National Deaf Dog Awareness Week is celebrated the last full week in September. We want to educate the public about deaf dogs, their needs, and how they are different from hearing dogs.
There are many misconceptions about what it means for a dog to be deaf, but they often have the same quality of life as hearing dogs. For those who adopt or foster deaf dogs, several adjustments need to be made to provide them with the best possible life and an environment where they can thrive. This blog post will cover some tips on how owners can ensure their pup lives a happy and healthy life!
Signs that a dog might be deaf
Did you know some breeds of dogs have deafness rates of 40 percent or more? Head to a dog park, and two or three of the dogs you see will likely be hearing impaired. Nearly 30% of Dalmatians have partial or complete hearing loss.
Dogs can be born deaf or become deaf later in life. Deaf dogs attempt to compensate for their lack of hearing and rely on their other senses to interpret their surroundings. Deaf dogs often live with hearing dogs, but this may increase the stress level of both animals.
All caretakers must be aware of the specific challenges faced by those who have Deaf Dog Syndrome so that they can provide support throughout the lives of their canine companions. The following suggestions will help you create an environment where you and the dog are happy and comfortable living with each other.
How to Care and Train Your Deaf Dog
Deaf dogs need to be trained using a combination of hand signals and movements. Deaf dogs are most easily taught with a consistent sign, such as stomping your foot or waving your hands in front of his face every time you want to get the dog’s attention. Deaf dogs have been successfully trained using these methods so that they can respond to basic cues.
Once they have learned what you want, you will need to continue reinforcing the behaviors through regular practice for the rest of their lives. Deaf dogs also benefit from training with hand cues because this uses vision instead of hearing as reinforcement.
How to Train Your Deaf Dog
Be sure to start early and stay consistent!
Getting their attention
- Gentle touch. Always touch your dog in the same place, such as the shoulder or top of the rear end. Keep your touch soft, so you don’t startle your dog.
- Light signals. Your dog can see the wink of light out of the corner of their eye, but a flashlight works best at night.
- Laser pointer. This will show in daylight, but avoid flashing it in your dog’s eyes and beware that some dogs can become compulsive about chasing the light.
- Vibrations. Stomp on the floor or pound the floor with your fist.
- Vibrating collar. Do NOT use a shock collar or the shock setting on a multi-purpose collar. The point is not to punish your dog but simply to communicate. Also, some dogs are sensitive to vibration and find it aversive. If vibrations stress your dog, choose another signal.
Hand signals or sign language
Many deaf dog parents teach their dogs ASL (American Sign Language). Teaching simple directional commands, such as "sit" and "lie down," is particularly helpful when training deaf dogs because it teaches them manners.
Hand signals are excellent for communicating with any dog because dogs often pay more attention to what people do than what people say. Plus, many dogs lose hearing as they age. If they already know hand signals, the transition to deafness will be far easier for you both.
Why should you adopt a deaf dog?
Deaf dogs are very laid back. They will never stress out or embarrass you in front of your friends by barking at a doorbell they can't hear, and although all dogs play-growl when playing, it's easy to tell when a deaf dog is serious because he won't be moving his mouth to bark. Deaf dogs don't hear other animals approaching them, which means they're less likely to get into fights with other animals as long as you introduce them properly. Deaf dogs also don't have their sensitive ears exposed to loud noises all day – thunderstorms and fireworks aren't nearly as scary for them! And the best news is deaf dogs can often live longer lives as well.
They still have the same quality of life as hearing dogs; they just need a bit more patience and training. Deaf dogs respond exceptionally well to sign language, and some hearing dogs can learn it as well. Deaf dogs may even have an advantage over hearing dogs in training because you can quietly signal them without being heard!
We hope that this blog post has helped you learn more about the signs of deafness, how to care for and train your dog if they are deaf. We know that adopting a deaf dog can seem like an intimidating task, but we want you to know that the rewards of having a canine companion with this condition are excellent. Deaf dogs often live longer and healthier lives than other breeds because they don’t put as much wear and tear on their bodies by barking or chasing after things unnecessarily. They also make excellent companions for people who work from home, travel frequently, or have hearing disabilities themselves — all without any additional training required!
National Deaf Dog Awareness Day is the perfect time to consider becoming a deaf dog parent! If you are considering adopting an animal, please visit your nearest shelter. There are so many animals that need homes, and we know that they would be grateful for attention and love!
Feel free to share pictures of any deaf adopted dogs with our team on social media. Let’s work together in spreading awareness about adoptable deaf animals everywhere! @vitalpetlife using #deafdogawareness so we can help spread awareness about these amazing animals!