Did you know the Dalmatian breed has the highest rate of deafness, outnumbering the second most affected breed by 15 percentage points? Deafness is also common in breeds like Akita, Beagle, Greyhound, and Great Dane.
You must be thinking that training the deaf dog breed must be challenging. Well, it is not. It just requires different kinds of approaches. As deaf dogs cannot listen to any sound, you must focus more on body gestures and sign language.
Do you wish to learn more about this? Then read this article; we have explained how to train a deaf dog, how to keep them safe, what causes deafness, how to know your dog is deaf, and many more.
So, are you ready?
How can you help to teach a Deaf Dog?
Let’s try first how to seek attention and then how to teach them commands.
Try to grab your dog’s attention.
As you cannot use verbal cues to grab attention, try to thump the floor when you want to seek your dog’s attention. They cannot hear, but they can obviously feel the vibration.
You can also use flashlights to seek their attention. It is helpful in the night when you want to call them back in the yard.
Other than that, you can also take the help of vibrating collars to get attention. It comes with remote control.
This gadget is helpful till your dog starts responding to basic commands, especially since the dog requires further training to become accustomed to the collar in the first place.
Use healthy treats
It will not be possible for your dog to get what voice or tone you are using to indicate the intensity of the message.
Therefore, you must go for a dog treat option to encourage them. It will help them to understand things better.
As you know, treats contain additional calories, and you have to use treats throughout the day for commands. So it would help if you opted for the healthy treats option.
Note: Make sure it does not contain more than 10% of the calories.
Otherwise, feeding high calories treat for every command will eventually make your dog obese.
You can choose treats from your kitchen too. Like, you can give them chunks of carrots, pumpkin, green beans, cauliflower, celery, and thin slices of cucumbers.
Note: Don’t use ginger, onion, garlic, chives, or leeks. These are dangerous for dogs.
You have to calculate the amount of food you give to your dog throughout the day and also have to adjust it with treats that you are going to use for commands.
So, eventually, you can lessen their meal quantity and adjust the calories with the number of treats throughout the day.
Allow the dog to become accustomed to being touched.
Some dogs may not like you touching them frequently. You have to make your dog comfortable with your touching.
But, in the case of deaf dogs, there is no option, and therefore, it is essential you train them right from the beginning when they are young.
Use treats whenever you touch your dog. Please ensure not to touch them harshly. Just tap their side or shoulder when you want to talk.
Use the treats and tap method only for a week until it is registered in their minds.
Always keep him on leash.
Your dog must be under safe boundaries. For that, you must keep your deaf dog on a leash.
Generally, one just keeps their canine on a leash when they are young. But, in the case of a deaf dog, you have to keep it on a leash till adulthood.
It is because they do not have a solid ability to sense danger from their surroundings, and when you take them out for playing, they may end up hurting themself.
You can use a 30-50 foot leash for your deaf dog. If you want to go for Flexi-leash, make sure before that your dog is trained on a normal leash.
Once your dog is inside safe premises like a yard, you can set them free without a leash. But, ensure to keep an eye on them.
Make him comfortable with sign language.
You can use sign language to make things work out between you and your deaf pet. You can either learn it using online portals like (www.aslpro.com/ ASL pro) or get a command book.
The ideal option is to create your own sign language. After all, your dog must understand what you’re saying, right?
It’s time to teach commands.
Use a nice training treat.
Please ensure that his training treats are different than his usual treats. It will help to understand cues in a much better way.
You can use cheese or cooked chicken. Your dog will love eating this and learning cues.
Use clicker training
Although clicker training is an effective method to train hearing dogs, you can also use it for deaf dogs too.
You have to use a visual marker that signifies a command to your dog and when he follows it, use the clicker and then feed him a treat.
Stick only to one tool and do not use it for other purposes.
Teach him to sit down
Give your deaf dog sitting command. It is one of the basic commands. So, let’s start with that.
If you follow American sign language, use your right hand’s first two fingers and place them in a “sitting position” on the first two fingers.
Also, don’t forget to keep ready your visual markers and treats.
Another way is you can show your dog to sit down. They will imitate you and will squat. Place the treat right above his nose, and when he approaches to eat it, lower his butt with your hands.
This might take several sessions, and therefore, you must be patient enough to deal with this. Make sure to praise them a lot when they sit down.
Visual markers and treats
When your dog sits, show him the visual marker and feed him his treat. Give your pup a wide smile and express that you liked it when he followed your command.
When you give them attention, it will be easy for them to learn things.
According to studies, deaf dogs understand body posture better than hearing dogs.
TIP: If you use visual markers, do not switch your method. It will confuse your dog.
Consistency is the key.
You have to keep practicing training commands. But, also have to ensure that the session must last long only till your deaf dog is interested.
Repeat the session for 5 minutes. If the dog shows zero interest, it is better to call off the training session after repeating it one last time and praising and using treats.
You can teach your dog 3 to 4 times in a single day. When you force him to learn things, he will lose interest, and you will jeopardize your training session.
TIP: The optimum time to teach your dog command is when he is hungry. However, make sure you do not irritate them because they will pay attention to you.
Some dogs may learn tricks in a few days, and others may take more than that.
If you notice that your deaf dog cannot learn commands even after numerous training sessions, it is better to look for certified dog trainers.
