Fortunately for many of us, we are always blessed with pups that are “free” from any genetic defects. Unfortunately we have been led to believe that if a dog is deaf it cannot lead a normal life and should be put down. Sure being the owner of a deaf dog can be difficult and seem beyond your control. However if you’re willing to do the work, you can definitely train your dog and have an enjoyable life together.
I do have to stress one important thing: You will need time and patience (a whole lot of) to successfully train a deaf dog. I strongly urge those owners with deaf pups or dogs to consider training the dogs before doing drastic measures—euthanize or rehome.
The year was 2005. My brother bought a 12-weeks-old Dalmatian from a “reputable breeder.” Due to his lack of experience, my brother didn’t detect any congenital deafness until the pup was approaching 5 months old. Obviously, that breeder refused to replace the pup and denied the fact that his line of Dalmatians has a tendency towards congenital deafness. That was when my brother phoned me about the situation and sought my advice (not that I knew a lot about dog training but I was the primary caregiver for all our family dogs). And since I was 9000 miles away from him, I could not possibly help him train his dog, so I suggested he start learning about training deaf dogs.
Fast forward a few months later. To my horror, I found out my brother put the dog down due to his lack of commitment in training the dog. “If you’d helped me train the dog, this wouldn’t have happened.” That was the guilt my brother wanted me to feel for his decision. On the contrary, I felt sorry for him and the dog.
Fact: While congenital deafness occurs most frequently in white-coated dogs, there are about 22 breeds that have been reported to suffer with this genetic defect.
Akita, Australian Heeler, Beagle, Border Collie, Boston Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian, Doberman, English Bulldog, Fox Terrier, Great Dane, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Miniature Poodle, Old English Sheepdog, Papillion, Pointer, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Scottish Terrier, Sealyham, Shetland Sheepdog, and West Highland Terrier.
Training a deaf dog can be done in many ways. However I find only two techniques are much more effective in training deaf dogs. The number one common practice is using hand signals followed by using food treats. Due to the dog’s lack of hearing, their smell, taste, and vision senses are enhanced which can make training your dog a little easier.
1. Hand Signals
Much like a deaf human communicates using sign language, when you use hand signals, you’re substituting your voice for your hands and facial expressions. You can still use your voice as well as it will make it easier for your dog to read your expressions. Make sure your hand signals are clear and distinctive to your other signals. Start with the more basic commands such as sit, stay, walk and no.
The way in which you can train a deaf dog is by firstly gaining their attention (try taping the dog on the shoulder gently or stomping on the ground). Once you have the dog’s attention, perform the sign and then perform the action. If you were trying to teach your dog to walk, you would gain their attention, perform the walk sign, and then take the dog for a walk. After several reiterations, your dog should associate the sign with the action.
2. Food Treats
Food is a good way of gaining attention but you will also need to eliminate any distractions in their environment. Once your dog is responsive to your signals, you can slowly add the distractions back.
One of the main difficulties that you will need to overcome is gaining your dog’s attention. Deaf dogs are visually triggered due to their loss of hearing and you will probably find your dog being distracted a lot during the training session; you need to get his attention! One of the ways of doing this is by using food treats every time the dog performs an action that you signaled. The general idea is to use smaller pieces of food each time so in the long run, your dog will not require any food and simply will react to your hand signals.
Training a deaf dog is not really that much different to training a normal dog. It will take more time, effort and a lot of patience but remember to be consistent and make training enjoyable for your dog.
You CAN make a huge difference in your dog’s life; just remember time is everything. Do not expect miracles in a short time. My best wishes to you in training your deaf dog!
About the author: Martin M Dotson, a content writer at the essay writing service. Besides, he is fond of writing tech tips and tricks. In this case, he dreams of finding time to start writing his blog in the future.