Raising a Hearing Dog Puppy
This month, Instant Home’s Director’s Hollie & Steve have taken on a new challenge by becoming a puppy socialiser for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Show Cocker Spaniel Otto arrived at the beginning of June at ten weeks old and cute as a button, as you can see! Plus we all get to spend time with him as he’s often found in the office!
“We are lucky enough to have a large garden where we live and also where we work, as that is where our Instant Home offices are located.” Hollie explains. “Plus we have horses, dogs, chickens and my six year old son, so plenty of socialising for the puppy!”
Hollie goes on to explain why she wanted to help Hearing Dogs by raising one of their puppies; “We like to support charities at Instant Home, to give something back to the wonderful community we live and work in. When I saw a post about Hearing Dogs on Facebook, I was instantly moved by how important these dogs are and how much they help people. Plus my husband and I have always been dog lovers, we also have Crumble, our border terrier”
Crumble and Otto get along like a house on fire, and in fact, Crumble had to be interviewed as well as Hollie and her husband before they were selected as puppy socialisers by Hearing Dogs. “They brought along another dog to check that Crumble is OK with other dogs, that’s obviously incredibly important. Thankfully she is very relaxed and they got along very well, and now she loves having little Otto around to play with.”
The training for Hearing Dog puppies is fairly basic in their first six months, the same as other puppies, they get used to being handled, learn basic commands like sit and lie down, plus get used to their harness. They go to a weekly training class run by Hearing Dogs. “Their training is all reward based,” Hollie explains, “they never punish dogs for bad behaviour, only ignore it and give them treats when they do things well, which is a really lovely way of training them, and Otto has been good as gold so far!”
When the puppies are six months old, they need to start to be taken out more into a variety of environments, to get used to different noises, people and stimulation. Then at 12 months old they do more focussed training, learning about different noises to alert their owners to, such as alarm clocks, door bells and smoke alarms. After that, they will be homed with the deaf person whose life they will change.
“What Hearing Dogs do for deaf people is absolutely incredible.” Says Hollie. “Through alerting them to various things they wouldn’t be able to hear, they truly enhance their life, giving them confidence and combatting loneliness, isolation and stress. I am very proud that we can be a small part in that journey and Otto is certainly playing his part in enhancing our lives too!”
Otto has just had his second set of vaccinations so is now ready to go out into the big wide world! We look forward to giving you updates on his progress and the work of Hearing Dogs on the blog.