You listen for me


PAWS Hearing Dogs are custom-trained to assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing by physically alerting their partner to common sounds such as a smoke alarm, doorbell, alarm clock, telephone ring or child’s cry. A Hearing Dog nudges or paws its partner alerting them to a sound and then leads them to its source. Hearing Dogs can also be taught to respond to American Sign Language for people who are non-verbal.

In addition to performing tasks related to a hearing loss, a PAWS Dog can also be trained to assist with tasks related to a seizure disorder or physical disability.


Determine if you qualify for a PAWS Hearing Dog


Learn what to expect with a PAWS Hearing Dog


Frequently asked questions about PAWS Hearing Dogs


Hearing Dog PIPPEN alerts Jessica to specific sounds


Applications are open January 8th-March 29th, 2024.


Give now to support an Assistance Dog Team


“It was amazing to see how much goes into training these dogs and how much is put into picking the perfect dog for each recipient. I honestly went home and cried with appreciation.”
-Jessica, PAWS Hearing Dog Client

Before receiving her Hearing Dog PIPPEN, Jessica was an anxious wife and mother of two. Her hearing loss affected her life and the lives of those she loved most in more ways than she cared to admit. Always on alert, Jessica found it difficult to relax in her own home. Phone calls, doorbells and alarms would go unheard. Dinners would burn beyond recognition. The fear of a house fire led to sleepless nights.

Jessica was born with Pendred syndrome, a genetic condition causing severe hearing loss. Due to her exceptional lip-reading ability, Jessica was four before she was diagnosed. However, even with hearing aids, Jessica still had a profound hearing impairment.

In spite of her hearing loss, Jessica has lived life to the fullest. She earned a degree in Photography at Lansing Community College and traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, where she lived for several years with her husband. She now owns her own photography business. When you consider her accomplishments, it’s easy to overlook the daily challenges she faced as a result of her hearing loss.

Jessica decided to apply for a PAWS Hearing Dog. She admits she didn’t realize at first how comprehensive the program was. “It was amazing to see how much goes into training these dogs and how much is put into picking the perfect dog for each recipient,” said Jessica. “I honestly went home and cried with appreciation.”

Throughout the placement process, Jessica was impressed by how much work went into training not only the dogs, but training the clients. She spent time learning how to work, bond and continue training with her dog.

Jessica refers to Hearing Dog PIPPEN, a male Papillon, as “8½ pounds of pure gold.” With his ears, Jessica can answer the phone, wake up on time and cook delicious dinners. She is able to nap with her 2½-year-old at home without worrying that the house will burn down. “Just being able to relax is a huge deal,” she confessed.

With PIPPEN and the assistance of PAWS staff, Jessica has grown more confident. “It makes me feel powerful when I go out knowing the rights of those with Assistance Dogs are being advocated for and that if we ever run into trouble, PAWS is there for us,” Jessica remarked. “Nobody should ever be made to feel they can’t bring their Assistance Dog with them to a public place, so education is key.”

Jessica is “eternally grateful” to PAWS and everyone who helped bring PIPPEN into her life.



To be eligible for a PAWS Hearing Dog, an individual must:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • An individual must have a minimum of moderate to severe bilateral hearing loss.
  • If the dog is also trained for seizure tasks, an individual must have a minimum of one seizure per month
  • Be physically and cognitively capable of participating in the training process, up to one hour a day
  • Be able to independently command and handle their Assistance Dog
  • Be able to meet the emotional, physical and financial needs of the Assistance Dog
  • Be in a stable home environment
  • Actively improve their quality of life and pursue independence with their Assistance Dog
  • Have no other dog in the home (can have other animals)
  • Live in an area serviced by a PAWS Field Rep (determined upon application)

If the applicant is younger than PAWS’ minimum age, visit for a list of other ADI programs that may train for younger children.

While Paws With A Cause has established eligibility criterion for the types of Assistance Dogs we provide, we do not discriminate against any applicant based on race, color, creed, gender, religion, marital status, age, nationality, physical or mental disability, medical condition, sexual orientation, citizenship status, military service status or any other consideration as indicated by federal, state or local laws.



Paws With A Cause works hard to ensure each client is matched with an Assistance Dog that enhances their quality of life and independence. We know this is an ongoing process, which is why we strive to help each Assistance Dog Team prosper before, during and after certification.


The search for a client’s dog match begins as soon as their Needs Assessment has been accepted. Our goal is to make the strongest possible match for each client in the “waiting pool.” Many factors are considered when evaluating a possible client-dog pairing. Depending on the individual client, and the particular qualities of each available PAWS Dog-in-Training, it may take up to two years to find the right match for their needs, temperament, and lifestyle.


Once a client is matched, training begins. During these 3-6 months, trainers review a client’s needs assessment and video to custom-train the Assistance Dog for tasks to enhance a client’s independence and quality of life. PAWS’ training standards exceed the industry average. If a dog is unable to meet PAWS’ training standards, the client will be matched with another compatible PAWS Dog as soon as possible.


When training at PAWS Headquarters is complete, the Assistance Dog is placed with the client in their home and team training begins. Over the next 4-8 months, a PAWS Field Rep helps the client learn how to work with their Assistance Dog in the home, workplace, school, etc. When the client and PAWS Dog are working well together, the Field Rep videotapes them performing their tasks. This video is reviewed by PAWS Client Services and once approved, the Assistance Dog Team is certified and ownership of the PAWS Dog transfers to the client.

Assistance Dog Teams are tested and recertified every 24 months to ensure they continue to work well together. Follow up is conducted on alternate years or whenever a client needs additional assistance.


After certification, PAWS remains available for support. Clients may contact PAWS Client Services at any time if extra training is needed, whether it’s a new task or retraining of an existing task. Assistance Dog Teams are also recertified every 24 months to ensure they are working at the required proficiency of PAWS and ADI.

When an Assistance Dog retires or passes away, PAWS clients are eligible to apply for a Successor Dog. If accepted, priority is given to successor clients for available Assistance Dogs.

Please note: A PAWS Assistance Dog will not be placed in a home with another dog unless it is a retired PAWS Dog or working Assistance Dog from an ADI or IGDF-accredited agency for someone else in the household. It has been our experience that other dogs in the home interfere with the bonding and training of the Assistance Dog Team.


Please see our Assistance Dog FAQs here.