Following puppy socialisation training from around eight weeks to 12-14 months of age, dogs in training progress onto their soundwork training at one of our two Training Centres with our experienced dog training staff.
All of our hearing dogs are trained using positive methods, rewarding the dog for completing a behaviour.The reward may be food, toys or praise.
We train the dogs to respond to certain sounds such as the doorbell, cooker timer, alarm clock, smoke alarm and telephone. We also ensure the dogs demonstrate a high level of obedience. The dogs are in the sound work stages of their training for approximately 16 weeks, and during this period they are assessed at two points in their training to ensure they meet the required standard.
Obedience training takes place during puppy socialisation and is conducted by a volunteer puppy socialiser. The obedience training is then reiterated throughout the young dog's soundwork training.
Obedience commands are trained initially using the principles of lure and repetition.We train the dogs to respond to voice and hand signals and often use a clicker to mark a correct response.
Our hearing dogs in training are taught to respond to a number of different household sounds, as well as danger signals such as the smoke alarm in the home, at work or in public places. We begin by teaching the location of the sound and then progress to introducing the ‘alert’.
The' alert' is how the hearing dog tells the recipient about a sound.This may be by touching the recipient with one or two paws or nudging with their nose. The the trainer (in future, the recipient) then asks 'what is it?' through voice and/or hand commands.
In the case of household sounds, such as the doorbell and cooker timer, the hearing dog will learn to lead the person directly to the source of the sound.
For danger signals such as the smoke alarm or fire siren the hearing dog is taught to lie down to indicate danger. It is then up to the trainer (in future, the recipient) to decide on a course of action in response to the danger that has been indicated.