Deaf dogs communication advice
If you are an owner of a deaf dog, you will know that the methods you use to communicate with a deaf dog, are different from those used to communicate with a hearing dog.
If, on the other hand, you are considering adopting a dog, you may feel that you don’t have the skills necessary to give a deaf dog a home. You may overlook dogs who would be a perfect fit for your home and lifestyle, but for the fact that they are deaf. Rescues find it much more difficult to rehome deaf dogs than hearing dogs, and this is such a shame because the different methods of communicating with a deaf dog are easily learnt and incorporated into daily life. With a little perseverance and patience, a deaf dog can become a perfectly-well-trained member of the household.
Deaf dogs are just as capable as a hearing dog of being perfectly happy and healthy family pets. Very often, they seem unperturbed by their disability. In fact, deafness tends not to be as great a disability in dogs as it is in humans owing to the different priorities of our senses. Where humans use sight and hearing as the two predominant senses, dogs use their scent of smell first, with hearing and sight after that. This means that the loss of the hearing sense can be accommodated by most dogs. For owners training and living with a deaf dog, it is often a case of incorporating visuals rather than sounds into their training and commands.
Deafness in dogs is often inherited or can result from trauma, an ear infection, exposure to loud noises, old age or reactions to drugs. When puppies are born deaf, this is known as congenital deafness. This condition seems to be more prevalent in white dogs. Also, breeds such as Dalmatians, English Terriers, Whippets, Parson Russell Terriers and Boxers can be more prone to deafness than others. In fact, 30% of Dalmatians are born either deaf in both ears or deaf in one ear.
It is a misconception that deaf dogs are less intelligent than their hearing counterparts. Deaf animals use all the other senses to make sense of the World. They bark and make all the regular sounds their hearing counterparts make, they also sense danger, feel both fear and joy, and love all the things that hearing dogs enjoy, including interacting and training with their owners, using their brains, and earning praise and reward.
One thing that you do need to take extra care with is ensuring that a deaf dog should always be contained by a fence or enclosure or be on a lead, as they won’t hear cars or other dangers. It’s also a good idea to identify the dog as deaf on their name tag. A bell on their collar will also help you keep track of them should you lose visual contact.
Making Life Easier for a deaf dog.
- Deaf dogs are trained using hand signals. It is important to have a different, clear and consistent hand signal for every command you want your dog to learn.
- Although a deaf dog won’t hear you approaching, they may sense your footsteps on the ground. Therefore, stepping more heavily, or even stamping, will alert the dog to your approach, and avoid startling him.
- As above, it’s best not to startle a deaf dog. If you have approached and your dog remains oblivious, just use a light pat on the shoulder but keep a distance so that the dog doesn’t wake to find you in his face. Also, if you aim to touch your dog in the same place whenever you need to get his attention, he will come to learn that you are close by and interacting with him.
- Teach your dog to check in with you in unfamiliar situations. Train him to look up at you regularly to see if you are offering direction or praise. This training needs to be started in familiar surroundings where you can retain your dog’s focus, praise for the checking-in behaviour, and then moved gradually into more challenging situations.
- As with any dog, always watch your deaf dog’s reactions around children. This is particularly important when your dog is deaf, as children can be unaware of your dog’s need for space, and can rush up and shock him, which could, under some circumstances result in a bite. If your deaf dog shows any signs of anxiety around children, remove him to a safe place.
There is lots of information available to help people caring for deaf dogs. Unfortunately, however, many breeders still routinely euthanize deaf puppies. Our Bark Busters trainers are often called in to help with deaf dogs and, in most cases, we find dogs that want to learn and who can be trained with patience and consistency. Some even go on to do agility, or even become therapy dogs. Because a dog who is born deaf doesn’t know that he is any different from other dogs and people who can hear, he believes that the world is silent, and will learn to read and understand the world without hearing. As soon as we diagnose and comprehend a dog’s impediment, we can adjust our training and caring methods easily to ensure that a deaf dog is just as happy and well-behaved as a hearing dog.
Bark Busters therapists have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. The Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.
This article is the copyright of Bark Busters® and is intended for information purposes only. Dog owners should fully research any problems that they may have with their dogs.
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