Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Here's the answer! These are the questions we're most often asked. If you have any further questions please just get in touch.

  • My bank details have changed. How can I update them?

    If you would like to notify us of changes to your bank details please phone us on 01844 348 109 or write to us at Hearing Dogs for Deaf people. Because email is not secure, please do not send us any personal or banking details by email.

  • How do I notify you of a change of address?

    Please phone us or email us at info@hearingdogs.org.uk with your name, your old address, your new address (including the postcodes). Please include any supporter or reference number if available to help us quickly make the changes.

  • Can I change the amount of my regular gift online?

    Not at this time (we are working to introduce this facility soon). If your gift is payable by direct debit, please telephone or write to us, including your name, address (including the postcode) and a supporter reference number if you have it to hand. Please let us know the new amount you would like to give and the date on which you would like us to start collecting your donation (our Direct Debits are processed on the 1st or 15th of each month). We will then send you a letter to confirm the changes. Please do not send personal or banking details by email as email is not secure.

  • What roles can I volunteer in?

    There are a number of exciting volunteering roles at Hearing Dogs. Some involve caring for dogs at home, others are based at one of our two training centres in Buckinghamshire or Yorkshire, and we also have roles that take place out in the community. Roles do vary depending on your location, and occasionally we put recruitment on hold if we have enough volunteers in place. The best thing to do is enter your town or postcode into the volunteering search box to find out what is available near you. Or, you can get in touch with us directly.

  • How old do I have to be to volunteer?

    All of our volunteers must be over the age of 18 due to insurance. We do, however, offer structured work experience placements throughout the year for students interested in or studying animal care or training. These are looked after by our dog welfare team.

  • Can we volunteer as a family?

    All of our dog care roles are perfect to take part in as a family. In fact, many people say that volunteering has brought their family closer together. Anyone in the household who will care for or walk the dog alone must be over 18 and registered as a volunteer, however we encourage all family members to play a part in the care and socialisation of the dog.

  • We have other pets; are we still able to volunteer to look after a dog?

    Other pets are not normally a problem, however we do need to assess any pet dogs in your home before placing one of our hearing dogs with you. We can provide advice when it comes to keeping one of our dogs with other animals.

  • Are we allowed to choose what breed we get when volunteering?

    We do ask that you are as flexible as possible when it comes to breeds or sizes of dogs. The more specific you are, the trickier it is to place a dog with you. This causes difficulty for us, and may mean a much longer wait until you receive a dog. However please note that we will never place a puppy or dog with you unless it is suitable for your home and lifestyle.

  • Do you cover volunteers' expenses?

    We don't wish for any of our volunteers to be out of pocket. Therefore, we can cover mileage or reimburse for public transport tickets when you are required to travel, and we will also provide or reimburse for lunch when you are volunteering for a full day. We have a full volunteer expenses policy in place which is available on request.

  • Will I be insured as a volunteer?

    Yes, all of our volunteers are covered under our Employers Liability Insurance.

  • What do sponsors receive? How do they follow a puppy’s progress?

    All sponsors receive a fantastic welcome pack, which includes a certificate, car sticker and postcards of their puppy. In addition, at the £5 sponsorship amount you receive a cuddly puppy toy, notepad and pen, and at the £10 amount you also receive a beautiful framed photo of your chosen puppy.

    From then on, we send regular updates on how your puppy is doing, either printed or, if requested, by email. We publish training updates roughly every five to six months, depending on how quickly the puppy goes through training. On average, across the 18-24 months of a puppy’s training, this means four updates.

    The updates show, through beautiful photos, how your puppy is getting on, with comments from the people involved with his or her training. The full set of updates goes right the way through training and then introduces you to the deaf person your puppy is helping on a daily basis (if they have given us permission to do so).

    In between full updates, we also publish ‘Pupdates’ (see what we did there?) in the online Puppy Pen every two months, showing what a fun life your puppy is having as he or she learns about the world. When we do this, we also email our sponsors to tell them there’s a new Pupdate.

    So, you'll see the progress you have made possible. You can also celebrate the outcome, when your puppy is partnered with a deaf person and helps them to leave loneliness behind.

  • Can I sponsor as a gift?

    Yes! Sponsorship makes a great gift for both children and adults.

    To do this, go to the sponsor page and choose the ‘gift’ option. You can also choose whether to have the welcome pack sent to you, or directly to the gift receiver.

    It generally takes 7-10 working days for welcome packs to be received. However, due to these uncertain times, please bear with us if your pack takes longer. If you don’t manage to order in time but you want to be absolutely sure you have something on that special day, you can download a sponsor certificate in one of two ways:

    • If you sponsored online, you will be emailed a link to download your gift certificate as soon as your sponsorship is set up. If your certificate doesn’t arrive, then please check your junk/spam folder.
    • If you sponsored via a manual form, then please phone us on 01844 340734 or email us at puppy.sponsorship@hearingdogs.org.uk and we will send a certificate through.
  • What is my sponsorship money used for?

