Is it difficult to care for a deaf dog? It may not be as hard as it seems if you look at it from a dog’s perspective. A canine uses his sense of smell the most and is followed by the sense of sight and hearing. That being said, hearing is only recognised as a third sense. Dogs that are deaf in only one ear can manage well, so owners might not know that their dogs are deaf.
‘Deaf dogs can cope extremely well and rely on their other senses to help them navigate and understand everything,’ says Ms. Ellie Bromilow, a deaf dog owner.
Training a deaf dog has its challenges and requires dedication and patience. With proper techniques, you and your deaf dog can develop a way to communicate and interact with one another.
Why do dogs lose their hearing?
The loss of hearing, either completely or partially, is most common in senior dogs. However, this condition also genetically affects other dogs. As such, deaf dogs are usually not used for breeding. Dalmatian, Boston terrier, and West Highland white terrier are some of the breeds that are susceptible to deafness.
Apart from the fact that it can be genetically acquired, old age, exposure to intense noise, infections, and trauma can also lead to deafness.
How do you tell if a dog is deaf? Watch out for the following signs:
- Change in behaviour or personality
- Problems with waking up
- Less level of alertness
- Inability or confusion with familiar vocal commands
- Prolonged loud barking
- Shakes or tilts his head to the side with the affected ear
- Smelly discharge from ears
Living with a deaf dog
Before doing any training, it is important to form a bond with your pooch. Know that you will be his ears on your entire journey, so establishing trust is crucial. Give him plenty of praises regardless of how small the achievement.
The goal is to avoid startling your furry friend. There are different ways to effectively communicate with a deaf dog as well as ways to help him cope with deafness.
Deaf dogs are likely to use their noses and paws in navigating the house. It is best not to constantly move things and furniture around. Leave the dog in one spot to avoid confusing him. It would make him feel safer.
- Bed placement
Put his bed in a corner or against a wall. Avoid changing the placement of the bed so that the dog doesn’t get confused.
- Greeting a deaf dog
You may not be able to verbally greet him with his name but you may give a signal by heavily stomping your feet as you approach. Vibrations from the ground will alert him that you are coming.
- Never creep up on your deaf pooch
Patting him with a light touch will already get his attention. This is recommended when trying to wake the dog up. Teach children how to properly wake a deaf dog up so that the dog doesn’t get scared or nervous.
- Be sure to keep the deaf dog on a leash or in a fenced garden
A lot could happen if you will not keep your deaf dog on a leash when staying outdoors. If something catches his attention, you will not be able to use the verbal command of ‘recall.’ The worse thing is that dogs with hearing inability cannot hear cars and other hazards on the street.
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- Saying goodbye
Do not leave your house without letting your pooch know. Do not leave whilst he is sleeping. You may leave constant signs of leaving such as putting slippers by the front door, which indicates that you will be back shortly.
Training a deaf dog
Deaf canines rely on hand signals. Here are some of the most commonly used signals to communicate with a deaf dog.
- ‘Go to your bed’ – Point towards his bed.
- ‘Sit’ – Raise your hand higher to lead him into a sitting position.
- ‘Let’s go’ – Gently tug his leash two times.
It is possible to introduce the UK or American Sign Language (ASL) hand signs to communicate with your deaf dog. If you wish, you can make your own hand signals.
Watch this adorable deaf pooch as he follows commands using hand signals:
A positive reward-based method is recommended when training a deaf dog. Getting their attention is the most important thing to focus on. Try waving a hand in front of his face or thumping your fist or feet on the floor to create a vibration. A gentle touch on the same spot is effective as well.
In every successful execution, let your pooch know that he did an amazing job. Instead of using a clicker or a marker word, use thumbs up to signify a good job.
Are you rearing a deaf dog? Share your experiences in the comment box below!