Teach them more
Don’t just restrict your training to basic commands. Try to teach your deaf dog more commands like stay, drop, no, etc.
Just keep in mind to teach one command at a time.
How do I keep my deaf dog safe?
Deaf dogs can potentially hurt themselves a lot. Therefore, as a responsible pet master, you have to take tight safety for them.
So, to know how to take care of your deaf dog, check the bullets listed below.
Use name tag
It is crucial to cover your dog collar with a name tag and an “I am deaf” tag. If your dog is misplaced, this tag will help them return home quickly.
Make your dog wear a vest that indicates, “I am deaf.” You can get it online or simply get it customized.
It comes in all sizes and colors. You can choose one that suits best with your dog’s personality.
It is vital that other people must know your dog is deaf. So that when he is misplaced, people are aware that they will not be able to approach your dog right away.
This is an especially great gadget for deaf dogs. A lot of manufacturers also permit to note their dog’s medical requirements in their order.
It is important that people must know beforehand that he is deaf. And, microchip helps well when it comes into use.
If anyone tacked your dog, they would know how to take your dog early.
Keep your dog in a defined safe space.
Your deaf dog must be locked in a defined space so that there is no chance of him escaping from your place when you are not nearby him.
Therefore, lock all your doors. It will help to prevent all accidental situations.
Fence your backyard
Your backyard must be wholly enclosed to eliminate the possibility of escapism. If there is no fence in your backyard, any dog or animal can come in and hurt your dog.
Other than that, he can also run away from the house and hurt himself from a car accident.
You can also put bell collars on your dog as it can tell where your dog is roaming in your backyard if you are not there.
Keep your house and dog’s surrounding safe for the dog.
It is vital that you must keep all dangerous things away from your dog. You should take away all plants from your house and keep that at a height where they cannot reach.
Other than that, make sure your kitchen is also dog-proof. No knife or any hazardous tool should be lying on the floor or table.
Ensure that no electric wire lies on the ground because they may tangle themselves up.
All items that your dog should not touch, such as medicine cabinets and trash cans, should be well-secured at all times.
Let them know your leaving time.
Your deaf dog must know when you are leaving the house. Otherwise, they will wander the whole house.
You can try to give your dog crate training. It will be helpful when you are not at home.
Wake them up gently.
When you don’t arouse your deaf dog peacefully, he will quickly start panicking. If you want to wake him up, try to pull the corners of the blanket, or you can put your hand on his nose.
All of these things can assist him in gently awakening on his own. Always give him a treat when he wakes up, so he associates being awakened with a good thing.
How to tell if your dog is deaf?
To know whether your dog is deaf or not, you can try some experiments. Like trying making loud noise when he is nearby Use a drum sound, clap, whistle anything possible.
Make sure you do not stomp the ground or make any kind of vibration. Otherwise, he can feel the vibration and come to you.
You have to conduct this experiment absolutely on hearing tests. So, make sure he doesn’t see you while making noise.
If he responds to noises, that means he is okay. But, in case he doesn’t, then you must immediately speak to your vet.
The Gold Standard Diagnostic Tool for Confirming Hearing Problems in Dogs is the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER). It assesses the brain’s reaction to a succession of clicks delivered to each of the dog’s ears.
What causes deafness in dogs?
According to research, there is 6 leading reason that causes deafness in dogs.
Congenital Hearing Loss
Degenerative changes in the hearing component of the inner ear, often known as the cochlea, cause congenital hearing loss.
Sound waves travel into nerve impulses in the cochlea, which is then conveyed to the brain and perceived as “sounds.”
Congenital hearing loss in dogs is primarily genetic and is permanent. This ailment is usually connected with certain coat hues, such as white or merle.
Presbycusis occurs when the bones of the middle ear gradually start thickening.
This type of hearing loss is frequently noticed after a dog has undergone a procedure that necessitates general anesthesia.
A hole in the eardrum can also cause deafness in dogs. It can occur if the pile of ear wax is well settled inside the ear canal of the dog.
Deafness can also occur because of drugs that affect the cochlea of the dog.
Head injuries can also lead to deafness in dogs, whether there is blood or not.
Sometimes an injury can create trouble in a dog’s inner ear portion, and it can either cause long-term deafness or temporary.
By any chance, something gets inside your dog’s ear canal. It can make him deaf because it can block the sound.
Well, that’s a wrap!
The very primary part of training is to seek your dog’s attention. You can use flashlights, vibrating collars, or storms on the ground for that.
Second, you must select the healthy treats option solely for training. Third, teach them basic commands like sit, stay, up, and down.
Then you have to practice this several times and make sure your dog is not agitated.
Patience and practice is the key to successful training. But, even after a lot of hard work, if your dog fails to learn, then you can seek professional training.
If you like this article, do share it with other dog masters too.
Dr. Aram Baker has been with Santa Clarita Animal Hospital since 1995 and his special interests include behaviour medicine and dermatology. He graduated from the Cleveland Humanities Magnet Program in Reseda, CA and attended California State University at Northridge where he received a Bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to pursue his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. He also spent time in the zoological medicine department at U.C. Davis during his Junior and Senior years. He is dedicated to caring for all pets big or small, young or old with compassion, patience, kindness, and love.