    Your sponsorship contributes towards a puppy’s training.

    This begins when a puppy is eight weeks old and starts living with a volunteer. It covers the first year of basic training, then a further few months of advanced training, when the dog learns how to recognise sounds and alert a person to them, until the puppy is matched with a deaf partner. This usually takes around 18 to 24 months.

    We receive no central government funding to achieve this, so every sponsorship makes a big difference.

  • How much does it cost to train a hearing dog?

    It costs £25,000 to take a puppy from birth through to being partnered with a deaf person. This covers breeding our pups, which we do to ensure the health and welfare of our dogs, to carefully sourcing puppies from reputable external breeders when required, as well as basic training during their first year and advanced training on a one-to-one basis. It also covers all associated costs such as equipment, food, admin and vet bills, plus the time of dedicated trainers and support staff.

  • What happens when my puppy graduates?

    When the puppy’s training journey ends and he or she is matched with a deaf person, we transfer the sponsorship automatically to a new puppy if you paid by Direct Debit or a monthly PayPal donation. You can of course choose not to follow your new puppy and cancel your regular donation if you wish by contacting us. If you paid as a one-off, we ask if you’d like to sponsor another puppy.

    We do this with a letter or email at the same time as your final update, in which you get to see the result of your support. We also show you lovely photos of the new puppy. It’s a very exciting time, as one journey ends and another begins!

  • What are the stages of training?

    There are two main stages: the first year living with a volunteer to learn basic training and obedience, as well as learning about the world and then advanced training, where our puppies are taught how to recognise sounds and alert people about them. We train them to recognise life-saving sounds like the smoke alarm, and important sounds such as the alarm clock and even baby monitors.

    Throughout this time, we assess a puppy’s progress using what we call Puppy Star Awards. As well as developing the puppy’s practical skills, we focus very much on helping its character grow. The emotional side of what a hearing dog does – being a canine companion to a deaf person who might be feeling very alone – is as important as the practical day-to-day help that a dog offers.

    It’s incredible to think that a cute, cuddly puppy can make this amazing journey to change a deaf person’s life.

  • How do you match a hearing dog with a deaf person?

    It’s vital that a hearing dog and their deaf partner are very carefully matched to ensure the partnership will work for the long term. We take this process very seriously. Many things need to be taken into consideration in deciding which dog would be the right fit for someone with specific needs. For example, we wouldn’t match a bouncy, bubbly Labrador with an elderly person with mobility problems. However, the same Labrador could make a great companion for a fit 35-year-old who goes out jogging every morning.

    We also consider many other aspects of a person’s lifestyle, such as whether they live in an urban or rural location, how active they are, what their social life is like, if they have any other pets, if they have children in their lives, if they use public transport, and many others. By ensuring we have a very detailed understanding of a person’s life (and how their deafness or hearing loss affects it), we can better determine the kind of dog that would best suit their needs.

  • What happens if my dog doesn’t make it as a hearing dog?

    We do everything in our power to make sure as many puppies as possible will ultimately end up helping a deaf person to leave loneliness behind and reconnect with life. From running our own breeding programme, to carefully sourcing puppies from reputable external breeders, right the way through to training and matching, we spend a huge amount of time, thought, effort and care to help them through their journey.

    However, we also place the puppy’s welfare front and centre, and sometimes a puppy or dog is not completely comfortable in certain situations that it will need to cope with if it’s to accompany a deaf person wherever they go. If we notice, for example, that the puppy is nervous in town centres or doesn’t like being around other dogs, then we will consider other ways in which that puppy can help a deaf person.

    These include:

    Sound support dogs – for people with a moderate hearing loss who would benefit from a dog alerting them to important sounds in the home and offering companionship and emotional support.

    Confidence and companion dogs – for people who may not need to be alerted to sounds but would greatly benefit from companionship and emotional support because of their hearing loss.

    We also have a small number of charity support dogs that help the charity with demonstrations and assist with the induction of new clients to life with a hearing dog and all that is involved.

  • How do I sponsor a puppy?

    Simply visit Sponsor a Puppy and choose one or more of the adorable hearing dog puppies available to sponsor. Complete your details online, including whether this is for yourself or as a gift. Every journey is unique, and your support will help change a deaf person’s life.

  • How can I pay by Direct Debit or one-off payment?

    The first (and very tough!) decision you need to make is which puppy to sponsor. Then you decide how much you would like to sponsor your puppy for. You can pay by monthly Direct Debit starting from £3 a month, or as a one-off payment starting from £60.

