How to Care For and Train a Deaf Dog
By: Jeff Noce, Voyce President
Have you ever thought about adopting a deaf dog? Many people shy away from bringing home a pup who can’t hear because they’re afraid he or she will be more work or less intelligent than hearing dogs.
For this reason, deaf dogs are often considered by shelters to be “less adoptable.” And that’s a shame because they can make great pets with caring owners who are willing to give them a chance.
Deafness can be caused by many factors but rarely do these influence a dog’s personality or intelligence. They’re just as smart, trainable and loving as any other pup. And while you may have to adapt how you normally communicate with your dog, you’ll probably be surprised at how quickly they catch on.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind should you decide to welcome a deaf dog into your heart and home:
Most dogs, both hearing and deaf, respond to body language far more than they do to speech. But it’s still hard for most of us to resist the urge to talk to our dogs while training. To their great credit, they’ve learned to adapt to our chatter and respond to spoken commands.
With a deaf dog, however, this does absolutely no good. So focus instead on creating clear hand signals for various behaviors. Also, when you first start training, be sure to practice in a place that has few distractions so that you have his complete attention.
Teaching yourself sign language can be a great help as you work with your dog. Check out this article from Deaf Dogs Rock for tips on using sign language during training.
A common concern about deaf dogs is that they will be more prone to getting hurt or hurting others. But this is rarely the case.
Like other pups with physical challenges, it’s amazing how well deaf dogs adjust, especially if they’ve been deaf all their lives. They are far more aware of their surroundings than you might think. However, it always makes sense to take a few special measures to keep you and your dog safe.
If you’re worried about startling a deaf dog, come up with a way to alert him to your presence. Some owners flip a light switch, wave their hands in the air, stomp their feet or toss something in the dog’s direction.
Placing his bed against a wall and away from busy household traffic patterns will make him feel secure. Teach children to never sneak up on the dog or bother him when he’s eating or sleeping (a good idea for all dogs, as a matter of fact).
Keeping your dog safe outside is as simple as hooking a leash to his collar. But you should make sure he has a solid recall in case he does slip out. Deaf Dogs Rock also has a great article on how to train this important behavior.
While it may take a little more thought and effort at first, communicating with and training your deaf dog will soon become second nature. And you’ll both reap the rewards!
I’d like to hear from you! If you have questions you’d like me to address on this blog regarding pet health or behavior, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.