Our dogs are selected from animal shelters and rescue organisations Australia wide. We look for dogs with a happy and friendly nature and of course, good hearing. They must be between 6 months and 3 years old, and training takes 6-8 months.
When the dogs arrive at the centre they spend 2 weeks in quarantine during which time they are desexed, vaccinated, heartworm tested, microchipped and are x-rayed to detect joint problems.
The head trainer assesses the potential trainee dog when it arrives at the centre. If it passes this initial assessment, it is allocated to a trainer for the remainder of its training. During this time the dogs learn to locate and respond to 8 specific household sounds, including:
- smoke alarms
- door knocks and door bells
- alarm clocks
- oven timers and microwaves
- a baby’s cry
- telephones and TTY (telephone typewriter)
- whistling kettles
Dogs also learn ‘go get’, which is to get help or attract attention when their owner or another family member is in trouble.
Other training includes obedience and extensive socialisation in a range of environments to prepare them for accompanying their owners into public areas such as supermarkets, restaurants and public transport.
A dog gets its ‘P plates’ when it is placed with its new owner. This recognises that the dog and the owner need to learn to learn to work together as a team during a three-month probationary period.
During this time, the owner is offered extensive support from the training centre and from the local sponsoring Lions club.
Once all assessment criteria are met and the dog and owner are working well as a team, the dog is certified as a fully fledged Lions hearing dog. It is officially handed over to the owner and receives its orange collar and special identification tag.
Each owner, with support from the centre, continues to be responsible for maintaining their dog’s high level of training for its entire life.