  • Can my welcome pack arrive on a specific day?

    We would love to provide this service. However, as we depend on Royal Mail we would not want to make promises that we do not have the power to keep. The Royal Mail service we use means that we can send welcome packs within 7-10 working days. This helps to keep the cost down so more of your donation helps our puppies in training. If you want to be sure you have something on a specific day, then you can download a sponsor certificate in one of two ways:

    • If you sponsored online, you will be emailed a link to download your gift certificate as soon as your sponsorship is set up. If your certificate doesn’t arrive, then please check your junk/spam folder.
    • If you sponsored via a manual form, then please phone us on 01844 340734 or email us at puppy.sponsorship@hearingdogs.org.uk and we will send a certificate through.
  • What types of dogs do you train to become Hearing Dogs?

    The majority of our recruits are Cocker Spaniels, Labradors, Cockapoos and Miniature Poodles.

  • Am I the only person who sponsors a puppy?

    Each puppy has many sponsors. We are very fortunate that we have so many kind people who want to sponsor our puppies. When you sponsor a puppy, you are part of something wonderful: you are helping that puppy grow up, and help a deaf person reconnect with life.

  • Can I visit my puppy?

    Our puppies adore human company so we wish we could give you the opportunity to meet the puppy you’re sponsoring. However, all our puppies are very busy with their training to become life-changing hearing dogs, so unfortunately this isn’t possible.

    This is why we give as much information as possible, through regular pupdates, showing how your puppy is enjoying life and training.

    If you would like to visit our training centre, find out more about our clever dogs, and even meet some hearing dogs, then you might like to come on a guided tour.

  • How are puppies named? Can I name one?

    We give them names that suit their character, and that are easy for deaf people to lipread.

    Under our normal sponsorship scheme you cannot name a puppy. However, if you would like to enquire about making a significant donation, or are interested in a corporate sponsorship, part of which involves the option to name a puppy, then please get in touch – phone us on 01844 348109

  • How do I update my personal/bank details?

    To change your personal details, please phone us on 01844 340734, email us at puppy.sponsorship@hearingdogs.org.uk or write to us at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People with your name, your old address and your new address (including postcodes).

    If you would like to notify us of changes to your bank details, please phone us on 01844 340734 or write to us at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Because email is not secure, please do not send us any banking details by email.

    Please rest assured that we are fully GDPR-compliant and treat all your details according to our privacy policy.

  • How do I cancel?

    If you would like to cancel, please phone us on 01844 340734 or write to us at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Email is not secure, so please do not send us any banking details by email.

    If paying by Direct Debit, we would also recommend that you contact your bank to cancel the payment, simply so that you’re sure everything is covered at both ends of the transaction.

    If paying by PayPal, you can actually cancel the payment yourself. To do this, log in to PayPal, go to Settings, click Payments, and under ‘Pre-arranged payments’ click Manage. Then you can filter for the Hearing Dogs payment, and click Cancel.

    Our commitment doesn’t stop there as we then support the partnership with the deaf person right up until the hearing dog retires, which is usually at the age of eleven. In total, this can cost around £40,000.

    We receive no central government funding to achieve this, so every sponsorship is incredibly valuable to us. It means we can help more deaf people to leave loneliness behind and reconnect with life.

  • Why do you have minimum amounts?

    As a well-run charity we try to be as efficient and effective as possible in everything we do. However, there are certain limits below which we would simply lose money on each sponsorship. The amounts we ask for mean that, after costs are considered, sufficient money goes towards helping a sponsor puppy through its training and helping a deaf person to leave loneliness behind.

  • Can I leave my dog at home all day?

    No, not all day, your hearing dog should accompany you to as many places as possible. This means taking your dog to work and into town.

  • What if I can't take my dog to work?

    Your hearing dog should come to work with you to help you with sounds there and maintain a working bond.

  • How do I know a hearing dog is right for me?

    We understand that every degree of hearing loss can be challenging, and our one-to-one advisors will do their best to discover if your needs can be met through one of our fantastic dogs. Hearing Dogs do not just provide deaf people with registered assistance dogs – we can also match you with a sound support dog or a companion and confidence dog, depending on your circumstances. Does this sound like something that you could benefit from?

  • What criteria will you need to meet?

    These are some of the basic criteria: 1) You are aged 18 or older 2) You have a severe to profound deafness in both ears 3) You can walk a dog for an hour every day 4) The dog will not be away from you for more than 4 hours at a time 5) You like dogs 6) You do not have any pet dogs at home under 10 years of age. If you have more than one pet dog then we cannot accept your application. If you have any questions about the criteria then please contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions. In addition to the basic criteria, many other factors may be considered on an individual basis and acceptance is based upon assessment of these factors.