Making the decision to work with a Hearing Dog is a transformational event that extends into every area of a handler's life.  Because of this momentous change, it’s crucial that each of our students is teamed with a dog that best suits that person’s mobility, personality, lifestyle, and hearing needs.  As each applicant is accepted to our program, we carefully match them with a dog that’s right for them, the power of their bond makes ordinary moments extraordinary. Our Hearing Dog program is currently accepting a limited number of applicants

During our in-residence training program, 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. Throughout class, our instructors will provide hands-on training along with one-on-one interaction as well as full access to our extensive video reference library. Students will also work on the fundamentals of communicating and working with their new canine partner in various settings both on campus and in other training environments. Training includes personalized sound training, basic and advanced obedience, primary and secondary motivators, discussions on dog care, etiquette, canine communication, learning theory and more.  

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. Students will also learn how to work with their dogs in various settings that include residential and country environments; outings to malls, grocery stores, transportation venues including, airports and other types of real-world situations

To graduate from our America’s VetDogs Hearing Program, each new handler must demonstrate proficiency in the hearing tasks that have been taught to the team. The new team of Handler and Hearing Dog must pass the Assistance Dog International 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 always has control of the dog. These in-person ADI Public Access Tests will be repeated annually to bi-annually throughout the working career of the dog team.  

Should a graduate require follow-up training, they are required to contact our Graduate Support Staff to discuss their concerns. Our staff will arrange to work with them on any questions or concerns using technology, telephone calls and personal visits (when appropriate), in a prompt and professional manner. Each graduate will be contacted two weeks after they return to their home environment and every three months for the first year to ensure that the standards reached at graduation are maintained. Each new handler will be required to have their dog ADI recertified one year after program completion, then every two years thereafter. 

If you are a veteran or first responder who is interested in applying for a hearing dog, please review the following information to determine if you meet our eligibility requirements:

  • You can provide us with an Audiology Report  
  • You have served in any of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces from any era, and have received an honorable discharge
  • You are a first responder who has a work-related disability. 
  • Applicants with a PTSD diagnosis are required to be in consistent ongoing counseling and have been under the consistent care of a Mental Health Professional for a minimum of 1 year, prior to applying.  
  • Applicants with a history of substance abuse must be abstinent from all substances for a minimum of 1 year to apply.    
  • You can independently attend our two-week residential training program. 
  • 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 are able to meet the needs of an Assistance Dog, and have an appropriate support system in place to do so if/when you are unable to yourself. 


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. 

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