Deaf Dog Training
Updated on: 21/04/2020
Having a deaf dog can be a challenge. If you’re up to putting in the work that your new companion needs and deserves than you can communicate with them just as you would a hearing dog! You might be shocked at the connection that you two instill.
Training deaf dogs involve a lot of eye contact, trust and love. You might be the only person that can properly communicate with your deaf dog so they will always be looking to you for answers and guidance.
Now, you don’t have to totally throw out the rule book on how to train a dog but you will have to adjust a lot of what you might already know. If you’re starting from square one – welcome!
Let’s go through some common questions that people have about deaf dogs, training deaf dogs and raising a deaf dog.
How can you tell if a dog is deaf?
This is a great question! You might not be able to tell right away. Some people might think they just have a particularly defiant puppy on their hands or a heavy sleeper. If you’ve never dealt with a deaf dog before, there’s no way you could assume that they just can’t hear you.
There are number of variants to look for when considering whether or not your dog is deaf.
- Color – Deafness is quite common in pale dogs. Think dogs with white coats, pink paws and light eye colors (blue and grey). They’re not quite albino but there is another birth defect that causes them to be born void of certain attributes. Light grey and merle dogs are also commonly deaf.
- Breed – Dalmatians and Australian Cattle Dogs are two breeds that commonly produce deaf dogs.
- Sleeping habits – Does your puppy sleep soundly until a door is shut, they are approached, or touched? While they might sleep through sounds, they can feel vibrations through the floor. Keep an eye on what they are responding to.
- Response – If a loud noise comes out of nowhere that would usually alarm your dog and they don’t react this is usually the most telltale sign that your dog is deaf. This is especially easy to notice if you have another dog that does react to the sound.
Do deaf dogs bark?
Yes! And they sound quite silly, too. You might find that your dog howls or whines more than they bark. Some deaf dogs sound like little pigs squealing. It’s not always a pleasant sound (what barking is, though?) but it’s also not always the same from dog to dog. You might have a deaf dog that doesn’t bark at all!
How can you get the attention of a deaf dog?
There are many different methods of getting a deaf dog’s attention. Whichever method you use, though, you have to remember to have patience and give your dog grace. If they aren’t paying attention to you the way that you want them to, you’ll have to adjust your practice and find a better way to communicate with your dog. Remember, it’s all on you to when you’re training a deaf dog.
- Stomping – Deaf dogs are particularly sensitive in other areas since they can’t hear. Normally, they have heightened eyesight and touch sensation. Stomping sends vibrations through the floor that will make your dog react.
- Remote vibration collar – You can purchase an electronic collar that doesn’t have a shock feature to it. These collars vibrate when you press a button on a remote and can be an incredibly handy way to get your dog to come to you, especially if you’re at a dog park or in a large yard. You can also train your dog to learn in-house commands like:
- One vibration = sit
- Two vibrations = lay down
- Multiple, steady vibrations = come
Make sure you’re giving lots and lots of treats and love when they respond properly!
- Stay in eyesight – When you’re training a deaf dog (or any dog for that matter) it’s a good idea to keep them on a short leash, literally, at all times. This way, you’re never out of the dog’s sight and you can easily get their eyes on you.
Are deaf dogs hard to train?
When training a deaf dog, it is somewhat harder than training hearing dogs only because you need to also train yourself and others. You can’t shout commands anymore or let a friend dog sit on a whim if they don’t know how to properly communicate with your dog.
That being said, you simply need to substitute hearing dog commands for others that a deaf dog can understand. It’s not necessarily harder but it is quite different.
If you aren’t confident in your abilities to train a deaf dog and stay calm in times of frustration, the best idea is to bring in a professional. There are tons of resources and excellent dog trainers that can help you establish that trust and everlasting bond with your deaf dog.
How can I help my deaf dog?
Keeping your dog’s spirits up will help both them and you. If you act like your dog’s disability is a hindrance or baby them too much because of it, they will be able to sense it and might not thrive as well as they might be able to otherwise.
You must have all the confidence in the world in your dog that they can learn, persevere and have as great a life as any hearing dog would. Because the truth is that they can and they will with they proper tools and a great owner. Here are some steadfast ways you can help your deaf dog.
- Learn sign language – Your deaf dog can learn sign language just as well hearing dogs can learn verbal commands. You don’t need to learn the complete language and alphabet – or even real sign language at all, in fact. Just choose a few hand signals for the most common commands and use them consistently – every time you get your deaf dog’s eye contact. Be sure to use lots of positive reinforcement when they get it right!
- Let others know – Be sure to train your friends and family on how to properly communicate with your deaf dog. On their nametag, notate the fact that your dog is deaf in case they run away.
- Be patient – It might take your deaf dog longer to learn simple commands than your used to or you might expect. This is no reason to panic or think there’s something wrong with your dog. If you feel that you don’t have the proper tools, bring in the big guns and hire a trainer to do one-on-one sessions with you.
- Don’t startle them – This can be tough to do, especially if there’s more than one person or kids in the house. To train your deaf dog not to startle when being woken up, place your hand near their nose so they smell you first. When they wake up, give them a treat! This tells them that being woken up is a positive thing and there’s nothing to be scared of.
Try to approach your dog from their line of sight, always. If you need to approach them from behind, use one spot on their body as the place you touch when you are getting their attention. Stay consistent with touching the same spot every time and always give a treat at the same time!
Can deaf dogs hear a dog whistle?
Some dogs that aren’t completely deaf might still be able to hear high-frequency dog whistles. If this works for your dog, use the whistle to get their attention and give them plenty of treats and positive reinforcement when they respond! If your dog is completely void of hearing, whistles, unfortunately, won’t be able to help.
Is having a deaf dog hard?
Well, this one might be completely up to you! After reading all of the above facts and advice, what are your thoughts?
There is no doubt that having a deaf dog is a challenge. But the reward that comes from creating an everlasting bond of love and trust is well-worth the hard work that you and your dog put into it.
Remember, there is nothing that your deaf dog can’t learn and do that a hearing dog can learn and do. You can teach them all the same commands, tricks and feats that any dog can do! It just takes the right tools and patience while practicing the same commands over and over.
Have fun with it and get creative! Help your dog to learn all the tricks that they can and amaze everyone with your talented dog. Of course, don’t push them too hard. A few hours of training a deaf dog per day, spread out throughout the day is enough. If you find your dog isn’t getting a certain command, move on to another or give them a break to play or nap for a few hours. Training can be quite stressful and tiring for your pup!
Stock up on training treats and learn a little sign language! You’ve got a fun journey ahead.
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