet some clever rescue dogs and had a chat with Nick Liemandt who is one of the trainers helping to teach these dogs new skills before they go on to become assistance dogs.
The wonderful part of this story is that these dogs are not only assisting people with hearing loss or deafness, it also means that these dogs have been given a second chance at life and finding a forever home.
A Lions Hearing Dog has the same public access as Guide Dogs, so they have to go through an intense socialisation program to ensure they are comfortable in all public situations.
Once they pass that first stage of the training, they are then taught to respond and physically alert owners to important sounds such as phones, people at the door, alarms, babies crying; as well as owner specific scenarios such as alerting emergency services if owners’ have seizures, or if a family member with an illness needs attention.
Most of the trainers have, or are completing, the Certificate 3 in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation (NDTF). This not only help to ensure they understand dog behaviour and can teach them the different assistance skills they will need, as they mainly use rescue dogs, it means they are able to help any dogs with anxiety or behaviour issues adapt to their new situation with confidence and love.
The other great thing about this story is that the Australia Lions Hearing Dogs are trained and provided free to the recipient. Each Australian Lions hearing dog costs approximately $30,000 to train to certified hearing dog level. This includes the ongoing support the training centre offers throughout the life of the dog.
Lions clubs donate significant amounts to keep the centre running, but they also rely on corporate and public support and donations, so if you would like to help or find out more, visit their website.
Of course, if you’d like to learn more about the Certificate 3 in dog behaviour and training with the NDTF I can wholly recommend it. You may not want to go on to have a career as a dog trainer, but it can really help you with understanding your own dog and it is just really interesting to find out how many misconceptions people have about dogs, and why they do what they do!
About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog training, minding and walking business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.