As we all know, dogs have a much keener sense of hearing than people do. If a dog loses his hearing or is born deaf, this represents a major challenge both for the owner and the dog himself. However, this does not mean that the two cannot live a happy and harmonious life.
Of course, if you are going to live with a deaf dog, certain adjustments must be made. But do not despair. The chances are good that even if a dog cannot hear, he can still smell and see. If that is the case, then you should be able to find alternative ways of communicating with your dog.
Identifying A Hearing Problem
Before we dig deeper into this subject, let’s look at how to identify hearing loss in dogs. You should be on the lookout for behaviors such as confusion in following the commands, inattentiveness, head tilting, repeated head shaking, and prolonged barking. These are some of the major signs of canine hearing loss. If your dog has one or more of these problems, you should have your vet check his hearing.
In some cases, you might notice that your dog’s ears are sensitive, inflamed, or smell bad. Then its high time for you to visit your vet. Fortunately, the problem could be a simple temporary issue. Resolve the problem quickly, before it leads to permanent damage to your dog’s hearing.
As the owner of a deaf dog, your first priority is your dog’s safety. It’s obvious that you should not let a deaf dog go off leash outside a fenced yard. This is especially true if you live in an area with lots of traffic.
You also need to consider changing your dog’s ID tag to indicate that he is deaf. Should your dog get loose, it will alert anyone who comes into contact with your dog that your dog has special needs.
Training A Deaf Dog
Using hand signals has proven to be a highly effective way of training deaf dogs. The hand signals can be substituted for the basic voice commands. Gradually, your dog will learn to associate commands such as “stay”, “down”, “sit” and “walk” with certain hand signals.
Once you have decided which hand signals you are going to use, make sure that you use them consistently. Make sure that every member of the family is using the same signals with your deaf dog. Remember the importance of using rewards and treats during the training phase. Treats work very well in positive reinforcement and association of words.
Another way you can communicate with your deaf dog is to signal him with a flashlight. For instance, if the dog is out in the yard, use the flashlight to call him into the house.
It is important to remember that deaf dogs are easily startled, since they cannot hear your approach. Even the gentlest dog can snap when it is startled. That is why, you must make sure that your children and visitors to your house are instructed in how to interact with your deaf dog. With a little patience and understanding, your deaf dog can be a happy, valued member of the family.