According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing problems—including tinnitus, which is a perceived ringing or other type of noise in the ears—are by far the most prevalent service-connected disability among American Veterans.

Hearing dogs can be trained to alert to various sounds including: smoke alarms, phone alarms, alarm clocks, kitchen timers, door knocks, door bells, calling of a specific name, i.e.: "James", a baby's cry, and more. Throughout the application process, our admissions team will work with you to identify what "alerts" will need to be trained to the specific dog. 

Hearing dogs can also be trained in PTSD skills and service dog skills. 

At this time, once accepted, there is a less than 12 month wait time to receive an assistance dog. Making the decision to work with a Hearing Dog is a transformational event that extends into every area of a handler's life.  As each applicant is accepted to our program, we carefully match them with a dog that’s right for them and tailor the training to their needs. 

The below video showcases Hearing Dogs during their formal training:


During our 2 week, in-residence training program, students experience the following: 

  • Students are introduced to basic obedience and commands, ways to motivate and reward their dogs and service dog handling techniques in preparation for receiving their new service dog.  
  • There are typically 10-15 applicants participating at each training course and participants and staff are mix-gendered.   
  • Each participant gets their own room in our residence hall, all meals are provided in our dining hall and we cover the cost of travel expenses.  
  • Throughout class, our instructors provide hands-on training with one-on-one interaction, as well as full access to our extensive video reference library.  
  • Students will learn how to work with their dogs in various settings that include residential and country environments; outings to malls, stores, transportation venues including overland rail, train platforms, airports and other types of real-world situations. 
  • Training includes personalized task training, basic and advanced obedience, primary and secondary motivators, discussions on dog care, etiquette, canine communication, learning theory and more.  
  • Prior to the completion of class, each new handler and dog team are required to pass the Assistance Dog International (ADI) Public Access Test. The test is to determine if the dog is safe to be in public and that the handler demonstrates that he/she has control of the dog at all times. This mandatory ADI Public Access Tests will be repeated annually to bi-annually throughout the working career of the dog team. 

By the time the team graduates from our program, students will have a clear understanding of how to read their dog and anticipate their dog’s reaction to environmental changes, use of appropriate equipment to become the most effective handler and understand how to motivate and reward their dog throughout the working day.  

Post Graduation 

Following graduation, each handler will be contacted regularly by FSRs, to ensure standards reached at graduation are maintained.  Should a team encounter difficulty, America's VetDogs will provide training support  through the use of technology, telephone calls and personal visits when appropriate, in a prompt and professional manner. In order to maintain active status, each graduating team will be required to pass the ADI Public Access test one year after program completion, then every two years.  


How to determine if you qualify for a Service Dog: 

If you are a veteran or first responder who is interested in applying for a Service Dog for MST, please review the following information to determine if you meet our eligibility requirements.  This program is a Pilot Program and has limited enrollment.

  • You have served in any of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces from any era, and have received an honorable discharge or you are an active duty military member who plans to remain state-side and is able to provide command approval. 
  • You are a first responder who has a work related disability. 
  • You are visually or hearing impaired or physically disabled.  
  • You can participate in our two-week training program and will be committed to our training program and schedule. 
  • You are dedicated to maintaining the dog’s training throughout the life of the team and can provide for the well-being of the dog, approximately $100 per month. 
  • You live in the USA or Canada and have stable living arrangements. 
  • You are able to meet the physical and emotional needs of a dog, and have an appropriate support system in place to do so if/when you are unable to yourself. 
  • Our PTSD service dog program is limited to veterans with combat-related PTSD and first-responders with work-related PTSD. 
  • America’s VetDogs has begun to trial a pilot program, accepting veterans with MST, which has a limited enrollment. 
  • Applicant’s with a PTSD diagnosis or MST are required to be in current ongoing therapy and have been under the consistent care of a Mental Health Professional for a minimum of 6 months, prior to applying. 

We require applicant’s with a history of substance abuse to be completely sober and abstinent from substance use for a minimum of 1 year to be eligible for our programs. 


As you work through our application process, you’ll be providing us with key information that will assist our instructors in matching the dog best suited for you.  With a clear understanding of your goals and objectives, we will craft a program that you’ll be excited to participate in since it relates to your personal needs. Once the VetDogs service dog training team understands the needs of the hearing applicant, they will train the dog to alert to sounds that will specifically help mitigate each applicants hearing deficit.  Alerting to sounds such as name recognition, doorbell, fire alarm, timer or telephone are just some of the sounds each Hearing Dog can be trained to alert to. 

"Having Edgar here has allowed me to rest knowing that any noise made, he can alert me. Edgar doesn’t bark, he just calmly nudges me to alert...he has been an amazing help and loves the work." - Jason Ditzler, U.S. Army Veteran and Hearing Dog recipient

How much does a service dog cost?
All services are provided free of charge to clients — this includes your dog, transportation to and from our campus in Smithtown, NY, instruction, and more.    
If you have any questions about our programs, please reach out to the America's VetDogs Consumer Service office at 866-282-8047 or ConsumerServices@VetDogs.org