A CHARITY is in urgent need of volunteers to help train and socialise puppies that go on to change lives.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, a national charity that trains dogs to alert deaf people to important and even life-saving sounds, needs volunteers in Basingstoke to take home a puppy and help it in its first steps of training.

The charity has seen an influx of hearing dog puppies born during the summer that need to be placed in homes for 14 to 16 months from this autumn, so that they can be socialised and experience all the sights and sounds they will regularly come across as working hearing dogs.

There is currently a shortage of volunteers in the charity's Basingstoke and Newbury region.

The role of a puppy socialiser volunteer is to ensure that the puppy they are matched with gets a good level of training and experience before it enters the next stage of its life.

They take the puppy into as many different environments as possible, such as shops, on public transport, cafés and in and around busy towns.

This gives the young dogs the confidence to accompany a deaf person everywhere they go when they become a hearing dog.

Socialisers also provide the puppies with house training and obedience skills and take them to weekly classes along with other hearing dogs in-training and their volunteers.

The process is funded and supported by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and each puppy socialiser is assigned a local instructor, who will provide support along the way.

Victoria Leedham, volunteering manager at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, said: “It’s definitely been a summer of love at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and as a result we have experienced a summer puppy boom.

"This means we now have lots of cute little life-changers that are looking for homes in Basingstoke and Newbury from the age of eight weeks, so we’re urging anyone who might have the time and commitment needed to give a pup a home for anywhere between fourteen and sixteen months to get in touch to find out more.”

The charity says the role would suit anyone who is able to drive or has access to a car driven by someone else, has a secure private garden, enough time to train a puppy daily, and who is not away from home for more than two to three hours at a time.

There are currently 12 working hearing dogs already changing the lives of deaf people in Basingstoke and Newbury.

For further information, go to hearingdogs.org.uk/puppies, email volunteer@hearingdogs.org.uk or call 01844 348122.