The Role and Relevance of Hearing Dogs from the Owner's Perspective: An Explorative Study among Adults with Hearing Loss

Audiol Res. 2023 Jan 5;13(1):64-75. doi: 10.3390/audiolres13010006.


This study aimed to explore perceptions and experiences about how owning a hearing dog can influence the functioning and the autonomy of people with hearing loss. Three adults participated in a semi-structured interview. The interviews were video recorded, transcribed, and coded. A procedure combining qualitative content analysis and interpretative phenomenological analysis was used. The study shows how specific aspects of hearing dogs are associated with increased autonomy and sense of security among owners. The attentive dog-owner pairing, the outstanding training and the companion role of the hearing dog are the main elements supporting the high satisfaction related by all the participants. In regard of the location context (Quebec, Canada), ongoing challenges for owners are reflected in the lack of visibility of this rehabilitation means and its poor recognition from the society, resulting in the constant burden to explain the dog's work to others. For adults with hearing loss, the hearing dog is a relevant way of offering both the benefits of functional assistance and the psychosocial support of a pet. The association between owning a hearing dog and improved overall well-being suggests that this form of rehabilitation should be considered as a pertinent option by hearing health professionals.

Keywords: assistance dog; audiology; auditory rehabilitation; deafness; hearing dog; hearing loss; rehabilitation; service dog.