Thursday, November 10, 2011

Training and Living with a Deaf Dog

Training and Living with a Deaf Dog
Raising a deaf dog can be both challenging and very rewarding.  Having both hearing and deaf dogs living with me it seems there is a very special bond that develops with the deaf dog. Here are a few tips if you are considering taking one of these wonderful dogs into your home.
Eye Contact:  This is crucial in communicating with your deaf dog. So this is something that you will want to teach early on.  What I am about to share may sound very strange but it works very well in getting your dog to look at you without any verbal cues.  This requires using people food that both you and your dog like. Take the food (hotdog, string cheese, steak etc) cubed into small pieces.  Put 4-5 pieces in your mouth and hold them there. Now just hang out with your dog.  Anytime the dog even glances at you spit a piece of food at her.  Once she realizes that anytime she looks at you tasty treats come flying out of your mouth she will look at faces a lot more. (One note on this excercise don’t do this at the dinner table) this exercise will facilitate future communication.
Talking: Do continue to talk to your dog even though he cannot hear you.  They do understand facial expressions overtime just as you can tell if someone appears angry, happy,or scared through their facial expressions, so does your dog.  They actually seem to be more in tune to those facial expressions so keep that in mind if you are upset.
Sign Language/Hand Signals: You will have to learn sign language or hand signals to communicate with your dog.  This is only limited by how much you want to work with your dog. But basic obedience is a must; sit, down, stay, come etc. Using American Sign Language is good if you would like to expand on your dogs ”vocabulary” such as ball, bone, bear, rollover and so on.
Training Aids & Safety:  There are vibration collars on the market now to aid with deaf dogs, this will aid in recalls or at least getting your dogs attention.  This is only an aid and still requires training.  Nothing replaces the safety of having your dog on leash, you must also remember that your dog is unable to hear clues given by other dogs as well so please be careful when allowing your dog to greet new dogs.  Also understand that sometimes the nonhearing dog may play a little rougher than the hearing dog again because they don’t dear the cues that play may be getting too rough for the other dog.  So you as a responsible owner need to aware of these things and maybe interupt playtime if it becomes necessary.
I will be adding more to training and living with a deaf dog in future posts. Please check back there is so much to learn.

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